Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Guiding Light Before The Flight

                                                                                                 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.


  1. Sometimes I guess we just have to have faith in humanity and usually they do come through for us.

    Tossing It Out

  2. I hope everyone you meet on your trip is as kind to you.

  3. I think most people are good. But it's easy to think otherwise when we see so many bad things on the news. I think you did the best thing when you gave that man a big tip.

  4. And hopefully everything went better after that! Really odd the guy was down there working in the dark though...

  5. That is a good post of pre-vacation turmoil. I don't know what circus feet are. Maybe I have them and don't know it.

  6. @Lee - You are absolutely right as usual!

    @mbj/Delores - There were a few incidents, but for the most part everyone was very considerate!
    Thanks Delores!

    @Angela - He really was a huge help to me! Thanks Angela!

    @Alex - This shoe repairman has worked hard his entire life. He's managed to put all his kids through law and graduate school and never takes a break. I had a feeling that working with a flashlight wouldn't stop him!

  7. Hi Julie .. crumbs how lucky he was there .. you do sort of wonder what he was doing in the dark down there! Ah - I see he's one of those great people with a fine sense of responsibility for his family and community .. hope the trip was fun too .. cheers Hilary

  8. People can sometimes surprise us. How jaded we've become!

    A couple of weeks ago, a young man on his motorcycle hit a woman in her BMW. The woman was fine, but the motorcycle caught fire and it was spreading to the BMW. The motorcyclist was nowhere to be found, until someone looked under the BMW. There he was, seriously hurt, unable to move while the car smoldered above him.

    More people came on scene and together they raised the BMW, allowing one person to pull that young man free of the BMW, though his foot was on fire.

    Talking heads all over the media were gasping at how brave these people were, risking their own lives to save that of a stranger. But it struck me that we shouldn't really be surprised. This is what people do. Humans are a compassionate lot.

    When I was younger, I was faced with a similar situation and I didn't even think once about the danger. All I thought about was the poor people caught in the mangled car. And I don't think I'm any different than most people. It's what we do, step up and help those who need it.

  9. You took us through some scary times leading up to your vacation. You needed it even more and I hope it was great.

    MIL's in Israel? I'd love to hear about your time there. I visited back in the 80's. It's changed so much since then.

    Shanah Tovah (assuming you celebrate the new year).

  10. I hope that helpful man with the flashlight was a good omen, and got you off on the right flip-flopped foot for a fantastic vacation.

  11. Things always seem to crop up before a vacation it seems, Three years ago a friend and myself was going to California, we set off from London reached San Fransisco .......there was no one there to meet us,(we were meeting up with a tour) after 2 hours we went to the reception who rang our hotel and was told we were not booked in, by now we were worried, so we hailed a cab and drove to the hotel, showed them our documents . All turned out well, the rest of the people were having a meeting....we wasn't even missed.

  12. @Manzie - I was trying to come up with a clever way of describing my long feet, which would be good candidates for clown shoes. I'm sure you don't have them! Thanks Manzie!

    @Hilary - I was very lucky to have their help! Both men are very honorable and we really enjoyed our trip!

    @Nancy - Those are both amazing stories of heroism! You should be very proud that you put others' lives ahead of your own! Thanks Nancy!

    @Robyn - I'll be writing more about the trip next week. I do celebrate and want to wish you a happy and healthy New Year as well!

    @Susan - "On the right flip-flopped foot" made my day! We did have a fantastic vacation!

    @Yvonne - Glad the trip turned out well in the end! That must have been pretty aggravating until things got straightened out! Julie

  13. i believe there are no coincidences...I TY ND UNDRD=STSND EHT THE SIGNIFICANCE IS FOR ME.

  14. Who needs vacation with so much adventure at home?? Really nice of that guy to go down in the basement with you. I hope your trip is wonderful!

  15. @Lou - I'm sorry that there has been so much sadness in your life. You deserve only good things, and I'm sending lots of positive thoughts your way!

    @Shannon - He really went above and beyond! We did have a great vacation and I'll write more about it next week! Thanks Shannon!

  16. I love it when people are good and kind like this. It really restores your faith in humanity!

  17. Oh, that's awesome to meet such nice people. :-)

  18. Hi Julie,

    I hope you're enjoying the New Year. Again, Shanah Tovah! Can't wait to hear about Israel.


  19. @Talli - It really does! Great new photo Talli!

    @Jennifer - It was such an unexpected act of kindness! Thanks for following me Jennifer, and I'm still laughing about that scene in your book!

    @Robyn - Thanks for dropping in again, and I'll try to come up with something in the next few days. Hope you're enjoying the New Year too Robyn, and I really like your version of The Book of Life! Julie

  20. Glad to hear hubby's knee is ok. I have to say, I am shocked you got your shoes. Here as soon as the lights went out, everyone would have packed up and gone home for the day. I have been away so long that words like "flip flops" sound really funny to me now.

  21. Sounds like a painful experience for your husband. Hope his knee is ok now. We're off to Israel ourselves soon and everything I'm thinking and doing has a tinge of pre-vacation panic to it. Happy new year :-)

  22. @Rhonda - Remember when we used to call them "thongs?" We certainly can't do that anymore! Thanks Rhonda!

    @Rosalind - He bounced back very quickly! We felt very safe there. I hope you and your husband are feeling fine, and your "pre-vacation panic" is just about the anticipation of getting ready for a big trip. Wishing you a wonderful vacation and a very Happy & Healthy New Year! Thanks Rosalind!

  23. Hope Hubs is on the mend. Now, that is some definite footwear loyalty on your part. I can completely understand--a good fitting pair of sandals are completely worth possible mugging. I'll be humming the Mentos song for the rest of the day.

  24. Julie, Hubs is doing great, and thanks for your understanding on the flip flop front! I would risk even more for my comfortable sandals that I walked miles in! The Mentos song is quite memorable as are your witty comments!

  25. I'm so glad you had a great vacation after all this, what a story! I had to laugh about your "circus feet," I can relate! I am so jealous of everyone wearing flip-flops in the summer, I get terrible blisters from nearly all of them, and I can understand why you went to such lengths to secure your comfy pair.

    Wonderful story, and I hope you and your family enjoyed the new year holiday last week. :)