Edinburgh LAUNCH

All I’ve got to say is, those hearings in DC had better have some consequences.

Our journey to Edinburgh started today, with lightning at Knoxville airport. As soon as the thunderboomer passed, they herded us swiftly onto the wee flying pencil—

—and we sat there. Finally the sweet flight attendant (Malachi) said he was very sorry, we would have to deplane as Dulles DC had a ground stop.

“A whodewhat?” someone asked, but we were ushered off the plane into the terminal. At the end of the queue came our pilot, who sat next to us and began explaining what was happening.

“Someone of a senior nature, a former president or VP, or perhaps the current secretary of state, is flying in for those hearings. Someone who doesn’t use the White House planes but can’t just fly in without security.” He paused, and chuckled. “And if there hadn’t been that storm, we would have gotten in just ahead of them.”

As it was, we sat in Tyson McGhee for three hours. It’s not an entirely unpleasant place to be, and the people trying to get onto later flights were nice as could be, as were the flight attendants telling them there was nothing they could do about it….

The plan reloaded about 5 pm, with a few less people and perhaps a little bit more attitude. Drinks were free, said Malachi. They were very sorry about this whole Dulles thing, and would get us there using a couple of tricks and shortcuts.

These apparently involved turbulence, but the drinks were free.

We landed. The two German guys across from me began to discuss the fact that their plane was still there, just two gates away. Our plane did not deplane. They discussed breaking a window and making a jump for it. Our plane did not deplane.

Malachi began to look concerned. It turned out, the airport was short a few “rampers,” people who help you get off the flying pencil and then get your oversized carry-ons.

The German guys noted that their plane had pushed back from the gate. “Well, we can spend a weekend in DC shopping,” one said. The other sniffed.

Beside me, a woman standing in the aisle glanced at her watch. “My flight goes in 15 minutes. It’s four gates down.”

“You might still make it.” I tried to sound encouraging. Malachi said into the phone, “Well can they hurry? These people have been waiting a long time.”

Two men in yellow safety vests began to manually push a set of stairs toward our plane. They had to angle them four times. At this point, the Germans, the woman who was going to miss her flight, and Jack and I were laughing hysterically as the two men repositioned the stairs for a third try.

“Does someone want to tell them they have the brake on at the back?” said a guy waiting in the aisle. The rest of the plane erupted into laughter.

“Don’t break my window!” One of the Germans yelled as they rammed forward, once again off kilter, and everybody hooted.

We got off the plane, eventually, and stood around waiting for the baggage that had been taken from us to be returned.

I held up the book I’d been reading on the plane. “Anyone want this? I’ve finished it.”

The lady who would have made it 15 minutes ago extended a hand. “I believe I’m going to be on the night train to Long Island,” she said. “Something to read would be lovely.”

A bunch more guys in yellow vests appeared, one with a piece of paper from which he was checking things off in a brusque manner, face like thunder. Then he threw his pen–a pilot 5.1–across the tarmac. It flew straight and true.

After a moment, I picked it up. “It’s a nice pen, anyone want it?”

One of the women smiled. “My plane is taking off now. I don’t believe I need a souvenir to remember this journey, but all the same, it’s a nice pen.” I handed it over.

“At least someone has a pilot,” muttered one of the Germans, and we all cracked up again.

And so begins our journey to Scotland. Stay tuned for more misadventures….

….and yo, Washington dignitaries, all those nice people missed their flights for you. You better come up with the goods.

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