The Plane Truth

After a great visit, it’s finally time to go home. While it feels like we’ve been gone forever, I am thrilled that I made the choice to travel here. The midwest kindness and friendliness has been more than I could have hoped for.

Of course, our trip through the airport was completely eventful. It was the stuff my columns are made of, does the universe just know that I need material and freely send it my way? People ask me where I get the stuff for my columns and it’s quite simple: I wake up every day.

When we got to the airport, Gus got me inside and in a seat, wheeled the luggage in and returned the car. I told him that I was pretty hungry and kind of dizzy. So we decided to go through security first. Since this was my first post surgical trip through the metal detectors, which I knew I would set off, beyond that, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. We went to the handicapped line which was fine by me because my head was really spinning by then. Poor Gus was trying to deal with the luggage, the laptop and getting shoes off both of us. I’m sure we looked like a three ring circus. I told the woman that I was going to set it off since I’d just had hip surgery and that I was really dizzy and needed to sit down. By that time, Gus, whose driver’s license had expired had been whisked off for additional searching and I was left in a chair, feeling like I was on a listing boat. The women were quite nice and got me a wheelchair, let me eat something and offered to call for medical assistance, which would have been the ultimate in embarrassment. They did the official pat down as I stood with my crutches, sent my crutches through the x-ray and sent me on my way – probably much to their relief.

Gus got me to my plane waiting area in my wheelchair then went to catch his plane. (Strange, perhaps, but we’ve always flown separately since we had kids) When it was time to board, they let me, along with another wheelchair user, hobble on first. We were on time and ready to go, which I found particularly important since I had a 55 minute connection in Minneapolis. We sit and sit and sit some more before the captain comes on to announce that we need to refuel. Shouldn’t that have been on the checklist before we all boarded the plane???? So we wait and wait, my connection time diminishing with every tick of the clock. Finally the fuel truck arrives ane gasses up the plane. We depart Madison a full 55 minutes late. The captain says we should be able to make up some of the time, but I’m not sure it will be enough to get me to my next gate.

We landed at precisely 4:48 at gate C28 and I was due to depart at 5:06 no doubt from another concourse entirely. I’d requested a wheelchair and it was supposed to be waiting, which of course, it wasn’t. The woman at the desk said to catch the electric cart, which I saw was plugged in recharging. Meanwhile, they are paging me to board my flight which I now find is at gate F3. About that time, another woman from my flight walks up waiting for a cart to the F3 gate. She is grandmotherly age with a gruff German accent. I later find out she is an anthesiologist and has known my doctor since he was a resident in 1971. About that time both a cart and my wheelchair arrive. Hoping that they are holding the plane, I strap myself into the the only seat my leg will allow me to, the back right facing backwards. The German woman sits next to me, puts her arm around me and holds my bag. The driver, not quite comprehending that we have about 2 minutes now to traverse the entire Minneapolis airport, is dilly dallying around. We are shouting that our flight is at 5:06 and apparently he thinks we are advising him that it is flight number 506. When he finally realizes the miscommunication, I swear he peeled off his airport driver vest, put on a NASCARWinston jacket and goggles and took off across the airport in a high speed, KeanuReeves “Speed” driving display. People were jumping out of the way as he laid on the horn like a New York Cabbie. The German woman held onto me, probably fearing I’d go flying off the back and she’d miss her flight. Somehow, the driver got us to the plane seconds before the were going to close the door. As I hobbled onto the plane, 85 people glared at me for being late despite my pitiful crutches. Thankfully, the flight home was uneventful except for no luggage.

It’s good to be home! The boys met me at the airport with roses and hugs. The hugs were what I needed most.

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