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On Friday night I flew home from the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas and my flight arrived at JFK at around 9:30 PM. After I picked up my luggage and called for my shuttle service I went outside to wait for the shuttle van. They told me it would be there in 5-10 minutes but 15 or more minutes went by with no Red Dot Airport Shuttle in sight.
After a while a mother and her young child appeared and stood next to me waiting for their ride. No carseat in sight. I was disappointed but not surprised. Soon a car pulled up and as they waved, I spied with my little eye a FF Britax Blvd (original generation) in the backseat. I was silently impressed – not because it was a Britax but just because there was an appropriate CR for the child to ride in. The driver and passenger of the vehicle got out to greet mom and child. I suspected that they were the child’s grandparents, which was later confirmed. As grandpa loaded the luggage into the trunk, I watched mom open the back door to the car (driver’s side) and grab the carseat as if checking the installation. I groaned to myself as I watched the seat move all over the place when she did this. I wondered if she was going to leave it that way. She shut the door and came back to the curb. Then she opened the passenger’s side door and climbed into the backseat. She’s going to fix the carseat installation! I silently rejoiced. But then I recognized that look of complete bewilderment on her face. Oh, no! She doesn’t know what to do! At that point I knew I had to offer to help.
“Do you need some help?”, I asked, sticking my head into the car. “Installing carseats is what I do for a living”, I half-joke in my most friendly tone. The look of relief on her face was priceless and I knew in an instant that she wasn’t going to yell at me or tell me to mind my own damn business. I knew I could help her and I knew I could get that seat installed quickly but I also had one eye on the road looking out for my shuttle which was already past due. At this point I start praying that it doesn’t come right this second. I don’t need a lot of time but I also know the shuttle won’t wait for me to finish helping someone with a carseat installation.
At this point all typical installation education goes out the window because I gotta get this done FAST. The seat isn’t attached to the vehicle at all – except by the tether. I’m thinking Thank God it’s a Britax convertible as I get it installed rock-solid with the seatbelt in 20 seconds. I would have used LATCH but the lower anchor connectors were still stored inside the cubby holes under the cover and I didn’t have time to mess with taking them out. I’m also thinking “don’t obsess about perfection – just make this child safER than what she would have been for the ride home if I hadn’t been here”. The entire time I’m looking up every 10 seconds, watching the road, hoping for another minute. So far, so good, still no Red Dot shuttle. Okay, seat is installed tightly and tethered – let’s get this kid strapped in! But wait – ugh, the harness is waaaay too low. I gotta crank it up higher. But it’s an original model Blvd and I’m turning and turning and turning that stupid little knob and it feels like it’s taking forever and hardly moving. I start using both hands to turn both knobs simultaneously. Finally, I get the headwings extended slightly above the main shell and I’m hoping that that’s tall enough for my new friend, Grace. We plop her in – it’s perfect! Mom and I buckle her up nice and snug and I give her a high-five. I tell her that she was awesome, because well…. she was! It was late and they flew all the way from CA and most kids that age would have been cranky and miserable by that point but Grace was perfectly cooperative and full of interesting questions. She was totally adorable and I was so glad that I was able to help her and her family.
Mom and grandparents were so happy and appreciative. Grandma said I had “restored her faith in humanity”. I thought that was super sweet. Honestly, I was just as happy and appreciative that they had taken me up on my offer to help. I learned a long time ago that I can’t save the world, but I still want to.
I gave them my last business card and hopefully they’ll contact me because I know there are other things that need to be checked and explained. I wasn’t able to give the seat a thorough once-over and they didn’t get much education but hopefully I’ll see them again since the grandparents live relatively close to me.
After they drove off, I called my shuttle service back to say “hey, where the heck are you?” The dispatcher says “the driver told me he got you”. Ummm…. no. Obviously I wasn’t pissed about it and they sent another van to get me within 10 minutes but it made me think that my shuttle was MIA for a reason. Things like this happen to me often enough and I’ve learned not to question them. I figure it’s just the universe “doing its thing”. For whatever reason, I was meant to cross paths with Grace and her lovely family at the passenger pickup area of JFK’s Terminal 5. I’m not sure why but I was happy to oblige.