Those are two phrases you do not normally hear used together. Nor would you ever really want to.
But I did.
After I finally got my visa to Mongolia (see my previous post), I was ready to leave Beijing. I was flying on the Mongolian Airline (betcha didn’t know Mongolia even had an airline.) After the requisite heel-cooling in the terminal, we were herded onto a shuttle bus and driven out over the tarmac to our plane. Driven. And driven. And driven and driven. I began to wonder if I had bought a bus ticket to Ulaan Baatar by mistake.
We passed some Aeroflot jets. I was glad I wasn’t flying on those poorly-maintained death traps. I had heard they had the worst safety record in the world.
At last we arrived at our Miat Mongol jet. Mmmm, I thought. A Boeing 727. World class.
I settled into my seat and waited for the flight attendants to run us through the drill. You know, seat belts and exits, cell phones and smoke detectors. But we waited. And waited. The door to the plane remained open and the air conditioning was not even on. It didn’t take too long for the plane to feel hot and stuffy. And no refreshing beverages were being served, either. We did get the occasional scowl from a flight attendant, provided we were able to make eye contact.
Finally, someone complained. Of course it was an American. We’re always the vocal, impatient ones, it seems. I’m just glad to say it wasn’t me. “Why aren’t we leaving?” he asked, in a whiny tone of voice. “Why isn’t the air conditioning on?”
There was a simple explanation! The flight attendant informed us, “When the pilot tried to start the plane, the battery was dead. We are waiting for the generator.”
Huh? The battery is dead? You mean, like he left the headlights on? This was a new one on me. A new and uncomfortable one.
Sure enough, very soon, a truck pulled up beside us, towing a huge square generator behind it. The men pulled out the fattest jumper cables I have even seen and disappeared under our plane.
I recall calmly thinking, “OMG they are jump-starting this plane!” We were about to fly over the Gobi Desert and land in the mile-high city of Ulaan Baatar in Outer Mongolia, and they were jump-starting the plane.
I also remember thinking that if we didn’t all die, this would make a great blog someday.
Actually I didn’t use those exact words, because I had never heard of any no such thing as a blog in 1994.
And next thing you know, vroom! (or whatever noise planes make) and the pilot was revving up the jet and we were all set.
The adventure continued…