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Whoa! Yikes! Gadzooks! 1

Dear Bradshaw,

As you know, many of my private students are professionals (doctors, politicians, business executives). Their time is precious and, of course, I work hard to respect that. For this reason, I’m often forced to chase after buses and trams and to sprint for the metro.

Yesterday I had a cancellation and therefore a break after my 1:30 lesson, so I rode the metro back to my apartment and had just enough time to eat lunch and take a nap. 45 minutes later, refreshed and with time to spare, I left my apartment, and strolled down the street heading for bus 492. I was relaxed for a change, and ready for the rest of the day. Pleased to find the 492 waiting at the station, I sat down, opened my book, and started reading. My phone rang immediately after the bus had departed.

“Scott, it’s Alfonso. Where are you?”

“What do you mean? Our lesson is at four.”

“Exactly. It’s five minutes after four.”

I was silent and my heart sank. He was right, of course, and I couldn’t figure out what was what.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“I’m on the bus… in Prati.”

“Oh, you’re far. Can you make it to Trastevere by four thirty?”

“Yeah. No problem. I’ll be there.”

I hung up knowing I’d never make it but determined to try as the bus groaned down Via Candia and then chugged along Leone IV. Turning onto Via Crescenzio, I could see a line of traffic. This would add ten minutes to the twenty-minute trip. While stopped at a red light at Via Virgilio, I saw three taxis drive in the opposite direction, heading toward Trastevere. It was 4:16.

When the door opened at the next stop I leaped off the bus and raced down the street. I started jogging backward, hoping to flag down a taxi but none passed. Then I saw bus 280, which runs along the river straight toward my destination. But the next stop was a hundred yards ahead so I had to run like a maniac to beat the bus there. I arrived with seconds to spare and jumped on board.

The next two traffic lights were green but while waiting at the third I noticed more traffic ahead. I checked the time. 4:22. So I hopped out at the next stop and then raced down Via della Lungara, thinking, Here I go again. This is exactly what I’m sick of. I like my job but this running and sweating and worrying part is a pain.

I rushed down Via della Scala, through Piazza St. Egidio and then, turning left onto Via della Paglia, I called Alfonso.

“I’m here,” I said, though I had another fifty yards to go.

“Where?” he asked. “I don’t see you.”

“Ten seconds!” I said, and then hung up and picked up the pace. There were a ton of tourists and the avenue was narrow. I dodged left, right, slowed down and sped up while weaving between people. Finally, approaching the last corner, I maneuvered for the turn, lost my footing, and went down hard, rolling several times while launching my phone and jamming my finger.

I heard, “Whoa!” “Yikes!” “Gadzooks!” and then people surrounded me, offering hands and asking, “Are you okay?” “Did you hurt yourself?”

I stood up, took a bow, and said, “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! My next performance will be in an hour. Don’t miss it.”

I wiped off my pants, my shirt, and then ran over, grabbed my phone, and was off again. I arrived huffing and puffing. Alfonso was waiting by the door. When he saw me, he said, “You made it! Four thirty on the dot.”

“No problem,” I said, grabbing a tissue from my pocket and then wiping my sweaty forehead and the back of my neck. Meanwhile, my finger was aching and my legs were sore.

“I can’t believe you got here so quickly,” he said. “How’d you manage it?”

A Japanese proverb came to mind and I answered, “Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.”

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  1. Lyrin says:

    This blog post gets a 2 thumbs up from me.

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