By Brian Fischler
I was now on my final trip to my last destination for part one of my Flight for Sight journey. Onto Cincinnati. My Lyft arrived and I bid adieu to Barbara and her guide dog, Kenny. You know what, everyone is right, it is quite the hike to get to the Denver airport. I always chuckle when people say, you know you can take the train to the airport. Yes, and you know you can try and get to the airport in a city you have never been with your eyes closed. Let’s see who makes it there first! So I skipped the train, and took a Lyft. I once again breezed through check in and security with no hassles about my guide dog. Considering my whole concept for my Flight for Sight pitch started about the debacle I had at the Miami airport in February, every single leg of my Flight for Sight airport journey has been easy peasy.
The plane boards and I get a front row seat on Southwest. I get settled in my seat and break out my AirPod Pros, and am stunned to learn there is only one AirPod Pro in my case. I flash back to last night when my charging station fell off the shelf it was on, and I reached down and was surprised to learn all my devices were still connected. What I failed to realize was even though my AirPod Pro case was closed, when they hit the floor, they must have popped open, and one AirPod Pro tried to make a run for it before the case closed. Ugh. Thankfully, I have my AirPod Max, they are the fully over-the-ear headphones, and I use them on my flight.
The flight is uneventful, and I arrive in Cincinnati. No surprise the airport is short staffed on employees to help people with disabilities get around the airport, but thankfully instead of the airport making me wait 30 minutes at the gate for an employee to get me out of the airport, the employee double times it and pushes a woman in a wheelchair and lets me tag along on his shoulder. Not sure how the airlines can make such a simple process overly complicated, as every time I fly, I tell the airline I will need assistance upon arrival, which is noted down on my flight reservation. Yet most times when I arrive it is if the airline is stunned to learn that I need assistance. I think it is just poor communication on most airlines’ part, and I am stunned to learn the only kind of assistance listed upon arrival is wheelchair assistance. What, is it too complicated to add more than one checkbox to the form? At least this explains every time why the airport employees always want to stick me in a wheelchair, and I have to ask them ok, “where is the dog going to go”? You would think airlines which are technically customer service industry companies, would be able to put a second check box on the form for a different kind of assistance than wheelchair, but no, they obviously know best. Ask any blind person how much fun it is when the airline wants them to sit in a wheelchair. I wonder if the airlines make wheelchair individuals put on an eye cover when they arrive at the gate. Yes, this stuff is maddening, and moronic.
Ok, airline stupidity rant over. I am being picked up by a car service to take me to my friends house which is in Oxford, Ohio, by Miami University. I am pleasantly surprised to find the car service is waiting for me at baggage claim, and I guess I am easy to spot with the guide dog. It is so nice being picked up by a friendly service that knows you have a guide dog, and there is no hassle to deal with. We get in to the van, and I learn that not only is the Cincinnati airport in Kentucky, but it is 25 miles into the state of Kentucky. Who knew? I am told we will actually be in three states on our drive to Oxford, Kentucky, then dip down into Indiana, and then back into Ohio. Interesting. Boy are the drivers in Cincinnati chatty. My driver is a lovely and chatty person. The conversation makes the ride go by quickly, as it takes about an hour and twenty minutes to get to Oxford. We arrived at my friends Allison and T.J.’s house. They also have a guide dog, Dusty, so we first introduce Wesley to Dusty. Allison, is one of my podcast co-hosts on That Real Blind Tech show. I am amazed at the size of their house. It is huge and two stories, and of course their mortgage with taxes is less than my rent in Queens. Hmm, maybe I should move to the country.
We decide to order dinner which is nice, as traveling this much dries so much out of you. We order a pizza with some beer. T.J. and Allison don’t really drink, but I could use a beer or two. Considering it is Cincinnati and not NYC, the pizza is surprisingly pretty good. During the evening, we enjoy the two dogs playing together, Dusty barks a little, but of course Wesley does not. We talk and catch ups, and then I introduce TJ and Allison to Curb Your Enthusiasm, which they love. We watch a few episodes, and call it a night.
The great thing about a big house, I have my own room with a huge Queen size bed, and my own private bathroom. Navigating the downstairs of their house is quite difficult as I keep getting turned around, but thankfully, navigating upstairs is quite simple. Note to self, don’t walk too far straight out of my bathroom, or I am going straight down the stairs. Will have to remember that when I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I prepare for bed, and go to get in to bed only to discover Wesley has settled right in the middle of the bed, hey pal, this bed is big enough for both of us, but seriously dude, pick a side!
The next morning, I am awoken to a dog at the door to my room, but I realize Wesley is in bed with me. I guess Dusty is on the other side of the door wanting to play bright and early. I go back to sleep for a bit. Sorry Dusty, playtime is going to have to wait a little longer. I finally get up, get Wesley fed, and we head downstairs. TJ gets me some coffee, as Allison is off at church. We are headed to the Reds game today. My last baseball game on part one of my journey.
