The Plane Truth

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Truthfully, Dear Reader, the last time I flew was April of 1989.  Well, I guess if you want to get technical, I’ve since flown in a life flight helicopter to Charleston, West Virginia and a medical plane to Atlanta, Georgia, but let’s just talk about normal flying, shall we?

The last time I flew commercially I was a senior in high school and just a few things have changed about flying since then.

I was certain if the other passengers on the plane knew I was such a novice they would laugh me right out onto the tail.  The people around me acted as if they knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t have a care in the world.  I heard one man say, “Last week when I was in China. . .”

Stop!  Last week my big trip was to the Whitley County, Indiana Wal-Mart.  I don’t get out much.  This man was talking about his latest trip to China as if it were no big deal. Somehow I don’t think he would be content with my ultra-simple lifestyle.

My fear and ineptness kept popping up all over the place.  On the first flight the attendant could barely keep a straight face when I incredulously asked her, “You mean I can have a bag of pretzels and a package of cookies?” Airport security . . . that’s changed a little bit since both of my parents walked me out to board my plane in 1989.  I was a nervous wreck.  What if I had packed something illegal?  How long was this all going to take?  And I will tell you, flying with a paraplegic made the trip even more stressful.  Being the first one on the flight has its advantages, but being the last one off the plane is not great when you only have a forty-five minute layover in Atlanta and you have to transfer buildings with a wheelchair.  And the wheelchair . . . I watched the ground crew use my daughter’s terribly expensive only form of mobility as a “carrier” for some baby strollers.  Ahhhhh!  Please take care of that wheelchair!  She absolutely needs it!  If we get where we’re going and she doesn’t have that, we are in t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  I guarantee that baby stroller can be a lot more easily replaced than Alissa’s wheelchair!

It took airport security forever to full body search my paraplegic teenage daughter, and at one stop they said they detected “explosives” on her hands and wheelchair brakes.  I was trying not to appear too nervous, and then that made me even more nervous.  We were detained for awhile, and just a note to all paraplegics trying to go through airport security:  don’t use hand sanitizer once you enter the airport!

We had to check my daughter’s long-leg braces so she could at least stand for thirty minutes a day during our trip, and once again, I knew the people handling that oblong bag had no idea the importance and expense of what they were handling.  And then there was our checked suitcase.  I had zero faith our clothes would ever make it to where we were going.  And my faith took another nose dive when my husband, I mean, a family member who shall remain nameless “misplaced” our luggage claim ticket.  My son and I literally hugged one another in great relief and joy when the luggage carousel we’d just randomly chosen to watch spit out our luggage.  I was so happy I seriously thought about plopping myself right down on the luggage carousel and taking a victory lap, but I thought that plan might scream, “Newbie!”

When we arrived back home again in Indiana, and were actually standing at the correct luggage carousel, we quickly realized our suitcase had been damaged badly.  Always trying to make lemonade out of the continual lemons in life, I am pleased to report the airline has now purchased the Jaggers three snazzy, roller, hard-shell, carry-on suitcases.  I may not have known what I was doing.  I may have been the most clueless idiot in the airport.  I may have cut two years off my life due to my worry and fear, but I strongly suspect that it will not be another twenty-nine years until I fly again.  And the next time I will be ready!

I think.  I hope.  Oh, it makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it! The truth is, I’d still feel a lot more comfortable just driving four miles to my local Wal-Mart.

Until next week, Lord willing, when I plan to give an update on my daughter.