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COLFAX — Five storytellers shared their experiences during the “Travel Edition of Truth Be Told” at the Colfax Municipal Building Auditorium December 30.
The storytellers — “real stories told by real people” — included Gary Stene, longtime Colfax resident and currently serving as village president; Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library; Tate Russell, Colfax High School senior; Steve Olson, lifelong Colfax resident and adult choral director at Colfax Lutheran; and Krista Ottinger, president of the Colfax Public Library Board.
The event was hosted by Kobi Shaw and Steve Russell (also known as the comedy juggling team, In Capable Hands) and was sponsored by the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group.
Krista Ottinger’s story was published in the January 9 issue of the Colfax Messenger.
Lisa Hurlburt’s story was published in the January 23 issue of the Colfax Messenger.
Here is Tate Russell’s story:
My story starts the night before I flew alone for the first time.
We were in upstate New York in the middle of nowhere, and we were visiting some of my parents’ friends.
My parents were doing a county fair in upstate New York, and we stayed with my parents’ friends. It was a good way to connect with them, and it saved us a little bit of money. But the only problem was I had to go back to Wisconsin without my parents because I had to get back to Shell Lake to Rock Band Camp, which I’ve gone to for five years.
I had to take this flight that went from Albany to Baltimore to Milwaukee, and that’s where I would get picked up to go to Shell Lake.
The night before, we’re preparing, and they’re prepping me, and this is your gate and this where the terminal is. And the people we were staying with say to me, “Here’s our number. If you have any issues, call us.”
This is what we call foreshadowing.
The next day, we woke up at 5 a.m., bright and early. And we got in the car. And my grandparents drove me to the airport because my parents had a show at this county fair. So my grandparents brought me to the airport, and the thing you need to know about my grandparents, they like to be prompt. They like to get places early. So we arrive at the airport about two and a half hours early before my flight boarding time.
We get there, it’s all great. I got my boarding pass. We went to security. I got through security.
I waved good-bye to them, and they were on their merry way.
I was in the airport, sitting there, and I know it was two and a half hours because I got through [an entire album] because I was listening to it on my headphones.
Finally, the plane starts boarding.
I’m standing in line, and they are scanning people in. She is scanning the tickets, and it goes “beep” and she says, “Enjoy your flight.” And she scans the next one, and it goes “beep.” And she says, “Enjoy your flight.”
Then I get up there, and she scans my ticket, and it goes, “nyennnnt,” and I grab my ticket and start to go, and she says, “No. No. Wait. Can I scan that again?”
So she scans it again, and it goes “nyennnt.”
Then she says, “Can I have you talk to our customer service.”
“Uhhhh — yeah.”
So I head over there.
And I talk to these guys — “We don’t know what’s going on. Let’s get our boss over here.”
So they call their manager.
And while he’s getting over there, meanwhile, the plane … leaves.
I’m just standing there. I’m in tears. I’m so overwhelmed my first time flying. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just standing there in Albany, of all places.
The manager comes over, and the first thing he says is, “Oh, you’ve been here a while.”
Because I had been.
He saw I was wearing a London Underground shirt, and he’d taken a liking to it. And he knows that I’ve been there for two and a half hours.
Keep in mind this is a Saturday. He tells me, “The next flight we can get you on is on Monday.”
So let me get this straight. This is Saturday. Rock Band Camp starts on Sunday. And Monday is when they can get me out.
“I’ve got places I need to be. Is there any way you can make that happen?” I said.
And he’s like, “Yeah.”
“Thank you. But didn’t you just tell me I couldn’t get on a flight until Monday?”
He transfers me [so] I was flying on Southwest. He transfers me to Delta. And on the way to bringing me to the Delta terminal, he tells me the reason I wasn’t on this flight is there was bad weather in Baltimore, and my flight got stranded, and they would have to put me up in a hotel, and because I was an unaccompanied minor, they couldn’t do that legally. I could not fly into Baltimore.
So they were going to transfer me to Delta and fly me to Detroit and from Detroit to Milwaukee.
I get to Delta.
They told me I was on standby for flights at about four o’clock. I was guaranteed a flight at eight o’clock.
Which meant I wouldn’t get in until eleven o’clock.
Which would mess up all my plans with my pickup.
So I was really hoping for that 4 p.m. flight.
I tried to call my parents. And nobody is picking up. Nobody is picking up.
I’m still overwhelmed. I’m still in tears. And I can’t get a hold of them.
So I find this phone number for the people we were staying with the night before. I call them. We worked it out. She was able to get a hold of my parents. And we were able to communicate. And I was able to communicate with the people who were picking me up.
That was great. I wasn’t expecting it. And it really calmed me down.
I ended up getting on that four o’clock flight. And I ended up going to Detroit.
I thought, “This is it. I’m home free! I got to Detroit! I just need to get to Milwaukee. We’re good.”
I get to Detroit, and I look at my boarding pass from Detroit to Milwaukee, and it says Terminal A.
And I’m in Terminal C.
I look at a map, and I can’t find Terminal A. There is no Terminal A on this map. And I have no idea where I am. I can see Terminal B, I can see Terminal C. I can see Terminal D and E.
But there is no Terminal A on this map that I’m looking at.
So — I call my mom.
“I have no idea where Terminal A is. Can you help me out?”
Once again, I’m in tears.
Finally I go down some corridor and underneath the tarmac and eventually I end up in Terminal A.
I look up at the gate. It says Gate 1.
I look at my ticket, and it says Gate 77.
So I’m at one end of the terminal, and I had to walk all the way to the other end of the Terminal. Which is pretty long. It’s 77 gates. It is literally the last gate of the terminal. Where I entered was on the opposite side of where I exited.
So I got to Gate 77 in Terminal A. I sat down. I ate a CLIF bar. I called my mom again.
I got to where I needed to be in Detroit. I’m going to get to Milwaukee. Now I’m home free. It’s going to be great.
I get to Milwaukee. I get picked up.
I’m going to Rock Band Camp! This is great!
I get to Shell Lake on Sunday. We’re checking in. I get to this final step.
The woman in charge says, “Do you have your health forms with you?”
I said, “Uhhhh, no. I don’t. Am I supposed to have those with me?”
And she says, “Yes. And if you don’t have them in by tomorrow, I’m going to have to have your parents pick you up, and you can’t be here.”
I explained to her that my parents are in upstate New York right now. And I don’t have any way of getting those health forms.
I was devastated. I was crying once again.
There was a lot of crying going on in this trip.
There was an audition process for Rock Band Camp, and I barely got through the audition.
I called my parents. I finally got a hold of them. I figured out that maybe we could e-mail the health forms.
They explained the situation to the counselor who was there. She was very understanding. The camp was understanding. And we got the health forms there.
I eventually ended up going to Rock Band Camp. Which was great. I did just what I wanted. It took the entire journey just to go there. It was awesome. I played some great Punk Music.
The next year, I made sure that my parents had a cell phone.
That Baltimore’s weather was clear.
And that I had two copies of my health forms.