My grandfather always told me never to schedule anything big on Friday the 13th since things may not work out as planned. I didn't believe him, and in all my years nothing ever happened to me on Friday the 13th.
Well, times have changed and now I am a believer. One December, my father, who was in Italy on business, thought it would be great for my mother, brother and me to come and spend Christmas with my grandparents, who live in France.
We were all very excited to spend our first Christmas in France. My father booked tickets for Friday since it would reduce how much school we missed, but yes, you guessed it - the tickets were for Friday the 13th. Now remember, I was not superstitious, but I did hint to my mother that maybe we should leave on the 12th. But do you think my mom would let us miss another day of school since we were already missing a week? No. It was Friday or not at all.
That day, we went to Newark airport right after school but when we got to the gate I sensed a small Friday the 13th joke. The airplane had a couple of problems that would result in a "short" delay. Forty-five minutes passed, and then an hour, and finally the pilot informed us there was a part in the engine that needed to be replaced. And, of course, no spare piece could be found in the whole of Newark airport, though one had been located at Kennedy airport and would be brought over. Well, three hours passed and the part was nowhere in sight. We were then told that it was caught in traffic. How original. Since we were all getting hungry and tired, they offered us free peanuts and drinks.
Finally, the part arrived and everyone clapped. We had been delayed by four hours and had already missed our connecting flight in London, but the story was not over yet. Imagine our disappointment when the pilot announced that the part was too big! At this point, no one was clapping and disgruntled voices were heard everywhere. A flight attendant, trying to put on her best smile despite all the insults, began offering vouchers for alternative flights. This was not a good sign.
A while later we were asked for a little more patience as two correct pieces had been located - one in California and the other in Canada. The one in Canada would be brought right down. At that point the pilot was still optimistic that we could leave that night but several passengers chose to go home. My mother seriously considered going home too but all the flights for the next few days were sold out. There was no alternative, so we waited and nervously ate the food they provided to satisfy our hunger, our mounting impatience and our anger.
Finally, at 2 a.m., the pilot announced that the piece had been installed and was working and we were ready to depart, only nine hours late. He joked that we would have no more problems since it was no longer Friday the 13th. Hmm, I thought, maybe the pilot was just superstitious and there weren't any mechanical problems, but he just didn't want to leave on Friday the 13th.
When we finally landed, after a somewhat uneasy flight, we recounted our experience to my grandparents and father. We discovered that my father had also had a Friday the 13th experience in Italy. He was supposed to take the train from Milan to France but when he arrived at the station, he found that all the trains were cancelled indefinitely because the conductors were on strike. What luck! Stranded, unable to speak Italian and surrounded by angry travelers, my father resorted to calling his secretary in New York and having her find a flight for him.
The only flight leaving the Milan airport was in an hour. He raced to the airport, bought a ticket, and waited to embark only to be told that the pilot was still in Rome and would not arrive until the next day. He had to spend another night in Italy!
In the end, we all arrived one day late but safe. Now I believe there is some truth to Friday the 13th, so, think twice before planning a big event on that day!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.