Like many people, this time of year always makes me nostalgic. I think about the past, the present, the future, people I have loved, still love and who I might love some day. I think about love lost and friends gone and love gained and friends who are here. Life is about change, constantly, moving, in flux, and that’s not a bad thing. Memories keep me warm and make me laugh and better than that, they make great writing fodder. My best friend is getting on a plane today to fly to Denver to be with her parents for Thanksgiving holidays. As she was going out the door, she was stressed about making sure she had all her stuff, making sure she got to the airport on time, making sure she had her boarding pass printed, etc. I told her when she got on the plane, have a couple of margaritas. She laughed.
But it reminded me of a trip I took several years ago. We were flying from podunk West Texas to Anchorage, Alaska, and we had to change planes from Midland/Odessa in Houston, and then again in Seattle, Washington. But along the route in Houston, something happened and our plane took off before the other plane even got there. So we were bumped to another flight, and were worried we’d end up missing the next flight in Seattle out to Alaska too, ’cause now we were going to get into Seattle around ten, their time–we needn’t worry, but more on that later.
We flew Continental and it was October. The plane was packed tighter than sardines in a tin can, and I swear they had added rows of chairs. I am tall, my flying companion was taller than me, and he had really long legs. We were uncomfortable, but it was only for four hours, right? We could handle anything for four hours. Plus, for the very first time in my life, even though I’d flown extensively with my parents as a child, I was being treated to an in-flight movie. I have always seen this on television, but Southwest (and Mexico Air), the airlines we usually used, never shows movies (they do shorter puddle jumps and rarely have time anyway, but none of their planes I’ve ever seen are even equipped to show movies.) So fortunately, because of the being bumped, we were given free headphones to watch the movie. If you’ve never flown to watch a movie, the sound can only be heard with the headphones, which at the time, and this was at least 11 years ago, the headphones were $5… yeah. The good news is, if you keep them, you can use them on future flights–so we got a free movie on the way back too!
But they were free for us. I remember the movies, though can’t remember which I saw going up and which coming back but they were: Jawanna Man and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Neither particularly amazing films, but the time on the plane really does go a lot faster when you’re watching a movie than when you’re just sitting there. Another neat treat was that they served us dinner. A real meal, if you can call it that. I hadn’t had a real meal on a plane since I was a kid–just peanuts and drinks. So cool. Okay. Interestingly enough, this was one year after September 11, 2001, and on the trip, we were served eating utensils: a metal fork, a metal spoon, and a plastic knife. Yeah, like that fork couldn’t do as much damage as a metal butter knife. Ludicrous.
Sitting on the Plane
We board the flight, get our free headphones, find our seats, settle in, and I take my bra off. Seriously, I couldn’t stand it one moment longer. We’d already been delayed two hours in the lobby, and I was sick of going through the security checkpoints and my underwires setting the metal detectors off (remember, this was post 9/11, just one year later)–I left that bra in the back of the seat in front of me. Someone was in for a big surprise, I’m sure, when the plane was cleaned out–or perhaps the next passenger. I feel no shame. None. The girls needed to breathe.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited for takeoff.
And it didn’t happen.
And so we wait some more and then the captain comes on and says there’s been a delay. Well, duh! And they are having to call a mechanic. And they are having to get a manual or a book or something because apparently a light had come on on his control panel, and he didn’t know what the light was for. And none of the guys in the cockpit knew what the light was for. And none of the guys in the tower knew what the light was for. So they called the mechanic and he didn’t know what the light was for. So we wait and wait some more, and in between all that waiting we’re given regular updates, that basically, they had to call General Electric, who had made the console, and ask them what the light was for, and they didn’t know either, so they were hunting down the original manuals to try to RTFM so they could figure out what the light was for. (Click here if you don’t know what RTFM means.)
Which in an unnerving sort of way made us all laugh, but it was, did I mention unnerving? Yeah.
