Our trip to Great Britain started late, by about two hours as we were scheduled to depart during what became the last hours before the Northwest Airline mechanics voted to strike. This, of course, is the traditional time to have a work slow-down.
I don’t begrudge the mechanics. They are fighting for their livelihoods here, against a corporation that has consistently asked for wage concessions and held onto those concessions long after it was necessary - while upper management got raises and huge bonuses. Northwest spent all their sympathy coinage with me a long time ago. The fact that the mechanics union views any compromise with them as an agreement to roll over and die is squarely on the shoulders of management. Yes, they will most likely lose this strike due to the vast amount of desperate non-union labor. Yes, allowing the strike to work could kill Northwest and leave them all without jobs. But past experience with the brass of this company has made it clear that the mechanics union is going down, whatever the case, and while it’s down there it might as well suck on it. That has been the publicly demonstrated attitude of this company for at least 20 years now. Better to go down with your teeth in the enemy’s neck. I totally get that.
That said, I reserve the right to whine about having to cool my heels in the airport while it takes two hours for them to fix a “seat malfunction” and then find that the “fix” amounted to them stringing yellow “caution” tape across the offending seats. I understand it. I philosophically support it…but I don’t have to say it was fun. I might also add that we did not cross picket lines for this vacation. The strike was not on at the time we left, and the return flight was of course serviced in Great Britain by British mechanics, who were not striking. We would not have crossed picket lines for this vacation. We are not afraid of terrorists. Incompetent scab labor on the other hand; that scares us.
The flight was fine. The landing was weird.
We landed, and the captain came on to inform us that a fire crew was on the way to put out the burst and burning tire in the landing gear, and not to worry. Adventure Boy was momentarily jazzed by the idea that we might get to use those nifty emergency exit slides he’d read so much about in the Safety Guide placed in the seat pocket in front of him for his safety and convenience. No joy, though.
When the fire was out, we waited for them to wheel an ordinary set of stairs up to the plane.
During the wait, the pilot got on and entertained us with a brief statement that ran something like this (not a direct quote)
“Well ladies and gentlemen, this is nothing to worry about, the fire is out and they are bringing us some stairs so that you can deplane. Then there will be a bus to take you to the terminal. I have been flying for 35 years, and I have to say this is a first. I’ve never had a tire burst and burn on landing before. Well, except for this one time in Vietnam…”
And then he just stopped talking, and cut out. I’m like;
“What? You stop talking NOW? I wanna hear about the burning landing gear tire in Vietnam!”
Great. He probably stopped talking because he realized that it would be a completely unprofessional and inappropriate story to tell a bunch of nervous passengers trapped in a plane that was just recently on fire. Which mean s it was probably a fucking AWESOME story. You realize, of course that I’m going to spend the rest of my life wanting to hear the end of that story. As my British friends would say “Oh, bugger all”.