So we landed in Calgary.
The flight had been fine, the service great. No problems. Only a couple more worries left. I was confident that we had this trip down now. Then a whole new issue arose. A worry I hadn't contemplated showed up. One that needs, now, to be added to the list. My wheelchair was in the body of the plane behind a door that simply refused to open.
Eventually I had to get off the plane to go up to wait at the gate. They had a wheelchair to take me up but it had these things on the foot pedals that many people have but make their use impossible for me. I managed to make it to the get and get seated in the waiting area. "Here's a new one," I said to Joe who just looked so completely frustrated.
But here's what the staff on the plane and on the ground did that made it all better:\
1) they did not dismiss my concerns. They made it clear that they understood that my wheelchair was of vital importance, and they made it clear that my worry and anxiousness was an absolutely appropriate response to the situation. I wasn't treated as a spoiled child who didn't get what he wanted when he wanted.
2) they answered my questions and kept me up to date. They always answered my questions about what was going on. They gave me information, not reassurance that everything would be OK. They told me, for example, that the plane could not fly with items in the hold that did not belong to a passenger on the plane. It wasn't leaving until the wheelchair was off.
3) they offered a variety of solutions and let me pick what I wanted. When it was clear that I couldn't use the chair they brought to the plane, because of the foot rests. A number of options were presented to me. I choose the option and they went with it, fully understanding that this was my choice and they honoured the fact that I could make my own choice.
4) they showed genuine concern for me and the situation but they didn't over apologize. I knew that they were concerned that I get my chair, that I was dealing with real and appropriate anxiety, that I had to get to the washroom but couldn't. All of those things were going on but they didn't buzz about me with 'I'm sorry' on their lips. They gave me space to breathe and to calm down.
5) they let me know as soon as the chair was out, even though I had to wait for it to be brought up. They didn't let me sit in worry one second longer than I had to.
Bad situations are bad situations but people sometimes do all the right things I felt myself supported by people who understood what the situation meant to me and I knew they were working to make it better.
We got the chair.
We got to the washroom.
We got the luggage.
We got the car.
We got to the hotel.
OK, now we're in Calgary!