Before various family members and friends fly into a panic, let me make it clear: I did not fall. I repeat I did not fall. “I was speaking metaphorically.” Perhaps I should start at the beginning. After a nice train journey from Kansas City to Washington DC, I spent five wonderful days in Washington visiting adear friend. I didn’t even mind (very much) that the temperature was climbing daily to be over 100 by the time I left. But more about Washington in a later post; I need to explain the title here before my iPhone starts ringing and I can’t work out how to answer it.
I’ve been stressing a bit (only a bit; I’m not generally a sufferer of stress, just a carrier) about managing my luggage on my upcoming travels. Partly because I have about double the weight allowance for my one little flight on EasyJet, and partly because, regardless of the weight, I was worried about juggling the three bags and one very heavy computer/handbag. Well, as my travelmate, Mary, will attest, I managed to corral them from the back of the train to the check-in desk in Chicago–surely at least a quarter of a mile. Then I got them through the customs scrum at Heathrow, and so on. When I finally got to Chester on the train, I again managed to shepherd them off the far end of the train and through the station and out to the sidewalk in front of the station. I was beginning to feel pretty good about it all, and perhaps just a bit too pleased with myself…
At that point things began to go pear-shaped. The pedestrian traffic, as well as the vehicle traffic, were like the entire population of Hobart being in motion at once. The taxi rank was across the street, with a steep curb to navigate. When I eventually made my way to the next taxi, the rather surly (cockney) driver made no attempt to conceal his irritation about the luggage as he struggled to get it all loaded up. Then he barked at me to get in, and as we were about to leave I told him where I wanted to go. “Wah?” he said. I repeated it. “Wah?” he said again. I assumed he was hard of hearing and I was trying to be patient and understanding the third time I repeated it. At that point he quickly rolled down his window, stuck his arm out, and hollered at a couple headed for the taxi behind him. “Shay’s gowen to da Quane.” I thought he was trying to combine two fares, and wondered where in the world he expected to put anyone else, much less their luggage. He leapt out of the cab and jerked open my door and started heaving my luggage out onto the sidewalk. When I asked, “What’s going on?” he just growled, “Geh ow’.” I no doubt looked as bewildered as I felt. “Hit’s ova da rowd,” he snarled. I continued to look bewildered, and said, “But I have a bad foot and can’t walk far with all of this.”
I thought he meant it was a couple blocks away, across a large intersection, up and over curbs. He just glared at me for a long moment. “Ya canna even walk tha fah?” he said in a voice heavy with loathing, as he gestured to the building opposite the station. Why couldn’t the pavement just open up and swallow me?
By this time he was waving his arms wildly and yelling for all to hear “Shay wonts ta go to da Quane!” I not only felt exhausted at that point, but now I was thoroughly mortified, as I wrestled the bags off the curb and started to bounce them across the cobblestones. Suddenly, a Knight in Shining Armor rushed up and said, “Here, let me get those, dear.” I didn’t even mind the “dear.” Well, not too much, anyway. He made two trips, carrying them all across to the hotel, up the steps and inside. I think he was one of the cabbies in the queue at the taxi rank and had witnessed the aforementioned spectacle. I suspect he was embarrassed on behalf of his fellow cabbies. I can only hope his kindness caught as much attention as the other idiot’s boorish behavior. His simple act of helpfulness was such a stark contrast to the ranting and raving of the first clod.
This time I didn’t even have to pretend to be someone’s elderly aunt. MM