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post #11
bio: jen
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4/9/2004
13:41

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Wacky Wheelchair Woman
Last week I was in Barcelona on holiday with my boyfriend, Colm. We were there for 7 days to relax and go to an Irish/Spanish wedding. But more on Barcelona later. Now, I want to talk about the flight from LA to London.

Colm and I share a belief that airplane travel should be easy-going. We'll get there eventually, and we can't make the food any better. I personally like munching on baby carrots while on killer airport lines. Next time you're on the endless non-moving line, feed your inner toddler about to have a temper tantrum. Yes, it is a sad commentary on society that we are driven to self-parenting. But whatever.

Los Angeles Airport. We're early. Good. We check bags. Good. Security. Good. Gate. Good. On the plane. Good. Uhhhh. Wait a second. Neither one of us has an aisle seat in the cattle car called coach. Okay, go with the flow.

It turned out that our path to the lavatory was blocked by a sweet and possibly quite eccentric older British lady.

"Oh no, you can jump over me." She said with a chuckle as we cut through the an empty row of seats and came to our seats from the other side.

Ten hours. We're fucked, I thought.

"Not a problem" said Colm.

My brain smiled ironically. We're still good. Little do we know that this lady really was Wacky Wheelchair Woman.

We take off. Still good. Drinks: Gin and Tonic. Awwww. Dinner. I have the chicken. It's all right. Eccentric British Lady mentions that they use to serve a salmon option. They also use to serve a midnight snack as well as a hot breakfast option. Apparently there have been some cutbacks. Apparently, she's flown on this airline before and flies between her homes in California and England often. She was shocked that we were only spending two hours in London and then traveling onto Spain.

"Aren't you afraid of the. . .you know, the terrorists" she said.

Thanks for bringing that up on an international flight. I think I'll have another gin and tonic now.

Because she had difficulty getting up and out of her seat and since we were easy-going mellow travelers, we timed our bathroom runs to her. I showed her how to turn on the movie, LOVE ACTUALLY (cute movie). Little old lady was okay by me even though she was terribly sorry that she could not understand a word Colm said (Colm is Irish by the way). Sure she left her reading light on all freakin' night and it shined on my seat as well. Sure, in the middle of a false sleep, I heard a stewardess sneer, "Don't call us again." Sure I woke up at one point and found a mysterious cup of water on my tray. I casually passed it back to the lovely little old lady it was intended for. It's all good. I'm an easy-going traveler damn it!

Then, about an hour before we were due to land, the transformation began.

"Would you mind terribly helping me bring my bags to the front of the plane after we land?"

"Sure no problem." I said in my easy-going traveler way. Okay, I know, suckerrrrr.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, we will delayed forty-five minutes landing at Heathrow."

Colm looked at his watch and at our flight itinerary. Before my very eyes, he transformed from Jen's source of mellowness to Team Leader:

"We'll have to take a shuttle to Terminal 2. We might have to recheck our bags. We have to go through security again. We have to check in at the gate. Heathrow is big. Heathrow is huge. We'll have to run like the wind."

But none of that really mattered. Eccentric old lady made sure we were all sorted---or rather that SHE was all sorted. I mentioned to Colm that I'm gonna help EOL take her plastic bag with an extra sweater and her big leather purse (probably full of jewels) to the front of the plane.

"Oh no Jen, a stewardess could help her with that. Heathrow is big. Heathrow is huge. We'll have to run like bolts of lightning---zip! flash!"

Right. Fine. When Wacky lady mentioned her freakin' bags again, I mentioned diplomatically that we have to run to catch our next plane, and that a stewardess could help her. That's what the stewardesses are there for---to help. But nooo, that was not good enough.

"Oh please, it will only take a moment. I always get off first. Please." She said.

Ohhh damn. She got me with please along with the help-the-sisterhood look. I was roped in. I was committed. I turned to Colm and smiled the smile of the doomed.

Just then, the voice of God (aka the Chief Stewardess) came on:

"If you have requested a wheelchair, pleeease wayyyyt in your seat."

Phew! I was off the hook. The plane landed.

"Oh no, I always go to the front."

I just want to go to Spain! The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plains. And I had a more immediate need: the Ladies Lounge.

We docked at the gate. And Wacky Wheelchair Woman is up. And I'm up. And Colm is up. Colm grabbed my backpack, and I grabbed Wacky Woman's bags. Then, I saw something in her eyes---I saw the hunter---oh yes, we're gonna get off this plane fast. I turned to Colm and flashed my Harrison Ford "Trust Me" cocky grin.

And we're off! Down the aisle goes Wacky Wheelchair Woman followed by Jen and Colm, her entourage, her servants, her posse. The gap between WWW and the person in front of her got wider and wider, and I sensed a few adult temper tantrums about to happen behind us. But she kept hobbling down the aisle.

Another Wheelchair Woman, still her seat, pointed her cane at us.

"Why is SHE going to the front?" she grumbled.

Uh-oh the Wheelchair Women were gonna rumble. Suddenly, I pitied the stewardesses.

Finally, at the front of the plane, the stewardess informed us all that eight wheelchairs have been ordered, and I dumped WWW's bags on a seat. My duty was done, and Colm and I ran off the plane without waiting for a "Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. Enjoy yourselves in Spain." That might have never come.

We bolted through Heathrow doing our worst Wacky Wheelchair Woman accents. We probably offended a lot of British people along way, and I apologize for that and for ugly Americans abroad and for our bad beer---sorry, terribly terribly sorry about that.

We made it to Terminal 2 with time to spare only to be informed that our plane to Spain hadn't arrived yet, but they would announce it when it does. Actually, the plane to Spain ended up being 45 minutes late. Not a problem. I'm a mellow traveler.

Once I got on the plane, I slept the whole way.


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