We had just arrived in Chicago, on our way home. Carol’s wheelchair attendant was, as promised, waiting at the cabin door for her.
He was a cheerful fellow, with a cheerful smile and a cheerful demeanor as he very cheerfully asked me to take the wheelchair. I understood – his tablet read my name, not Carol’s.
“No,” I said. “It’s for my wife.” That’s when he saw her and could clearly see she had the greater need. “No problem,” he said. “Can you make it to the top of the ramp?” Being satisfied I was taken care of, he pushed Carol to the top while I hobbled with my cane behind, already exhausted.
At the top, he said “Sir, you must let me take you as well. Your next flight is just too far away. I’ll get another chair.” Gratefully, I accepted.
When he got back, it quickly became obvious he didn’t misspeak when he said he would take me and Carol as well. With one hand on Carol’s chair and the other on mine, he expertly navigated both chairs through two terminals of O’Hare like nothing I’ve seen before.
At times the people ahead, oblivious to our presence behind them, would bunch up as he rushed behind them and he was forced to maneuver the two wheelchairs one in front of the other to get through.
Another time a young lady suddenly stopped by a pillar and put her bag down directly in front of us. He did a great job of steering us both around her, leaving her with a deer-in-the-headlights look. And still he was cheerful. And apologetic, as though somehow he had let us down.
Without him, I would not have been able to get to the right gate in time. He was right, it was just too far; my lame leg would not have carried me there in time.
When we arrived, I looked at his name tag so I could thank him by name. And I smiled.
“Thank you, Jesus,” I said, taking care to pronounce it hey-suse.
“You’re very welcome, sir,” Jesus said in return. Very cheerfully.