For all their ease in reducing travel time, flights are fraught with complications. Forget check-in, pat-downs, shoes and bracelets in bins, oversized roll-aboards, and people clogging aisles. Cups alone can hold a plane on the tarmac.
What? Yes, seriously.
Dave and I were on our way to Sarasota. In the interest of thrift and in order to get a full day on the beach, we’d bypassed our “ABD” (Anything but Delta) rule, and were scheduled to depart at 7:00 AM on Delta’s flight #3330. We opted to avoid a groggy middle-of-the-night drive by staying at the convenient and homey LaGuardia Inn, with its quick morning shuttle to the airport at 5:00.
While waiting for Dave in the security line – clearly his profile is that of a terrorist for he is always pulled aside for a thorough inspection – I noticed a pilot, who turned out to be ours. He was tall, angular, and pale, a Benedict Cumberbatch twin, with an Asberger’s-like absorption as he strode past me in visored cap and uniform. When we boarded the plane, having turned over our rolling bags as the overhead bins were reported as full, I spotted him in the cockpit. A blond female attendant in flight-risky three-inch heels, stood in the hatch, hand on hip as if posing for a photograph, chatting with the Cumberbatch look-alike.
Once all passengers were seated, bags stowed, Kindles and books on knees, the pilot’s voice – a flat voice, even-toned, perfect for him – came over the loudspeaker to announce our departure in five minutes.
Five minutes came and went. The click of a microphone, and again that flat voice, “I apologize for the delay, but we are waiting for cups. When the hostess service stocked the plane, they forgot to give us cups.”
Cups! A fully-loaded plane grounded to wait for cups!
I heard no grousing. No doubt everyone was yearning for morning coffee and those cups were crucial for that. Several people, myself among them, seized the opportunity for another trip to the restroom. Others, Dave among them, mimed Oliver Twist, holding out their hands plaintively, cupped, if you will. Luckily, most were not in a rush, but imagine explaining to your boss that you were late for a meeting because you’d been detained by a wait for cups!
With a static-y crackle, the pilot spoke again. Even his flat tone bore a hint of discomfort as he said, “Hey folks. We have another little problem. The cups are here, but the stairs were rolled away, so we can’t get the cups into the plane until they’re rolled back.”
“I feel like yelling, just throw them!” hissed the attendant as she marched past us and down the aisle.
Once the cups arrived, we prepared for take-off. We were snug in our cramped seats, so very snug, cupped, as it were, tight as eggs in their shells, in that delightful Delta airbus way. The head of the young man in 15A, the seat ahead of me, was cradled tenderly in my lap since he’d reclined his seat as far as it would go. Happily, his hair was clean, and wisps blew and bobbed in the well-conditioned air. Dave’s knees were spread wide, to accommodate the seat in front of him. But no matter. With Cumberbatch at the helm and cups in hand, we were off to palm trees, sunshine, rum drinks, and friends.