The afternoon sun embellishes the delicate threads of my linen shirt as it dries on the rooftop clothesline of my daughter’s apartment in Barcelona. This was my chance to snap one of those ‘artsy’ photos I always want to take. I race down the stairs to grab my camera.
In my haste and enthusiasm and without the slightest hint of grace, I miss the last few steps tumbling to the landing.
I lay motionless for a minute with the clear understanding that I’m hurt. Despite the tantrum of pain seizing my foot, my mind only thought is: “I’m going to Paris on Friday-I am GOING to Paris on Friday, Pleeeeeezze”
Earlier in the day, I booked a flight to visit a friend who lives in Paris. I have been looking forward to our time together and this injury was coming between me and my plans. Fortunately, it was only a sprain, I treat it with the tenderness and respect it demands.
Travel day arrives, I’m grateful the swelling has reduced and I have only the slightest limp. I make the last-minute decision to keep my ankle wrapped in the tensor bandage that’s been my support and saviour. Barcelona to Paris is a relatively quick trip, however, I have a considerable distance to cover on foot and I want to be in tip-top shape for my time in the City of Light.
Entering terminal A, I’m once again thrown off-balance by a different kind of mishap, hundreds of impatient passengers standing in line after line. The airport is in the middle of an electrical chaos involving computers, lights, telephones and self-check kiosks. My heart sinks – has all my stringent pedi-care been foiled by an electrical glitch? Paris bistros, croissants and quiet afternoons along the Seine seem to be slipping through my tensor wrapped toes.
Without considering the possible consequences, I limp toward the check-in counter, exaggerating my injury, using my rolling carry-on as a crutch, a rather sad pathetic look on my strained face. I scan the exhausted staff behind the counter and decide a tall gentleman with a walky-talky is my best chance of making the flight.
A pang of guilt gripes my throat as he reacts with kindness to my unrehearsed foot theatrics. I recognize I’m on a slippery slope to hell, when I overhear him radio ahead for a wheelchair.. Seriously, all I wanted was an opening near the front of the line.
I’m desperate people, I NEEDED to get to Paris….Ok so ‘need’ is a slight exaggeration.
In my defence, I never park in handicap zones, use the large stall in the washroom and I always hold the door for people with limited mobility. Over the next 3 hours I will systematically forfeit any brownie points I have accumulated in my entire life.
The gentleman asks me to wait to the side, it takes a while and this lie I’ve set into motion is making me nervous. A lovely young lady arrives with a wheelchair- this is out of control. Deep breaths, I’m committed to this performance and remain focused on Paris.
I channel my best version of Meryl Streep and lower myself to the waiting chair. She tenderly props my foot up and wheels me across the terminal to an X-ray machine designed for passengers with strollers, oversized luggage and wheelchairs. My only hope of absolution is that once on the plane, I’ll be able to let my guard down and take shelter behind my Oscar for lead in the duplicity category.
After the customary security pat down, my unwitting partner in crime, rolls me to gate D42 where the flight is now boarding. She waits with me while the gate attendant calls ahead and then she hands me and my chair to a cheery gentleman in a green onesie with matching reflective vest. He in turn wheels me in the opposite direction of the gate, to a service elevator where we descended 3 floors to the tarmac below. After loading me into a large van, he drives to the base of the waiting plane. To make matters worse, the able-bodied passengers have been delayed boarding because of ME AND MY ANKLE. They are crammed into a humid transfer-bus, awaiting my acting debut. The jumpsuit clad chaperone graciously offers his arm and guides me up the stairs to my appointed seat.
Finally…… this charade of my own making is coming to an END !!
Not so fast…. to my horror, the flight attendant upgrades me to the second row. Catholic guilt reaches epic proportions when she lets me know, “assistance will be waiting for me in Paris”.
I’m going to hell for sure!
***Have you ever told a “little white lie” and found yourself in the middle of a self-imposed drama?