Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Adventure --Early

Yesterday I started out to fly to Lincoln, NE. I found my seat and then a woman, obviously from Africa, sat next to me with a very tired and crying infant. She also had two boys traveling with her; one appeared to be about five years old, the other maybe around three years old. The two boys were to sit down across the aisle, but the little one wouldn't. He was even in a seat in the wrong row. I offered to change seats, sitting with the oldest boy so that she could have the younger boy with her. Just as we were about to take off, the flight attendant arrived. Without my knowing it, the boy had rung for the flight attendant.

The flight attendant had just again returned to the front when again she came down the aisle, past us asking, "Do you need something?" Quickly she returned to the front as if to get some supplies. As she started back she asked, "Is there a nurse here?" Another woman jumped up and went with her. After a bit of time we were informed that a passenger had a medical emergency.

We waited for the paramedics to come on board. While this was all going on the boy with me told me the last plane he was one had a TV screen in the seat. Thus, I knew he had been on an international flight of some kind. He went asleep, really hard.

After awhile we were told we all had to leave the plane to allow it to be cleaned. I could not awake the boy, the mom had her hands full with the two others. A man nearby offered to carry the boy off the plane. When we got into the gate area, this man went into his briefcase and came out with packages of cheese, crackers, and carrots, and offered these to all the little kids associated with this flight.

I called my friends to tell them I was in the gate, not on the plane. After a few minutes the African woman asked if she could use my phone to call those in Lincoln waiting for her. She showed me the number and, since is started with +1, I knew she been calling them internationally. With a bit of trial and error, because even leaving off +1 left too many numbers, we were able to connect.

Finally came the time to get back on. My "boy" was still almost sound asleep and I walked him on the plane that way. The flight to Lincoln was uneventful. But by now we had three sleeping children, luggage to pick up from gate check, and only two adults. I called my waiting friends and asked them to come to the gate as closely as they could rather than waiting by baggage. I just couldn't imagine how we could get these sleeping children down the escalator safely.

Now another man offered to carry the sleeping infant, the mom guided the younger boy, and I got the older boy off the plane. Have you even tried to walk a sleeping child across that 12 inch wide step that connects to the jet way? We picked up the gate check luggage and got out into the public area. My friends met us all there, grabbed the luggage we were toting, and directed us to an elevator. I had flown through this airport many times and never knew there was an elevator.

My friends and the extra man helped the woman collect her luggage from the baggage area. I tried again to call her friends, but only got voice mail. I explained to the woman that her friends must be on the way, that the airport was small, they could easily find her. She gave me hug and thanked me for helping. This whole experience is really what Christmas is all about and it can happen any day.

When I was sure she was safe and OK, we left. My friends drove about ten minutes and just as we were parking at a restaurant, my phone rang. It was the mysterious number. I told the caller that the people from Uganda had arrived and the children were very sleepy.

I learned the woman had started out from Uganda. I can't imagine making a trip that long across so many time zones with three children.

This morning we wondered if those boys were still tucked in bed sleeping.

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