There was a lady with a baby
Young baby and young lady
Baby was young enough to fly for free
–PERK of being young I guess
Lady was on her own– ‘cept for the baby I mean
It was Omaha to Chicago…and the flight was delayed.
We were all together…vaguely…
— Me & This Lady & This Baby —
Certainly, we were NOT together. I didn’t mean we were together. If you asked us if we were together, we’d deny it. Yet…there we were. Together. In an Omaha airport.
Anyway. As the story unfolds, we were behind schedule. All of us.
“We” weren’t really behind schedule, of course. “We” meaning the collective untogether group that had assembled at a specific (and unpleasant) place, at a specific time. No, we weren’t behind schedule at all. We were right where we had agreed to be, independently, at that specific time…well in advance of that moment. We all intended to go from Omaha to Chicago at that time.
“We” (the real we not the fake we) were going home, via chicago. Me and my wife. I don’t know anything about that lady and that baby. And we were delayed…because of some people we didn’t know. some other people. people we didn’t know and maybe never would…we were late even as we waited.
So we couldn’t go. We sat and waited. We wondered.
–Would we make it?
–Where would we sleep?
–Would it be better to get stuck here or there?
–And what about the other people in Chicago? The people on the next plane? Would they be on time?
It would be better if they weren’t on time. I’d prefer if they weren’t on time, if they were delayed it would be good. Better for me if other people were late…they might be going someplace via Chicago themselves, maybe home…but that didn’t concern me. Better if others were also inconvenienced. To my benefit if that happened. I didn’t know those people, so how much could I be expected to care about them above myself? I had important things to accomplish by being on time. The general human community would benefit from the reverbs of goodness I was prepared to unleash upon it if only I was somehow allowed to make my connecting flight in Chicago. My tardiness…no OUT tardiness…would set back the human race in a completely imperceptible way. Certainly.
No matter what
we were all in the same uncontrollable boat. Together, but not really…but collectively at the mercy of fate or chance or worse.
But, it wasn’t in Omaha were I learned facts about the lady & the baby. I saw them there, yeah, sure. I observed them. yep. The baby in a big ass stroller. The lady by herself…in a summer dress. I thought about how much hassle it must be to travel with that bigg ass stroller- – -on an airplane- – – by herself
And then I got back to wondering if we’d make our connection in Chicago. We (my wife and I, not the other ‘we’) knew we had no later flights to catch to our real destination. We could be stuck in Chicago. Slumbering.
I started to think about what bar I would go to if I was stuck in Chicago. This seemed like a very real possibility and I thought it prudent to know what my drinking destination would be should it happen. I also wondered about what food I would eat there, in Chicago…what trains I would need to take…and whether I would get really drunk or just plain ol’ drunk.
And our plane landed and we all boarded And I had no answers to my questions. I just had questions and hopes and ideas and thoughts and frustrations and nothing else…except an hour long flight.
I read a book. It was Tom Robbins. It said this:
“When humans were young, they were pushed around in strollers. When they were old, they were pushed around in wheelchairs. In between, they were just pushed around.”
When we landed in Chicago at Gate C8 it was 15 minutes past boarding time for our next flight. As luck…fate…whatever would have it our connection to Hartford was at gate C29. That only a half-mile or so from C8! We had a fleeting chance to not end up drunk in some Chicago bar that night, but we had to haul fucking ass.
As we waited to deplane, the lady and the baby appeared again. A stranger was needed to hold the baby while the lady gathered things together in the cabin. A fat woman was put to use. Presumably she was or had been a mother at some point…or she had at least had some experience holding the babies of strangers already. Hopefully.
There ensued a discussion about the baby’s temperament…its sleep schedule…how well it had performed on the flight so far (which means it hadn’t annoyed anybody yet). It involved the lady, the stranger, the stewardess, and other strangers…wearing dress slacks and tucked in shirts with sunglasses on top of their heads…
It was revealed by the lady that she had to connect to a flight to Manitoba at 8:10. The lady stated emphatically that she didn’t want to get stuck in Chicago that night.
—Poor Chicago…always taking ill will from weary travelers who get stuck there and hate it and ill will from travels who haven’t even gotten stuck there but fear that they may and don’t want to. Vehemently. I wonder if the people living in Chicago know how much dread their home inflicts upon innumerable travelers? I think that in the least this must explain the curse that is on the Cubs. The Cubs manifest what everybody else feels about Chicago. Get your hopes up…and get them down…or just hope that nothing happens that is bad and maybe things will be good.
But really, what this whole thing is about is a moment on an airplane on the tarmac at O’hare.
We were parked at C8. We were standing…shaking…palpitating…rocking…praying…cussing…smiling. The aircraft door was open. I could see sun streaming in and hitting the upper corner of the plastic door frame to the air plain. I was standing in the aisle, maybe 8 or 10 rows back. In order to see the sun, I had to leverage my elbow on the seat-back to my right and lean in to the seats, forward and over them. Then I could see the door. The sun. The lady. The stranger. The baby. and the business people. I leaned over and in and forward looking at the sun because I knew that as long as I could see that sun, I wasn’t going anywhere…but the second I could see a shadow cross it, it was go time. Damn Sun!
I looked on, hoping with all hope that the sun would soon be obliterated by the strange mechanical contraption called a JETBRIDGE. That is when I started to focus on a man.
He was wearing the business pants. He had a striped polo shirt tucked into said business pants. His hair was mostly gray. Quite distinctive. And well trimmed. He didn’t look tired. He didn’t look hung over.
He looked at the lady. And then at the baby. He kind of smiled…then gave a little chuckle. A little laugh. It was as if seeing the stressed out single mom and her baby was super cute to him. Or maybe it was Manitoba that gave him delight. I don’t know. But other people seemed to enjoy this scene too. They smiled. They nodded. Maybe they chuckled. They were glad it wasn’t them is all. They were glad they didn’t have a baby and a big stroller and a sun dress and a flight to Manitoba to catch.
Oh, no…no…no …no. They smiled because life was beautiful at this tender young age. They smiled in appreciation of this young woman giving up her entire life to dedicate herself to this other person that couldn’t even talk yet…where the best that could be said was that the baby hadn’t bothered anybody over the past 2 hours or so…they smiled on…wordless transubstantiated joy permeated the atmosphere (now uncontrolled) of the plane…
But I kept thinking it was something darker. It had to be.
The smiles were “that baby doesn’t know what it is in for”
Good luck in Canada with a single mom, kid!
Hope you don’t get stuck in Chicago tonight!
Beeps. Honks. Gears. Shadows. And everybody gets pushed around.