Ford Escape starting problem

My 2002 Escape seems possessed . . . or maybe just having fun at my expense. At seemingly random times the car wont start. The battery seems strong and the starter motor is cranking, but the car wont actually start. If I wait 10 minutes it usually will start. Once started it runs fine with no surges or drops in power. What gives? Over the phone the service guy at the dealership was no help. He suggested that he might not be able to figure out what the problem is unless it wouldn’t start for him.

What happens if you turn the key to on, without starting it, wait 5 seconds, then try to start it?

How about if you turn it to on, wait five seconds, turn it to off, repeat 3 times, and then try to start it?

I will try that.
If that works what would the implication be?

Also, what happens if, when it won’t start, you press the gas pedal down half way, keep it there, and then try starting it? If it will start this way, you may have a sticking Idle Air Bypass Valve (aka IAC).
If instead it starts okay after turning the key on and off a few times, that would indicate a failing fuel pump or clogged fuel filter.

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I will re-post with an update the next time it happens.

If you turn just to on (not all the way until it cranks)…off…on…off a bunch of times (you should hear a hum each time) and that gets it going then the implication would be that you have a bad check valve in the fuel pump. Your fuel lines, then are emptying out over time. The humming when you do on-off-on-off… would be the fuel pump refilling & re-pressurizing the lines.

If that helps then the practical implication is that you have to replace the fuel pump (or live with it for as long as you can).