Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pride comes before a fall. Or sometimes just a stumble

It had been a great day. 

The presentation had gone without a hitch, the team’s performance had been exemplary, we’d achieved all our aims. And it didn’t make it any less satisfying that the working day was ending early. I might even be home by 4:00.

I left the hotel which had been the scene of our triumph with perhaps not quite a spring in my step – the intensity of the occasion had left me far too tired for that – but certainly with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. My mood was helped by the clear blue sky and the wintry sun, a pretty afternoon which, though cold, was a welcome change from the grey and fogbound monotony of the morning.

So even crossing the car park was a pleasure.

I opened the car boot, threw my heavy rucksack into the back and slammed the lid. It did make a lightly odd noise, I noted, but at first I thought nothing of it. But then, ‘damn,’ I thought, ‘I need my wallet and it’s in the bag.’ I went to pop open the boot, but it was locked.

I tried one of the passenger doors. Locked too.

‘How on earth can that have happened?’ I wondered as I checked my pockets for my keys. Pocket after pocket. Coat, jacket, trousers. Each as keyless as the one before.

Slowly the terrible truth dawned on me. The exquisite delight of this day was about to be broken. Somehow I’d managed to lock the car, with the keys inside it.

I tried the breakdown service. It was going to take hours and cost a fortune. I tried my few remaining colleagues. No one was going my way. Finally, I tried my wife.

‘Give me a minute,’ she told me.

When she rang back, it was to announce my forthcoming rescue.

‘One of the nurses has lent me her car.’ Danielle works in a hospital. ‘I’m on my way home to pick up the spare key and I’ll be with you in a bit over an hour.’

We’ve made friends with a group of nurses from the hospital. They
’re a joy to know. Traditionally, we call nurses angels, but these are far better: wonderful human beings, much harder to be than an angel, and a lot more real. No one needs to tell us they work for a caring profession: they embody caring. 

We often think of the one who lent us the car as ‘Frankie’, because she reminds us of the eponymous main character of the TV series Frankie, about a district nurse whose patients matter to her much more than her personal life.

Eve Myles as District Nurse Frankie
Our own is just as caring and has the advantage of being real
When we eventually got the car back to our ‘Frankie’, she told us, ‘well, that’s what we’re for, isn’t it? To help each other out.’

Well, it’s a lovely idea and I wish that kind thinking was more common in our daily lives. Still, it’s good news that it continues to flourish in some places at least. That nursing should be one of them seems particularly appropriate.

At any rate, thanks to Frankie I only lost a three hours of my day, hardly an unbearable misfortune. As I sat in the hotel’s lounge, slumped on a sofa and drifting in and out of sleep, I really couldn’t get myself worked up over that minor inconvenience. It may merely have been proof that pleasures don’t come unalloyed; it may even have been the punishment of destiny, nemesis for my earlier hubristic self-satisfaction; either way, it was pretty mild.

The kind of karma which leaves you calmer, I felt.

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