As the date approached and my enthusiasm grew, I reminded myself to curb aspirations and simply accept the trip as it unfolded. The quickest way to kill a good excursion is to set the bar too high, and if this was going to be my premier outing for the calendar year, I owed it a fighting chance. The wisdom of this resolve took full effect the moment my mother and I stepped off our first flight in the New Jersey airport en route to Maine.
My mother was every bit as excited about the jaunt as I could have hoped, and her youthful appearance belied her age of seven decades. We wandered into a cul de sac concourse and discovered that all connecting flights were at gates far, far away. So far that they required additional transportation to reach them. We followed arrows to an open door and walked out to discover two flights of stairs hovering above a waiting bus. With me in a back brace and each of us pulling a carry on, I scanned the area for other means to descend. Seeing none, I questioned a man in uniform holding a walkie talkie.
“Excuse me. Can you point us to the elevator? We need to take the bus.”
He barely glanced at me before responding, “There is no elevator. You’ll have to take the stairs.”
No elevator? Wasn’t that a violation of at least sixteen different building codes? What did they do with little old ladies with canes or those in wheelchairs? Toss them over the edge?
Perplexed, I rejoined my mom on the stairs, and we stared at the small suitcases which had quickly become a burden. I wasn’t supposed to lift something weighing twenty pounds, much less carry it down two flights of stairs, but the only other alternative seemed to be kicking them like soccer balls until they reached the asphalt below. And from the looks of things, if we were going to do that, the guy on the sidewalk really needed to mark up.
Mom and I debated until walkie talkie guy recognized our dilemma and came to take one bag in each hand. He placed them at the bottom of the stairs and fled amidst a shower of verbal gratitude, leaving us to discover that our awaiting chariot also had five steps. Thankfully, a fellow passenger with a Boy Scout heart assessed our situation and promptly came to assist before any disk relocating activities could ensue.
We jounced along for a few minutes as the bus careened around terminals, and we finally pulled to a curb beside another smoldering bus. They called out a concourse that we didn’t need, so we sat patiently as passengers filed past us. Even when movement ceased, the driver regarded us in his overhead mirror with thick, furrowed eyebrows.
“You get off here.” He was obviously annoyed by our immobility.
A tentative co-protestor led the charge. “But we need Concourse C and this is A.” We rallied to his side by nodding our heads in tacit agreement.
“For C you take other bus.” He jerked his chunky thumb in the direction of the second bus, idling by the curb and spewing out enough fumes to singlehandedly warm the globe by three degrees. Well, naturally.
We made our way with other disillusioned travelers to our connecting bus for our connecting flight and were thankful that this one had the architectural forethought to forego another series of stairs. Small mercies indeed. As I clutched a swinging hand strap and bobbed in rhythm with the bus, I had to wonder what would unfold in the days to come.
© 2012 – Traci Carver