Monday, June 30, 2008
A Lizard Stopped My Airplane
Random notes from a random day of travel.
Took off from Portland International Airport at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 29. The flight attendant said our captain was Cal and our co-pilot was Scott.
Cal and Scott? What, Skippy wasn’t available? I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be flown anywhere by Cal and Scott. They sound like they should be getting ready for the prom, not flying me to Florida. If my pilots must have first names only, I want them to be called something like Ace, or Buzz, maybe Tex, something that makes you think they’ve flown a lot, preferably through flak. But I have to give the boys their due, it was the least eventful part of our journey, the flight from Portland to Orlando.
The Portland airport recently won some “best airport” award. In contrast, the airport at Orlando was a dump. I’ve been in better bus terminals. Granted, part of it was under serious remodeling, but show me an airport that doesn’t have construction going on most of the time.
We flew from Orlando to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we’d catch a connecting flight to St. Croix. It was the tightest part of our schedule – pretty much get off the plane, march straight to the next gate and get on the plane. So we landed, the plane is taxiing to the terminal, and suddenly it stops, right in the middle of nowhere. We sit for a few minutes, and finally the captain (not Cal, I didn’t catch this guys nickname so I’ll call him Donny) comes on the intercom to explain the delay.
Apparently there were a couple of large iguanas on the runway. “I could just drive over them,” Donny says, “but I’d probably suck them up in the engine and that wouldn’t do either of us any good.” So we had to wait for someone to come out from the terminal and shoo them away. 15 minutes passed before the plane started moving again. I should mention that we were in the very back of an A300 Airbus, so there were a couple of hundred in front of us. The airline magazine had a sketch of the airport showing the gates. Millie is the smallest, fastest of us, so I showed her the map and told her what to do, where to go and what to say. The second the seatbelt light went off she was up the aisle like a shot – and off and running for the gate to tell them we were coming. You know how it is when a plane lands, everyone stands up and then just stands there, stock still, as the congestion clears. She caromed off people like a pinball and made it to the gate. We were 10 minutes behind her, but it was too late. The plane had left.
“What do I do?” I asked the guy. “Go upstairs to gate 2 and they’ll take care of you.” I ran for it and got the last four seats on the next flight. By the time I walked away from the counter, there was a line of maybe 30 people behind me all wondering how they were getting to their next destination. We had a three-hour wait, but we had tickets.
As I’ve said, the major impetus for this journey has been that we’re tired of being cold and wet. So I got to St. Croix, stepped outside the airport, and a light rain started falling. It was warm, and it was over in minutes. But it was rain. God has a funny sense of humor.
That’ll do for now. Traveling is over. Now it’s time to live this life.