Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gratitude ~ For that Woman in Seat 6D

November seems the month in which blog and FB posts focus on gratitude and thankfulness.  So, let me tell you about my seatmate on an Alaska Airlines flight to Las Vegas last Sunday. . .

She was seated in the bulk head row aisle seat  by the time we reached it. Ours were window and middle. Reaching down she moved her legs back and said, “I’d stand. . .but I can’t.”

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New York New York and Excalibur Casinos - Las Vegas

Plenty of room to get in, we assured her, as we stepped over and around and settled in. We often sit in the bit-more-spacious row with seats designated for ‘handicapped’ (and secondarily, frequent fliers) but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a person who needed the seat for its real purpose. ( I can assure you while this lady may have been ‘differently-abled’ she was by no means ‘handicapped’ in mind or spirit.)

IMG_20130926_184516_633The flight attendant stood next to Seat 6D as she demonstrated the safety procedures and escape routes. 

As she pointed to the track lighting that would lead us to an emergency exit, I started pondering  how the lady next to me would ever get to an emergency exit. 

Then a more disturbing question surfaced:

(Would we step over her  to save ourselves or would we take her under our care?  Hmm. . .now that is one about which one must do some soul-searching. . .)


She and I began the usual in-air visiting when she complimented my sandals,

“Oh they are Clark’s Bendables and they weigh almost nothing,” I said taking one off, handing it to her, “They are great . . .(for walking.)” I’d almost foolishly added.




As our conversation continued she told me she’d contracted polio 35 years ago – from the vaccine intended to keep her from getting the crippling disease.  But she didn’t dwell on that, instead we talked travel:

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She loved Istanbul and her travels in Turkey. The people there were so kind, she said.

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Street scene - Kotor, Montenegro
But those cobblestone streets in old European cities can be difficult to navigate – but she smiled as she added, “it can be done if you are determined.”

“Cruises are getting better now – in the sense of accessibility – they used to have handicapped rooms that had a lip on the bathroom doorway entrance making it difficult to navigate in a wheelchair – they’ve remedied that now.”

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Our room - Scottsdale Four Seasons - I'd not considered the bed's height before
But beds on land and sea can be difficult. “They make them so tall now” she commented, again grinning she added, “It’s good the sheets are tucked in tightly - I sometimes have to use them as a rope and pull myself up and into bed.”

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Cappuccino - Papeete, Tahiti
She passed when the beverage cart came by – while we quickly downed our much-needed early morning coffee. 

Later, she told me the first thing she planned to do upon reaching her hotel was to order a huge cup of coffee.

“ I love my coffee but it goes right through me, though, so I don’t dare order it on a plane,” she explained.

As the plane arrived at the gate, she reached down and pulled her legs back and said, “You climb out over me. I’ll be the last one off.”



I never asked her name, but that really doesn’t matter because I’ll never take another trip without thinking of the Lady in Seat 6D.

When I complain of having walked too much or why we didn’t get that second cup of coffee or when I think the mattress is too hard – I will remember and then be thankful for that brief time I spent with the Lady in Seat 6D and oh, so grateful, that The Scout and I are able to travel as we do.

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and armchair travel.

24 comments:

  1. Awesome! What a reminder to us all. You had me reading from start to finish and I also would applaud and remember the lady in Seat 6D.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to meet my lady in Seat 6D, Jo. Have a great week!

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  2. A nice "Kindness of Strangers" story, and one about being determined to travel no matter what difficulties that might entail.

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    1. Thanks, Dick. It does make some of those excuses I hear from friends about why they don't travel seem just a bit flimsy! Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. This is such a beautifully written, heartwarming post. Thank you for sharing your wonderful encounter with the Lady in 6D. I thank her for reminding me to be grateful of the little things I normally take for granted when traveling and at home. Heaven bless her.

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    1. I had hoped that others would be moved by her unwavering determination to travel. . .and to be thankful that we don't have such obstacles to our journeys. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Lovely post, Jackie. Sometimes it takes someone who has to make the effort to do something, like travel, to make us appreciate how lucky we are to be able to travel without a wheel chair, or whatever. And, it's heart warming to read about someone who makes the effort, despite the huge challenges.

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    1. She certainly caused me to sit back and count my blessings, that's for sure! Thanks for another great Travel Photo Thursday, Nancie.

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  5. Jackie and Joel, thanks for that beautiful reminder of what we have to be grateful for. You are kind and gentle souls.
    Jane

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    1. Jane, Thank you for the lovely comment. I just visited your site and it is wonderful; hope we will continue the blogosphere visits in the future!

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  6. She's a real trooper, that lady. Even with everything, she keeps going.
    Thanks for remembering all the details and thanks for sharing her story. We've got lots to be thankful for.

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    1. Thanks for visiting today, Marcia. You are correct - we do have much to be thankful for!

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  7. Every so often we all need to be reminded - lest we forget - just how lucky we are to do the things we do. I love people like this who despite their disability maintain a zest for life and don't complain. Hats off to the lady in Seat 6D.

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    1. I agree, Leigh. It is easy to take for granted an act as simple as getting into bed in a hotel room. She definitely was a role-model for travelers! Thanks for stopping by today~

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  8. As I remember, this was a real problem in that Korean Air flight that landed in San Francisco. There were maybe 3 people in handicap seats who were, yes, the last to be taken off. What an awful awful feeling to be one of them. This story makes us all more aware…and thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!

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    1. It is always a pleasure to meet a new blogosphere friend, Libby. Hope you'll return often as I plan to do at your blog. And you are so right about the awful feeling to be sitting there knowing you are going to be the last off and there is nothing you can do about it in an emergency.

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  9. The kindness and generosity of that sweet and courageous woman in seat 6D, will forever be a reminder of gratitude for the blessings in your life. A truly inspirational story.

    Poppy

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    1. Yes, we are blessed, and it is a good reminder of the magnitude of those blessings! Thanks for stopping by Poppy - have a good weekend!

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  10. I love this post so much, Jackie. Beautifully and respectfully written. She sounds like such a treasure of a lady. xo

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! She was a treasure and those two hours spent with her, a gift. Have a great weekend. xo

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  11. That is a beautiful story and certainly gives me something to think about. I really like that she hasn't let her disability prevent her from traveling. I was once asked by the stranger sitting next to me on the plane to save her if it went down. However, she was merely planning to take an Ambien to knock her out for the flight. I think I'd help the Lady in 6D without hesitation, but I'm less sure about the woman next to me. I hope that doesn't make me too horrible of a person.

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  12. A touching story, Jackie, and well told...

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