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Monday, 01 May 2006

On The Road To? - Page 3

Written by Rick Robiar
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The problem was, I had written down the address, but I didn’t have it on me.  I thought I did. I was sure I knew where I was going.  That’s the strange thing about all of this.  One can feel so confidently on target, yet one is lost.  Maybe it’s hard for you to believe that on my first trip to Europe I lost my destination.





imageIn hindsight, I understand why she left her seat and began pulling at my arm as  I struggled with her to maintain my balance, while protecting the position of my new safe haven in the bus stairwell.  She was trying to help the crazy foreigner who insisted he get off of a bus in the middle of nowhere in pitch black darkness, during a rain storm. Oh, and he wanted his luggage as well.  These folks would have none of it.  Suddenly it seemed as if every passenger on the bus was standing in the center aisle, beckoning me to return to my seat, as if they collectively sensed the urgency of preventing this complete travel moron from  getting out the door.  The sea of waving arms and the cacophony of Italian gave me the distinct impression I was the protagonist in a Roman Polanski movie. I increased my pleading with the bus driver.  With quick, tense glances at me and the mob that was forming behind him, the driver took a deep breath, gripped the steering wheel and slammed his foot on the gas pedal.  No American idiot was going to kill himself on his shift.  This was his bus.

On we rolled.  Passengers began to return to their seats.  Defeated in my attempt to free myself from safety, I headed back as well.  In unmistakable English, I heard the words: “Where are you going?” Seated cross legged to my left was a well dressed man with a briefcase on his lap beneath his folded arms.  His demeanor, glasses, and short cropped hair reminded me of three things I wasn’t: calm, cool and collected.

“Do you know where you’re going”?  He asked again.  Before I could answer, I had a successive chain of thoughts spill into my mind: Who does this guy think he is?  How dare he ask a complete stranger such a blunt question??  How obnoxious, how rude, how unfriendly!!!  OH, THANK GOD!!   SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH!  I’m back in the game!!!  “Well,” I began.  “It’s in Palermo, I just forget what section.”  He nodded and asked the name of where I was staying.  My placid, wet-eyed, blank stare made it perfectly obvious I had no idea.  Then I noticed the cell phone clipped to his trouser belt.  I suddenly realized I had an ace in the hole.  There had been one piece of information I had remembered to bring along, but it had never occurred to me that I could ask to use someone’s cell phone. From my well searched belongings I procured the phone number of the English proprietor who owned the apartment where my girlfriend was waiting for me. I felt a surge of Einstein in me. Within a few minutes, this fellow tracked down my bed for the night.

Moral of the story?  If someone’s waiting for you, always know where you’re going; if someone’s not waiting for you, always know where you’re going; don’t ever take a case of rice milk to Europe; and don’t watch too many Roman Polanski movies.


©Rick Robiar


(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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