Thursday, March 14, 2013

Airline and TSA Agents

Thursday morning was our phone consult with the Doctor. Beth and Gabriel's tickets were booked for 730 Thursday evening. The blood in the stool lessened each day but was still present. We debated if we should not tell the Dr about the blood and get back to Idaho or whether come clean and possibly be readmitted. We didn't miss the irony of being held captive by a gastrointestinal issue treated by cardiologists (more on that later). We discussed continuity of care as almost every time since leaving the CVICU Gabriel was seen by different attending's, fellows and residents and NPA'S and PA's and RN's (and I think even the BLT's and YMCA's varied daily). Maybe what we needed was a good solid plain pediatrician (especially maybe an Idaho style one) who could focus on Gabriel and his condition and progress.  We tried not to allow our Idaho bias of returning home to the kids and our home creep in but realized it was impossible to ignore. Thursday morning I went for a run and was treated to the most inefficient garbage collection system I've ever witnessed. Two guys walk down the street with 100+ gallon round metal garbage cans. The cans move on large castors and are rolled along where the men pull trash from the residents trash can (in bags), throw it in their rolling cans and when the rolling cans are filled they roll the cans to a garbage truck that deposits the refuse into a dumpster on the front of the truck. When the dumpster is filled from enough rolling garbage cans filled from the residents bagged garbage placed within their sidewalk garbage bins (which would have been filled from the numerous refuse repositories within their house) the dumpster is lifted over the cab of the truck and the contents deposited in the bed of the truck. I watched and wanted to ask one of the guys what was going on; but how do you not come across as a slumming elitist going to talk to a "worker" while out for a run in a million dollar (+) per home neighborhood? So I just watched and thought, they have no alleys here. No hidden refuse and detritus sites. Everything around here is perfect at all times, or at least it appears perfect. Maybe it is, I dunno.
The trucks cannot pull directly up to the cans because cars are parked on either side of the cans therefore necessitating the string of middling functions whereby to remove the refuse of Palo Alto. My favorite part of the entire Palo Alto trash collection scene though is the Pavlovian moral conditioning; trash (black) is bad, recycling (blue) is good, composting (green) is best!

I called the Dr at the pre-arranged time of 930 in the morning. Fortunately Gabriel was working with me and his last excrement was a vile yellow(no more bell ringing for this lad either)! I told the Doc things were looking up and we had appointments to see our Idaho Dr.s on Monday. The Dr. was kind and said that sounded wonderful and since it was too late to book tickets that we should call him tomorrow and hopefully we could get on a flight this weekend. I responded "Sorry Doctor, we planned a bit ahead and have a flight out this evening and if things are OK now, they should be tomorrow." He agreed and wished us a good flight.
We left Palo Alto about 530 and headed north for a short trip to the Oakland Airport. An hour later I lifted Beth's one checked bag onto the Southwest scale and advised Guillermo our agent "Be careful it's a wee bit heavy." Guillermo looked at the scale and said "Oh, that is way too heavy! 63 pounds! It has to be under 50 pounds! I can charge you $75.00 for overweight baggage."
'Uh-uh, I can haul 15 pounds of stuff to the car." I replied.
Guillermo looked sympathetic and said, "I can sell you a bag for $25.00 since the baby has a ticket, they can each have a piece of checked luggage."
"Thanks, but no. We've got the time and the car's outside, I'll just carry some stuff out and come back." I answered courteously  frustrated.
Guillermo looked at Beth and the baby and back at me and leaning forward he whispered in his best conspiratorial voice, "I'll find you a box."
He returned with a box and I transferred 17 pounds of clothes. Guillermo closed, taped and labeled the box.
 Then he added, "You need a security pass! You must take care of her and the baby and get them on the plane!"
I read his name tag and said "Thank-you Gulermo for taking care of us."
He replied with a flourish of his hand "It's Gee-armo" rolling his r "Just think of me as your airport angel." I thanked him again and smiled as we headed towards the security check point with my new pass in hand.
The security line wasn't overly long but it still looked to be close to a 30 minute wait. We settled into the back of the line. A disheveled TSA agent approached, his shirt untucked, 2 days of whiskers and a tie that was more of a scarf. "Is that a baby?" He abrasively accused.
"Yea, it is." I replied immediately defensive, thinking he was probably going to want to dismantle the car seat and cavity search Gabriel.
Instead his voice softened and he said "Come over here, this line is just for you. For people with little kids and babies, they don't need to wait as long as everyone else. Remember this is in every airport and it's for you people with families with little kids and babies."
We moved to the front of the line, showed Beth and Gabriel's boarding passed and my assistant-like-guy-helper pass and were off to remove our shoes and be scan-ned. I was deemed the baby holder whilst Beth was the keeper of the liquids. We had read online that the liquid quantity rules did not apply to formula, bottles, breast milk and medicines but Beth was still scared they were going to impound all of the med.s and pre-mixed formula. A female TSA agent directed Beth to an area whereby she could (the non-Beth "she") inventory and inspect the contents of the soft cooler holding all of the aforementioned liquid type stuff. She chatted with Beth and was most sympathetic and genuinely concerned after hearing of Gabriel's condition.

 Gabriel getting changed in the airport.
 Grabbing a quick snack. The feeding pump has a built in battery pack and the company which supplies all of the feeding products included a back pack which carries the pump and feeding bag.
 Buckled in for his first plane ride and trip home.

Beth's trip was uneventful and fortunately Gabriel proved to be a good traveler. My folks had planned on picking Beth up from the airport but the day prior my Dad came down with bronchitis and earlier this morning we discovered Mom was falling ill. Not wanting to push their health nor expose Gabriel, Beth started calling and texting to find a replacement. Julie M. picked up Beth and Gabriel and held the little guy for a couple of hours while Beth was greeted by the kids and set up Gabriel's feeding infrastructure.

I called Beth from the east side of Sacramento, I was getting tired and about to find a hotel. I still hadn't told her about the squirrel and she didn't mention anything so I thought it could wait until tomorrow.

1 comment:

Norma from Idaho said...

I'm glad to hear the details about the airport experience. I am usually pretty pleased with the service at Southwest, so I am glad that they came through in the end.

Love the pictures of the process. And can't wait to hear how you paint the story about the squirrel--of which I only know a little.