blind flight: reaching for integrity: descent into anxiety

July 9:
This was the last day that we would be in texas. I hoped that Kyler had a good time in Dallas.
We had seen a prototype of the car that blind people would drive, heard about a blind doctor, understood innovations in technology to help blind people read probes and become scientists and tried to get a handle on global accessibility when it comes to reading materials for blind people.
I will write more about the nfb, but today I want to talk about our flight home.
Ok, the flight was at 6:15 in the morning. Everytime I have flown in the past, I have had to wait at the gate for an amazing amount of time. I despise the “hurry up and wait,” concept. We must hurry so that we can wait. Basically, this says that someone’S time is more important than yours. The airlines and the pilot’s time is much more valuable than yours. I had planned to be there an hour early and thought that this would be enough.
So, we checked out at 5:00 in the morning. But, the first challenge was finding a taxi. I thought that there would be a plethora of taxi cabs waiting for us when we emerged from the hotel. I was wrong. It took us fifteen minutes jus to get a taxi. .
We got to Lovefield airport at about 5:40. Then, Delta does not have a keyosk out of Love Field Airport, so we had to go inside. We found this out after about five minutes. The agent had already left to board the passengers. We were stuck. There was nothing that we could do.
There were two other customers who had also missed their flights. One was quite vocal about his disappointment.
At about 6:15 (when the plane was suppose to leave) The agent pulled me aside and said that he would find another flight for us and wave the $50 fee for both Kyler and I.
Frankly, I didn’t have the extra money. The hotel had not reimbursed me (yet) for the $250 for incidentals that I had not used. I did not have any extra money. I was already trying to save as much money as possible when I went to dallas by buying food at Kroger’s instead of eating in those expensive restaurants. I did not buy one keepsake for any of my family members. I would have liked to buy DJ, Dominika, LaTroi, my mother and father something. I avoided technology exhibits altogether so I would not be tempted to get Imran something. And, I wanted to find Kyler a Dallas hoody. But, I knew that I did not have that type of money. It was a blessing just to be able to come to Dallas: spend money for the hotel and eat.
I already paid for the taxi over after the paratransit would not get me to the airport in time.
The taxi was $22 while public transit would have been $3.
I knew that we still had our luggage to check.
And, I don’t have any credit cards. I had seriously thought about taking one out especially for this trip, but I didn’t.
I had to watch my money.
We had also packed snacks in our bulging carry-ons. My luggage was much more full than when I came; but that was because I had stuffed as much NFB free literature into my luggage. I tried to get at least one of each Braille and print kernel book.
So, when the agent offered to wave our fees: my first feeling was gratitude.
Then, I felt a stab of injustice. After all, weren’t these two guys in my same position? Was I so deserving of such a favor? Why did I receive such a favor and not them? Was I cheating them by taking this favor? Most people would have said: “Go ahead and take it! Don’t have a second thought.” But, what if I was the guy behind me? … or in front of me, for that matter. What if he was going to see his family (whom he had been apart from for quite sometime). What if he had tried to make it to Lovefield on time, but traffic (possibly even my very own taxi) had prevented him from getting here on time? Was I being fair to take the waved fee when he could not? Furthermore, we all had committed the same mistake. We all did not adhere to the 90-minute rule.
I tried discussing this with my seventeen year old son and he thought that I was crazy.
Later, as I told friends, I could hear their amazement when I said that I had misgivings about accepting the help.
What if the agent just waved the fee because I was blind? What if there was a bit of pity for me which drove him to act? Does this matter? Well, it does to me, even if many of my friends and family do not share the same feelings.
They say: “I don’t care.” “I’d take it with no second thoughts.”
I did take it.
But, I did so because frankly, I don’t have a job and I don’t have the money to exercise my ethics. Or, do I?
Should I have stood by my values despite my circumstances. Although pride does play a part in my discomfort; a bigger part was the fact that I was endowed with a privilege that the other passengers did not have.
Imran and I were discussing it while I was waiting and Kyler was listening to music on his I-pod.
“you seem ungreatful.” He says.
That is not it at all. I certainly am greatful! I realize that the agent might get penalized for this. I don’t know what is all involved in his waving of the fee. I don’t know how he will justify this decision. I don’t know what consequences that it will have for others. I just know that I am receiving a favor/privilege/assistance that others do not have and will not get.
And, honestly, although the agent was not there when we came to register, the point is that the E:ticket says to be at the airport 90minutes before boarding and I neglected to follow their advice. As a result, it was my mistake and should have to suffer the consequences; just like everyone else.
Imran made a good point later .
although I did not experience monitary consequences, I certainly did face them in regards to time.
I did not get to the Indianapolis airport until 10:30 that night. I knew some NFB members from Indiana who left at 4:00 A.M. and arrived in Indianapolis at 12:00 midnight. It took them about three hours longer to get to Indianapolis. We waited around in the Memphis airport for the longest time. We even got on a plane that was to take us to Cincinnati and had to exit the plane do to navigational complications.
So, in reality, I did suffer consequences and have learned my lesson about being late.
After Imran and I argued about it for sometime (in which case, I was regretting even bringing it up because no one really understood my ethical dilemma with accepting the agent’s offer), he did make some good points.
Maybe this was God’s blessing and I was over analyzing it.
Would God give me a blessing that would be unfair to others?
But, only God knows the situations of those other two customers.
Maybe I was getting a blessing. After all, I had already felt bad enough about my privilege and maybe my lesson is better learned this way than any other way.
Good point..
I really feel uncomfortable receiving privileges that others do not receive. I want to be treated justly: no more, no less.
But, is justice really “equal” or “equitable?” And, when God gives me blessings that he does not give others, should I shun them because others do not have them? Am I really turning away God’s equitable justice in favor of my supposed equal (but humanly flawed) justice?
I feel that no one will understand my desire for equality. Afterall, I don’t know how to equitably distribute justice, so it must be equal across the board.
But, maybe this is God’s job and not mine.
Imran suggested that if I felt that bad about such a situation,
I should go to the two men and share my gift: giving them some money to assist them in their fees. But, there are two problems with this.
1. The agent spoke with me confidentially and I could not do such a thing without letting them know what he had suggested. In fact, I would be putting his job at risk for his kindness.
2. They probably would not take my money – money which, actually, I only hyave in my mind and not in my bank account.
So, when all is said and done: I accept the help, respond with emmense gratitude and resolve to try to make the trip home a good one. This last commitment would not be easy. I had a grumpy teen who hates to fly and retreats into his music. He would not eat until we arrived in Indianap;olis. And, on one of our flights, we had an even more grumpy child who did not mind expressing his distaste for flying quite vocally, I might add. thus, my efforts at helping him adjust to the boring and frustrating hours ahead will be of no consequence and only serve to annoy him and compel him to withdraw even further.
3. I make several attempts to make the best of the situation by offering some options of exploration, food, providing stimulating conversation and redirecting his thoughts. In the end, we both sit in silence: him in his world of hip hop and me visiting the selections of “The Time Traveler’s wife,” (which I am still not thrilled with), “The Church of Facebook,” (which is interesting in a business kind of way), “The Things that we do for love” (A bbc production which I view with disappointment – yet a bit of interest) and songs from Atif Aslam and Sonu Nigam
After missing our plane, sitting in a cold airport (Texas seems to keep their buildings extremely cold for some reason), a screaming child, two planes that needed repairs, an overbooked flight which almost made us stay in Memphis for another night, we finally made it home. We certainly did not forsee those events happening. But, we finally emerged with a lesson learned.

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