Vulnerable Positions

  
In a strange city and state, I had to get across town to my hotel. Instead of hoofing it to the metro or hailing a cab, I called for an Uber. There is comfort and perhaps an undeserving sense of trust placed in that which is familiar. Uber worked flawlessly at home, and it would work here in this foreign land of six lane roads and sidewalks full of well dressed professionals.

My countrified sensibilities remained in a state of awe as I waited for my ride. Even the people of the streets, pushing a shopping cart of bags or shaking a cup of change at tourists, looked like dressed down professionals in hand-me-down designer jeans and scuffed brand name tennis shoes. They eyed me suspiciously, recognizing an imposter in their city.

When a car with a U in the back window pulled up, I jumped in without hesitation. A sharp smell of body odor mingled with Mexican food. It shocked my senses but I was so relieved to be rescued from the street, it didn’t matter.

Bad smells can be a warning of trouble to come. Like smoke before a fire, an odor that offends or repels can be a wordless message of danger, especially if accompanied with an uneasy gut feeling. However, as a person conditioned not to be rude or inconvenience others, I closed the door behind me and it locked with a click.

I was alone, locked into the backseat of a stranger’s car with a dying cell phone. The man drove silently into traffic and I considered my options. He was either going to take me back to my hotel and drop me off, as requested, or off to a secluded location to kill me. Those were the only possible two scenarios: death or delivery.

A few miles miles later, the man drove past my hotel, and I grew hysterical.

“Let me out!” I demanded.

I took off my seatbelt and prepared to jump and roll at the next stop light. We were on a busy road, but I didn’t care. I desperately regretted my lack of discretion as it led to my current state of kidnap/abduction. My worst fears were in the process of happening.

The man fumbled with the gps on his phone and blanked out the screen. Now, no one knew where we were and my phone was seconds from dying. I hoped it would send out a final signal with our coordinates that the FBI could recover when retracing my steps.

Then the man pulled a u-turn, speaking for the first time to apologize, and dropped me off right in front of the hotel. And that was it, the end of what I thought was to be my last ride. It ended as quickly and unceremoniously as it began.

Could the little voice in my head have been wrong?

I have since returned to the Midwest and had time to reflect. My intuition was not wrong, it warned me that something was wrong. It helped to raise my adrenaline and put me on high alert. Perhaps, the outcome would have been different if I didn’t notice our missed turn or been ready to duck and roll. Road rash was to be a minor sacrifice for the continuation of my life.

The time to be assertive and brave is when that voice speaks. Put trust in that little voice, trust the feeling in your gut, most of all, trust yourself.

Fire doesn’t always have to follow smoke.

Souvineer Shopping

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FYI: Sweet, delicious and delicate cookies, called macaroons, do not travel in a suitcase on an airplane very well.

I suspected that one or two might be cracked or bruised from their hour and forty minute flight, but felt hopeful that a few would come through unscathed. I am working on maintaining a glass is half-full mindset.

However, as I watched the neon-yellow vested workers move the bags and suitcases from the luggage cart, I knew with absolute certainty the cookies would be more than merely bruised.

The madmen threw the baggage with all of their might onto the conveyor belt. I saw them heave each piece into the air and cringed at the thud of the forceful impact as the bags hit. Bottles of lotion exploded and hair spray detonated, and toothpaste oozed out, punctured by an errant nail file; I imagined the chaos with my X-ray vision. Woe to the fool who packed a precious framed photo wrapped in a sweater or brought along a favorite cologne, the glass would surely shatter into a million pieces and a wonderful fragrance would seep from an otherwise odorless bag.

My husband sat next to me in disbelief at the abuse of the luggage. Bag after bag endured the same treatment. We watched wordlessly until a green bag, similar to my own, passed through the hands of the men.

“Bye-bye macaroons,” my stoic partner commented sadly.

Unpacking later that day held no surprises, the contents of our suitcases were both well shaken and stirred. I rummaged through the clothes and pushed a pair of shoes to the side to extract a crumpled bag. Inside of the bag were two crushed, plastic boxes holding the hopelessly crumbled and unrecognizable remains of the macaroons.

Macaroons seemed like the most obvious souvenirs to bring back from our nation’s capital, at the time.

Now, I’m wondering, with only crumbs to show for our travels, if we should have gone with the matching t-shirts of the upcoming Papal visit?  Once again, hindsight is 20/20.