Local Blogs

On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

E-mail Paul Bendix

About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

View all posts from Paul Bendix

Mysteries of Disabled Travel

Uploaded: Jun 8, 2014
What's no mystery is that we all grow older, travel gets harder...or does it? Maybe not. For the travel industry keeps adapting to our aging populace. So, as long as we take chances and take care...we can all keep rolling, I say.

I say this only in retrospect. Because traveling alone makes me nervous. Can I reach the parking ticket machine at San Jose Airport's newest garage? Can I balance two bags on my lap on the way to the terminal? Speaking of terminal, will the airline finally do in my wheelchair? Many have tried. Air France being the most thorough, having broken an axle and shorted the electronics while loading my wheelchair at Florence. Nevermind. This isn't Florence. It's San Jose, and I am older and wiser and only flying as far as Phoenix.

First rule, don't choose an airline for the usual merits. Choose the one the Spinal Cord Injury Association rates highest at wheelchair handling: Southwest. I stumble aboard, find a cramped seat and rejoice that the experience will be a brief one. From the window I watch the ground crew load my wheelchair. The airline has a purpose-built lift for scooters and chairs. It does take three guys to keep my 220-pound chair from toppling off the conveyor belt. In the end, I can't watch.

But when I open my eyes in Phoenix, the wheelchair is there, rolled to the aircraft's door. I thank everyone profusely. I also point out that one of two headlights is now dangling from its wires. A skycap kicks the fixture back in place. He follows me to baggage claim, warning me not to roll aboard the moving walkways. Strictly forbidden at Phoenix. Every airport has its oddities, so I don't argue. Actually, at SFO I do roll on the walkways, then accelerate my wheelchair...to achieve a breathtaking maximum ground speed. You can't take the boy out of the man, and so on.

The mythical Phoenix kept rising from the ashes, but the one in Arizona permanently incinerates around June. I can't take the heat, or my neurology can't. Whatever. I'm here for business, which goes well. As does the trip home. Checking in my bags, I ask another skycap to apply some luggage tape to the base of my headlights. The wheelchair arrives at San Jose in perfect condition. I do too, the 73°F breeze feeling like paradise.

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Handmade truffle shop now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,541 views

Breastfeeding Tips
By Jessica T | 6 comments | 1,086 views

Who Says Kids Don’t Eat Vegetables?
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 912 views

Weekly Update
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 744 views

Separate Entrances for BMR and Market Rate Apartments?
By Stuart Soffer | 0 comments | 424 views