and the sequel, "Hail Mary" https://www.amzn.com/1684334888
Available on Amazon.
Five days later, on Sunday, December 11, we were back in the Columbus airport,
It started at the Columbus airport after we'd checked in and checked our luggage and I realized that I didn't have my camera. When traveling I always keep my camera close at hand, usually slung over my shoulder, so as to be able to catch any good shot that might come along. I'm constantly checking for my camera, running my hand over my shoulder to make sure I still have it. But this time when I ran my hand over my shoulder my camera wasn't there.
Now, this wasn't the first time I'd lost my camera in an airport. A couple of years ago I left my camera behind on my way home from Los Angeles (See post from 8/19/2019: https://www.ailantha.com/blog/it-happened-with-and-without-pics). To make sure I'd never again leave behind my camera I bought a bright red camera case.
Trying to keep my inner panic at bay, I said, "It's all right. I must have left it in the car." We'd driven our car to the airport and parked it in one of the long-term lots, from which we'd taken a shuttle.
"No, you didn't," said Tom. "You had it when we got on the shuttle."
While I stood frozen in my dismay, Tom sprung into action. "You go outside to the shuttle drop-off and see if you see the bus we took. I'm going downstairs to the shuttle pick-up." The pick-up area was where the shuttle buses waited around for passengers.
This was truly a needle-in-a-haystack kind of a venture, as there were several airport shuttle lots to and from which the numerous shuttle buses ran. Still, I followed Tom's directions because I didn't know what else to do. As I stood at the empty shuttle stop waiting and looking for I knew not which shuttle bus, a Marriot bus pulled up. The driver got out and asked me if I was waiting for someone. It hit me that I must have looked as distressed as I was feeling. I told him my tale of woe, trying not to cry. The driver, who was about 3/5 my age, was very kind and solicitous, though he spoke to me in the indulgent, grown-up tone that people use to speak to children and old folks.
In fact I wondered if I reminded this nice Marriott bus driver of his dear old mother. Or maybe even - gulp - his dear old granny. Anyway, the driver explained to me in grown-up tones that there wouldn't be many shuttle drop-offs at this hour and he directed me to go to the downstairs shuttle area and tell any airport shuttle driver there about my lost camera. They'll surely send out an APB to all the shuttles to look for my camera, he said. I imagined him adding to himself, you being such a sweet little old lady.
So I channeled my inner sweet little old lady and thanked the Marriot driver profusely, and then hurried towards the lower level where Tom already was. I was at the top of the stairway to the lower level when I spotted Tom coming up the stairway...my bright red camera case in his hand! By some Christmas miracle he managed to locate the particular bus that had picked us up from the shuttle lot and, by a further miracle, my camera was still in the back of the bus where we'd been sitting.
I was beyond grateful to my stalwart mate and beyond determined to keep track of my personal items from now on. And this I succeeded in doing until we arrived at our gate and I discovered that I'd lost my boarding pass. But how did I do this? I was sure that after going through security I'd put my boarding pass into my wallet. Or my backpack. Or my pocket. But my boarding pass was in none of those places.
"I'm losing my brains," I wailed to my mate.
"Just go up to the gate agent and get another boarding pass," he sighed.
And so I went up to the gate agent, feeling like a nitwit, prepared to be nitwit-shamed for losing my boarding pass in the 1,000 feet from security to the gate.
But the gate agent did not nit-wit shame me. Rather, she smiled, called me “Honey”, and spoke in the same indulgent grown-up-to-old-person tone as the Marriott driver had. As she handed me my new boarding pass she said, “The flight’s full, but I’ll see if I can shuffle things around to get you seated next to your husband.”
“Uh, that’s okay,” I said, “The flight’s only an hour.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” she said sympathetically, but what I heard was, This poor little old lady should not be left to her own devices.
The flight was only one hour during which I did not move from my seat, but spent the time trying to be mindful, my hands, eyes and brain continually making the rounds: Here’s my backpack on the floor; my camera is in my backpack; my wallet is in the lower pocket of my cargo pants; my phone is in the upper pocket.
I continued working on mindfulness and brainfulness as we deplaned at O’Hare and made our way through the airport to the Blue Line train,
"No that's okay," said my daughter, "you stay put. We'll find you."
"No, we can start walking," said I. "Why should you have to walk extra out of your way?"
So it was decided that Tom and I would walk from Damen Avenue, where we now were, to Milwaukee Avenue, then start walking up Milwaukee to meet Claire and Miguel, who were walking down Milwaukee.
"Just make sure you walk straight," said Claire, "stay on Milwaukee, check the street sign. It can be confusing."
My daughter was referring to the convergence of six streets corners, one of which was Milwaukee, at the upcoming intersection.
"Follow me," I said to my mate.
Now, after it was over, Tom said that it hadn't been made clear to him which street we were supposed to be on, but after we'd been walking a few blocks - on Damen Avenue - he and I both wondered why we hadn't yet come upon Claire and Miguel. A few moments later my phone rang. It was Claire.
"I think you must have taken Damen Avenue by mistake," she said. "Just stay where you are. We'll find you."
It was true. I'd led us up Damen Avenue by mistake. But how had that happened? I'd followed the street sign that said, "Milwaukee."
My daughter explained that at the intersection, the street that the "Milwaukee" sign appears to be signifying is actually Damen. "It's confusing," she reiterated.
Confusing it indeed was. Which was what saved me from further woe over brain leakage. It wasn't my fault that the "Milwaukee" sign pointed towards Damen. Or kind of towards Damen. Also, it's said that bad luck comes in threes, and after losing my camera and boarding pass, this street mix-up made three, so I figured that the rest of the trip was due to roll out more smoothly.
Which, fortunately, it did.