Friday, April 30, 2010

Throw Momma on the Plane (Further Rage Against bin Laden)

This morning at 9:30 I drove my 90-year-old mother to the Nashville Airport for her return trip home after a two-week visit. In her frail condition – including a walker and a great deal of anxiety about air travel (which, in this case included a change of planes in Atlanta) – we arrived almost 3 hours prior to her scheduled departure allowing plenty of time to go through the mechanics. I parked my car with a valet so I could stay with my mom non-stop to the ticket counter and gate. We took an unreasonably long walk from that point to the Delta check-in desk where a very helpful Delta employee greeted us. As she was assisting us with the check-in procedure I asked her guidance with a few other very specific issues: wheelchairs here, in Atlanta and at her final destination in Pennsylvania; help checking my mother’s walker all the way through to her final stop and a pass for me to escort my mother to her boarding gate. She was most helpful and assured us that all would be fine. She then walked us to the front of the baggage drop-off line and as we waited for the next available agent a gentleman with a wheelchair arrived. I paid the agent for my mom’s one piece of luggage and then asked her for the pass to go back to the gate with her to which she replied, “No, you can’t do that if you are using a wheelchair assistant.’ My plea for lenience did not work. My mother’s demeanor slipped to the dark side, as did mine. As the wheelchair assistant led us to the security line I did my best to lift mom’s spirits. With tears in our eyes we said goodbye, I love you, I love you, too. I’ll call you tonight.
I stood and watched as she was wheeled through security, her white hair showing clearly through a crowd of strange travelers. Although saddened by our recent goodbye I soon felt an additional emotion rising within me: rage. As my mother disappeared into the humiliating grid of security checkpoints I returned to my car all the while imagining everything that could possibly go wrong: a misplaced ticket, a rude agent, a tumble from the wheelchair, no help in Atlanta, a lost ID card. And suddenly my unforgiving thoughts landed on that tall, bearded devil hiding in some damp and skanky cave somewhere in the middle of hell drinking strong coffee strained – I hope – through the hem of his filthy robe and I blame all of this on him and I wish with everything in me that if he isn’t dead already our brave ones find him and do the deed quickly and come back home to see their own parents before they are white-haired and frail and being pushed away in a wheelchair into a maze of humiliation by a stranger.


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