Let me preface this by setting the scene. This occurred back in January while Ann and I were traveling to Chicago for my initial evaluation. Therefore, this was not included in the blog, until now. Get some popcorn and enjoy the show!
Picture: Ann with two carry-ons strapped to her back, my lap piled high with luggage and a walker anchored to the back of the wheelchair, because we thought it would be a good idea to not check any bags. We thought this would not only save money, but time. So, as the plane touched down at O'Hare from Columbus and we exited the plane, we were met by what I would consider the human version of the German Autobon. As we were weighed down with luggage, weaving our way through "traffic", we must have been a sight for sore eyes because several airport employees asked if they could be of some help. Thankfully on this encounter we made our way to our hotel shuttle.
Return Trip Experience: On our return trip to O'Hare, still strapped down with luggage, Ann was nearly arrested going through security for having two water bottles in her purse that were innocently received from the taxi driver. While Ann was being interrogated for having "hidden" these bottles in her bag, I am being frisked by a rather large TSA agent who disregards the fact that there is a reason I am in a wheelchair. Then the TSA agent wipes down my chair and I simply ask, "Are you checking it for dirt?". He does not answer my question, but rather gives me a look that is daring me to make another comment so that he can slap the cuffs on me and take me into the back room. We successfully make it through security-finally! As we are trying to put back on our shoes and gather our belongings, traffic continues to whiz by us and I can't help but feel that we are in everyone's way. Now as we settle in by our assigned gate, which is thankfully only a few feet away, we enjoy an overpriced airport sandwich in special handicap seating. We are living the life only to find out that our gate has been changed to another gate on the other side of the airport. As we start in that direction, we encounter a man on a golf cart. We simply asked him to point out the location of our new gate and he quickly offers us a ride. He then exits the cart and ushers us to a vehicle that was equipped to transport my wheelchair and all of our belongings. Because we had arrived so early for our flight, the courteous man decided to take us on an impromptu tour of the airport. This tour consisted of us weaving in and out of people, honking our horn excessively at people in his path and almost taking out several children and elderly women. People constantly gave us dirty looks and Ann had to shut her eyes a few times too many. Somehow we were able to arrive safely at our new gate where we waited patiently as our flight received numerous delays. Finally, the moment had arrived. We were so ready to head for home. With priority boarding we anxiously approached the gangway with our sights on getting home. While Ann's grip slowly weakened the wheelchair began to gain speed. As it raced down the ramp, Ann threw her body on the wheelchair to save my life from the impending wall in front of me. This no doubt brought me much anger and tears for Ann. Many people walked past us, not sure what to say or do as they had witnessed such a horrific sight. Finally someone asked if they could help and we were more than happy to allow them. Needless to say, we didn't talk much as the plane took off. Me, because I just saw my life flash before my eyes. Ann, because her worst fears had come to fruition after a week long journey of many near death experiences.
Moral of the Story: Check all baggage and avoid O'Hare at all costs. We flew into Midway this time and checked our baggage! We hope you can learn from our mistakes.