Part Two- Spirtus Sank Us
We arrived at O’Hare in plenty of time, no traffic and hugged Monica, tears streaming down our faces, not wanting to let each other go, we parted and headed into the Spirit counter to secure our boarding passes for our seats. Then to find a screen to determine our Gate (most are the size of a laptop screen) and headed to Gate 11. No TSA Precheck, so off with the jackets, everyone out; glasses, cell phones , lap tops, belts, shoes, even my driver’s license in my shirt pocket for easy access. Then get dressed again and head for the gate. With 90 minutes to flight time, at 8:40 Chicago time boarding at 7:55 we had time to stop at a restaurant for a leisurely meal. Then to the Gate which was filled with folks, some in wheelchairs, some with small children, some with strollers loaded down like a Dustbowl pickup truck. Oh, and don’t forget the young woman with the “Emotional Support Animal” that made weird growling and gurgling sounds in his carrier, I mean what’s next, people bringing their chickens on board?
The in-bound plane arrived late, and took forever to deboard with old folks limping their way to the terminal and small children lolly-gagging while fellow passengers lined up behind them. The unloading took place in waves, large groups followed by large gaps, revealed by the next wave behind some miscreant taking his or her time to make their way OFF the plane, and jetway, and into the wider hallways of the gateway and terminal where people could actually go AROUND the ground sloths. More than once I told Coletta, “We are not getting off the ground at 8:40.” I was right. We didn’t even start boarding until 8:35.
People traveling with small children under the age of two, veterans, the elderly and the wheelchair passengers, all in Zone 1 lined up with an elderly black man in a wheelchair with a gold cane and a large plastic cup with some form of liquid refreshment in his lap. When we all were cleared to board he led the parade through the doors to the jetway and others followed behind him.
After an extended time period Zone 2 Passenger were allowed to board and quickly discovered a backup well distanced from the plane itself. The elderly black man who I will refer to as “Sam” for purposes of brevity, was still sitting in his wheelchair just outside the plane’s door while flight attendants and others struggled to secure a narrow-aisle-ready wheelchair and transfer “Sam” from his chair to their chair. This seemed to taking a great deal of time. He struggled with his large plastic cup, dropping his gold cane, and finally placed and secured with belts into the smaller chair which proceeded to be pushed into the plane, then backed out, turned 180 degrees and backed into the plane disappearing into the aisle for another five minutes while they transferred him from the smaller chair to his seat. This process took 10-15 minutes while 200 people lined up in the jetway wondering what was going on. Time now 8:50. And before you all condemn me for being politically incorrect and insensitive to the needs of this poor man with obvious disabilities. Just wait. Thank you.
The line started moving again once the smaller chair was removed from the plane and set to the side of the plane’s entry door. The plane, once filled was ready to close the door, when the flight attendants noticed, after walking up the aisle for checking seat belts and trays in upright positions that one seat was empty on a full flight. After checking the rear rest room it was discovered that the occupant of seat 6 F, a window seat, was in the rest room while the other 200+ people on the plane were waiting to pull away from the gate. “Get that woman out of the aisle and in her seat,” the head attendant requested as the 60+ woman slowly made her way to her seat.
By this time it was almost 9:00 and we were seventh (7th) in line for take off. Finally at 9:10PM we took to the air. I won’t waste your time ragging about the 3-year-old that never slept a wink despite it being well past his bedtime, just played his little video game exclaiming in a LOUD NOT HIS INDOOR VOICE his great JOY of creatures on his screen falling down canyon walls for the entire 90 minute flight two rows ahead and to my right. How I wanted to shout out PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP. WILL YOU PLEASE BE QUIET. But I didn’t. Do any millennial parents actually PARENT their offspring?
I was able to catch a few minutes of rest, and as we began our descent to Baltimore was considering a quick jaunt to the restroom, but several passengers beat me to the punch including….including SAM! Yeah…that guy.! The guy who took 15 minutes to be transported from his personal wheelchair to his seat GOT UP AND WALKED TO THE BATHROOM. I looked down. He didn’t have shoes on his feet. He didn’t have socks on his feet. He had two black wool GLOVES on his feet. In a WTF moment I leaned over and told Coletta what I was seeing, and wondering why Sam didn’t just walk from his wheelchair at the plane’s door to his seat, actually all THREE seats on the right side of the plane in row 4. Who knows! INCREDIBLE. Next time we’re taking the bus.
We landed at 11:40 EST, one hour past our Chicago Central Time, off-loaded and made our way off the plane and FREEDOM! We called our shuttle to take us to our car, stopped off for a quick restroom break, and boarded our shuttle, loaded our gear in our waiting vehicle and headed east for our 90 minute ride home across the Chesapeake Bay. Traffic was light, I mean it was after 12:00 and we missed the 12-12 Full Moon at 12:12 under the cover waiting for our shuttle to pull up. Just another glitch in a long series of glitches. Down Route 97, cruising along at 75-77 mph (LIMIT 65), then onto Route 50 East, slowing down to 65-70 on a 55 mph zone that NOBODY drives at 55, and…guess what. I GET PULLED OVER!
The State Trooper was very nice, I explained that we had just flown in from Chicago, and left Rt . 97 a road with a higher speed limit and had eased up but was tired and anxious to get home, and that I would respectively appreciate some consideration on his part. He assured me he would extend that, and when he returned with paper in hand gave me a warning only. Thank you officer, thank you. Sometimes you do catch a break.