To quote Mark Twain, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” However, at one point, I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it.
It all started with a vacation in Peru. Having survived a 50 mile hike through the Andes ending with a tour of Macchu Picchu and losing my luggage on the way to Cuzco (more stories for another day,) I found myself almost home in New York at JFK airport. All I had to do was to survive a short trip to Baltimore and a three hour drive home to Pennsylvania.
I was sooooo close!
We boarded the plane in New York. It wasn’t made by the Wright Brothers, but they were probably still alive when it was built. It was a small plane–two seats on one side and a single seat on the other. Only one luggage bin on one side.
When I got to my seat and sat down I was welcomed by this:
I’m having a bad feeling about this. If the best they can do to fix a tray table is duct tape and a warning label, I’m not sure about the level of maintenance of the more important parts of the plane, like the cockpit and engines.
Turns out, they must have used duct tape and a label on the rudder. Halfway into our flight, the stewardess announced that when we start to land it might be noisy. There was a problem with the rudder, but it wasn’t important.
Isn’t the rudder used to steer the plane?
Of course, it explains why the pilot kept coming on and asking everyone to lean to the left or lean to the right.
Not long after the rudder announcement, the stewardess is back on the speaker with more good news. She told us not to be alarmed, but there will be some emergency vehicles parked along the runway. Just. In. Case.
And as an exclamation point to this tidbit of news, the duct tape fails and my tray table falls in my lap.
The stewardess is now coming down the aisle collecting trash. I point to the broken tray table and tell her, “I think I need some more duct tape.”
With a perfectly straight face, and no amusement whatsoever, she replies, “I don’t carry duct tape.” She slams the tray back up and reattaches it with the old duct tape.
I wistfully look out the window and wonder if the rudder has fallen off yet or if the duct tape is still holding.
Sure enough, as we land, there were 7 or 8 firetrucks with lights flashing along the tarmac. One of the other passengers noted that there were no other planes taxiing near our runway. Someone was prepared for the worst.
But we landed in one piece, although I can’t say for certain we didn’t leave a trail of parts between New York and Baltimore.