Myself and some fellow collegues in edu-tain-ment were blessed with opportunity to impart our industry and book knowledge to the students at North Carolina Central University on Wednesday. More on that later...because the strangest thing happened on the way back from Durham.
So we're at RDU scheduled for our 740p flight on American. We get there in with enought time to scoop some light fare at the1 of the 5 spots that serve food before they close at 7p. We get's busy and get to the gate for our 710p board. We're delayed until 8p. Our time approaches as we begin the boarding process. Slightly intimidated by the small aircraft that barely seats 40 comfortably...where my six foot frame is forced to crouch down so as not to bump my head on the ceiling. We march single file down the aisle and take our seats. I'm in 6B, the window...which is probably about 12-18 feet away from the cockpit.
Collectively, me, Osa, Dove, Elle, J.Staten and Legendary don't necessarily make up a Soul Plane. Actually WE were the minority, except for the older brother in the second row...and Dove of course. She's our Teena Marie, except the only thing she doesn't do is sing! Strapped in we pull away from the gate and move about 40 feet when the pilot says we have to wait on the tar mat for traffic to clear at LGA, and he proceeds to turn off the engine. I immediately ask to no one in particular, "where's the entertainment? Does anyone have a comedy routine they want to try out?"
Now let me set the scene. While the plane was small, whispering really wasn't possible unless you spoke directly into your seatmates ear or passed notes. Our crew is pretty tired, yet slightly restless. I immediately ask our West Indian flight attendant for a coke with ice...I figured I would put my Bacardi White Silver 50ml bottle from my conference gift bag to use. Dove & Elle are "quietly" engaging in a verbal round of back and forth about feelings that seems to be pretty intense - or not. Legendary is reading a book about Tennis aesthetics, Osa is messing with her blackberry and Staten (2 rows back) has dozed off.
The 9pm hour approaches and as I'm reading my USA Today, I smell cigarette smoke. Having been raised by two smokers, and with the no smoking bans in most public places for the past 10 years, my nose is pretty senitized to the stench of the cancer sticks, especially a closet/bathroom smoker. "Ewww, you smell that?" I say to the crew. Osa thinks the Bacardi has kicked into my system. No one else really acknowledges, but I do see a few looks in my general direction from the other passengers and I keep in moving back to my paper...Time for another coke. I see the flight attendant look in my direction so I mouth the words "another Coke please." I'm pretty good at reading lips so she returns "I can't hear you." So I mouth it again and she mouths what she says again and then I SAY: "Another coke please," and the front of the plane looks and laughs. I guess everyone was in on the joke except me.
When she approaches with my coke and ice she says, "I was playing with you. You said you wanted entertainment!" We shared a laugh...and then the tide quickly turned. I hear Dove say, "And someone was smoking in the bathroom." Since I am sitting directly behind Dove I return her statement with, "ooh Dove, no snitchin...and you live in Harlem, the no snitch capital." Witty as she is, "F that, I have asthma." The flight attendant quickly scales the aisle toward the back with a firm look on her face. Then she swiftly moves toward the front and approaches 2 young ladies sitting in the bulkhead seats.
From the look on her face, something is about to go down. The flight attendant swiftly moves to the cockpit and a minute later we all hear the deep voice from above. "Well, as luck would have it, we're next for takeoff, but it looks like some people just can't follow the rules. So it looks like we're going to have to pull back to the gate and have the authorities handle this situation." No sooner did he say that and begin moving us back to the gate when we see police lights flashing on the tarmat. By the time we pulled up to the gate, RDU police was in full effect.
Everyone is a little more that frustrated at this point. We could have been on our way home by now. This two hour delay has turned into quite an adventure. The police enter the plane and the girls get up with their heads down and quickly deplane. Next thing we know, we hear Legendary chime in, "ooh, are those seats available? I need more leg room." Gotta love it.
The plane door closes and were about to taxi from the gate and get on the road. It's 10p now and we are beat down. Staten is ready for his Diet Coke, as he has been clutching his own 50mL bottle for quite a few minutes since the mayhem began. With the 1000+ flights that were cancelled on American Airlines this week, we're just happy ours wasn't one of them. Needless to say, we deplane at midnight and the older white gentleman who had quite the screwface until Elle started talking to him about highways in the Bronx, says to me as we exit, "thank you for being so entertaining." I laugh and say, we all need a good laugh sometimes.
Then our favorite West Indian exits and says, "those girls were on their way to Singapore. Well, they are on their way to jail now and they'll be fined $10,000." DAMN....all that for a nicotine fix!