Monday, December 3, 2007

"This is your Captain speaking..."

Words I came to loathe on that Saturday morning...

Up early to pack and get ourselves to DFW in plenty of time to catch our flight, our 9 day vacation to California and Mexico was underway.

We left at 8:30, a bit on the late side, but having reserved a wheelchair for Rick at the airport and knowing that wheelchairs were given priority, we didn't worry. And I'm glad we didn't. Because there would be plenty of worrying going on later in the day.

Scheduled to depart at 11:20, we would have plenty of time to nap and change after arriving in LA at 12:20. And we didn't have any plans until 5:15, when I was throwing a surprise party for Rick and Elizabeth in Glendora. This was to be a big birthday bash/celebration for the three of us, simply because we had made it through the year, unscathed... Well, almost.

My mother's death in May prevented Elizabeth from getting a Sweet 16 party. My brother's death in June prevented me from taking the cruise that I was looking forward to with friends from college. And my big 50th birthday party never happened. Rick's 55th birthday was right around the corner and he had just reached his 11th year of remission with his Lupus. We had plenty of reasons to celebrate and tonight was it. A big surprise was waiting for Rick and Elizabeth.

But an even BIGGER surprise was in store for me.

Our plane was an hour late in leaving DFW but that was no cause for alarm. I had built a big cushion into our schedule. One hour would not cause me any distress.

Five hours would, though.

The plane taxied to the runway and then as we prepared to take off we were treated to:

"Hello, this is your Captain speaking. A light has come on that we need to address, so we are returning to the dock to check it out."

30 minutes later we heard, "Hello, this is your Captain speaking. Maintenance has been called and we will wait for them to come and check out our problem before we can resume our trip. Rest assured that we will fix the problem just as soon as we can and then be on our way."

30 minutes later... "Hello, this is your Captain speaking. Maintenance has discovered that there is a problem with our hydraulic system and a part has been ordered and will be on its way to the plane shortly."

30 minutes later... "Hello, this is your Captain speaking. The part has arrived!"

15 minutes later... "Hello, this is your Captain speaking. Maintenance has just discovered that the wrong part has arrived, and the new part has been ordered and is on its way to us.

By this time the natives were definitely resless. And no food, no beverages, no nothing had been given to us folks stuck there in that aircraft, there at DFW. Hello... I had a party to get to!! But there was still hope... still time... however it was getting late. And I kept wishing that I hadn't gotten up so early to pack.

I continued to have hope though. Stupidly, I hoped.

Somewhere around 3:30, the part arrived, the part was installed and the Captain made his usual crackly speech to us.

"Hello, this is your Captain speaking. The part has been installed and just as soon as we get the oil spill cleaned up, we'll be on our way." Oil spill? That was mildly interesting, but I tuned him out.

"It's gonna be close," I told Nancy, via cell phone. I'd put Nancy in charge of keeping the party guests entertained until we got there. "We'll now be coming straight from the airport."

In sweats. So much for the cute little black outfit I'd planned to wear.

3:45 brought us some new news. New and different news... but not good news.

"Hello, this is your Captain speaking. We'll be underway just as soon as we can. Unfortunately, in the middle of the oil spill clean up there was a shift change. We are just waiting for the next crew to arrive and finish the job."

WHAT????? That didn't sit well with me and I had a private nervous breakdown in the back of that plane. Private because neither Rick nor Elizabeth knew about the party. Neither Rick nor Elizabeth cared if we got to LA on time and neither one could figure out why I cared so much.

We were finally underway at 4:40, Texas time - which brought us into LAX at 5:40, CA time. Late. Very late. But if Nancy had worked her magic, then folks would have stayed for the surprise. I'd even given carte blanche to Nancy to let everyone order all the appetizers and drinks they wanted. Anything to get them to stay! I was desperate.

Luggage delays, hassles at the car rental counter and that infamous LA traffic brought us to Chili Peppers in Glendora only three hours late for our surprise party! Due there at 5:15, we pulled in around 8:15 and all but seven people had hung in there with us. 24 people who didn't know each other at 5:15 were now the best of friends at 8:15. Three hours'll do that to you.

And yes, they had all already eaten dinner.

And were Rick and Elizabeth surprised? Yep. I had actually pulled off the surprise. Except now I really needed a vacation.

And what was Elizabeth's comment about my behavior when she arrived at the surprise party? "I just thought you were insane."

I wonder if she thinks that of me normally. Oh, wait. This is Elizabeth we're talking about. She doesn't know me any other way.

No comments: