Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

So the plan was that there were to be 6 of us for Thanksgiving at my house this year: Anthony, me, Katharine, Alexander, Chris, and Mike, who was flying in from Arizona where he attends college at UA. It's so easy to get caught up in the crazy and busy aspects of this season; to become annoyed by little things; to become impatient...but that is always a mistake, and today I was reminded of that.

Mike’s flight was due in at 9:55 AM; A and I were driving to the airport to pick him up. Mike reached me on my cellphone at 9:45, on my way to the airport. He told me he was on the ground in Lubbock, where his plane had made an emergency medical landing because of a sick child. Unfortunately, in making the landing, something that regulates the plane’s cabin pressure had stopped working, and so the flight was grounded until that could be fixed.

Hours passed, but thanks to cellphones, we had pretty much ongoing communication with Mike. Normally, if there’s a mechanical problem that can’t readily be fixed, the airlines would simply deboard the plane and put all the passengers on another flight. However, there aren’t a lot of flights out of Lubbock, so for several hours all of the passengers on that flight were stranded.

In Dallas, we considered our options. Katharine and Chris were willing to get into Katharine’s car and drive to Lubbock to pick up Mike, but Lubbock is 350 miles from Dallas, so that would have been a looooooonnnnggg drive. We looked on the net to see whether Mike could rent a car, but he’s under 25 and it was snowing in Lubbock, so that didn’t seem like the best option. We also looked to see if we could find any additional flights out of Lubbock. Hours passed, and eventually, the airlines decided they would try to fly the plane back without cabin pressure, at a much lower altitude than usual. Apparently, all of the luggage had to be removed from the cargo hold to do this, but when that was done...voila...the cabin pressure returned. The cargo hold was then repacked, and Mike (and all of the other passengers) finally arrived, safely, in Dallas at a little after 4:00 PM, where Katharine, Xander and Chris picked up Mike at the airport. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together, a little later than originally planned, but that hardly matters.

Re the child for whom the emergency landing was made...Mike didn’t know what the emergency was, but he said the child was a young boy whom Mike estimated to be perhaps 12 years old. Like Mike and Chris, the boy was a twin, whose brother and parents were also on the flight. Before the decision was made to land in Lubbock, two doctors on the plane had examined the boy, and both agreed that the plane needed to put down immediately so he could be hospitalized to receive emergency medical care. Mike said the boy was conscious and able to walk from the plane, but that he looked dizzy and disoriented, and that his parents were both crying as they walked with him from the plane.

Ouch. I don’t know what condition that child has, but my heart goes out to him and his family. Most of the time, whether we realize it or not, most of us are so incredibly be alive, to be healthy, to be loved and able to love...and today I was reminded of that.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Chris said...

The last line says it all. I try to remember that every single day, but when I am lucky enough to have such a great wife, it's easy to be thankful everyday.

Lisa :-] said...

I don't think you could ever convince me to go anywhere by air anymore. Plane travel is just too much hassle! I'd rather drive...

...and a Happy Thanksgiving (weekend?) to you, too!