We got to Dallas, at least Dallas airspace, around 10 pm. It was still as light as at noon day, at least most of the time. Lightning flashed every few seconds with the storm clouds below us reflecting and increasing the lumens. We drove around in the sky for a while, looking for an opportunity to park our rig.
It never happened. Conditions at Dallas/Ft Worth were still intense with lightning and wind shear. Finally, the pilot announced that he and his crew had worked a long day and couldn’t legally hang around in the sky much longer. They were down on hours and in the same boat with the jet fuel gauge. As passengers, we had been up as long as they and were getting also getting tired of being high.
Finally, the pilot headed for Austin, a half-hour drive away. We landed without fanfare and noticed the weather was calm. American Airlines was flying a crew in from LA to ferry us to Dallas as soon as the storm let up. We vegetated in an empty and unrelaxing terminal for three hours until the new crew arrived and got the plane revved back up.
We taxied out to the runway in the middle of the night and the middle of the storm that had just arrived from Dallas. The pilot said he had clearance to take off but basically was chicken to hit the throttle. I didn’t blame him. The rain was pounding and the lightning brilliant and often. The wind was blowing in a good 50 mile an hour gale and as we sat waiting on the tarmac, I could see we were probably in a permanent stationary jam.
Two business guys were among our fellow travelers. One was the boss of the other. I’ll call him Boss. He was in his forties. He sat in the window seat with Michele sitting next to him in the middle. The other was a duck who sat in the aisle seat across from me. I’ll call him Duck. He was in his thirties.
After we had parked and sat waiting for a break in the storm, Duck got up and left. Boss stayed put and played video games on his phone. Every once in a while as everyone else was attempting to doze off to pass the time, Boss would open wide his mouth and yawn. As he did this, he would emit a foghorn-style sound emission to accompany his yawn. The only difference between his horn and a tugboat’s is his was much louder.
Everyone in his general vicinity would jump from the sudden loud blast. Because his mouth was as open as the mouth of a cobra while trying to swallow a large hyena, I think his ear drums were stopped off and he had no idea how loud his yawn was. I mentioned that everyone in his vicinity would jump. This included especially the dozing passenger seated next to him, my dear wife Michele.
She had a couple of seconds worth of a grand mal seizure every time he enunciated his yawn. Her entire body tried to shoot out of her seat even though her seat belt was still snugly buckled around her. Watching Michele and Boss interact were the only times through the entire night that I cracked a smile. It made the Boss racket worthwhile.
Duck was gone for hours. I asked Boss where his partner had gone so he got up between yawns and searched the plane. He returned with no clue as to Duck’s whereabouts. I began to worry that Duck had accidentally hit the high-powered airliner flush button while still sitting on the commode and was now swimming around in the dark, trying to keep his head above water in the black-water tank of the airplane.
We sat and sat some more in the cramped quarters. Eventually the pilot announced that his crew were now out of hours and illegal. We had been in Austin so long I figured the first crew would have caught enough zzz’s that they could get back on board and relieve the present crew. Duck reappeared just as we were getting ready to exit. His feathers were still dry so he must have luckily just fallen asleep in one of the bidets instead of hitting the flush button. We deplaned and decomposed for the next few hours in the hostage terminal surroundings.
As passengers, we were getting a little agitated. The airline gave us no help or advice and little refreshment. The food shops were closed for the night. Most of us were starving. I wasn’t quite as hungry as the rest since it hadn’t been that long since I had snarfed down my smuggled soggy sandwich and electrolytic fluid.
Finally, the airline generously brought us some much-needed groceries. It must have cost them at least ten bucks, no more than fifteen. What we, the 160 or so passengers got was 60 little bags of goldfish crackers, 40 tiny plastic bottles of water and a few small token helpings of Gardetto’s, a poor man’s trail mix. The pigs in the group got enough nourishment to whet their appetite. The more polite majority got squat.
In the interest of keeping my own public image as polished as possible, I won’t divulge what I obtained and ingested in the hour of need.
