Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From the Wolf Den: Fortitude in Failure

Absurd moments are inevitable in any travel experience; as a journalist, I witness them every day, usually because they involve me. Normally, the abject absurdity results eventual resolution and laughter over a bottle of wine that evening, and life goes on.

When one is traveling with a child on the Autism Spectrum, however, the ability to laugh over a snafu is a bit more difficult. Actually, it feels downright impossible today.

Wolf was/is due in at Mountain Time Zone this morning after what should have been a great dual-parent trip where we could all march into the school together as a family united in treatment with our disabled child. As is typical when important decisions are made on Friday afternoons, however, the travel-planning-discharge wheels did not grind forward at all on Monday morning, and Yukon and I were again faced with a "who will go-who will stay" coin toss. After considerable contemplation and consultation with every medical authority at New Facility, and after Wolf promised to take an anti-anxiety med to hopefully calm his nerves, Yukon volunteered to once again deliver his son to a new and strange facility.

Supposed travel arrangements were made, but not actually confirmed, as was discovered late last night when we arrived at the airport. Ticketing agent to counter and back again we went, trying to figure out where, exactly, these two would be going, and aboard which airplane. A decided lack of paperwork in hand (yes, we left the facility without a formal itinerary; Wolf needed to go and go then, we could not wait another day, a truly AS behavior), I sent Yukon to the Alaska Airlines counter, where a fabulous agent/supervisor spent the better part of an hour tracking down the reservation (only one leg was actually secured), finding seats together (big fail on the part of New Facility), and eventually getting the boys to Colorado Springs.

Yes, you heard correctly. Colorado Springs. Not Denver. Seems New Facility Discharge Planner never mentioned that the flights to Denver were booked so she booked them to the next-closest in her mind. Right.

Before any adult melting down could occur, Yukon and I looked over at this child, who was watching our every move, pacing, muttering, and also fading fast from the anti-anxiety meds, and bent over to have a brief confab with Agent, who was by this time looking at us like we were positively crazy to even be there without the proper information.

"This child must. go. tonight." The words came out just like that, along with a 60-second synopsis of the Wolf and his long, arduous situation.

She jumped around her kiosk counter, said "I'll be back in a second, sit down," and disappeared into the back room of the Alaska Airlines offices.

Around 30 minutes later, she reappeared bearing printed tickets for all flight connections (it was the best she could do), Yukon's return flight itinerary (oh, yes, did we mention Discharge Planner did not even book Yukon to come back to Alaska?), and coupons for a few free drinks (for Yukon). She had also contacted United Airlines by phone, informed them about Yukon and Wolf, and asked on their behalf for early boarding in Chicago.

Agent told Wolf that O'Hare was a great airport, and listed a few things he should make sure he saw during their 2-hour layover. He brightened considerably at this, and said a "thank you" in his best monotone voice, hands still shaking as he clutched the Cinnabon I bought him as a reward for behaving so well during this crisis.

I had planned to capture all sorts of family photos illustrating our family goodbye; group hugs and all that. Yukon was also going to take the camera from me and use it to record Wolf's arrival at Mountain Time Zone. Drat. Instead, Bear and I hugged our big guys (it was almost 11 p.m. by this point), waved them through the MVP line (at least that was a good perk), and then I picked up my weary littlest son from the floor and we headed to the parking lot.

Yukon and Wolf made it to Chicago safely, I have yet to hear about an arrival in Colorado Springs. But I'm sure things will go smoothly from here.

Won't they?


dorothy said...

Of course the Springs is good...just drive North fast for one hour!

Marge said...

That was not a snafu.......that was a complete and total breakdown of communication between everyone! So glad agent finally caught on somewhat and secured a spot for Wolf and Yukon. Hopefully, they have arrived at their destination and he is settling in to his new digs..... again. You guys are ready for a little down time......a vacation in the works, maybe?

Having a glass of wine ......shall I pour one for you too?

AKBrady said...

You ladies rock. And yes, a vacation is so on the calendar. Hawaii in January.

Natalie said...

I can't tell you how relieved I am that everything worked out. Phew and then some.