Friday, April 22, 2011

Travel Tales (#3)

An item in our Daily Fishwrap reports on a British lady, 73-years-old, who took sick while on a cruise ship plowing the Norwegian Sea.

So dire was the woman’s deathly condition that it was deemed necessary to transfer her to another craft before rushing her to a hospital. As the stretcher bearers were easing the lady off the ship, someone lost their grip and splash, the old gal was dumped straight into the frigid ocean.

Hmmmmm. “Seriously ill” as this woman was judged to be, it would seem rumors of her impending demise were greatly exaggerated. No sooner had she hit the freezing water than grandma gained a new lease on life and around and around she swam, treading water for one . . two . . . three . . . four minutes or more before she was finally plucked from the icy sea.

The above reminds me of a similar incident. While living in southern Greece, I once hitched a ride with a friend to Athens. Big mistake. This guy was normally a very calm, quiet, soft-spoken, and reserved man. Behind the wheel, however, he was an absolute maniac. Radio blasting; TV set too; talking and laughing non-stop to me; fidgeting with this or that; constantly honking the horn for cars to go faster or get the hell out of the way; and all the while rocketing through time and space as if there was no tomorrow. Blazing up narrow mountain roads, blazing down narrow mountain roads, passing cars, trucks and buses on sharp, hairpin curves, tailgating anyone who was not flashing along as fast as he, and ever the eternal horn blaring and his foot smashing the pedal to the metal.

Long story short: We did succeed in reaching Athens without any mishaps, though I KNOW I aged five years in that hairy five-hour trip. But anyway, I recall a funny incident as we blew through one small mountain village. Things are quiet and slow up in the mountains and life is just simpler there. As we blew into the village in question I saw an old man with a cane up ahead ambling leisurely across the road. My thought was OMG! The old fellow sighted us at about the same time we sighted him. When he realized we were bearing down with no sign of slowing, the old man found out very quickly that when it came to running he didn’t need his cane much after all. Quick as a blink, the old fellow raced across the road to the safety of the sidewalk. Although it wasn’t funny at the time, when I think back, it was hilarious how quickly that bent old back straightened out and how much spring was still left in those legs when the old fellow’s life was suddenly on the line. My friend acted as if nothing unusual had happened and the encounter was only the fifth or sixth person he’d nearly run over that day.

On the same line of thought, I’ve noticed that children cry hardest after a fall when a mother soothes and comforts the most. Indeed, it would seem that the mother’s hugs and kisses only encourage more screaming from the kid. Children who suffer the same fall shed far fewer tears and recover much quicker when no mom is around.

Moral: Everyone loves pity

Under the Microscope