Thursday, September 26, 2013

Smiling For The Camera But Coming From the Heart

Challenging my mind is what the Osher Lifelong Learning class on Steinbeck is doing right now. I wonder what the great author would think knowing I downloaded Grapes of Wrath on my kindle rather than purchasing it in printed book form? I am once more obsessed thinking about phalanxes, schools of now extinct sardines in Monterey Bay, and how phalanxes work in N. Korea.
One thing I know for sure, the phalanxes were NOT working at SeaTac airport when I flew in and out of Seattle two weeks ago. Because of my atrial fib I needed a wheelchair on both laps of the journey to transport me and my suitcase to and from the Marysville shuttle.
What should have been a snap was a giant snafu, causing me to miss the shuttle on arrival and almost miss my plane home. "Can you help me?" I pleaded over and over, my voice getting more desperate on both ends of the transportation nightmare.  It seems that each airline has a contract with one of many wheelchair services, and that only the designated wheelchair pushers are allowed to service the disabled, and then only from certain locations. There was no shortage of wheelchairs, just pushers. How can that be when folks are begging for jobs? My friends Sue and Jeanne who live here inform me that SeTac is so impossible for wheelchair availability that when they want to go to Seattle they instead fly to Bellingham, rent a car, and drive back.
In the end I was rescued by the kindness of strangers, but only after extreme duress; once by a clerk in a clothing store, who pushed me for 25 minutes to make the second shuttle after I'd missed the first one, and on return, when in tears I pleaded with a baggage clerk.
"What am I doing wrong?" I wailed. Seeing as my tears were getting attention, I exaggerated them somewhat. There must have been ten of us waiting in wheelchairs, but no drivers, and my plane was due to leave in 17 minutes. Then a tiny Asian baggage handler for Alaska air lines stepped up and said, "Your'e doing nothing wrong and I'm taking you!"  She proceeded to call the plane and have the pilot hold it on the tarmac, which indeed is what happened. Sincere thanks to the generosity of strangers and big ugly boos to whomever in Seattle is the culprit making this mess.
The purpose of my whole trip was to visit my dear relatives in Vancouver who are no longer able to travel due to the Canadian Health financial penalties for the very old to be out of the country, hence making trips to the states prohibitive. Though I love Seattle and it is the city of my birth, I'm on a rampage now to boycott it. The visit with cousins, however, was precious, and I'll try to forget about the ugly SeaTac experience. We stayed in a lovely B&B in White Rock, just above the border, and experienced true Canadian hospitality. Below, Bonnie and cousin Vi, almost 90, lastly my niece Cheari, and cousin Dollie, 98.  Their memories and smiles far exceed mine.

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