Julie Kemp Pick
Sometimes the events leading up to a vacation prove to be almost as eventful as the vacation itself. This happened a few times late in August when we were planning a Western Mediterranean Cruise on the way to visiting my mother-in-law in Israel.
Twelve days before we were scheduled to leave, my husband injured his knee when he fell off of his bicycle. He managed to ride home from the scene of the accident, but grew progressively worse by evening. The following Sunday morning, his knee was so swollen that he couldn't walk, so I gave him my son's crutches and we headed off to the emergency room.
I thought we would have to cancel our trip, but he was determined to go. After wearing an immobilizer, having his knee drained, an MRI and two physical therapy sessions, the orthopedist agreed. Miraculously, my husband lost his limp, while I was losing my mind. What if he had a relapse in a foreign country, and I had to try to find a hospital while I was carrying him on my back, and fighting off pickpockets? Everyone told us to be aware of them, but they must have been staying inside from the heat. My man of steel assured me that he would be fine, as I was racing to get everything we needed in less than a week.
The day before our flight to Rome, I had an appointment for a manicure and pedicure. On August 31, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80's. So it didn't make sense that the entire block of stores and restaurants were experiencing a power failure. What really presented a problem was that my beaded flip flops were at the shoe repair a few doors down from the nail salon, and it was located in a dungeon like basement. These are the only flip flops that my delicate circus feet could tolerate, and I needed them both for my pedicure and my trip.
On the main level of the shoe repair is a Mexican restaurant. I asked them if I could borrow a flashlight to take to the basement in the hope that the shoemaker was still there. One of the men grabbed a flashlight and said that he would go along with me. It was pitch black in the basement, but my trusted guide led the way. I called out to Mr. K to make sure that he was down the hall, but no one answered. My guide helped me down the stairs and we proceeded on. At one point I thought about how easily it would have been to beat me bloody with the flashlight, and abscond with $35 and a box of Mentos, but I had to risk it all to get my flip flops from Marshalls back.
When we reached the end of the hallway, Mr. K jumped out from behind the counter, and shone his flashlight on us. I pulled my ticket out and he handed me my shoes. No words were exchanged and he went back to working in complete darkness. Sadly, he must have been used to hiding during wartime.
After my companion guided me to safety, I thanked him and went off to my appointment.
When the power returned, I went back to see my new friend at the restaurant. I still had errands to run so I asked him if he could make me a virgin strawberry daiquiri to go. I thought about getting him a present, but decided to give him a little extra for his tip instead. I thanked him again, and he politely smiled. Suddenly, I was transformed into Blanche DuBois, and I understood when she said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Oh well, it was time to go home to my Stanley Kowalski and finish packing.