A little over a year ago my husband reluctantly drove me to the airport and put me on a plane to California.
It was frightening for both of us with so much yet unknown. He’d made all the arrangements in advance; there was a layover in Houston, so he’d ordered a wheelchair to get me to my connecting flight.
I remember slowly walking up the ramp past the wheelchairs and attendants in Houston. I made my way to a flight attendant and asked how far my connecting gate was. My heart dropped as she explained that it was literally on the other side of the airport. Are you fucking kidding me? I swallowed hard and gave her my name. Within moments, I was shuffled over to a transport cart for passengers with special needs and whisked off to catch my connecting flight. There were two other women, each in their seventies or eighties at my best guess. Oh geez. It was several minutes, and numerous turns before we made our gate. There wasn’t a chance in hell I would have made it on foot.
The flight to San Francisco was uneventful, and as I departed, I inquired the distance to baggage claim, hopeful. “It’s on the other end of the airport,” said an attendant without feeling. I took a deep breath and reluctantly gave her my name. Within minutes a wheelchair was there for me. I climbed in a little unsteady on my feet, and was relieved to have the sudden support. At that moment, a tiny Asian woman, well over fifty stepped up and took the handles of my chariot, hefting me forward. I was mortified.
This remarkably small, but capable woman pushed me through crowds, up ramps, around corners, and all the while I was thinking, “This is not happening to me.” But it was. And people were staring. No, I can assure you that I didn’t imagine this. They really were. There I was, perfectly normal and healthy looking. No casts on my feet or legs. No signs of physical trauma whatsoever, being pushed by an 80 pound Asian grandmother. It was comical and horrifying, and a part of me desperately longed for a companion with a camera to film it and post it on FB for all the world to see because it was just too ridiculous to imagine or convey otherwise. When we arrived at our destination, I gave her a nice tip and thanked her profusely.
This was the beginning of my unexpected journey.