Insult and Injury
Content warning: I am writing this at 11:37 PM local time which is an hour behind my regular time after having spent 5 hours in an airplane on the tarmac. My sanity is long gone and so is any semblance of a filter that I ever had.
Today I boarded a plane at 6:15 PM. At 8:15 the pilot told us that the hydraulic breaking system had failed and would take 30 minutes to repair. 30 minutes later he let us know that all the maintenance guys were on a break but we should know more in the next 30 minutes.
Then he let us know that our plane passed the test but now there was a weather alert at our destination. Shortly after he let us know that the hydraulic breaks had broken again and now the maintenance staff had to come to the runway. They did several very loud tests on the brakes and determined that it wasn't safe for us to fly and we needed to go back to the gate.
But the tow guys who bring airplanes back were on a break.
So, an hour later, we returned to the gate.
An airport worker who was given all the power we give to three year olds with dull plastic knives told us we could leave the plane, but in order to do so we had to sign away our rights as humans and move into the airline's (I'm not going to say their name because of loshon hara but JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE JETBLUE) human farm where they let kids from other delayed flights take human centipede rides on our backs. He then said they were working on the breaks and he would be at the front of the plane for questions. Then, a flight attendant made an announcement that we had been given the option to deplane.
As a white woman, I have a gift for being a total asshole to customer service people. As a jewish millennial I often feel bad about it later. Not this time. I marched to the front of the plane where the flight attendants told me I would not be allowed to speak to the hapless man child of the airport. I pointed out that he had just asked for questions and they called him over. I asked how soon the plane would take off and he said probably half an hour. I asked if I had given up any of what I was entitled to by being given the right to deplane and he said that that was not his department. I showed him the apps on my phone I had with all the airlines (JETBLUE) different departments' customer services and how they all said it wasn't their problems and that while I was waiting I should go fuck myself.
After another 90 minutes of this (and the pilot coming out to let us know that multiple systems of the plane kept failing) the airport employee got on the mic again to tell us that we had been VERY BAD PASSENGERS and used far too much water to flush our shits and the plane was only equipped with enough water for a two hour flight and by not holding in our disgusting human urges for an unknowable time we had fucked up the whole thing and needed to deplane.
So now I'm in the terminal and we know this flight isn't going anywhere: it's a stalemate between the passengers and the airline (JETBLUE): the airline who refuses to cancel the flight because they would then be liable to pay us for our trouble, as well as providing hotel rooms for each of us. And the passengers who won't give up their rights to money.
They did just start reboarding and for some unknown reason and despite the fact that only 40% of us remain, they are going with the caste system: group A? Do I have any group A?
Often one form of suffering reminds us of other forms of suffering. For me, this endless waiting seemed like an all too apt metaphor for my dating life.
I don't want to get on a plane with faulty brakes. I want a good plane with good breaks. I hope all the planes I see have great brakes! But after 6 hours I don't care if my plane has wings. I mean. I do. I want a safe, good, healthy plane. If those even exist. Because now that I've lived in this airport for awhile I'm starting to wonder if any plane has good brakes and if it even matters that much?
At 6 PM I would have said that of course safe is better than sorry, but at midnight I'm willing to take my chances. Why does a plane need brakes anyway? There isn't friction in the sky.
Of course, I could cede this whole thing and give up my seat and take a train to my destination. But...what if 6 seconds after I sign the paperwork, the plane takes off? And lands normally? And then all the doubts about the brakes were for nought.
The plane is marriage you guys.
So I wait for a safe plane that's been inspected, nevermind the fact that the more inspections they do, the more problems they find. And, since I've been waiting so long, I have actually changed the status of the plane with the weight of my shit/baggage/actual poop. So now, I need to be removed from the situation until they can balance it all out.
And now I'm thinking-do I want to be on a plane that can't handle the fact that I might occasionally go to the bathroom?
If I gave up my spot I could go to the Holiday Inn across the street and go to sleep.
But then I give up the potential for money.
And I've waited this long. Just am little longer.
(Is this a virginity metaphor? No, because virginity is a made up concept by the patriarchy and it doesn't exist.)
I reach out to my friends to validate my suffering. But they're asleep because it's 1 AM. Once, they were on the same boat/plane as me but they're gone now and it's just me in this airport.
Of course, the employees could be better. They could be honest and they could stop blaming me for going to the bathroom. But they make it worse. They make me think that perhaps I'm the one who broke the brakes. Despite the fact that I know this isn't possible their disdain for me seeps in. I'm the customer, why can't I be right?
Like the Shadchans I've stopped calling, I stop expecting anything from the airline.
No one has the answers or expertise to help me. They claim they do but it's clear I am alone.
Of course, six hours is a first world problem. I can wait six hours. I can wait six years. The part that hurts is that they keep telling me it'll only be thirty more minutes. If I knew from the beginning it would be six hours I'd get an airport manicure, I'd go find some ice cream, I'd sneak into an exclusive sky lounge. But I'm left in purgatory.
Every step takes longer than it should because every department is on a break when we need them. Insult, injury.
They thank us for our patience and begin to load us on to the plane, class by class. The idea of the class system is laughable to a crowd that's sleeping on the floor and mainlining whiskey from the gift shop. But they don't budge and it's worse to be herded in this way when we're the stragglers, the leftovers. Even in this hellscape, class matters.
Once on the plane it's another 45 minutes until we take off, despite the fact that we are the only plane left at the airport. They thank me for my patience and I miss the girl I was when I first boarded. I've lost some of my charm and so has the plane.
I'm waiting. I have an iPad and books and a phone and chargers. It's not as bad as it could be. I just wish the injury wasn't mixed with so much insult.
Please don't blame me for going to the bathroom.