We pick up Allison, and I am impressed by Brett, who is taking his two young daughters along with three blind people to a baseball game. There really still are a lot of decent people on this planet. We have a parking pass for the game, and we get parked in the garage which is underneath the stadium. We pile out, there are six of us and a guide dog, as Dusty had to stay at home. We begin the walk to the stadium. It is pretty crowded as the Reds are playing very well. We are walking through security, and the staff asked us for our seat number as they need to note where the guide dog is sitting. I get it, and there is no hassle or questioning about it. We are then off to guest services, keeping our fingers crossed that they will have the in house real time radio feed. Well, so much for keeping our fingers crossed, as that doesn’t do us any good, as we find out that they do not have the real time radio feed that we can borrow to listen to the game. So, it is now off to our seats, which are nose bleed, and I mean nose bleed, as we are in section 500, and our seats are almost out of the ballpark. I think there are only about 3 or 4 rows behind us. I am not complaining about our seats, as it doesn’t matter to me, as the field looks the same to me no matter where I sit, but I can guarantee there is no vendor services way up here. Plus it is in the mid-90’s, so being way up here is pretty hot. We are only in our seats for a few minutes when an employee of the Reds comes up and hands me a sack of water for Wesley. Wow, how unbelievably nice. I think it is just a sack full of water, so I reach Wesley’s bowl in to scoop out some water only to discover that there are actually 8 bottles of water in the sack. Wow, how nice. Thankfully, Wesley is not a camel, so there is enough water for all of us. Brett and one of his daughters goes to get us some food and a beer.
Now, I am very thankful for this whole pitch clock thing as it really has sped the game up, but I feel awful as it seems like Brett and his daughter are missing two plus innings of the game while getting all of us food. Amazingly, they don’t mind. Like I said, good people are just awesome. It is a close game with the Reds leading most of the way, but they decide to blow the lead in the 8th, and lose it in the 9th. We stay for the entire game, and wait a few minutes to let the massive crowd dissipate before heading on our hike all the way back down to ground level. We take a photo of our group with the field in the background on our descent downward. We eventually get outside of the stadium and Brett lets me know that there is a statue of Pete Rose outside of the stadium. I grew up loving Pete Rose, so I get my photo in front of the Stadium. Even though we all had a bite to eat at the ballpark, we are pretty hungry, so we decide to stop for dinner. I ask, what about Skyline Chili? The only reason I have ever heard of it is because of the great song that Monday Night Football used to use as their theme song by Big & Rich, “Comin’ to Your City.” It’s a great song and they mention Cincinnati and Skyline Chilli. I was unaware that Skyline is actually a chain and feels like a diner. We hit one up, and have a nice dinner. I am not that impressed with Skyline Chili. It’s ok, but not song-worthy to me.
TJ’s good friend from college, Brett shows up with his two daughters to take us to the Reds game. So of course my first question to Brett is, how wild was TJ in college. He tells me pretty wild. If you know TJ, you know nothing could be further from the truth. We get packed in to the van, and I am sitting next to the 8 year old for the ride. We need to swing by TJ’s Dad’s house to pick up Allison. On our ride, I have fun messing with the 8 year old, I ask her what the monster situation is like at her house? I pepper her with some other really silly questions, and she says to me, “you’re not like most adults. You don’t bore us with stories about your job.” I laugh. Kids at this age are fun as they are so gullible. I tell the 8 year old that if our seats are close enough to the field that Wesley will probably get to pinch run for one of the players. She hopes that happens.
We get back to TJ and Allison’s house, and Brett and the girls come in. The kids are really good and they have some more fun playing with both dogs, as Dusty is so excited to see everyone. TJ had a friend who popped in to feed Dusty while we were out. Great to have neighbors you can rely on. Maybe there really is something to this country living.
Brett and the girls take off, and I soon get a Facebook friend request from Brett. I really have met a ton of nice people on this journey, and now along with Brett, Steven, Shawn in Dallas, Bryan, another in Houston, Brendan in L.A., Jim in Seattle, that makes 7 new Facebook buddies I have made along this journey. I am sure that I am probably forgetting someone, or multiple people, as I am getting old.
The next day, I wake up and pray to the Gods one last time that my suitcase will close and not burst open at the seams. It is now finally back to NYC, and even though I have enjoyed my entire journey and the people I have met, I can’t wait to get home. It’s only like an hour twenty of fly time to NYC. I say my goodbye’s to TJ and Allison, and am picked up by their friendly car service, and we begin the haul to Kentucky to where the Cincinnati airport is located. It is a nice ride.
Of course since it is my final flight, I am expecting to finally get hassled by either the airline or TSA about my guide dog, but nope, no hassle, it’s straight through security with no issues. Not so fast though. Even though the flight is only an hour and 20 minutes of fly time, the flight home ends up being delayed close to two hours. Ah, now I remember why I hate flying, but can I really complain as this is only my second delay on all my flights. Considering the state of the airlines and all the horror stories you hear these days about flying, I really have been quite fortunate on my Flight for Sight adventures.
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For more about Brian’s time in Cincinnati listen to the Flight for Sight podcast Episode 8 – Cincinnati, Meet the Meloys.
Photo Description 1: Six people are standing together. Brian’s guide dog Wesley is on the ground. They are at Great American Ball Park. The field is in the background.
Photo Description 2: Brian is standing with his guide dog Wesley in front of a statue of Pete Rose sliding.