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Posted by Philip on 6 May 2015, 4:30 pm in , , , , , ,

Flying with wheels – a uniquely common event

I fly a lot. More often than I'd choose. But I fly when the need beckons – though seldom, even never, unless I'm issuing an invoice.

Last Monday saw me fly from Auckland to Wellington and back in a day – relievedly, an almost unprecedented phenomenon. I was with Sam and Kylie again (about whom I wrote a week or so back). It was Kylie's first time flying with me – or anyone using a wheelchair I believe – so Sam and I created a list of common occurrences for Kylie to "check off" as we went from airport to plane and plane to airport. Twice. In one day.

The list went something like this:

  1. At least one airline staff member recognises me as the "guy who did our training video."
  2. It is pointed out that my hair is different now, ie. not blond with brown stripes.
  3. I'm asked how much my chair weighs (45kg). 
  4. I'm asked whether the chair's battery is drycell or lithium (it's drycell –apparently lithium can explode in the hold – boom).
  5. As I transfer from my wheelchair to the aisle chair, someone invariably insists on helping – but it's not helpful.
  6. Thirty seconds after I begin telling the person taking my chair to the hold to advise the loading crew to lift it using the back bar and front struts, but not the arms because they will detach causing the chair to fall, said person zones out and stops listening. This is evidenced by the various states of detachment of the arms from the chair at destination.
  7. As I shift from aisle chair to plane seat, one of five onlooking flight attendents says, delighted with my accomplishment, "Well done!"

These occurrences, as I said, are common enough to list but, as if just to keep things interesting, the universe serves them up in unique variations and varying sequences. Common and unique, a divine diversity.

I'm pleased to say that all events occurred, twice. But on a two-flight day, there was sure to be a couple of good stories. These are them.

Auckland to Wellington 11.30am

Kylie has checked all but #4 and #7 off her list. As we are waiting for doors to close, Sam says, "No-one said 'Well done.'"

Me: "Yep, she said it really quietly, behind me. You didn't hear." Tick #7.

Kylie: "But no-one asked about the batteries!"

Me: "True..."

And as I take the next breath, in slow motion, a ground crew member runs into the plane, stopping at my seat. "Your battery," she says. "Is it drycell or lithium?" Tick #4. Mission complete.

Wellington to Auckland 6pm

Checking in. Ground crew member to me: "Hi Eddy."

Me: "Uh, I'm not Steady Eddy. But I was a comedian..."

She: "But I'm sure I've met you before."

"Where?" I ask.

"Here. Ages ago. I don't go out much."

I laugh. She's wry – I like that. But she's wrong.

"You may have seen me on your training video," I offer.

Her turn to laugh. She's wry. "You're right. I haven't met you at all. But your hair's changed."

Kylie likes that. Tick #1 and #2. Only five to go.

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