“Sorry for the delay, folks … We’ll be here a while longer … There’s a little problem with the fuel gauge.”
I was leaving town on vacation, and I had a window seat. I’d been buckled in for at least twenty minutes, and I was getting drowsy. I was just starting to wonder why the plane hadn’t moved an inch when the pilot’s voice broke in.
“Sorry for the delay, folks,” he said. It’s about time, I thought, expecting him to say, “We’ll be taking off in a few minutes.” But instead, the next words he said were, “We’ll be here a while longer.” Hmm … I thought, sleepily. How much longer? And then I heard his crackly voice again, announcing that “there’s a little problem with the fuel gauge.” I was immediately wide awake.
I knew I’d heard him correctly, and yet what he was saying didn’t make any sense. Why on earth would we still be sitting on the plane if there was a problem with the FUEL GAUGE?
The pilot continued talking, saying something about how they had to use an alternative method to fuel the plane. I pictured a long hose coming from the nearest corner gas station, and the nozzle automatically shutting off when the tank reached the “full” mark. I was aware of how finicky those gas pumps can sometimes be, shutting off too soon. I also knew of some gas pumps that were so slow they seemed to be pumping molasses. I figured that an airplane’s gas tank had to be at least 100 times the size of the one in my car. I calculated that we’d be sitting there quite a while longer — long enough for me to decide whether or not to run for the nearest exit.
Suddenly somebody laughed, and my brain did this strange thing. It told me not to worry. It convinced me that the pilot must know what he’s doing, and that if it wasn’t safe he wouldn’t let us take off.
Looking back, I wonder just how safe it really was … but I guess I’ll never know. We made it from Tucson to Chicago, and on to our final destinations. But I think if I ever hear those words “a little problem with the fuel gauge” again, I won’t trust my luck a second time.
For now, though, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the rest of my vacation. I’ll try to post often and to include photos, too. And if you like trains, stay tuned. There’s a good chance I’ll be taking Amtrak for the return trip.