I buckled my seat belt and readied myself for take-off. From my window seat, the sprawling JFK terminal flashed by me as the Boeing 727 soared down the tarmac full speed ahead. I was on my way to the island of Aruba, with a stop in Miami to switch planes before saying adios to the good old U.S.A. My spirits exploded with joy. I’d never been to the Caribbean and in a few short hours, I’d be living there for the next nine months. Lucky me!
With a sudden jolt, the plane decelerated. The engines had been cut and were winding down.
“This is your captain speaking,” a deep voice announced over the intercom. “I’m aborting take-off. I’m aborting take-off.”
A rumble of moans filled the cabin, along with terrified stares from fellow passengers as the plane continued to slow down. The woman beside me grabbed her seat handles with a white-knuckled grip.
What the heck? What’s wrong? Was there a fire onboard?
“There’s a mechanical problem with the aircraft and we’re headed back to the terminal,” the captain said. “Remain in your seats until the plane comes to a full stop.”
A mechanical problem? Would I even make it out of this situation alive? Surely, we’d be transferred to another plane so the problem could be fixed and we’d be on our way to our destinations.
As the plane taxied back to the terminal, I couldn’t help but wonder was it really in the cards for me to go ahead with my plans to teach music at an oil refinery school managed by an affiliate of Exxon in Aruba? Maybe the pilot nixing the take-off was a signal for me to abort my plans to live and work in the tropics? Should I head back to Ohio? There was still time to change my mind about leaving the country I thought as the plane came to a stop at the gate. I quickly disembarked, unsure of what to do.