Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Back In The Land Of The Delta Blues

We're back in Memphis. The plane ride portion of our trip went smoothly, even with the transfer in Houston. We touched down in Memphis at 5:34 PM, about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

We went down to the baggage claim and there was our shuttle driver with his "St. Jude Patient Pickup" sign. He seemed efficient and directed us to the correct carousel for our baggage. Our baggage showed up quickly and we claimed it.

Then he sent us over to sit with two other St. Jude families and their bags, very nice people. One of the mothers had an infant and a toddler, the other mother had an infant. The mother with only one infant probably weighed 300 lbs (there is a point to my mention of her weight).

Then I noticed another boy standing off from us a bit, but quite clearly another St. Jude patient, missing his hair. This boy's mother was in a wheelchair.

The shuttle bus driver resumes his position at the foot of the escalator with his sign. I stroll over and ask him how much longer.

He says two more families are coming, one plane has already landed and the luggage is coming down the conveyor, the other will land in 5 minutes. It's just about 6:00 PM exactly now. He assures me he will get us to Grizzlies House (our accomodations at St. Jude) before the cafeteria closes at 7:00 PM.

I'm getting nervous. I start counting people, Steven and me, that's two, plus the two women and the two infants and the toddler, that comes to 7.

Then there's the bald boy and the woman in the wheelchair, that's nine. The two that already on the ground, that makes eleven, and the two that haven't landed yet, that makes thirteen. Add in the bus driver that's fourteen, and that's assuming the two families that haven't arrived yet haven't brought anyone extra along.

I ask him, "Will you have room for all of us?" See, I've ridden in the van before, it's a large van, but it doesn't hold fourteen.

He says, "I've got the big van this time, I can carry at least thirteen passengers". He is missing four of his front teeth.

I'm skeptical. I call Avis on the little phone in the airport to see if they have have any non-smoking cars for me (in Memphis, the only non-smoking cars are new cars). They say no.

I wait. The good news is that the last family we waited for was our buddy Jake and his mom, Stephanie. We are so glad to see them.

We go to the van. It has three rows of seats, each holds three across, plus the two bucket seats in front. 3 x 3 = 9 + 2 = 11. We have fourteen.

The 300-lb woman gets in back with her son. The two of them occupy all the available back seat space. The woman with two children gets in in the front bench seat with two kids in car seats, so she's hanging off the edge.

The wheelchair woman and her son get in the middle seat. Jake and Stephanie sit next to them.

Steven and the other boy get in the back seat with the 300-lb woman. The last mother sits on the floor. I sit in front.

We get to Grizzlies House at 7:05 PM. The cafeteria is closed, and none of us have cars (if we had cars, we wouldn't be taking the blasted shuttle now, would we?)

We start to drag our luggage up to our room. Because it's really cold here now, we have big suitcases to accomodate our boots and winter coats, plus my computer plus Steven's DVD player plus bottes of water so we don't die of dehydration on the plane.

The shuttle bus driver with no front teeth feels a little bad I think, he goes and gets a cart for us to put our two suitcases and backpacks and computer on and we push that to our room.

We unpack. It's now 8:10 PM. I'm thinking it's way too late to walk four blocks to the trolley to go eat downtown, especially considering our day tomorrow starts at 7:45 AM (that's 5:45 AM California time).

We call Papa John's. They come to Grizzlies House and the woman at the front desk sends them away. They go to the hospital in search of us, then come back and beg the woman at the front desk to please call us.

We come down to get the pizza. It's 9:10 PM. We eat it. Now it's almost 10:00 PM.

Time for bed.

- Kathleen


Blogger Sleeping Beauty said...

Oh wow!!! What a trip, something you all will remember for a long time.

Good luck with all the apointments tomorrow, and try not to get any more trouble ;)
Why did they send Papa Johns guy away ??

January 30, 2005 9:30 PM  
Blogger oiuhewgiuohng said...

Wow, what a trip! Sheesh, I'd be upset about that van situation!

Good luck w/ the tests!

January 31, 2005 6:04 PM  

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