My day had started with what was supposed to be a very early flight out of the Seattle Tacoma Airport. The slight delay while a bad fuse was replaced didn’t bother me much; I had a sizeable layover and knew I’d make my connection. Then we arrived in Dallas and boarded at gate B-17.
I’d barely settled in and clipped my seat belt before the captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Folks, we had a little problem with the landing gear. Thought it was fixed, but it’s still giving us some trouble. We want to do this right; so we’re going to move you to another plane.”
Everyone gathered their bags and pulled kindles and laptops out of the seat pockets in front of them. We stood in the waiting area until we were told to go to gate B-15.
“This is really a drill,” I said to the guys behind me. “They’re studying us to see how quickly we can learn to board.” Camaraderie was forming between the passengers, and we laughed and made jokes.
I hadn’t had time to buckle my seat belt before the captain’s voice again crackled overhead. “Really sorry folks, but safety is our first concern. We’ve had our back-up panel go out on us; and again, we have to put safety first. Our first priority is to get you safely to your destination.”
So we found ourselves milling around outside the gate until we heard we’d been moved to B-13. We boarded for the third time.
As I stashed my bag in the overhead bin, I asked the guy behind me, “Do you think there’s a camera on board and they’re just waiting for one of us to crack so they can have some good footage for that show, ‘What would you do?’”
“Maybe,” he responded, “or it’s some kind of a psychology test.”
The hiss and pop of the intercom being activated interrupted our conversation, and we listened to the captain’s voice. “We weren’t expecting to take this plane to Knoxville; so we need a few hundred more pounds of fuel. We’ll get the plane fueled up and then we’ll take off.”
Passengers made nervous clucking sounds in the backs of their throats, but everyone stayed seated and calm. We waited. We waited some more.
When the captain emerged from the cockpit, his head hung low. “I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “I just can’t believe this is happening to you all. We’ve discovered an oil leak, and we can’t take off. I’m so sorry. I’m just so, so sorry.”
Bets were taken on whether they’d move us to B-11 or back to B-17. “They should have had time to fix our first plane by now,” someone offered. At last we boarded for the fourth time, back at B-11, and successfully took off and, more importantly, we safely landed at our destination.
What impressed me about the entire ordeal was how pleasant the travelers stayed. I’ve been on flights where people have been crazy rude to the flight attendants for virtually no reason at all. Here we had over a hundred people all happy and joking even while they were being terribly inconvenienced for hours on end. Add the psychological strain of having one plane after another declared unfit, and you had a recipe for some real drama.
I wish I would always be like I was on Flight #2736 – saying the right thing and remaining pleasant, but sadly I’m not. The following verses remind me that the wise choose their words carefully and that God observes all we do no matter what is going on around us.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:1-3