editor’s letter aug 2009

Editor’s Note: Following’s my continuing story from BUS RIDE, A Spiritual Journey.  From last month’s chapter: …Tonight’s passport to Grand Rapids was at last in hand when I felt another jab from my full bladder. Oh, oh.  The female agents still stood together, but when I approached them again they looked over. I called, “Which way to Gate 21?”   The taller agent pointed to stairs. I stepped closer and lowered my voice a little, “Where’s the nearest restroom?”

 The terminal’s round clock showed 9:40. Not a minute to waste! The flight leaves at 10:09… Finally I had all I needed: ticket, Alamo’s 800-number, and directions to the concourse and nearest “Ladies.”  Hiking my carry-all over my shoulder I again dug out my cell phone as I stepped into the elevator and pressed, “One.”

As the compartment descended, I placed my call to Alamo. I sighed in relief when I heard a male voice, “Alamo Rent-A-Car. We serve you best.”

“I hope so!” I countered, “I need an economy car in Grand Rapids, Michigan tonight at 11:30, for 9 days.”

As the elevator door opened, I stepped out onto an empty hallway of polished gray tile and glanced around for directions to the security area.  I didn’t see any, so I stopped and concentrated on finishing my phone reservation. The Alamo agent reviewed my needs: economy, nine days, pick up and drop off at Grand Rapids International Airport…  Yes Ma’am. That’ll be $99. 98.” 

Remembering the airport agency’s quote of $ 698.00, I closed my eyes in a silent, “Thank you!” When I thought, I could not recall ever paying less than $120 for a week and this quote was for nine days.  Something’s wrong…   “What?” 

I must have sounded angry because the young man replied gruffly, “I’d think you’d THANK me for such a good rate!”

            “$99.98? Oh yes, yes! Thank you! I just couldn’t believe it.”

            “You’re welcome,” he replied in honeyed tones. After gathering my credit card information he said, “Here’s your confirmation number.”  As he repeated it, I scribbled “# 867432” on my hand under the recently penned phone number.


“You’re welcome. Thank you for calling Alamo!”

The cell phone screen turned dark as I finished my call. I scanned to my right again and noticed an overhead sign, “Security.” Its white arrow pointed down the hall. Ah! Bathrooms are at security!


             As I hurried toward the check point, I remembered another time I had tried to find a Northwest gate. Twenty five years earlier I had held five-year- old David by his hand.  We had been to New York where David had been examined by hearing specialist Dr. Harold Levinson. The doctor had written in medical journals that “disturbed” hearing led to children’s behavioral aberrations, including fears.  My small, skinny blond son surely had unusual hearing. Bells, alarms and whining engines sent him running to hide, hands over his ears.   His terrors began at age two and progressed until he panicked at the mere sight of a fire alarm or weed eater.  Dr. Levinson offered help.

Our trip to Queens had been tense. Hyper-alert, David had required coloring books, stories, magic slate and little cars to quiet him on the flights. However, La Guardia’s terminal had fire alarms mounted high on walls and David panicked at each sighting. I’d barely been able to hold him, collect lug-gage and find my way out to the taxi area.    

Finally, we’d arrived in Queens to see the famous doctor. When David was called, the bright inner office displayed metal equipment with dials and meters. A large black chair stood in its center with dental-looking apparatus on both sides.  Climbing into that seat, David looked very small. White-coated Dr. Levinson pumped him higher with a foot pedal.  Quiet mannered, the doctor gently explained, “I’m going to just look into your ears…” 

Nervous and suspicious, David squirmed. His eyes widened and darted around nearby machines with gauges and tubing. A white- skirted nurse and I managed to hold David long enough for the doctor to get pressure readings in each ear using a tool like a dental water squirt.  Splattered from streams that missed David’s moving ear, the calm doctor nodded at my tales of David’s terrors. Before we left, the gray-haired gentleman wrote David a prescription and briefly reviewed three pages of instructions he hand-ed me. Pages in hand, I thought of my research, letters and calls

to get our time slot and now flights and taxi rides.  I hope this trip produces results!  (Next.)

After a long flight back to Detroit, our Northwest tickets had called for a gate change. An agent pointed us to an outlying area. David and I walked an empty corridor so long that its end looked the size a pocket New Testament. The situation reminded me of TV’s  “Twilight Zone” where a similar passage led the traveler into another dimension.   Reaching the end of that hall at its gate, I gazed on a vacant waiting area and empty tarmac beyond.  Exhausted from travel and trying to calm David, I wanted to sit down and cry. 

Eyes searching the walls for bells, David pulled toward the plate glass where we should see our regional jet, “Where’s our plane, Mommy?”

I sighed and wagged my head. If we miss our flight, who knows when there’ll be another!  I dreaded more waiting. In spite of swallowing little orange pills to calm him, David talked louder and faster than usual. I had to keep a hand on my anxious child so he would not dart away. 

David’s small fingers were sweaty as we started back down that endless hall. I hoped to find correct flight information quickly. Our plane departed in less than an hour.

 Twenty-some years earlier, I had found our gate, boarded and reached Grand Rapids.  Tonight I hoped to have a parallel success. I thought of adult David’s yellow flowered guest sheets and hoped to eventually lay my head on a pillow at his condo. 

   Frances Fritzie

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