Handled

Packing with one arm was a little challenging but since I had decided to bring very little, and put it all in a light carry-on, I managed to get it done on my own before our friend Edward came to drive me to the airport.

Although I travelled in Business Class, the 7 hour flight from Boston to Frankfurt took a big bite out of me; a bigger one than a 13 hour trip to Japan in economy. The seats were too narrow to accommodate my bulky sling and it was only with a bunch of pillows to prop up the arm that I could finally sleep. I realized that managing belongings in a small space, even in B-class, is very complicated with one arm and each action, as simple as just getting out of my seat to go to the bathroom, getting something out of my luggage, took so much energy that I’d think twice about doing anything not absolutely necessary.

I had asked for ‘special assistance’ which usually is a wheelchair or an electric vehicle. In Boston it was an old-fashioned wheelchair and a nice east European lady took care of me. She earned her tip.

In Frankfurt there was an elaborate system of handovers that went from delighting me to not delighting me: a nice man took my luggage and walked me to a seating area where I waited for my next pick up; two ladies drove me to a special assistance lounge where I shared the space with two unaccompanied minors (UMs) ages 7 and 9, whose mom had asked me in Boston to look after them as it was their first time traveling alone to dad who lives in Moscow, requiring a transfer in Frankfurt. Mom was visibly nervous. That was not necessary – they were very well looked after (and flew business class) and didn’t need my help. We parted like old friends, they to Moscow and I to the B terminal where the African flights depart.

After the special assistance lounge another two ladies took me to a bus that I had all to myself, and drove me to another terminal. That’s where things started to decline. The next handler told me she was not allowed to handle luggage and started to hang my small backpack on my shoulders. I stopped her. I explained that I could not roll my carry on and hold my backpack and asked if she was allowed to ‘roll’ luggage. She was, apparently. I was now in the more dilapidated part of the airport and the service was commensurate.

She parked me in a B-class lounge where I freed my arm from its case and did my pendulum exercises. With the double action on my right side, to compensate for the missing left arm action, I am beginning to get sore on that side too.

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