The travel day started uneventfully. I got to the airport in plenty of time for my flight to Newark. The plane loaded and left on time, and actually landed in Newark about 20 minutes early.
Then, it all went horribly wrong.
Because we were early, and because the airlines never want to leave a gate unoccupied, of course there was a departing plane at our gate. So we waited for the plane to leave. Then the captain announced that there were a bunch of other planes looking to use the same runway, so we would have to wait for the runway to clear. Then — and this was the unbelievable part — the captain came on the intercom again and let us know that the captain of a plane in front of us had pulled into our gate by mistake, and the ground crew would have to back that plane out and reposition it before we could be towed into our gate area. All told, we sat on the ground at the Newark airport for almost an hour.
It wouldn’t have been so bad but for the guy sitting next to me. He was one of those guys who answers his cell phone using his hands-free option, so everyone around him can hear his incredibly important calls. He was upset to begin with, because we all got to hear that there was some kind of billing snafu at his business, and as the delays mounted he got increasingly agitated — first muttering, then loudly complaining, and finally throwing around f-bombs that didn’t exactly have a calming influence on the other passengers. We all were inconvenienced by what had happened, but this ticking time bomb had to act like it was all about him.
Then my fellow passengers acted like jerks in the scrum to get the gate-checked bags, milling around rather than lining up and not caring if they blocked everybody behind. And when I got to the taxi stand, a loud altercation between the cabdrivers broke out because one driver was accused of cutting in line. As I settled into my cab, with a driver who’d just been engaged in a red-faced, gesturing shouting match featuring an unknown foreign language, I wondered what might happen next: volcanic eruption? earthquake? Cats and dogs living together? Mass hysteria?
I’m going to have to ask the Jersey Girl whether flying into Newark is always like this.