Now, after about an hour, people got antsy, so the captain turned off the seatbelts light so we could feel free to ‘move about the cabin freely…” Okay, you ever been on a plane that was packed like sardines? Do you think there’s much ‘moving about freely’ going to happen? No. Me neither.
What to Do, What to Do
So we’re now into the second hour on the plane, and keep in mind, this is after the two hour delay they had caused in the terminal too, so folks on this plane are not happy flyers. People are getting irritable. People are asking why we can’t get off the plane. Apparently, we are finally told, as we enter hour three, that if we deboard the plane, a different type of incident report has to be filed, and it will take longer for us to take off than if they are able to keep us ON the plane and just figure out what the heck the light is for. But we were calling their bluff, ’cause we saw the causeway open and the captain left the damned plane! But okay, we’re stuck on the plane, and they won’t let us off. Sucks, but that’s how it goes.
And about halfway into hour three, the captain comes on and says that for the duration of the flight, all adult spirits and beverages would be free.
Hallelujah! Bring on the booze!
I’m not a big drinker, so this meant absolutely nothing to me, at first, but my flying companion, well, he was easily an alcoholic, who also happened to be a near-chain smoker who hadn’t had a cigarette in about four 1/2 hours. He was being a total ass to me. You ever heard that old saying that you really don’t know someone until you travel with them? Oh, my gosh, it is so true. To think, if we hadn’t taken that trip together, I might have married this guy–you have no idea, but that’s for another time.
So since the natives on the plane were getting hostile, and marijuana was illegal, and they couldn’t pump laughing gas through the pressurized air system of the plane, they decided to ply us with booze.
So the flight attendant comes around and asks what we wanted, and my companion asked for a Crown and Coke, only, make the Coke another Crown. She laughed. I rolled my eyes, and he got two cute little bottles of Crown Royal and a can of soda with a cup of ice. I told her I didn’t really drink that much, what did she have that was good for someone who wasn’t much of a liquor drinker. She said, believe it or not, that the little tiny bottles of margaritas were actually quite tasty. I told her to give me one of those. She did, I poured it on ice, took a few sips and felt the tension start to relax in my neck.
A few more sips later and I was pleased with her suggestion. Those tiny little bottles were actually amazing. When she made the rounds the second time, I asked if I might have two, since one only filled the little plastic cup halfway. Then she made a third round, and I had two more. And then a fourth round. By the time the plane finally took off, four 1/2 hours after our scheduled departure, I dare say I was the drunkest I had ever been. My eyes, in the pictures I have of the time, clearly show just how drunk I was. It might be, honestly, the only time in my life I’ve ever really, truly been drunk–except for an early on Boone’s Strawberry wine episode that involved the paw of a puppy getting fractured… and a waterbed. But that’s a story for another blog.
When we finally landed in Seattle, the flight we were transferring to was with Alaskan Airlines. If you’ve never flown with them, you’re missing something. Their planes are older, remade ones, but they have these big, huge plush seats, plenty of legroom, comfy cabins, and super friendly flight attendants. I wish our whole flight could have been with them. They had a plane waiting on us, because they knew our flight was delayed, so all of us on the delayed flight got to go together, and there were only about 15 of us total. It hardly seemed cost-effective to us, to fly with so few passengers, but we were completely impressed by their customer service. It was a little after midnight, they had waited for us, specifically, kept their bag area open and had already retrieved our bags (which had arrived on another plane before us) and had them waiting for us. Amazing, amazing customer service.
Of course, we were pretty well lit–all of us–by the time we got there, so maybe we were just a bit more agreeable. We all sat near each other on the plane and chatted and literally sang songs (not like a lot of them, but we were talking about television movie theme songs and we did a short sing-a-long). I swear it was like a scene from a movie or something. It was a good trip.
And that makes those tiny little bottles of airplane margaritas officially the best margaritas I have ever had.
What about you?
Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, America!
Love and stuff,