Playoff Game

January 19, 2018

The past few days I’ve been back on Cape Cod for some business that just couldn’t happen without me. I had to make my plane reservations before I knew which day the New England Patriots would be playing in the AFC playoffs. I gambled and booked a flight for Saturday, hoping that their game would be on Sunday and I could watch. No such luck. My flight was at 5:00 p.m. and scheduled to land at 8:42 p.m. The game was to start at 8:35 p.m. I can make most of the game. Okay then, looks like this will work out just fine.

I’m riding the bus to Logan Airport when I get a text from JetBlue telling me that my flight has been delayed, with a new departure time of 6:02. Hold on, that means I should land sometime around 9:45, and with the ride back to the house I will get home around 10:45. Not good. Maybe I can catch the fourth quarter at least. I try not to panic because there’s really nothing I can do about it.

I arrive at Gate C29 at Logan Airport and the plane arrives at 5:15, which means we have a shot at leaving on time. They start boarding the plane around 5:30, and I check out the people waiting to get on board. Wait a minute, what’s going on here? They are starting the boarding for people who need more time, and I start counting the people in wheelchairs who need to board. It looks like a lineup at the old-age home. There are fourteen people in wheelchairs, three with walkers, and a guy with crutches all lined up. Not to mention the three people with little dogs and at least five families with little kids. This is starting to look like the flight from hell, with me in seat 3C.

Eventually everyone gets situated and we’re only about 15 minutes late. I’m obsessing about the game when I check out the TV screen in front of me. I don’t have earphones, but I can see a guy across the aisle watching the Philadelphia/Atlanta game. Does this mean I might be able to see the Pats game? Quickly I scroll through the offerings, and there it is: CBS. I whip out my credit card, and when the attendant comes through the cabin I wave it at him and tell him I need to buy some headphones. He takes pity on me and just gives me a pair. There is a God!

The game starts right on time and I can watch it. It’s not quite the same as my 65-inch Samsung with the Martin Logan surround sound that lets me actually feel the tackles, but it’s not too bad. Instead of 65 inches, the screen is about 6.5 inches, which I can deal with because at least they’re the same numbers.

Grabbing my briefcase, I dig out the turkey club I bought from Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at the airport and open the extra mayo the kind lady gave me. As I open the sandwich to spread on the extra mayo I’m horrified. This is a turkey club? From Wolfgang Puck? He’s a world famous chef, but this sandwich looks like my six-year-old grandson tried to make it. Sorry, Wolfgang. If you’re reading this, I’ll never eat in one of your restaurants again.

As I get up to visit the head I notice that at least half of the plane has the game on. Of course they do. We’re going from Boston to Ft. Myers, which means we’re heading from New England to New England South. There are so many New Englanders in Southwest Florida that I know a bar that has a Cape Cod Night, and it’s packed every week with transplanted Cape Codders.

It’s near the end of the first half, and the Patriots look pretty much in control. Brady and the team are on the six-yard line, and there’s less than two minutes before halftime. The offense lines up, and I feel a touchdown coming on.

Then, while I’m waiting for the snap of the ball, the television signal goes blank.

Over half the plane starts yelling and making obscene gestures at the screens. It looks like JetBlue is about to have a riot on their hands. A few seconds later the picture returns, and the angry mob seems mollified. At least we can watch the replay of the touchdown we didn’t see. On the replay, Brady lines up … and the screen goes blank again. This time there’s not much yelling, but passengers are exchanging angry looks and the flight attendants are gathering at the front of the plane. One of them is frantically pushing buttons on the electronic control panel in a desperate attempt to get the picture back before enraged Patriots fans begin storming the Bastille. The picture returns, the crowd returns their attention to the game, and you can just hear some angry mumbling as we begin our descent toward Ft. Myers.

Halftime begins as we’re taxiing to the terminal, and the passengers begin to ask one another how far they have to go to be able to see the second half. Two of the people nearest to me have to go to Naples, one to Marco Island, and one to Englewood. I proudly announce that I only have to go a few miles to Cape Coral, and I’m worried that some of them might follow me home to see the rest of the game. They don’t, however, so I text the Lovely Louise, who is waiting for me in the cell phone lot, and I’m on my way home.

I arrive in time to see most of the third quarter and the end of the game, but I’ve learned my lesson: Don’t make plane reservations until I know when the game is being played.

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