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It was a sunny day, with some clouds here and there, but based on the weather I would have never guessed the tragedy that was going to take place that day. This is the story of how I met the man who saved my life.
I was headed to Hawaii for my second business trip this month. I’m an engineer and was in charge of designing a new hotel in Honolulu. My flight was boarding soon, but not soon enough. I was standing in line at the McDonald's next to my gate, about to order. The man in front of me was a larger gentleman, maybe 300 pounds. He had brown hair and was about six inches shorter than I, and he was taking forever to order.
“Hurry up!” a man behind me said to the larger gentleman.
The man turned around and shouted,  “If you don't shut your big mouth, I'll come back and shut it for you!”
This took me by surprise, because I did not assume that he was going to be so bold. The man seemed like a hot head, but I just forgot about the whole situation. He finished ordering his food, and went and sat in the seating area by the gate. I quickly ordered my food and sat down, because the customers behind me were already restless from having to wait for such a long time. Over the loudspeaker a voice boomed
“Flight 101 to Honolulu now boarding.”
Finally we were under way! I quickly got in line to board the flight. Once I was on board I found my seat, 21C, right next to the exit. I sat patiently until everyone was seated and the flight crew started the safety speech they always do at the beginning of the flight. I put on my headphones and turned the volume up until I couldn't hear their voices anymore, because nobody ever actually needs those safety procedures, right? The stewardesses finished their presentations and promptly returned to the head of the plane for takeoff. I had flown hundreds of times for business, so this was nothing new to me.
The plane was now taking off. I could hear the roaring of the engines as we rocketed down the runway at around 400 miles an hour. This was my favorite part of the flight; I love the rush that it gives me!
Soon we were up to cruising altitude, and the pilot's voice rang out over the speaker.
“We have reached 10,000 feet, you are now permitted to use your electronic devices. The flight attendants will be by shortly to pass out beverages.”
I got out my laptop and started typing up a draft of a paper that I needed in Hawaii. Thirty minutes later the flight was going great. I was almost done with my paper, had a little bit of scotch in me, and it looked to be a smooth ride ahead of me.
All of a sudden there was a big spot of turbulence, and the plain jolted, spilling my drink all over me. I was in coach, so I had to walk all the way up to the front of the plane to the bathroom to clean myself off.
As I walked up to the front of the plane, the hot-head from McDonald’s was blocking the aisle.
“Excuse me”
But he didn’t move.
“Move”
I pushed him out of my way, and he gave me the dirtiest look! Once I got to the bathroom I cleaned myself off and returned to my seat. I wanted to work on my paper more, but my eyes were growing heavy. Soon I put my laptop away and dozed off.
I was asleep for no more than fifteen minutes before it happened. First a large jolt woke me, I assumed it was just some more turbulence, but then a siren went off, and oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. I quickly put mine on over my head and my nose. The pilot's voice sounded over the speaker.
“Our left engine is out, we are going to have to take it down!”
Suddenly panic struck, people started screaming, babies were crying, and objects were flying through the air. I was starting to wish that I had paid attention during the safety check.
Our altitude was dropping quickly, I didn't know what to do, but I remembered one thing that they said. The attendant showed us how to brace for impact, with our heads in our laps and our hands over our heads. I did this and held for what felt as forever, then BOOM! With a loud ‘Thwack,’ we crashed into the ocean. The landing was so violent that it tore the plane into two pieces, and I blacked out.
When I woke up I was in a small lifeboat. It was the middle of the night, and I could see in the moonlight there was a dark figure across from me. I couldn't move my left leg, and my head was split open above my eye. I called out to the figure,
“Hello?”
But I received no reply. I called out again, but my efforts were in vain. There was still no response. I was tired, so I decided to try and sleep but I couldn't. My mind was racing, and I had so many questions. Like who is in the raft with me? How did I get here? Where was the plane? Where was I? But I would have to wait for morning to have any of these questions answered.
When I woke again, it looked to be just past noon. I sat up as much I could, with my injuries, and looked around for anything I could possibly see, but there was nothing except for what looked to be trash and bits of plane floating off in the distance. The figure was still across from me. It was large, but I could see its chest slowly rising and lowering. It was covered with a black blanket.
As I looked around, it was a clear day with few clouds. There was no land in sight and all that could be seen was bits of plane floating. I wondered where the other survivors were, but then I thought the answer to that question would be obvious. I thought to myself that if there were any other survivors they would be with the wreckage, so I shouted at the top of my lungs.
“Hello?”
I waited for a few seconds, but there was no reply.  I shouted again, and from the figure across from me a voice said
“Be quiet, it's just you and me.”
