Stuck on a tarmac or how I went to hell on vacation

Posted on July 13th, 2012

You know how you read the stories in the paper of poor, tortured souls who board a plane for a 1 hour flight and 6 hours later they are still sitting on the tarmac in a plane full of people who have not eaten anything but a piece of wood disguised as a granola bar and whose deodorant has failed thanks to the hot, Texas sun and the lack of A/C in the sweltering plane? And you know how you always think, “I hope that never happens to me?”

Yeah. I thought that. And yeah. It happened to me.

We left San Antonio last weekend, headed for a connecting flight in Dallas and ultimately home. Our plane pulled out about ten feet from the gate and stopped. Turns out there were severe thunderstorms in Dallas, so we couldn’t fly in.

About an hour into our torture the crowd began to get restless (except Junior who had movies on his iPad and snacks in his backpack, so he hardly seemed to notice we weren’t going anyplace). But Little Jerry, the 3 year old across the aisle who, until that very minute, had been entertaining all of us with his tone-deaf rendition of “I’m a Ninja Boy,” suddenly tired of singing and instead began to practice his ninja boy moves on the seat in front of him, whose occupant never woke up, despite Little Jerry’s swift kicks. Honestly? I’d have thought the guy was dead, but he was snoring like crazy.

And then there was the very loud lady at the back of the plane who spent her time calling every single person she had ever met in her life to tell them the following:

  1. The airline was the blame for everything bad on the planet that had ever happened to her, including sitting on the tarmac for hours with a bunch of smelly people and Little Jerry.
  2. That she only had two bars on her phone, so every person she called needed to call the airline to call the airline to get her off the dang plane. I can only imagine how those calls went.
  3. That she was a pilot.(I know, scary, right?)
  4. That she understood it was a weather delay, but she would not stand for it. Um, OK, I’m sure that helped the thunderstorms leave Dallas. Not.

After two hours (coincidentally just before the airline is apparently required to give us a snack and water) we took off for Dallas. And landed in Abilene. We waited another couple of hours there, along with a hundred or so other planes. It was at this point that the most terrifying part of our trip occurred. We ran out of snacks. Junior frantically scoured the depths of his backpack and came up with some crumbs and one package of crackers with peanut butter and honey. I told him to make them last and he did. He ate them in two bites, instead of his customary one bite.

And then Little Jerry began to get even more restless. First his dad gave Jerry an iPad which allowed all of us to hear the joyous sounds of Little Jerry shooting at something and screaming “woo-hoo” every time he made a kill – which was disturbingly frequent. And Loud Lady got back on her phone, only this time she added the terrifying phrase “my anti-anxiety medicine is wearing off” to her litany of complaints. She also started using the f-word with abandon, causing the mother in the seat in front of her to ask her to be quiet, followed by a cowboy three aisles over who, tired of their arguing over Loud Lady’s swearing, told Loud Lady nicely, “Ma’am, we’d all like you to just shut up.”

Miraculously, she did. Which was nice, because honestly? I was about to try to find the slide and deploy it and I never, ever get out of my seat on an airplane, whether it’s flying or not (I may have some deep-seated flying issues).

And then Little Jerry’s dad took away the iPad so he could hunt for new flights in Dallas. And Little Jerry was not pleased, but he didn’t cry. He didn’t yell. He just waited until his Dad was on the phone and iPad with the airline and he wriggled out of his seatbelt, down between his dad’s legs and made a break for it. The music from “Chariots of Fire” swelled as Little Jerry made it down the aisle, clearly destined to be the only person escaping from this version of Hell, only to be scooped up by his mother, who was sitting several rows ahead. Sadly, even ninja boys had to stay on the plane.

Finally, we took off again, arrived in Dallas and sat on the tarmac awaiting a gate. But this time, we got granola bars or possibly edible wood chips. Hard to tell them apart. And then, after 6 hours total, we were able to get off the plane and discover that all other flights had been delayed but that our connecting flight had left six minutes earlier.

And so began the second phase of our journey, waiting in the airport for 3 hours to make another flight. As for Little Jerry and Loud Lady, they made it off the plane and were never seen again.

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2 Responses to “Stuck on a tarmac or how I went to hell on vacation”

  1. OneMommy Says:

    What an awful start of a trip!
    Bless the soul of the guy who told loud lady to be quiet. Somebody sure needed to do it.

  2. ChaCHA online Says:

    Ewww. I hope you had a cocktail– or ten– to take the edge off. I hope they were all complimentary.

    Awful trip, but a great story!

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