Lately there has been much news about the new TSA measures to make us safer and many people are upset because they say that it violates their rights or they’re embarrassed. Yes, going through forced security is a hassle, but that’s all it is, a hassle. Being disabled is a hassle every day...but I get through it.
I travel quite a bit and I'm willing to wager that there's a good chance my travels might be somewhat more involved than yours. (Notice I said involved not harder.) I’m telling you this not because I'm trying to elicit sympathy or make you feel bad for me, but because I want you to say to yourself next time you’re in an airport and frustrated about security and delayed flights, at least I don’t have to go through what the guy in the chair goes through. Another thing: remember, I’m Middle Eastern. Strike two!
After I make my reservation, I have to call the airport and let them know that I have an electric wheelchair, which solicits a whole slew of questions such as what kind of battery does it have? Then at the airport, I have to check in where, again, they ask me what kind of battery my chair has, redundant, I know. They then tag my wheelchair like it’s a piece of luggage and I head over to our friends at TSA. Despite what anybody says, they are very nice people...I’ve never had an issue with any of them. At this point, may I remind all of you that my wheelchair is made of metal, so going through metal detectors is not an option. So what that means, boys and girls, is that I have been getting patted down every single time I fly. You know, I see these people on TV--or even in front of me at the airport--who get patted down just once or twice and complain...give me a break. Almost every time the TSA agent explains what he is going to do and I just accept it. Like I said, it’s just the way it is.
Now, the fun part: getting on and off the airplane. The airlines have a special chair called an aisle chair. When I get to the gate, two people lift me into the aisle chair, which is tiny. Then, I am strapped in every which way. I joke and call it The Hannibal Lecter chair because I feel like I’m in an insane asylum when they put me in the chair. The cool thing is I usually get moved to a seat that has more leg room. Once on the plane, they help me into my seat and then when we land, the process is reversed. My chair is stored in the belly of the plane.
My life oftentimes is more intricate than others, but on some level, I have to say to myself that if I want to get out there and live, I have to go through the inconveniences that my life presents. Similarly, if you choose to fly, there's a good likelihood that you have to go through lesser inconveniences than I do. Just remember that the TSA and the government are trying to keep us safe.