I recognized that voice, it was the man who ordered in front of me at McDonald's. He was on the raft with me.
“Who are you” I asked.
“Who are you?”
“I asked you first”
“Fine, my name is James. Your turn.”
“Liam” I said.
James looked to be around 300 pounds, had short brown hair and looked to be in his early 20’s.
“How did we end up like this?” I asked.
“Our plane crashed and I was thrown from it. I found this survival raft and went searching through the wreckage for people. I looked all over, but the only person I found alive was you.”
“Have you seen any land since we've been out here?”
“No” He said coldly
At this point I wasn't sure how to feel. I was still in shock from the crash and wanted to calm down before I tried to solve any problems. I asked James
“Do we have any food or water?”
“Yes, but not much. We have 10 bottles of water and it looks like enough food to last us 3 days. We need to be rescued soon!”
The fact that we only had food for 3 days made me uncomfortable, but I decided to try and make the best of it.
“So what do we do?”
“There's not much we can do except for wait and try and survive.”
At that point I was scared to death. This situation just turned from a business trip to Hawaii to life or death. I thought about my wife and son and what they were thinking right now. I knew that I had to get out of this, if not for myself then for them.
“What other supplies do we have James?”
“We have a water purification pod floating in the ocean now, some matches, one blanket, and a single signal flare. Everything else was lost in the crash.”
I looked around and couldn't see much left of the crash anymore. All of the wreckage must have dispersed and sunk. I felt as if I was about pass out. The sun was blazing hot, and I had been it all day. There was no shade on our little raft and I was quickly getting dehydrated.
“I need water”
“It's over in the corner”
I tried to reach for it, but I could barely move. My injuries were worse than I thought. James had to help me more than I would have liked him to.
“Could you hand me a can? I can't move my leg, I don’t know what's wrong with it.”
“Ghaa, fine.” He said lazily. “You really can't move it?”
“If I could I would have gotten it myself. Does this thing come with some way to make shade?”
“No I don’t think so.”
“Use the blanket and put it over the sides of the raft”
“But what if I get cold?”
“Its 90 degrees” I said. “I doubt you’ll get cold. We can take it down during the night.”
James seemed very lazy and dim witted. He didn’t seem to want to help a whole lot. He put up the blanket so that we could have some shade in the blazing heat.
“When do you think we’ll get rescued?” he asked.
“There is no possible way for me to know that. Do you think I'm some sort of psychic or something?”
“Gees, it was just a question. You talk to me like that one more time we're going to have a problem.”
“Oh yea?”
“Yea”
Just then James let out a cry and pointed off into the distance.
“Boat” He screamed
I turned my head and looked, but I didn’t see anything. He got up quickly and grabbed the flair.
“Wait!” I yelled
But it was too late, he had already shot it into the air. I turned my body fully around to see what he saw, but it was gone, or wasn't there at all.
“What was it”
“I thought I saw a boat”
Just then It jumped again. Off in the distance I could see a whale rise from the water and splash back down on its back.
“Great going!” I said “Now how are we going to signal for rescue?”
He was in shock.
“I”m sorry, I could have sworn...”
“Save it, it's no use now.”
I was furious that he would do something so ignorant and senseless. This was the time that I thought that the authorities would be looking for us the most, so we had to think quickly. What could we use to signal a plane or passing ship? I had no ideas, and the sun was beginning to set. At this point I was exhausted and needed sleep. I told James that I was going to sleep and he was also.
When I woke up James had already set up the blanket for shade, and was collecting the water from the water collector in the ocean. It seemed as if he was trying to make up for wasting our only flare, but it wasn't really working. We still had no way to signal to any form of rescue. When James finished with the water collector not thirty second later we heard something in the distance. It was a small aircraft engine.
James and I were frantic. We looked everywhere for something to signal the plane off in the distance. I still couldn't move, so it was up to James. There was nothing in the raft, but James reached in his pocket and pulled out foil from McDonalds that was wrapped around his sandwich. He quickly uncrumpled it and started flashing sunlight at the plane. It worked! The plane turned towards us and flew over us. We were saved!
“Good thinking!” I said to James. “I’m sorry for how I was treating you earlier.”
“I’m sorry too! I shouldn't have wasted the flare in the first place.”
“It’s okay now, we’re saved!”
The plane landed on the water with floating treads, and took us to the Honolulu airport. After that I never saw James again, but from this I realized how complex people can be, and I will never judge somebody like I judged James again, because they might just save your life one day. Thanks to James’ quick thinking I get to go home and see my wife and child.






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