Finally morning arrived. More incidents of airline ineptitude occurred but I’ll save the airline criticism for the next time I get bumped. Since our flight was cancelled, we had to go clear back down to baggage claim and retrieve our bags. Then visit the ticket counter to get rebooked as standby’s on already crowded flights for the new day headed to Dallas.
The next step involved going back through the Homeland Security drama…one bad penny after another. In the course of our journey, we met a nice lady probably ten years younger than ourselves. I managed to slip in a pitch concerning my book and she said she’d check it out on Amazon and order one. I thought “Sure, that’s what everyone says just to get me off their back.”
Later, up at the gate, we ran into her again. Her name was Laura. She had lost her phone downstairs and was pretty frantic. She said she had the app Find Lost Phone on it but didn’t have another phone to track it down. I gave her mine and told her good luck.
Three seconds after she disappeared into the crowd, I started wondering if I would ever see my phone again. I should have installed Find Stolen Phone on it before turning it over to a lady who looked nice on the outside but most likely had two or three hundred stolen phones piled on the shelves of her closet at home.
All the forgotten passengers from the stormy flight were congregated in the area, hoping for their name to be called since we were on standby status. The counter lady called out Boss’s name several times. Duck heard his boss’s name and started screaming for him without any reservations whatsoever. He must have yelled his name ten times. Duck’s yell was almost as loud as Boss’s yawn.
All of a sudden, Boss woke up from sleeping in a corner on the floor and looked totally confused. Duck yelled at him again and Boss took off running across the waiting area, carrying a suitcase and dragging his coat by one sleeve with the rest of it cleaning the floor. It was funny stuff!
Boss finally got to the ticket counter but the ticket lady had gone to the next name, ushered the passenger into the passageway, and slammed the door. Boss was not happy with the lady and let her know all about it. Duck walked over to where his boss was venting and began yelling at Boss while pounding on the counter. “You are STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! You are STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!”
I couldn’t believe the sight. It was hilarious. Both guys releasing their pent-up tensions in front of a crowd of bone-tired, way-late spectators. Boss didn’t act like he could hear his underling Duck. He was still cussing out the airplane lady.
During this time, I had been sitting with Michele keeping an eye on her phone that was charging on her hot pink wired charger plugged into the wall 20 feet away from us. Duck’s and Boss’s antics were keeping me amused enough that I stood up and walked over to where I could get a better view of their act. After they finished, I walked back and sat down by Michele.
I looked over to make sure Mitch’s phone was still secure. It wasn’t. All I could see was a teenage black kid bending down and blocking my view of Michele’s hot pink phone cord. I knew immediately that this young punk was absconding with Michele’s phone, using Duck’s and Boss’s comedy act as a diversion.
I sprinted for the culprit, roughly grabbed his arm that was so very obviously unplugging and heisting Michele’s phone. “What do you think you’re doing?!!!!” I demanded. A couple of seconds later, I noticed that there was no hot pink phone cord in his fingers. As he was saying something about just plugging his phone in, Michele called out to me that she had already retrieved her phone.
I belatedly realized this kid had just been innocently plugging his phone in. I muttered an embarrassed apology, released my grip on his arm and slunk back to my seat. I chalked it up my paradigm of the world, created by many years and vast experiences of regularly getting ripped off.
Another hour passed. Laura reappeared with a big smile. My stolen phone without the app Find Stolen Phone had returned. Once in a while it just works out.
My phone had tracked down her phone. She was so happy. I didn’t have to track her down. I was so happy.
She offered to buy us cups of coffee in repayment. I mentioned we were Mormon and politely declined. She then asked what she could do for us so I said she could buy my book which would dramatically boost sales.
She immediately set about finding Recovering Idiot on Amazon. I was later surprised to find she had ordered two. We finally caught a plane to Dallas. It had been a long and sleepless ordeal, not soon to be forgotten.
A couple of weeks later, I received the following message from Laura:
“Through the 1st chapter and loving it. Can totally hear your voice as I read it.”