Oklahoma Or Bust

Back in December I searched the web, trolling over possible deals and went to the Delta Airlines site and out of an abundance of curiosity, looked up round trip ticket prices to Oklahoma. I have an Uncle and three cousins who live there. To my amazement it was nearly as expensive a proposition as I feared. As a matter of fact it was quite reasonable to fly. Of course, it was in economy class and lacked the amenities of first class, but it was reasonable and to me that’s all that matters. 

My uncle’s birthday falls on February 14th, and I thought a nice and pleasant surprise for him if I came and wished him a happy birthday in person. As I mentioned to my other friends, he was the only member on my mom’s side of the family that ever bothered to send me birthday or Christmas greetings. That’s out of five surviving brothers and two surviving sisters, though one is presently in a nursing home for people with dementia. I emailed my cousin that I’d like to come. She said, “Come on down!” 

The Trip 
Airline travel is so convenient these days, though I still had this apprehension, dread or phobia that I guess is in the back of all our minds. After all, we aren’t biologically supposed to leave the earth and experience something totally different such as flying.

I packed my bags Friday afternoon and my grandson dropped me off at three for the 5:37pm flight out of Spokane. Since 9-11 we all have to go through the TSA pre-flight screening, getting our carryon bag checked, getting our persons pated and screened. Most had to remove their shoes though I didn’t, and my hands were tested. 

After the screening I went to an open area. I saw the boarding area and figured I’d wait just down from there expecting to be Johnny on the spot when it came time for the announcement to broadcast over the PA that the flight was ready for me. 

I wrote in my lap top my upcoming blog and waited for the announcement. At 5:27 I heard, “Jerry Schellhammer if you are still planning to leave, your flight is waiting for you.” 

“Crap,” I exclaimed as I rushed to put everything back in my laptop case,  I walked with a purpose with the gate which naturally was the last gate, waling a good quarter of a mile to board my plane. “Better late than never I told the boarding agent.” She greeted me with a friendly smile.  

“Do you need assistance getting on?” She asked as she scanned my ticket. 

“No, I think I can make okay,” I said, smiling back at her as I walked quickly down the boarding ramp and onboard the plane. I chose the last seat on the port side. An attractive 30 something woman with chestnut hair sat on the outside of the seat. I was on the window seat, and we smiled at each other as she moved out of my way and I maneuvered myself into the desired seat. It wasn’t an easy feat, but I accomplished it and relaxed as I the middle-aged stewardess asked me if I needed help fastening my safety belt. 

“No I’m fine,” I told her, not realizing how long ago since I last flew.  My left hand and arm didn’t function as it used to. I was having issues but rather than ask my partner for help I made my adjustments and finally figured it out. 

“Where are you going?” She asked me, imagining I’m this world traveler off to another adventure in some exotic paradise. 

“Oklahoma City,” I replied. 

“So am I,” she exclaimed with irony in her voice. 

“Yeah, I’m going to visit my uncle for his eighty-ninth birthday on Tuesday.” 

“Oh, that is so sweet.” She settled into her seat and pulled out her cellphone. I looked out the window and saw the flight crew outside finishing up and the ground-guide holding his red lanterns up and the plane slowly backing away from the loading zone. 

I observed the scenery, the tarmac, and the taxiway and finally the runway itself when the pilot hit the afterburners and it took off, ascending and lifting off the ground, feeling the g-force suck me into my seat, lifting vertically at a forty-five degree angle and then the pilot banked left. 

I watched the city lights reverted smaller and smaller, fading away and other smaller town appeared and disappeared as the plane and me and the passengers were in our own world. I relaxed and pulled from my laptop case my dinner of two sandwiches: tuna and cheese, trail mix and a granola bar. I ate relishing the meal while seeing my companion. She appeared to be reading seeming in her cellphone. I remembered to get out my cell and read a kindle book I’ve been reading lately.  

After I finished a majority of my meal, I did just that and continued reading the e-Book from where I left off on Monday after my last work break. Most books I’ve read were for the most part well written, but lately I’ve come across and this one is the worse of them all. I realized how badly written this book was when the author stated the cars they were looking for was a 70s model Ford Fairlane and a 70s model Ford Polara. Ford stopped making Fairlanes in 1970 and Dodge made Polara. Every since I’ve had my doubts of this writer’s authenticity. 

After an hour I heard the chiming that the plane was readying to land at Salt Lake City. I observed the city lights below of Provo and then the bigger metropolis that is Salt Lake. I braced for impact, but the pilot landed the plane without incident. After getting off the plane a Delta agent asked if I needed assistance going to my next boarding area. She had a wheelchair. 

