In the middle of the airport I attempt to manoeuvre my black- wheeled duffle bag to the lift – well, in the direction of the Qantas assistant’s pointed finger. As my flight is delayed by two hours, I ask her where the nearest café is and as it is now closed, I have to go downstairs to Gloria Jeans.
“Can I store this bag downstairs?” I ask, lifting my chin as if pointing to my case – my hands both glued to my walking frame.
“Sorry Mam, you have to stand with your luggage,” she says.
“So, if I need to go to the bathroom, I have to take this case with me?” I add, hoping she’ll see that wheeling this around on my walking frame is hardly easy.
“Yes” she says, emotionless, “just take it with you!”
So I do. I hook the black handle over my frame’s left handle and drape my blue-grey coat over that, cape-like. I yank it along sideways, it refusing to co-operate like a disobedient dog on a lead. I have two hours to get to Gate 6 – plenty of time to waddle to the café downstairs.
After downing my three day-old banana bread and coffee I decide to make my way to the check-in. However, on
manouevring my frame and luggage, my case suddenly flips backwards and (as it was connected to my frame) I go backwards with it. I land splat on top of my case, sandwiched between my coat and my frame.
I lie there for what feel like minutes, tangled up in embarrassment. I open my eyes, to orient myself – I am on my back, the beaming down lights, (which had spotlighted my unco’ move,) blind me momentarily. Have I broken anything? I scan my body for abnormal pain. I have landed on my luggage; I can feel the soft padding on the pillow I’ve packed at the top. Turtle-like, on my back, torso fixed on my case but my legs are kicking and arms dangling in midair. I lie there waiting for someone to help me, but no footsteps or concerned onlookers’ voices can be heard.
‘Typical!’ I think to myself.
‘Seriously, someone help me!’
As usual, I will have to try and get up alone.
I spring my torso upright so I am straddling my case and my feet are secured flat on the ground. I look around, my eyes searching for some fellow passenger to help me. However, no one seems to have noticed my fall. Two guys walk casually by, towards the adjacent baggage carousel, their hands free. Another family walks on by, the curly headed boy’s eyes super- glued to me as they pass, his head rotated back towards me until he begins walking backwards.
His mum tugs him and instructs him, “Don’t stare sweetheart!”
SHE doesn’t look! SHE doesn’t stare! She doesn’t even turn her head!
Despite my silent plea for assistance, I realize people are oblivious to my plight. I need to get up. After taking a deep and shaky sigh of acceptance, I tilt my torso backwards and throw my body towards my frame, squeezing the brakes tightly with both hands and heaving my body upright .
I shuffle towards the lift, my shoulders slumped forward and eyes fixed downwards on the wheels of my case. I feel alone, tired- and am beginning to notice the aches in my left hip from my fall. However, I keep moving – at snail’s pace.
In the corner of my eye I notice a man’s black patent shoes walking in a dead straight line near me. They swivel, change direction, then stop pointed towards me. I look up.
“Can I help you?” he asks.
My eyes full of tears, I look at my case and just nod.
“Thank you so much,” I smile as he lifts my check-in luggage onto the licorice-like conveyor belt.
“You’re very welcome,” he answers.
Often we rely on others around us to pick us up and on many occasions having that expectation myself has slowed my progress. However, even if in a physical dilemma we can reverse how we emotionally deal with a situation.
“Failure” is not about getting knocked down! It’s about not choosing to get up!