Coming Home

The trip from Buenos Aires was uneventful. Ed & Reinhard rode with me to the airport and carried my bags inside while I crutched it. Ed found an agent who said that he would get a wheelchair and someone to help me. A lady in the coach class line offered me a space in front of her in a very long line. “Thanks, but we’ll wait for the wheelchair.” People in the Business Class line jealously crowded close to prevent me from cutting into their line. Wheelchair and pusher soon arrived and he rolled me to the front of the line and wisked me through. My insurance company booked a business class ticket and Delta offered a pass to their Crown Room. That was inside security, so Ed took us to his favorite cafe to wait and for Javier to come back and wheel me to my flight.

 Customs and security were perfunctory for the handicapped and Javier zipped me through and out to the Delta gate. The lady who offered her place in line was just ahead of me. Delta did their own security check and I was wheeled onto the plane. Takeoff was delayed for some passengers trying to clear customs. Service was superb and I slept about six hours.

 Delta 110 was the second plane to land at the recently reopened Atlanta airport. Thirty three years of flying to ATL didn’t prepare me for the two things along the taxiway, snow and a dog. One of the passenger told the flight attendant, who came back to see the dog for herself and notify the captain. Metro Atlanta had received six inches of snow, followed by freezing rain Sunday night and Monday. Many personnel were not able or willing to get to work.

 We pulled up to our gate about 0600. Unfortunately, their was nobody there to bring the jetway to the plane. Fifteen minutes later it was attached and most of the passengers deplaned. Three of us were told to wait for our wheelchairs. I struck a conversation with the pilot, who was a biker from Dallas, TX. Airline employees fly free on standby status. That’s how they commute from their base to their home. Storms cause cancellations so all flights will full and not boarding non-revenue standbys for several days. They then asked if I could walk up the ramp, because the wheelchair pushers weren’t available. The senior steward carried my bags and away we went.

 A wheelchair attendant met us inside the building and loaded me in the chair. We’re halfway down the hall when I see the woman that allowed me to go in front of her sprawled on the floor with her left leg askew. Seems that she fell coming off the elevated moving sidewalk and broke her leg or hip. I wished her well as we passed.

 Immigration was next and the handicapped lane went quickly. The Border Patrol agent said that it had taken him 3.5 hours to drive a normally 45 minute route. Customs was a breeze. US security was the next hurdle. Wheelchair pushers are assigned to inside or outside the secure area. Eight chairs had cleared customs and were waiting to get screened.

 Three hours after we landed, I was wheeled up to baggage claim. I’d borrowed my pusher’s cell phone and called my neighbor. The four-wheel drive truck was only using two wheels that morning and it was a struggle to get up our hill and out of the subdivision. They were only able to do 15-20 mph on their way to the airport. On the way home I witnessed what snow,  freezing rain and 25F had done to the roads. I-85 was blocked in several places by spun out cars and jack knifed semi-trailers. The exit to GA400 was iced over and impassable. I was deposited on my couch a little over six hours after our plane landed.

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One Response to “Coming Home”

  1. Dale and Cindy Leppo says:

    Larry: Glad to hear that you made it home…eventually. We got about a foot of snow from the same storm, but we are much more up to dealing with ice and snow in Ohio.
    How’s Reinhard? I read that someone got “clipped” and hope that the damage was mostly to his bike.
    Please call 330-678-9303 or 330-592-7358 or email if we can do anything for you while you are in the US. We will be traveling some, but we’ll have email, etc. and we’ll be closer than Cathy.
    Best Wishes for a speedy recovery and return to the 1DE.
    Dale and Cindy

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