Spring is coming!
I don’t know how to deal with this experience, so I have to write about it.
My family had the GREAT good fortune (only because of a small inheritance) to take a vacation. Me, husband age 65, daughter age 29, son age 25, booked flights on US Airways to Turks and Caicos for a dream week in the Caribbean.
I am disabled, fat, and white. I have had too many illnesses and surgeries to list, plus I hurt my back, so I’m in a wheelchair. I purchased an expensive heavy-duty folding wheelchair to make this vacation possible. I would not have to rely on anyone else to provide wheels - I brought my own. My husband was a very good sport about pushing me around, and the kids handled the luggage. All good.
For the first flight, my husband pushed me right up to the door of the plane. Great! Online, US Airways says “We offer in-cabin wheelchair stowage on a first-come, first-served basis.” I was certainly the first one there, and I was very happy that my new wheelchair would be stowed carefully on board.
Unfortunately, this was a lot of crap. They would not even consider stowing the wheelchair (twelve inches across when folded) on the plane. Instead they smashed it into the cargo hold.
After the flight, they produced my wheelchair with a damaged metal foot rest. We rushed off to our connecting flight from Philadelphia to Turks and Caicos.
At the gate there was a skinny white lady in a cardigan sweater who refused to let my husband push me down the tube to the plane. Very simple, but not allowed.
She refused to let any US Airways employee push me in my own wheelchair.
Although my husband had been pushing me around just fine, she would not allow any US Airways employee to push the fattie in a regular wheelchair provided by the airline, either.
She insisted on waiting for someone to get an ELECTRIC wheelchair to move the fattie.
People were waiting to board. They were lined up. They were impatient. Eventually I had to get out of my perfectly good manual wheelchair and into an electric wheelchair.
It did not work. The motor made little humming noises. The chair did not move.
At this point I was not allowed to use my own wheelchair, not allowed to be pushed by my own husband, and not able to use the electric wheelchair that US Airways insisted upon so no one would have to push the fattie DOWNHILL to the waiting jet. Boarding had already been delayed for several minutes, and passengers were annoyed with the fat lady in the wheelchair who was holding everything up.
I was rescued by a kind black woman who intervened. She allowed me back into my own wheelchair, had my husband push me down the ramp, and simply accompanied us safely to the plane. “That wheelchair DID NOT WORK,” she whispered to me. “It was NOT YOU. None of that. That wheelchair was BROKEN.” She made sure my wheelchair was labeled correctly, gave me the receipt, and reassured me repeatedly. She was an angel.
The plane landed in Turks and Caicos, and my wheelchair was waiting at the bottom of the plane steps. After walking all the way from the back of the airplane AND down the steep steps to the tarmac, I basically fell into it. Fortunately my husband was allowed to push me again.
We had to go through customs. I never travel, and was a nervous wreck. An airport employee - a large black woman with a Santa hat - came to my rescue and whisked us through the correct channels. She personally pushed me, uphill, all the way to where the taxis were waiting outside. We talked about kids, and Christmas presents, and local restaurants. I apologized for being heavy, and she said cheerfully, “So am I!”
Suddenly there was a downpour of rain. “This never happens!” Santa said. The taxi turned out to be a large white business van that was hard as hell to get into. I tried to step up into the front seat, but could not find my footing. My angel friend reached up and just pushed on my butt, in the pouring rain, until I was able to skooch all the way into the seat.
On the way home again, who should be working the tarmac but Santa? I was thrilled to see her. We beamed at each other. I pressed a few bills into her hand as my husband rushed me past her toward the waiting jet.
The two employees who undoubtedly were paid the least made the greatest difference in my trip. They were not judgmental. They did not fat-shame me. They just HELPED.
If you have any size or mobility issues, stay away from US Airways. Expect humiliation and difficulties when you travel. But be prepared for angels along the way.
P.S. You may be questioning why I included the descriptors “black” and “white.” I find I experience far more fat-shaming from the white community than from the black community. One of my favorite encounters was when I told a black employee at IKEA that I was so grateful for his help that if I hadn’t been married, I would have kissed him. “Well… I do like the big ladies,” he answered. Priceless.
Six books, one binding
Here’s something special. You may remember a blog I posted about dos-à-dos (or “back-to-back”) books. These are very special objects consisting of usually two books, which were bound together at their, well, backs. When you were done with the one book, you would flip the object and read the other. The dos-à-dos book you see here is even more special. Not only is it a rather old one (it was bound in the late 16th century), but it contains not two but six books, all neatly hidden inside a single binding (see this motionless pic to admire it). They are all devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s (including Martin Luther, Der kleine Catechismus) and each one is closed with its own tiny clasp. While it may have been difficult to keep track of a particular text’s location, a book you can open in six different ways is quite the display of craftsmanship.
Pic: Stockholm, Royal Library. See the full image gallery here.
Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them.
When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.’On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children.
Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure. ‘Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgiveable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a ‘humane society’.
Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.
Ceramic bowl by Johnson Tsang (fish are real)
Cut pages formed into a 360 degree book by Yusuke Oono
Snow sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy
Snow sculpture by the incomparable Andy Goldsworthy
Please visit http://skysabinproductions.com/wp/?p=461 for a quick time-lapse video of sunset on Turks and Caicos, 12/30/2013. Beautiful!
Pen and ink by artist Eleanor Sabin at www.penumbra-art.tumblr.com