A trip of a lifetime is coming up this week, and I am dreading it immensely. It has caused the most anxiety of anything else I have ever done. I have lain awake at night with worry, sick to my stomach and palms sweating. Always willing to help someone in need, I may have overstepped my capabilities. I will be chaperoning a young woman who is deaf, (and a friend of my daughter’s), along with her two-month-old infant, sixteen-month-old daughter, three-year-old son AND her German Shepherd service dog. A victim of domestic violence, she has found a family to take her in, but they live in South Carolina. She has limited money but meagerly offered to contribute $200 towards the trip as she looked up at me with tears in her eyes. Who could say no?
My first plan was to rent a van and drive them down there, which would have been the most practical way to get them and their belongings out of state. However, for whatever post-pandemic reasons, there were no vans available at any of the rental companies. The best I could do was rent an extra-large SUV for $250 a day. Fitting only the seven bodies, there would be limited room for clothing and other possessions. As a cautious driver who likes to take naps regularly, the round trip would take four to five days, adding up to $1,500 or so, not counting gas and food. Seeing no alternative, despite my own limited finances, I pursued getting the rental. However, another dilemma crossed my path…car rental agencies do NOT accept debit cards. Having cut up my actual credit cards years ago, my only means of payment was my bankcard, which they steadfastly refused to accept despite my begging.
My back-up plan is to fly down there with her and her brood. Airfares at this time of year, post-pandemic, and last minute are exceedingly high, with the total equaling the cost of the SUV rental. Finding the least expensive way to fly, I stupidly booked three seats on a flight that had a three-hour layover in Orlando. I, personally, never minded airport layovers, usually content to play games on my phone and eat at an airport restaurant. However, I had failed to factor in the three little tots and service dog, as well as my own physical limitations with my recent knee replacement.
Getting her and her little ones to the plane is a worry. With assistance from my son and his friend, they will help get the car seats and all the luggage to the airline travel counter okay. From there, however, we will be on our own. How will two adults, (one limping,) get three little ones, a car seat, a large diaper bag, a carry-on with amusements and food to keep little ones happy on a plane ride, and a dog to the gate? How will two adults, each with an infant or toddler on her lap, alongside a toddler in a car seat and a service dog on the floor fit into three seats? How will those same adults lug around three little ones, a car seat, a large diaper bag, a large carry on AND a dog that needs to find a place to go potty while marooned in Orlando for three hours?
I am concerned that the people who are coming to pick up this family will not have the room in their vehicle to fit three kids in car seats, a service dog, three large suitcases and the mom. After all, I was looking for a van to do so.
Thus explains my extreme apprehension for this upcoming trip, (one that will be over by the time this is printed.) I may have bitten off more than I can chew, and might not make it home to write next week’s column…may be stuck in South Carolina traipsing around with a mom, three little ones and a service dog, trying to find a new home…