The afternoon sun embellished the threads of my linen shirt as it dried on the rooftop clothesline. This was my chance to snap one of those ‘artsy’ photos. I raced down the stairs of my daughters apartment to grab my camera.
In my haste and enthusiasm, I missed the last step tumbling to the landing without the slightest hint of grace. I’d hurt myself and despite the tantrum seizing my foot, my mind was screaming this one objective: “I’m going to Paris on Friday-I am GOING to Paris on Friday, Pleeeeeezze” Fortunately, it was only a sprain and the following 4 days, I treated it with the tenderness and respect it demanded.
Friday arrived, I was grateful for minimal swelling and only a slight limp. I made a last-minute decision to wrap my ankle in the tensor bandage I’d abandoned the previous afternoon. Barcelona to Paris is a relatively quick trip, however I knew I had a considerable distance to cover on foot. Entering the Barcelona airport, I was thrown off-balance by hundreds of impatient passengers standing in line after line. The terminal was experiencing electrical difficulties with computers, lights, telephones and self-check kiosks. My heart sank – after all my stringent pedi-care….Paris bistros, croissants and quiet afternoons along the Seine seems to be slipping through my fingers.
What to do, what to do? Without considering possible consequences, I headed toward the check-in counter playing up an exaggerated limp. I scanned the faces of the frantic staff and decided a tall gentleman with a walky-talky was my best chance of making the flight.
A pang of guilt griped my throat as he reacted with kindness to my unrehearsed theatrics. I knew I was on a slippery slope when I overheard him radio ahead for a wheelchair. Seriously, all I wanted was an opening near the front of the line. I was desperate people, I NEEDED to get to Paris. (Ok so ‘need’ is a slight exaggeration)
In my own defence, I never park in handicap zones, or occupy the large stall in the washroom. Over the next 3 hours I systematically forfeited any brownie points I may have accumulated in my lifetime. Within 10 minutes, a lovely young lady arrived with a wheelchair. I was now committed to this performance. Meryl Streep had nothing on me as I lowered myself to the waiting chair.. She wheeled me for 5 min across the terminal to an X-ray machine designed for passengers with strollers, wheelchairs or oversized luggage. My only hope of absolution, once on the plane, I could let my guard down and take shelter behind my Oscar for Best Lead in the Duplicity category.
After the customary security pat down, my escort rolled me the 10 min to gate D42, she handed me off to a cheery gentleman in a green onesie with matching reflective vest. He wheeled me in the opposite direction to a service elevator where we descended 3 floors to the tarmac below. After loading me into a wheelchair van, he drove to the base of the stairs of the waiting plane. To make maters worse, the able-bodied passengers had been delayed boarding until I arrived. They were crammed into a humid transfer-bus, waiting on my arrival. The jumpsuit clad chaperone graciously offered his arm and guided me up the stairs to my appointed seat.
Finally…… This charade was coming to an end.