Aug 22, 2008

my big adventure - part 1

Before I left for my trip to Europe with my son and mother, I typed in my Facebook status line that I was "off on my Big Adventure." But I had no idea that it would be so... adventurous. I should have known. After all, we were flying transatlantic stand-by. My mom, who works for an airline and regularly flies stand-by, came back to where John and I were waiting with the carry-ons and said, "well, the flight is over-booked. That's not good." So we waited as the rest of the passengers boarded, wondering if we'd even be able to begin this big adventure. Finally the gate agent called our names and not only did she give us seats, but she gave us seats in business class! We settled into our giant recliner chair seats. My mom excitedly showing John how to move the footrest up and down, how to move the chair forward and backward, how to put the tray up, and most importantly, how to work the individual movie screens. John, in the window seat, slid the window shade up, then down, then up again. And I, across the aisle laid back and sipped the champagne and scanned the newspaper that the flight attendant brought me. Soon we were off to the runway. Just as soon, the lead flight attendant made an announcement. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are having a problem with one of the doors. We are going to have to go back to the gate and have the mechanics check it. This shouldn't take long. It's not a big problem." The door opened and men with bright orange vests and walkie-talkies boarded the plane and fixed the problem. Once again, we taxied to the runway. And sat there. After a while the pilot came on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are missing a gas cap. It's not a problem, but we do need to go back to the gate and have them put the gas cap back on." So, once again we went to the gate. It took them quite a while to put the gas cap back on. Perhaps they had to locate it first. But finally the flight attendant made the announcement that we were ready for take off. Except that we weren't. Evidentally when they shut the engine off when they discovered the missing gas cap, something happened to make the check engine light come on. So we went back to the gate for a third time. And the men in bright orange vests boarded the plane again going back and forth through the aisles. Flight attendants hauled in boxes of water bottles and soon began passing out plastic glasses of water. As I sipped it, I was glad I was enduring this in business class instead of coach. I imagined what it must be like for those poor sardines back there. "Hey Mom," John said to get my attention. I looked over. "I finished the book!" While we were waiting to find out if we were going to get on the plane or not, I gave John a bag with some things for the flight. I thought the book would occupy him for a while. It did. Except that we weren't even off the ground yet when he finished it. I noticed a flight attendant talking excitedly to the woman sitting in front of me. Curious, I eavesdropped. "We are going to have to switch planes," she said and then leaned in closer adding "it's better this way." I leaned across the aisle. "Psst! Mom, we're going to have to switch planes." Suddenly a man in orange said, "We're all good to go!" And the flight attendant in front of me shrugged her shoulders to the woman and said, "well, good, then. He's the lead mechanic. We're not switching planes. It's better this way." I glanced at my watch. It was six-thirty, three hours past our original take off time. When the plane wheels caught air, everyone in the plane let out a collective sigh of relief. The pilot came on and explained that they would be able to make up time in the air, but we'd still be arriving in Paris two hours late. I leaned back in my reclining chair. Our Big Adventure was underway.

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