My last Wisconsin story, until we go back again. This is about wheelchair transport through airports, but it has a flash back that women will recognize and men won’t, I think.
Imagine four or five women, sitting around a motel room in the nineties, drinking wine, sorting world problems. All artists, passing a couple of evening hours before getting a night’s sleep and opening booths the next day.
The conversation turned to the question, What if You Run Out of Clean Underwear? One of us, a real life nurse accompanying her artist friend for the weekend said she had done so, at a convention, and solved the problem by turning them inside out the second day and adding a panty liner she found in her purse the third day. Now her purse was never without panty liners.
At this point in my life I didn’t recognize the word, but did locate and lay in a supply. I’ve used them from time to time ever since. Over the course of the major brain injury that changed my life last spring, I learned “panty liners” start as large as adult diapers and grade on down to a minute panty liner. In between, they are called pads. End of back story.
When I booked the flight to Milwaukee, I added wheel chair assistance for me. My single other wheel chair assist flight was an assist disaster; the wheel chair wait exceeded the fight time; Ann was stranded at baggage claim and couldn’t even go through security with a chair to set things right. So, I was persistent about the service beyond courtesy.
The little Travelociy gnome was polite beyond belief, but every time I ended the phone call he must have beat his gnome hat to dust in frustration. Yes, there would be a chair everywhere I wanted a chair. And, there was a chair, and a uniformed chair operator. I was a grand sight in two terminals; me in a chair, a uniformed chair mover and a granddaughter keeping pace while maneuvering two suitcases through crowds.
At airport security, which I’ve handled on my own in past, my handler presented credentials, my granddaughter supervised the luggage brigade, her shoes and our coats down the conveyor. I joined the wheelchair line. Only one chair at a time goes through security. I paid no attention to the two ahead of me; I was keeping an eye on the conveyor belt.
My turn. I stood in the machine and set off all alarms. I qualified for shoe removal and a full pat down. This, for me, was basic What the Effing Hell, but I zipped my lip, followed instructions, got my shoes back and we went to gate C27 in Cleveland. Poor Laura. Poor wheelchair pusher.
The incident totally slipped my mind until the return flight. I stepped into the scanner and set off all the alarms. Except shoes. Shoes passed. This time I had to know, and the pleasant mid-western body patter said “Do you wear a pad? They set off the machine and trigger a pat down.” There you have it ladies! An itsy bitsy, teeny weeny liner scans as “Underwear Bomber!” Leave all of them in your luggage, where they pass unnoticed. 'Nuff said.
Laura had a haircut this morning. I sat on a chair and read my email. Then I looked across the room and realized I’d not seen a haircut of this magnitude before. Her verdict: the longer it is, the more fun to cut off A Lot.