“No, I’m fine,” I replied. Upon hindsight I should have taken her up on her offer. I didn’t realize how far I actually had to walk down this long aisle to the next boarding ramp. I didn’t realize how big this airport was. Thankfully I didn’t have to lug my suitcase too. It was being safely and hopefully, with care taken to the next plane bound for my destination. The boarding zone that read Oklahoma City was way, way down there at least half a mile away. I also mistook the seating assignment for the boarding zone and found myself at the flight bound for Philadelphia. I quickly realized my error and soon found the placard that stated Oklahoma City.  

I just made it when I saw I could’ve very well missed that flight had I stuck around that Philadelphia boarding zone an extra five minutes. I made it to my seat and sat down. This time I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me. I didn’t see that one lady who I sat with from Spokane. I figured she was somewhere on this plane, and didn’t concern myself about her again. Afterall, I’m still a married man for the time being. 

Like earlier I watched the goings-on outside admiring how the flight crew worked. Thirty years ago I could have done that I suppose but chose another career path instead. We departed Salt Lake City and watched the flight attendants demonstrate how to properly fasten the seat belts and the place the oxygen masks over our faces in the unlikely event of sudden cabin pressure loss. 

I opened my story from the Kindle and continued reading this lame excuse for a book. To my chagrin, I wasn’t even a quarter way through this and I had already loss interest in how this book was going to end. I now began admiring reviewers who had the patience and perseverance to keep reading a badly written book. I hoped my stories I’ve written didn’t come off like this. 

Three hours later we landed in Oklahoma City. At night it appeared as flat and unwelcoming as it might appear had it been day. I didn’t notice the city’s skyline because I was on the wrong side of the aircraft and the Oklahoma City Airport, named after Will Rogers, was still a good ten miles away. 

I felt the plane land with a bit of a jarring and sudden stopping. It then taxied to a stop in front of the loading gate, and we all deplaned. The woman who I sat next to walked passed me and told me to enjoy my stay here. 

“Thanks, you too,” I called back to her and I continued to where the baggage claim was, down stairs and near the Delta terminal entrance. I had to take my phone off airplane mode and use the restroom before going to look for my cousin. When I finished I walked outside trying to see if I could spot her car. Of course I had no idea what she drove. I just assumed, like in the movies she would hold a handwritten sign with my name on it. I tried calling her but it went to voicemail. I became nervous. I then called the house phone, but it too went to voicemail. Now I became worried and nervous. Then my phone rang, and it was her. 

“Where are you?” She asked in her Oklahoma drawl. 

“I’m sitting in a chair waiting for you. Where are you at?” 

“I’m in front of the Delta terminal. I have a blue Hyundai Sonata.” 

Delta? I thought I was in the Delta. I looked around and realized I was in a generalized waiting area and went outside, looking both ways. I then saw the car in question. “Oh okay, I see you now.” I thought of waiting for her to come back around to pick me up but decided to just meet her at the car. Naturally, I assumed she came here alone. Imagine my surprise after loading the suitcase into her trunk that an old man was sitting in the front seat looking at me with a curious expression on his weathered face. 

I placed myself in the back behind Uncle Hal. He wore a tan jacket and black Veteran’s ball cap. “Hey there Uncle, I didn’t expect to see you.” 

“Jerry, he can’t hear you,” Cousin Saundra told me as she got behind the wheel and placed the car into drive. She pulled away and I saw on the digital clock on the infotainment screen it was after one in the morning. 

“How was the flight?” Uncle Hal asked. His southern accent is more Texan than Oklahoman, though it’s hard to distinguish the two with an untrained ear. 

“Great, sir,” I told him louder and clearer than earlier. I noticed his hearing aids on each ear for the first time. He was in artillery and served in Korea, Germany and Vietnam, among others for over twenty years before retiring. Obviously, his hearing was the first c casualty of his service. Saundra drove me to a hotel in Moore, explaining she still wasn’t quite ready for me just yet. 

I didn’t comment on that figuring she had her reasons and left it at that. I didn’t care at that point since it was past my bedtime and I had one thing in mind to do when I opened that room door, undress and go to bed. Tomorrow was a new day. 

Published by Jerry Schellhammer

Jerry, a published author of both published and self-published books, is devoting his time and efforts to his craft after having retired from the previous job as a janitor at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. He now calls Gooding, Idaho his home. Writing is his passion and he now has a successfully published book and another on the way to being published later this year. He has a BA in English with emphasis in professional writing from Washington State University. His website: www.jerryschellhammer.com is available for everyone to see. In it are the lists of published books available both through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and print format.

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