Treated like so much chattel

Interesting word, chattel.  I wasn’t sure if it was the right word to use.  I’ve heard and read it bantered about.  I always pictured it as meaning someone herded along.

Per Merriam Webster Dictionary, here is what they say:

Definition of chattel

1:an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property


  • slaveholders who were determined to hold on to their human chattel


Recently I experienced the unique opportunity to be treated like chattel.  I was going to Florida, and was trying to get the best flight for my condition (really bad back, like 4 herniated disks and 2 micro disectomies, repaired not once but twice over the spring and summer).  I guess I am still recuperating.  I have good days and bad days.

Flying in and out of O’Hare and Orlando or anywhere is a nightmare for someone like me, who can’t walk very far all at once.  A short jaunt, sure.  A long one?  Pack a lunch.

So for the past few trips, I fly “disabled”.  Meaning a wheelchair picks me up at check-in, and takes me to my gate.  A wheelchair picks me up at my destination and takes me to the pick-up area.  It also means skipping the long security lines, and wheelchairs have their own special check through.

The first time, I flew American both ways, to Ft. Lauderdale.  It was such a blessing.  The man at O’Hare insisting upon staying with me in the chair until it was boarding time, and then he wheeled me right up to the plane door.  He also stopped along the way to the gate for me to use the restroom, and also get a bottle of water and snack pack for the plane.  Obviously he got a good tip.

In Florida, a wheelchair was waiting for me when I got off the plane, and took me right out to cousin who was waiting curbside.  Perfect.  He got a good tip too.  Worth every penny, not having to struggle along, with a bad back and luggage etc.

Same great service from Ft. Lauderdale back to Chicago with American.

The second time I flew, to Tampa, I flew United out and American back.  There was no wheelchair waiting for me at United, and I had to walk a distance to get to the “wheelchair assistance” room.  Then I had to wait for someone to come get me.  They took a long time getting me through security.  As I was now running out of time, I didn’t dare ask them to stop along the way for anything, and just had them dump me out at the gate.  He got a fair tip.

Arriving in Tampa, more problems with United.  They didn’t have a wheelchair waiting for me off the plane.  I had to wait, and was upset because my friend was already there to pick me up.  Finally got moving and met up with my friend inside the terminal.  Eh.

Flying home on American, I wanted to kiss them right on the mouth.  Once again perfect service.  Always ready and waiting.

This last time I flew to Orlando, on United both ways.  I REALLY wanted to fly American, but the flight times weren’t as good.  So I crossed my fingers.

Flying out, a waiting game again.  Luckily I had anticipated this and left plenty of time before the flight.  I waved them off as soon as I got to the gate, and then walked myself and my luggage to the restroom and the kiosk to get my water and snack pack.

Again more waiting at the gate in Orlando.  My poor old Aunt and Uncle outside waiting and waiting for me.  But, eh, better than hurting myself walking all that way.

Now back to Chicago.  Oh good Lord.  Landing in Chicago, no wheelchair again.  Down the tunnel I walked and then I was told to go sit on one of those big cart like things you see people riding around on inside the airport.  The cart was full, and I was told to step up this high step and sit on the back bench seat.  My carry-on was thrown next to me.  The cart took off at full speed, and I almost fell sideways out of the cart.  One of the people told the driver to slow down, and he slammed the cart to a stop, walked back by me, buckled me into a seatbelt I hadn’t known was there, and then took off madcap again.  Along the way he dropped people off here and there.  I had told him to drop me off at the upper level doors for United.  He pulled up, pointed down a long hallway and said, go there and then take a right.  Really?  This was my handicapped wheelchair ride?  Treated like so much chattel?  This guy got zero tip.  Nada.  Zilch.

Now I understand how cattle feel.  Or slaves.  Or any other group of people that get herded around, taken who knows where, with no say in the matter.  Just pushed and shoved where they wanted to take you.  I seriously felt used and abused.  It wasn’t a good feeling.

I was a little mad/sad about the whole thing, but then got home and quickly forgot about it.  Until now, lol.  No, actually, I have been thinking about it, and I do think that United needs to hear from an unsatisfied customer like myself, and the exact reasons and circumstances that cause me to be an unsatisfied customer.  People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not like so much chattel.