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How to Run Into an Airplane with a Wheelchair

Note: This post was deleted by WordPress so I’m reposting it.

I visited Las Vegas with my best friend, Teri, back in the 80s. This was before Vegas had remodeled for the ADA. We had prime seats at every show we saw and we “had” to go through the cast entrance since the other entrances were inaccessible. Inevitably we were invited to their cast parties for nearly every show.

Putting on our best girlish giggles, we picked up on a busboy, who took the day off and gave us a personal tour of Vegas.

Our charm even had cab drivers coming back to pick us up from events and not charging us.

But I wasn’t able to wow the walkway at Caesar Palace. They now have a “No Wheelchair” sign there. I was walking on my artificial legs then. And I thought it would be a good idea to push her wheelchair up the walkway. I felt like Fred Flintstone. My feet were moving, but we were getting nowhere — fast. I finally managed to get her to the top, only to discover it was a one-way walkway. And they suggest you take the escalator down.

Now, I’m brave. But not stupid. I don’t take wheelchairs down an escalator. Especially if I have two artificial legs! So we looked around and discovered there was an elevator. It was the janitor’s elevator. Full of mops, brooms, and pails. I quickly squeezed us in and hit the “Lobby” button. And that’s where we landed. Along with a pile of mobs, brooms, and pails, which came falling out as we exited. I  nonchalantly announced to all onlookers that “we’re just cleaning up the place,” picked up the mops and brooms, and walked away. A bit sheepishly.

While we were there we partied with the cast of an interpreter group, a puppet show, and a dance troupe.  We saw Joan Rivers, but didn’t party with her.  Darn it!

We shopped at the hotel shops and selected a few dresses to try on.  But the dressing rooms were not accessible.  So, of course, they suggested we take the dresses to our hotel room to try them on.  Up to that point in my life I’d never worn a dress worth more than $30.  The price tags on these dresses were $200 and up!  As I slipped into each outfit I felt like a princess.  I knew I could not afford to purchase them, but for a few minutes in that hotel room, I was a star!  Each dress made me feel more beautiful.  Regretfully we returned them to the shop, but with the sense memory still on our skin.

Our pièce de résistance was our departure though. We were running late to the airport. We found a very nice gentleman to race us to the gate. But by the time we got there and turned to thank him, he had disappeared. I so dearly hope he made it to his own flight! We didn’t make it to our gate before it closed though. The staff at the gate told me to hurry and take Teri down the gate ramp. I wasn’t sure this was a good call, but I thought I could do it. Hey! I pushed her UP a crazy ramp! Why not down one too? And they looked awfully busy.

So, I started pushing. Um, pulling really. The chair needed no help going down. It needed assistance STOPPING!

Artificial legs weren’t built like they are now. Now they have computer chips. Mine had a hydraulic system that returned the power I put into it. Whether it was intentional or not. So as Teri’s wheelchair pulled me faster, my legs thought they should go faster. But the rest of my body couldn’t keep up.

You have to picture this: Our carry-on consisted of two purses, two dress bags, and two hat boxes. All of which Teri was carrying on her lap. Mind you, she can’t see a thing over this pile.

I yell to Teri, “Take it!” and down I go! Teri, not knowing what’s going on — remember, she can’t see — just continues down the ramp. At the bottom, our lovely stewardess, with her Colgate smile, is ready to greet us at the bottom. Suddenly her smile starts to slip. And Teri HITS the side of the airplane door full force!

I’m laying on the ramp. Not sure if I should laugh or cry. She just hit the airplane! She’s not hurt. The clothes bags broke her hit I see. Nobody asks if I’m okay! They asked why I let her go!!! Well, let’s see… I couldn’t keep up with her!

They insisted we ride in First Class. Such a fine ending to a very fine vacation!

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