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After four weeks scrambling up towers and steps in Italy and India, UD did an age-concession number and ordered a wheelchair at JFK airport yesterday.

The flight home began in Delhi, continued through Rome, staggered on through NYC, and then finally ended in DC — hours and hours of flying, security, customs, security again, security again, passport control, long, luggage-laden terminal hikes, etc.

On the plane to NY, UD admitted that her feet (never her best feature) were giving out, and Mr UD ordered the chair.

Although certifiably old, UD ain’t the wheelchair type, has never been pushed around in one… I mean, after all, she had just done a creditable job (though only creditable) of maintaining a relentless month-long physical pace in Venice, Florence, and Rajesthan.

But ok all of that took a toll and as she exited the plane she was happy to see the chair, along with the nice woman in charge of (who knew?) wheeling her to the very front of every single hellish airport line. Although fundamentally since birth insanely privileged (visit India if you want to know how global inequality goes), UD has never occupied the First Class, Business Lounge, Priority Seating, Preferred Client world at all, so being whisked ahead of the crowd felt weird, wonderful, and guilt-generating (do my feet really hurt so much that… ?).

Au fond, it was obvious to your blogeuse, in the event, that she did need this help, and though the general solicitude (“Anything else? Can I check your blood pressure?” asked a Rome-JFK crew member. “Are you comfortable?” asked the woman pushing me.) made her feel uncomfortable, she also began to glimpse a world in which people don’t idiotically, stoically, refuse various forms of assistance.

Margaret Soltan, January 19, 2024 6:56AM
Posted in: snapshots from new york

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4 Responses to “After four weeks scrambling up towers and steps in Italy and India, UD did an age-concession number and ordered a wheelchair at JFK airport yesterday.”

  1. Matt McKeon Says:

    The year after we were married I went on vacation with the wife. One night, because, I’m sure of an error, we were immediately seated in a crowded restaurant despite no reservations. The experience of walking past a long line of waiting people straight to our table was glorious. It should happen to everyone, at least once, just as being delayed, crowded and frustrated should happen to our betters a few times.

  2. Anon Says:

    I broke a bone in my foot two years ago and asked for a wheelchair when I had to fly. It was unsettling, but also a scary window into what people with more permanent disabilities have to deal with. E.g. the wheelchair never showed up for one of my connections and I was forced to limp/hop my way to the next gate.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Matt: Yes – these glorious (to use your word) moments for some reason always remind me of something Gore Vidal used to say: “It is not enough to succeed; others must fail.”

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Anon: Yes. In my case, because we ordered the chair sort of at the last minute (approaching the airport), it was there, but the paperwork wasn’t. The delay, with the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to use the chair, was somewhat upsetting.

    It’s true that the whole experience made me ponder all the glitches and indignities people truly dependent on these systems must experience.

    That limp/hop to the next gate that you describe must have been awful.

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