My friends the Four Seasons and the Fifth Dimension planned this trip about a year ago. We picked the date and everything. Now that date has finally arrived. The Four Seasons – me, Tanya, Marilynn and Leslie - are going to visit Scott, the Fifth, at his place in Florida.
8:30 A.M.: We leave the house. Traffic is not bad, not too many slow-ups. We arrive right on time – just after ten. I whizz through customs and baggage check like a pro. Soon I’m at the gate. About an hour to wait, so I check Facebook and do my word games.
NOON: When I get on the plane to Miami, I don’t have a preferred seat, which my lovely hubby ordered and paid for. Naturally, I complain to my friend Serge, the airline host. He sends me to see the “lady at the front.” She sends me off the plane – I’ve never done that before – to ask the gate agent to change it for me. I hustle my butt. If only I had known.
Now, there are only about 50 people on this plane. Just so happens no one except Vince was extravagant enough to pay for exit seats. So the nice gate agent gives me an exit seat in an entire row to myself. I have three spacious seats and my butt only covers two of them.
Just as I congratulate myself for what a fine flight this will be, the captain announces that his clock is broken. I don’t even have a watch, but he needs his clock. Apparently time does have to fly. The clock takes care of little things like landing.
When they can’t fix the clock, they order a new one. This not only takes time but needs paperwork done as well.
1:30 P.M.:I have watched most of a movie (Carol) and eaten some yummy cookies and pretzels. The captain finally says we are good to go. Up, up, we go into the wild blue yonder! Yay.
I spread out across three seats. I watch the rest of Carol. Fall in love with Cate all over again. I write. I eat some falafel. More cookies. A can of beer. My, my life is good.
5:30 P.M.: The captain comes on again. Have you ever heard such ominous words?
“You folks have certainly had an interesting flight today.”
Then: “They have closed the Miami airport and we are being diverted to Fort Lauderdale.” Thank goodness. I thought we were out of gas.
I slide over to my other seat at the window. Never have I seen such cloud formations from so close up! Huge cotton walls of white, grey and black. Even funnel-shaped piles. An entire circle of rain fighting, punching its way out. Shelf clouds! Absolutely breathtaking, except for the shaking of the plane. I figure if I’m going to go, I’ll go as a brave person with her face plastered against the window.
If the clock hadn’t broken, would we have made it before the storm? Or would we have headed straight into those angry balls of energy and crashed? Like our grandson Evan, I sometimes like to think in extremes.
6:30 P.M.: We have to circle the Fort a bit, since they aren’t ready for us, but we finally land with a thump. The airhostess politely asks us to stay seated until they find out what the arrangements will be.
A few minutes later, the poor captain has to deliver the bad news. According to US customs we aren’t allowed off the plane, since we didn’t sign on to come to Fort Lauderdale. I guess that’s the reason anyway. They offer instead to gas us up, wait out the storm, and fly us back to where we should have gone in the first place.
They hand out more of those yummy cookies and pretzels and water.
Meanwhile, the storm shifts gears and heads for Fort Lauderdale.
7:00 P.M.: Thirty minutes later, the captain sorrowfully speaks again. Miami is still closed. Angry clouds and lightning circle Fort Lauderdale. No one wants us except my friends.
Scott, Tanya, Marilynn and Bill wait for me at Scott’s place. They could have picked me up and we could have been drinking by now. I am getting a headache from the recycled air.
I am in the emergency exit row, after all, so I begin to eye the little handle that can open the emergency door. I could walk along the wing and drop down into one of those luggage carts. Scott and the gang could pick me up on Runway 909. No luggage, which would force me to buy all new stuff, but what the hell?
No, I don’t want any more &*%%$# pretzels or cookies!
The captain walks through the plane, asking if we have any concerns. Mine is why can’t they serve booze? He thinks I am joking and laughs!
8:30 P.M.: 12 hours to the time I left home, I step on Miami soil. Well, not soil, the concrete of the airport. I hustle to the baggage claim and there, very quickly, is my sturdy little suitcase, bless his little soul for debarking just before the belt comes to a sudden halt.
Scott is outside, waiting at the curb despite police warnings to leave. He wraps me in his arms and off we go. By 9:30 P.M., I am drinking red wine.