Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Lucky Day, or, The Trip that Almost Wasn't

It was a day that could have ended very badly. We were on our way to England for a three-week trip. Everything was packed, we had checked and re-checked our lists to make sure that nothing was missing. SInce our friends and neighbours were either at work or away and therefore not available to give us a lift, we decided it would be easy enough to take the bus to the airport.

Here is a replay of what happened next...

We consult the schedules and leave for the bus stop in plenty of time. One suitcase on rollers each... check. Knapsack each... check. So far so good.

It is a hot sunny day waiting at the bus stop. So hot that I take off my sweater, roll it up and put it in my knapsack. We wait with a sense of impatience to get on our way. Finally, the bus arrives and we board, hauling our large suitcases. As the bus drives off and enters the on-ramp to the highway I look down. Where is my knapsack?  No matter how much I look around me, it is no where to be seen. My knapsack is gone!  Panic stations!  My passport, my Canadian and British money and my credit cards... all have vanished in an instant.

We quickly come to the realisation that I have left it at the bus stop. And we are now careening down the Queensway at high speed, travelling further and further from my knapsack. We ring the bell and wait in agony for the bus to reach the next stop and open its doors, whereupon we shoot out double-time with large suitcases in tow.

My beloved hubby, who has not even yelled at me or expressed impatience gives me his suitcase and knapsack and begins to run back along the residential route to the bus stop (about a 15 minute walk at a brisk clip) where it is deeply hoped the knapsack will still be. I clambour up the hill with husband's knapsack on my back and half rolling half dragging both suitcases, with a stomach that continues to turn over, I ask myself how I could possibly have been so careless.

As luck would have it the bus is due in three minutes to take me back to our starting point, and by chance a colleague from work is on her way home and stops to offer me a lift. But the bus comes along just then, and I get on, the ride seemingly endless. As the bus finally arrives at my stop I can see through the window that husband is walking back from the stop with no knapsack.

It is with sinking heart that I realise the trip is over before it has begun. I go through what needs to be done in my mind. I have to report my passport lost, cancel my credit cards and the hotel reservations, call my aunt and uncle and let them know we are not coming. I have ruined everything for everyone.  I am just sick about it.

Hubby, still not yelling at me, decides to go into the nearby convenience store to inquire if anyone has turned in a knapsack and I continue home. As I am putting the key into the lock I can hear the phone ringing. Desperate to get to it before they hang up or the answering machine picks up, I fling myself inside and grab the phone from its base.


"Did someone at your house lose...:

"Did you find my knapsack?" (interrupting frantically)

"I didn't, but my girlfriend did."

"Where is your girlfriend?"

"She's on the bus."

"Where is she going?"

"To my place." (I am possibly on the edge of hysteria by now, because all I want to know is where is my knapsack and will I be able to be reunited with it in time to catch my flight.)

"Where are you?"

"Sandy Hill."

By this time hubby has joined me in the kitchen and I mouth to him that my knapsack has been found. I tell the angel on the end of the line that I will call a cab and go to his place. I grab a slip of paper and ask for his address, ascertaining that it will take the girlfriend about 15 minutes to arrive at his home. I am in such a state that I cannot for the life of me write the street name down. I keep asking the angel to spell the name but I cannot hear what he is saying and my hand will not cooperate.

After five attempts I manage to write it down, and because I haven't quite lost all my wits I ask for his phone numbetr in case we can't find the house when we get there.  I thank him for the hundreth time and try to call a cab. The thought of booting up my slow computer and waiting in agony to do a search for a taxi company's phone number leaves me dangling in despair for several seconds, until I remember that we have an old yellow pages from about four years ago in a cabinet. I quickly retrieve it and within seconds have the number to the local taxi company. Oh how I love papaer format! Blessings on you dear printed listings!

I call the cab and beg them to hurry when they say they will be there in 10 minutes.  But where is hubby? I call and there is no answer. I stick my head out the front door. He is at the end of the driveway with the cab.  I lock the door, and with my scribbled address clutched for dear life in my hand, we throw our suitcases in the trunk and jump in.

The taxi driver has been filled in about our situation. He thinks it is a great story and is ready to battle rush-hour traffic on the Queensway to get us to Sandy Hill in record time. I have a moment of lucidity and realise this cannot be the cab I have ordered, though it is the same company. Apparently hubby had run to the end of our street where this very taxi magically appeared and, even more magically, the cab driver heard his whistle over four lanes of traffic. I ask the driver to cancel the cab that is making its way to my house. This done, my guilt is relieved a smidgen and I can relax enough to start worrying about the traffic.

But luck is with us and the taxi driver comments on how light the traffic is today. Within minutes we are exiting for Sandy Hill. After several more minutes, we find the right address and I jump out. I look up and my angel is looking down from an upper balcony for me, just as he had  promised. Our cab waits patiently at the side of the road. Several seconds later he has joind me on the street. The girlfriend has not arrived but I am assured that she will be there in mere moments.

Moments creep by while I tell him how wonderful they are. Finally, a blond head turns the corner and there she is. The second angel is wearing my knapsack and carrying her own. The knapsack is handed over to me. I continue to tell them how wonderful they are, give them hugs, and hand all the Canadian money I have in my wallet to the angel who has just made my trip a possibility. She refuses the money. They seem to have no idea of what they have done for us.

"Go out for dinner, treat yourself, do whatever you like, but please please take it. I won't be happy unless you do! You have no idea. You have saved our trip!" And I press the bills into her hand. Then with yet more thanks shouted over my shoulder I race to the cab and climb in. And we are off once again.

The taxi driver, now in full "Amazing Race" mode, is already plotting which route will be the quickest to the airport. He is in his glory. He too is an angel. I am dry mouthed and limp in the back seat. Hubby is still not yelling at me. He is an angel too!

I do not take my eyes off the clock on the dashboard. After what seems like forever, we arrive at the airport. We pay the driver the $60 fare plus a very large tip and we race to the check-in counter. Wonder of wonders, we are on time. Hubby however, thinks we are an hour late and is apologizing to the airline representative. When I tell him "no, it is only 6:00." He shakes his head in disbelief, he cannot believe how little time has elapsed.

We have three hours in the airport lounge once we are through security to relax and recover. Once on the plane, I look out the window and think "I cannot believe that I am here on this plane, on my way to England! How is it possible?"

What could have been a very terrible day was turned completely around by a series of earth-bound angels, and in record time.

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