Femaelstrom | PostIndependent.com
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Femaelstrom

Boarding a flight to Hawaii, Lori and her family thought they’d been blessed with two extra seats for resting, until the approach of a bag-and-baby-laden couple.She and the nearby moms, all with children out of infancy, glanced at each other resignedly: A baby means crowding and noise.The couple, Vietnamese, spoke little English. Lori said hello, but only an hour before landing did she try to communicate, and ask where the couple was going.”Dallas, Texas,” said the woman.They had been flying over ocean for hours. Lori asked the woman to repeat herself, then said, “We need the flight attendant.” The people were on the wrong plane; they had also run out of food for the baby, now crying. Lori and the other mothers, suddenly united with the couple, ransacked their supplies to offer over their best snacks.On the ground, airline officials wanted to turn the threesome around immediately, but Lori and another mother protested, insisting, “You have to give them a break, and meals, and a hotel room. These people – this baby – just came from Vietnam.”We all have our travel horror stories. Once, lugging my first baby, I boarded a plane to find a woman in the aisle seat of my row. A man was next to her.I said, “Hi, I’m in the window seat. Could you stand up so I can get by?”She said no. I explained confusedly, “I have a baby.”She said, “I’m paralyzed.”I chucked Teddy at whoever stood behind me, clambered over the seat in the previous row, and received him back. As the woman, her husband and I chatted, Teddy chose that moment to blow his diapers way past logical capacity. The flight was absolutely full; finally I just changed him on the lunch table.Once my friend Catherine, stuck in a middle seat, laboriously nursed her baby son to sleep, then crept off to the toilet, idly noticing the stares of other passengers, apparently bored. In the bathroom, she glanced in the mirror to see her protruding breast. Mortified, she lingered within, eventually emerging to find her baby howling and both seatmates completely turned away.But usually help arrives, in various forms.One year, delayed in the East by thunderstorms, I arrived in Denver with my boys, then aged 13 months and nearly 4, at 10 p.m., our connection long gone. As we joined the block-long line to re-book, Teddy wept.He said, “I want to be in the stroller” – where Roy lay.A little girl materialized. “This little boy looks tired. He can have these,” she said, handing him two toy cars.All motels were full. At length, I attained three blankets and a pillow.Pulling Teddy, pushing the stroller, I raced after the family whose child had given Teddy the cars, seeking safety in numbers.As we descended an escalator I had to lift the stroller in both hands while carrying my purse, big diaper bag, blankets, the new pillow and one old one. Teddy didn’t really know how to ride an escalator; I said fervently to be careful and to hang onto my shorts. He stepped right onto a crack and then moaned as the steps split, his toes pointing inexorably down. I asked the little girl to help, and soon Paige and Teddy were holding hands on each escalator and the crowded train to the main terminal.We found an open carpeted area among potted plants, and huddled against the blasting air conditioner, subjected to “New York, New York” on continuous reel.Teddy lay down only when Paige did, at 2 a.m., at which point Roy suddenly lurched up and shrieked. I put him in the stroller, and pushed him in circles in sight of Teddy.At 3 a.m. Roy nodded out, and I settled between the kids, dozed in a music-filled, shivering haze, and woke around 6 a.m. Mercifully, it all ends sometime.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com.


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