Cooper: A postcard from Paris

Dateline Paris: I’ve always wanted to start a report with “Dateline Paris.” Haven’t we all?

Dateline Paris: I’ve always wanted to start a report with “Dateline Paris.” Haven’t we all?

Too bad that air travel has taken all the joy out of getting from Sequim to Paris or anywhere for that matter.

We weren’t sure we were going to get to Paris until we got on the giant Aero bus. Francophile husband and I started our planning by cobbling together enough frequent flier miles to get business class seats coming and going.

Those of you who travel with frequent flier miles know that those spaces typically require a non-direct route which explains why we flew from SeaTac to LAX. However it doesn’t explain why our Paris flight was canceled and, sacre bleu!, we were not told.

I will not repeat here what cranky husband said under his breath. Meanwhile I did my best imitation of Zen-like calm and we proceeded to walk the circuit of airline desks (Delta to Alaska to Air France).

The circuit added to our SeaTac navigation and totaled at least 5 miles of walking while hauling luggage and a heavy load of anxiety over tickets secured over eight months ago.

It is in moments like this that husband’s age of 87 amazing years and well-earned slower pace becomes part of the calculation that determines our direction and speed.

We adapt and I walk ahead quickly in order to scout the most efficient way to reach a helpful person. We are always in sight of each other. I reach the last possibility of help at the Air France desk and return to slower, hot and tired husband who goes outside the terminal to cool off and wait.

By now I am imbued with the calm of someone who knows her fate is out of her control. I wait patiently to be called to speak with someone.

About 30 minutes later a woman appeared to organize the growing crowd and I was directed to a beautiful young French woman. She smiled and I began to relax.

I explained our circumstance and added that my 87-year-old husband waited outside (my husband who is never out of my thoughts and who I knew had equal patience.).

My hopes soared when I realized that beautiful French woman intended to help us. At one point she asked her supervisor for help who though not as beautiful or young turned out to be a miracle worker.

It was then I rescued my husband from his uncertain waiting and soon we had seats in business class to Paris the next day along with a voucher for the overnight stay.

We were recognized upon our return to pick up our boarding passes, or at least my husband was. The young man said to him, “You are 87.”

I marveled at his recall even though he didn’t remember me. I saw that he admired my husband’s fortitude and endurance or perhaps my husband conflicted with what his 35-year-old mind imagined his life as 50 years from now.

I am sure he saw, too, like we did, the numbers of elderly people being moved in wheelchairs. I was struck by how many required wheelchairs and still possessed the determination to get from here to somewhere else.

It seems that in LAX, at least where we were, wheelchair transportation had replaced those box-like vehicles that carried several people and their luggage at one time. Travel by the aging was becoming a burgeoning opportunity for employment.

Relief replaced anxiety as the giant bus lifted smoothly into the air. Fourteen hours later we were in a taxi in Paris on our way to our home for the next month.

Excusez-moi, I must go to balcony overlooking Blvd St. Michael to watch a parade of demonstrators who are playing music, wearing brightly colored clothes and dancing to bring attention to the release of political prisoners.

Dateline Paris is so much more interesting than Dateline Airport Waiting.


Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at


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