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Thank You for Your Cooperation
by Joel Shulkin

“Excuse me, Ma’am.” Julia leaned across the aisle to catch the attention of the woman in 3A chatting on her cell phone. The flight was ready for take-off and Julia had already asked everyone to shut off their cell phones and pagers. That apparently didn’t apply to 3A, who continued to twirl her silver-white hair while she talked, reminding Julia of Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“Excuse me.” Julia waved again. When 3A glanced at her, she said, “You need to turn off your cell phone."

3A covered the mouthpiece. "This is an important call."

"I'm sorry, but you need to hang up. We're ready for departure."

Looking around the cabin, 3A said, "We're not moving yet."

Julia struggled to stay calm. First-class passenger or not, she was not about to let anyone break the rules. "We'll pull away from the gate as soon as everything is secure and all cell phones are shut off."

3A stared at her as if she had three heads.

Julia took a deep breath and gave the woman a pointed look. "Perhaps you'd like to explain to the rest of the passengers how important your call is. I'm sure they won't mind sitting here until you're finished."

For another second 3A held Julia's gaze. Into the phone, she said, "I'll call you when we land." She shut down the phone and snapped it shut. Placing it in her pocket, she turned to Julia and said, "Happy?"

"Quite." Flashing her airline-approved smile, Julia said, "Thank you for your cooperation."

3A sneered and turned to the window.

Julia returned to the front of the cabin and confirmed that all overheads were closed, seat belts fastened, seats upright, and tray tables stowed. Was she forgetting something? She ran through her list again. No, everything was good.

After making one final announcement to prepare for take-off, Julia took her seat and strapped herself in. As she checked the cabin, she caught 3A glaring at her. Julia shrugged and looked away. She didn't make the rules, but she was damned well going to make sure they were followed.

The plane taxied to the runway. After a few minutes, the pilot announced they were clear for departure. Julia leaned back and closed her eyes. She could relax until they were airborne.

As the engines roared to life, the plane hurtled down the runway.

From somewhere overhead sounded a cell phone.

Julia's eyes snapped open. How many times had she reminded everyone to shut off their phones? Who hadn’t listened to her?

Julia looked around, triangulating the ringing sound. Her eyes drifted to the storage bin directly across from her seat.

Her eyes widened. Oh, no...

It was the storage bin where she had stowed her own luggage, including her cell phone.

Her gaze connected with 3A's. One corner of the woman's mouth crept upward in a smirk.

Julia hung her head. It was going to be a long flight.