So, I took a trip recently. I got on an airplane and I figured the airplane would, y'know, go--do that crazy flying thing it does so well.
Instead, my airplane sat on the runway. For three hours. During the first hour, they told us we would be taking off, ooh, every 15 minutes or so. During the second hour, there was absolutely no word until a low, savage grumbling began to arise from the sweating, peevish masses. (Okay, maybe it was just me being sweating and peevish?) The wing de-icing equipment came. And glided majestically away 'cross the glistening tarmac. Then, five minutes later, we all heard this announcement by the flight attendant--oh, she was a stewardess, let's call a spade a spade:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to thank you again for your patience. We need to wait our turn to have our wings de-iced. Once that happens, we'll be underway and (this was clearly a doomed effort to get us all excited and happy) soon we'll have beverage service! Fountain drinks, juice, and water costs $1.00. Alcoholic beverages cost $5.00. We're so glad you chose to fly our airline and be here with us today!"
Plane full of people sat there staring at each other. We had all seen the de-icing equipment come. And go. We had seen it, really, we had seen it! In fact, we were a pale-faced, icy-fists-gripping-stomachs pack of William Shatners in that Twilight Zone episode when he sees the gremlin on the wing. He SEES it. Except the gremlin that we saw was what I shall call "disquieting hints of flight crew incompetence."
Two minutes passed. Two minutes jam-packed with stewardess buttons being pounded and frenzied, spitty, agitated, hissed conversations between and amongst the flight crew and us William Shatners.
Two more minutes brought the dawn of a bright new announcement:
"Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking...as several of you have kindly called to our attention, we have already had our wings de-iced. What we're doing now is..." squeaky muffled sound as there is a failed attempt to cover the microphone, "C'mon. What should I tell them? What should I tell them?" Other voice: "Tell them snow...just tell them snow" squeaky muffled sound as the pilot tries to re-engage the communications system that is already working just fine. "...yeah, what we are doing now is...it's a little too technical to explain, but we found some snow on the engine and..." random squeaky muffled sound, "...yeah, we need to put some heat on the engine. Yep. We'll be underway after we put some heat on the engine."
Then, it was another hour before we took off.
The only conclusion to draw from this story? They were attempting to sober the pilot up. They did! I got there and back!