We didn’t need our wake-up call this morning. Craig was afraid his request might have been misunderstood, so he was up and down all night checking the time. Needless to say, we did get our wake-up call…..right on schedule…..4:30 am. 4:30 am??? We could never be farmers.
As confident as I was walking in and around the cottage, being out in the “real” world presents its own challenges…..and I’m not up to them yet…..so I’m glad I contacted Air France last week to request wheelchair assistance for our trip.
We checked out of the hotel and called for a cab….a wise choice since I couldn’t help Craig with the luggage. It was a short ride to the airport and we arrived two hours before our flight to Paris was scheduled to depart. The check-in line was short so we quickly made our way to the counter and presented our boarding passes only to discover that our seats had been changed. While Craig had an assigned seat, mine was to be assigned in Paris. Hmmm….didn’t like the sound of that. We were told to wait nearby for wheelchair assistance.
After an interminable wait, my chariot finally arrived…..shortly before the flight was scheduled to depart. We were panicked by the length of the security-check line, but we had no worries…..we were whisked away to a separate security-check area. After a pat-down and a wand-whisk, we were quickly rolling toward the gate only to find out that our flight was delayed. Due to yesterday’s strike (transportation workers protested the proposed increase in retirement age from 60 to 62), our flight crew had arrived in Toulouse late last night. They’re required to have a certain amount of “down” time between flights, so they couldn’t take off until 8:00 am. That’ll make our connection in Paris difficult…..good thing I’ll have wheelchair assistance to get us through the maze that is CDG (Charles DeGaulle Airport).
The flight to Paris was uneventful. We arrived at 9:30 am but had to remain on board until all the ambulatory passengers had left. Our flight to San Francisco was scheduled to depart at 10:40…..from a different terminal…..so there was no time to waste. My wheelchair, with a nimble young navigator at the helm, was waiting and, with Craig trailing behind schlepping all four of our carry-on’s, we flew through Terminal 2F on our way to Terminal 2E in what can best be described as “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”……
ZOOM, ZOOM! Weaving in and out…..around pillars…..through lines…..past obstacles. WATCH OUT, that 50” suitcase is falling toward me! Whew, caught just in time by its negligent owner. UH OH, Sumo man blocks our path! SCREECH! Sharp right turn and whiz past him. EEK, another wheelchair racing toward the elevator! Kick into high gear and leave him the dust. HURRY, Craig, HURRY! Down the elevator, out the door, into a shuttle, out of the shuttle, into another terminal……RACE, RACE, RACE! Another security check…..pat down…..wand whisk….HUSTLE, HUSTLE…..PANT, PANT…..WHEW! We’re at the gate picking up our boarding passes.
I’m assigned a “wheelchair” seat…..26K…..so designated because this row has moveable armrests that will allow me to slide into the seat. Craig is able to trade his cushy seat in the upstairs of the 747 for a tight, cramped seat next to mine and we settle in for the flight home. The projectors and audio in our section aren’t working so we nap and eat…..and eat and nap…..for the next 10 ½ hours.
We arrive in San Francisco on time and, as we wait with the other passengers requiring wheelchair assistance, I meet a woman from Berkeley who also broke her tibia and fibula. She, too, required surgery to repair the breaks. The difference between us? In the good ol’ USA, her broken leg cost $80,000! My total bill? Less than $4,500.
À quelque-chose malheur est bon…..every cloud has a silver lining