Travel in 2021

it Sucks

But NOT because of covid, and face mask regulations…that actually wasn’t bad. I didn’t have to smell peoples breath. I didn’t have to worry as bad about what they were spreading. So…I’m all for face masks. PLUS, it hides my stroke face so well.

Now, yes wearing a face mask for 23 hours straight and sleeping in it. No way. Never again. However 23 hours, and I’m still alive.

But, this was my first airline travel since the stroke.

At first I didn’t even think about it. At all. I was more worried about wearing a mask. And not catching covid/delta. Flying out wasn’t bad. Because we got into Dallas so late it wasn’t busy, and Charlotte we barely had to move to switch planes. So, I was fine. Also, I had my walker, so I got on first. Easy.

Coming home. Totally different story. No walker, and people EVERYWHERE.

Benton explained to the gate agent I was disabled, could I board first? No - you board with group 4. Okay. I can do this…

She calls group 4. Everyone starts heading for the gate. I’m slow…I’m slow as molasses on a cold day. I won’t rush - because I’m scared of falling. So I just move along at a snails pace.

We are in Durango Colorado. They open the door, and you walk to the plane on the tarmac…what kind of new fresh hell is this? I can’t see well at all, I can’t see depth, yellow striped mean a change in elevation, a curd, or a step. So any paint I think there’s a Step. Look at a tarmac. It’s paint EVERYWHERE. Yellow and red lines outlining where a plane can and can’t go, where tugs can go.

Growing up at an airport I knew that, and working at CHS so many times I knew the rules, and I knew everything was flat. Still, it messed with my mind. Then I get to the plane. It’s a ramp and not stairs. Ramps are hard for me…give me stairs all day. And then the plane was full - so many people in a small space, moving every which way. I can’t focus on anything. I’m just lost. It’s overwhelming. My anxiety goes wild. Once my anxiety kicks in it just goes, and goes, and goes. I have my emergency pill in the carry on. But, that’s up there, and it’s such a short flight I can wait. Just try to talk myself down. Over and over and over.

It doesn’t work. We make it to Phoenix. It’s a madhouse. I try to walk to the bathroom…that’s a fiasco. People everywhere going every direction, I made it to the restroom…making it back, another story. It took twice as long. I was standing in line twice, and people don’t appreciate it when they think your cutting.

Got back to my chair, and asked benton for a pill. I don’t remember the airports being so much stress. And, I didn’t like it. At all. Finally we got out of there, and boarded the plane first. Thank god. Watched a movie to North Carolina, and semi rested. But we got into Charlotte late. Only had 20 minutes to change planes. Benton handled all that so well. I just held on to the back pack and followed. But, when we got to the gate it said New York/LaGuardia. I panicked. Told benton we were at the wrong place just as they announced it was Charleston not New York. But. It still said LaGuardia. I could not get over that. I better be going home. The whole flight I thought I was going to the wrong place. And then we pulled up to CHS.

It was the first time in a LONG time. I just kept telling myself don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Tommy and Brenda are here. Hold it together. Don’t think about it.

But then the plane stopped. Waiting at the gate for the ground crew. They were in the break room we built for them. The laminate countertops that we had to have made. The TV Trey snd I had to hang. The lockers Trey had to bolt down. The blinds Trey had to special order because they were so lazy they had to be automatic with the sun. ALL of the jobs we had done for American Airlines over the years. Then we connected to the bridge.

We put the baggage slides on all the bridges. We connected all the electrical to the new bridges. And then we walked into the new terminal. We installed many many many of the carpet squares. Trey x-rayed and core drilled most all of the penetrations in the airport. We walked past the old TSA checkpoints that are no longer there. I remember missy snd I taking Trey dinner while he was installing the checkpoints, and also the infamous sofa superstore fire happened at the same time. Then we walked past the temporary exit we installed while the all new airport was under construction. And then we make it to the TSA cattle exit joke. That thing was a nightmare. They had it built with ZERO room for error. In a spot that wasn’t even square…so that was a big headache.

Trey loved it though. Because he told the airport DO NOT MEASURE IT YOURSELVES. MAKE THE COMPANY SUPPLYING THIS THING DO THE MEASUREMENTS. But, no. Mister hotshot newbie was gonna show him.

The exit gate had to stop, and be out on hold for 4 weeks because mr hot shot newbie engineer man sent wrong measurements for three areas. EXACTLY where Trey said NO. STOP and make them come do the measuring.

So, Trey was extremely happy that day. EVERYONE knew that Trey had thrown a fit and said they’d pay. But, they went ahead and did it. And Trey made sure they knew they were gonna pay. Everyday we were stalled he sent them a bill for the day. And, bills for the job running over due to their fault…causing a ripple effect in our job log. Boy, did they pay. But, over all I know Trey just loved the fact that he was right. I’ll never forget that mess. But, the new parts came in, and bam. It was done, a month late. And a months worth of backlog.

And then I had to go outside. To get some air. And breathe. All the Memories, all bam just like that. Was a lot. I try to avoid places I know we have worked, just to avoid all of those memories. Because they all come back and I remember all the good, all the bad. I just remember it all.

I took a minute and then called Brenda who was in the parking lot to tell her we were at baggage claim. I just had to stop thinking. And try to think about anything else. My sisters wedding, no, because all I could think is Trey wasn’t there for that either. I couldn’t say much. Just that I never wanted to fly again. I just wanted to get home. As fast as possible.

But then, I realize, he’s not going to be home either. And on days we traveled we always ordered a pizza from Park Pizza. Just the day before I was telling benton that I really wanted a pizza bad.

And walking into the house…I know he hasn’t been here for som long but, I still expect to hear ‘well it’s about time!’

I was expecting him to walk out of the den and say ‘well what you bring me? Anything good? Whatcha get? Lemme see’ with his big crazy eyes…talking like a hillbilly.

Good lord. I miss him.

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