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South Texas Living

The case of the wheelchair caper

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
August 13, 2014 | 2,816 views | Post a comment

The first time I saw Alvin was in the Albany, Georgia, airport. He turned out to be quite a character. Alvin is my cousin Michael’s cousin, so in Texas we would say he is my cousin too. Whether you are first cousin, second cousin, third cousin, twice-removed, you are a cousin!

Alvin is a Southern gentleman and a native of Georgia. I loved his accent. He’s from the South through and through. He even used to be a DJ with a country radio station near Savannah for 14 years. He loves old-time country classics like I do. Now that was interesting. But that is another story for a later time.

It was two weeks ago that I visited my Aunt Clare, who had been very sick and in the hospital for a month. She is home now. Aunt Clare is my age and we are more like cousins or sisters. I just call her Clare! I was sitting in a wheelchair Delta Airlines had provided for me, because it was a long way from out on the tarmac where we got off the plane, to the inside of the airport to the baggage claim area. I saw this strange man grinning at me across the area. Who was this guy? As I looked at him, he called to me and asked me if I was Lois Wauson. He came up to me, told me his name was Alvin, and that Michael asked him to pick me up at the airport.

After we got my suitcase he pushed me in the wheelchair to the sidewalk in front of the airport, and went for his truck. He drove to the curb, asked me if I was able to climb in the truck -- it was a big pickup truck with an extended cab. I said yes and immediately climbed in the truck. Thank God it had a step. He asked me if the wheelchair was mine, and I told him no it was not. I heard him say that he was going to take it back. I waited a long time, it seems, but I knew we were far from the entrance, and then I heard banging and clatter in the back of the truck, as Alvin put my suitcase back there. The next two hours to the town of Fitzgerald was a pleasant drive. Georgia is beautiful with lots of pine trees. Alvin and I talked as I asked him to tell me about himself.

That night after Clare and I had a happy reunion, and Mike and Alvin had talked and smoked a cigarette in the back yard, they came back to the bedroom where we were chatting. They had a story for us. They were out back, drinking a glass of sweet tea, and Alvin had said to Mike, “You didn’t tell me Lois was not able to walk and was in a wheelchair. I had a hard time finding her. I asked every woman that came back to the area, if she were Lois Wauson, and the last one I asked was in a wheelchair and it was her!” Mike said, “She’s not in a wheelchair.” Alvin said, “Then I done stole a wheelchair. It’s in my truck!”

We all laughed until we cried, as Mike told Alvin that the surveillance cameras had the evidence that he had indeed stolen a wheelchair, and he had an old lady as an accomplice. Mike kept telling Alvin for days, to be sure to hide his truck and the wheelchair, because the sheriff was going to come any time -- the airport had his license number on the film.

All week the wheelchair sat in the back bedroom. Alvin and I went to the airport the next week and I used the wheelchair again -- it came in handy because they had to wheel me a long way out on the tarmac to board the plane.

Alvin went on back home, leaving the wheelchair and me at the airport. I know he breathed a sigh of relief, but I will always recall what happened, “the wheelchair heist” or the “the wheelchair caper.”

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at loiswauson@yahoo.com.

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