Thursday, February 25, 2010

In the Air with Peter

Traveling with Peter always made our life a bit more interesting. When the family was young, we liked to pack them up over spring break, join our friends, and fly someplace warm. Because we liked to scuba dive, those warm places usually ended up to be in the Caribbean. So, off we went, down south. Now, Peter loved to fly and getting Peter to the airport and on the plane was somewhat "uneventful", although everyone in the travel group was "assigned" to keep an eye on Peter so he did not take off in those large airports. In other words, all eyes were on Peter because, Peter, had also developed an uncanny sense of finding elevators. Oh, yes, did I mention that along with flushing toilets and opening garage doors, he could spend hours in front of elevators watching the door open and close. Or, you might find him on an elevator taking a ride. The trick was always figuring out which floor he chose to get off. So panicked moments were spend riding up and down elevators pushing every floor button so he could be found. Again, he was nowhere off for the worse, however, I would have just lost 5 pounds of sweat as I rode up and down trying to find the child who was on the seventh floor or was that the eighth?. So, everyone, made sure he stayed close, because losing Peter at O'Hara or the Miami airport always put a bit of a damper on the trip.

The bigger challenge however, came after the plane landed. You see, once Peter was on the plane, he was very content to sit, sleep, the perfect child, until..the plane landed. At that point, trying to convince him to stay seated until we stop, stand by me so we could leave TOGETHER...he was just not going there. He did learn keep his seat belt on, but as soon as Seat Belt Fasten sign was turned off, and the automatic rise of everyone in the plane to reach into the overhead, that was a signal for Peter to get out of dodge. Remember, now, he is tiny, so off he went, between people's legs, and right up to the front of the plane, smiling and wringing as he waited for the flight attendant to lift that big lever and open the door. For some reason, no one ever stopped him. As soon as that door opened, Peter must have thought he was in the 100 yard dash, down the ramp and into the airport at ninety miles an hour to find an elevator. And he did not stop until one was matter what the distance.

So, where was I during this event? Previous to the flight, I had spent hours trying to convince the Special Needs department that I needed a seat close to the front. Some airlines were most accommodating while others were like..sure lady, everyone wants to sit up in the front. I persisted, called to higher levels, and usually was within a few rows of first class. However, it was those few rows in front of me that appeared as Mount Kilimanjaro, as I could not make a pass. My overhead belongings were already assigned to anyone who could reach, and my job, and only job was to get out of the plane as fast as I could and find Peter. Smaller airports were not an issue, it was those big ones, the ones that you needed to stop at before the islands, that sent waves of panic in us all. Asking politely to please could I get by, you see my son, the one that just went between your legs, you see he is on his way to get lost in the airport. Those words were almost always rewarded with another..yeah right lady, or the body block which implied..."don't think you are going to get passed me". What is it about people leaving planes? What is it that brings out the absolute worst behavior in people in order to be first to baggage claim to stand there for 15 minutes?
Once past the barrier of people, I would run, with no concern that this may look silly. I had my job and I was intent. Behind me was a family, always concerned that this would be the time we would not find Peter. By the time they were out of the plane, I had located the elevator and the child. Life was good, the next time we would land, it would be a small airport and even when he ran through was island life and no one cared.
In all my years of travel, I will admit I have never once observed a bolting child like Peter. However, when I travel, and someone has a need to pass, I let them go. There most likely is a reason, because no one really wants to interfere with the body block and those stares one receives in trying to step out of the plane line.
So, until the next flight with Peter, I will store my special run down the ramp and into the airport as fast as you can shoes.

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