Stories from the Sky: On a 12 hour flight my best friend took an “alternative” to sleeping pills.

Have you knocked back a prescription drug with the sole intention of reaping the side effects?

No? Never? Well nor have I. Probably because they are, by definition, effects that come ON THE SIDE. i.e they’re NOT THE INTENDED EFFECT. But we all have that one friend, don’t we…

I’m no exception. I too have that one friend: his name is Roy. And I would like to preface the remainder of this story by saying that Roy is one of my best friends. He’s a fantastic human being and I love him to absolute bits.

However. Roy’s a fool. Plain and simple: He’s the bloke that just has no idea. About anything: the happy-go-lucky guy that walks on air; the guy without any sense of what’s appropriate to bring up in conversation; the guy with no idea how loud he’s talking; and the guy who has the time management skills of a fish.

On top of all this, he’s the guy that has allergies. All the allergies. To be honest, the list of things he can’t have is shorter than the list of things he can. Roy enjoys life without dairy, gluten, red meat, wheat, fun etc.

So it goes without saying that he has some SERIOUS allergy meds. All of which he brought with him as we boarded LAN Chile flight LA800, bound for Santiago, Chile.

via Netflix.

Aside from offending some Asian tourists in front of us (talking about them LOUDLY), Roy was relatively well behaved on the first leg of our flight. Yes it was only a two hour hop to Auckland. But for Roy that's an achievement. We stopped over in Auckland airport, sipped an easing-into-the-holiday beer, and re-boarded our flight through to Santiago.

This leg was a longer one, clocking in at twelve hours. We sat in a row of three on the left side of the cabin, three guys fresh out of high school, venturing to South America. The aisle seat was mine. Roy had the middle. And Hugh, the third member of our travel party, snatched the window. We watched mediocre movies, ate mediocre pasta (Roy didn't), and teased Roy for being allergic to things.

Eventually the cabin lights around us begin to dim. Passengers embark on the tetris-like-task of contorting their bodies to find comfort on an aeroplane.

Sleep and I have a fairly one-sided relationship: I care SO much... I've tried giving her space; smothering her with affection; staying home to look after the kids... She still wants nothing to do with me.

At home, I spend hours trying to fall asleep. Then if (IF) I manage to, I'm awoken by a leaf falling three suburbs over. So it goes without saying that on planes our relationship is particularly strenuous.


I wash my disappointing pasta down with two and a half sleeping pills, and swap my travel clothes for tracksuit pants and a soft long top. Because I need all the help I can get.

I spend the next hour demonstrating the typical 'falling-asleep-while-sitting-up head bounce', which is my least favourite series of events in the world: You're body becomes so tired it can no longer PHYSICALLY BE AWAKE. You then fall asleep for half a second and it's better than sex. And then you wake yourself up in shock and your neck hurts and all you want is to NOT BE ON A PLANE. You know those people who just close their eyes AND THEN THEY'RE ASLEEP. THEY DON'T KNOW THE STRUGGLE. I want to wake them up. If I can't sleep neither can they.

Sir no PLZ CAN YOU STOP. via Netflix.

Roy struggles to fall asleep too. But my sleeping pill supply is limited. And I'm selfish. So I leave him to fend for himself. Which, given Roy's tendency to make terrible decisions, is an error on my part.

The first indication things are heading south comes about four hours into the flight: In my despairing quest for sleep, I shift my pillow from the back of my neck, round to the front. I open my eyes in the process. And Roy is staring at me. Completely and utterly transfixed. Eyes-wide. TERRIFIED. Never before or since have I seen a human being look more like an Emoji...

via Emojiisland.

To be honest I just think he's making faces at me. So I ignore Roy's foolishness and return to my head bounce. Within five minutes I hear the stewardess handing Roy a plastic cup of water. But hey. People get thirsty. I keep my eyes closed and pray God helpeth me sleep.

Within twenty seconds the stewardess returns, refilling Roy's plastic cup. I hear him asking for more as she walks away. And doing so again. And again. Classic Roy. Being a loud fumbly buffoon while I'm trying to sleep.

"Roy you absolute moron stop shuffling."

via Emojiisland.

He doesn't blink. Not once. And now he's looking around the plane - probably for more water - in a panicked fashion. Jolty neck movements. Like someone's after him but he doesn't know who. Have you seen that sketchy look-around thing meerkats do when they sense danger? That.

Actual footage of Roy on the plane. via GIPHY.

As we deplane in Chile, I ask Roy if he got any sleep.

"Nah i didn't get any... It was... It was really weird actually."

"Yeah you were being SUPER sketchy, what was wrong? Did you just have some anxiety something?"


"Well I'm not sure. I was reallllly paranoid. It might've been because of the Phenergen."

For those that may not be aware, dear readers, let me explain. Phenergen is a drug used to treat allergy symptoms. #Roy. He carries it around in case any sort of mild allergic reaction comes about. Needless to say he had it with him on the plane (the fact he didn't forget it altogether is a miracle in and of itself). Phenergen also helps with motion sickness. So the benefits are twofold.

However. Phenergen also makes you drowsy as a side effect.. SIDE. EFFECT. SIDE EFFECT. I.E: NOT ITS PRIMARY INTENTION.

There's a note from Roy's doctor stuck on the front of the Phenergen box: 'Take 1-2 tablets as required, followed by 1 tablet every hour if symptoms persist.'

"Roy, what do you mean 'because of the Phenergen'?"

"Well I couldn't get to sleep. So I took three."

"I thought Phenergen was for allergies."

"It is but... it also has the side effect of making you sleepy."

"So you took three all at once, NO WONDER you felt a bit weird you fool."

"Well after twenty minutes, I wasn't really sleepy. So I took four more."

" you took seven."


Me too Samuel L... me too. via GIPHY.

I... I can't even. It's at this point Roy proceeds to tell me the reason behind his petrified facial expression all flight.

"I started... what's it called... HALLUCINATING. Yeah. Hallucinating. For a few hours I thought you were Mollie [his girlfriend]. You know how your neck pillow was around the front of your neck? Yeah I thought it was boobs. I genuinely thought you had boobs. I felt realllly claustrophobic. Like majorly like you wouldn't even believe. And thirsty. Like my brain was telling me you're not really Mollie and that you don't have boobs. But when I looked at you..."

I wish I expected better from him. But I don't. I'm used to him his tomfoolery. He most definitely will NOT learn from this experience. In fact quite the opposite.

Seven Phenergen didn't really work out. Knowing Roy, next time he'll try twelve.