I left the house on Monday with my rolling cart that I travel with each day packed to the brim with everything I need for my three personas. My 65 books for French class, my boxing gloves and clothes for Savate and my CDs and flyers for music. Just another rolling overachiever in Paris. As I left, I spied my camera on the table and thought "Oooohhh, I should take it."
"Nah, I'm just going to classes today, I'll never need it."
"Wait, just cause I thought that means I should actually take it but now I know I am not going to take it and I also know I will somehow regret it but here I am leaving anyway."
And out the door I rolled.
After an uneventful French class, I tried to roll my way onto the subway at St. Michel. I have never seen it so packed to the brim with people and after me and my cart got violently pushed off two trains, I decided to screw Savate class and go couch shopping instead. Little did I know what this twist of fate would bring.....
PLACE: CONFORAMA FURNITURE STORE, NEAR THE SEINE RIVER
I roll into the store and am browsing the couches that are next to the front door when two women enter the store, disheveled and distraught. They barrel up to the security guard. Enter....
NANCY (American, from Texas, 65 years old, bright pink shorts and matching top, heavily made up and a name tag that says SPIRIT TOURS: MY NAME IS NANCY!
SHIRLEY (American, 81 years old, from a Denver suburb, wearing a cream travel suit with matching visor, cane in one hand and large video camera circa 1990 swinging from the other)
NANCY: Sir, we need a phhoooown, OKAAAAY? We are lost, lost LOST and we need you to make a phown cawl for us, OKAAAY? Our tour bus left us high and dry at the Louvre, we have been walkin' for HOURS now, I crossed that rivah 'bout four times, I have NO idea where in God's name we are and we need some help....right now! I am just BESIDE myself!
My head wheels around as I am stunned into silence. The guard smiles, pulls out his cell phone and tells them of course he will make a phone call. I make myself conforama on one of the couches and listen to Nancy spill their story to the guard, as loud and dramatic as possible. Shirley stands vacantly smiling next to her seemingly enjoying herself. I wish I had some popcorn. So....Nancy and Shirley are on a Spirit Tour Catholic pilgrimage with 75 people following the Pope around Europe for three weeks. Nancy's friend Suzanne wasn't feeling too well at the Louvre so Shirley let her borrow her wheelchair for a while. While they were leaving the Louvre, Shirley was walking slow with her cane so Nancy stayed behind a little to help her. When they got outside, the two Spirit Tour buses were gone...they left them there with no money, no Spirit, no idea where they were and only the telephone number for the tour guide. They proceeded to wander around trying to find the buses and ended up getting completely lost.
NANCY: I am TELLIN' YOU, I am so mad I could just SPIT! I got left behind last night too and I had to pay 50 euro to take a cab back to the hotel. Sir, what is your name?
NANCY: Weeeell, Benoit, here is the card for Vincent our guide, ah suppose he won't pick up his phone now but I just don't know what else to DO! You'd THINK they would do a HEAD count!
SHIRLEY: No use crying over spilled milk. (camera swinging next to her)
NANCY: Shirley, I am TELLING you they should have done a HEADCOUNT! My LORD!
SHIRLEY: No use crying over spilled milk.
Benoit calls the tour guide but there is no answer.
NANCY: Ah HAVE to sit down a minute, my head is spinning! I am so MAD!
And with that, the two women plop themselves down on the couch directly across from me. Nancy announces, "We should say a St. Jude raght now, Shirley. Oh Lord, do we need one. A St. Jude would do us some good." As they start to pray, I cannot hold it in any longer.
ME: Are you two ladies lost?
NANCY: Whaaaaah YES we ARE. Are you Freeeeench?
ME: No, I'm from New York.
NANCY: You're from New York CITY?
SHIRLEY: I was there once in 1952.
NANCY: I am just BESIDE myself, they should have done HEAD COUNT!
ME: What's the name of your hotel?
SHIRLEY: There's an M and a Q in it!
NANCY: I don't really know and I left without any of the papers today. Maybe M-U-Q....no wait, M-U-N-Q...
SHIRLEY: There's a Q! A Q!
NANCY: ...M-Q...then something something...maybe an E in it
ME: Uhhh, ok. I could call my husband and ask him to google it. (I dial) Yeah, hi, it's me. Um, I need you to google MUNQ Paris Hotel ok?....Don't ask why, long story...Nancy, what part of town is it in?
NANCY: The NEW part.
ME: Uh, ok.....(into phone) um, does the NEW part of Paris mean anything to you? Yyyyyyeah, I know.
FB finds nothing, I tell him I'll explain later and hang up just as Benoit gets the tour guide on the phone. He gets the hotel address from him (Hotel Mercure near La Defense) before Nancy grabs the phone away to yell into it "VINCENT. I AM PISSSSED raght now. You left me AGAIN and I am NOT spending another DIME to take a taxi. I spent 50 euro last night and that's 75 dollars! You send someone right now to come get us!"
SHIRLEY: Let's walk there! I can walk!
NANCY: Vincent! I am serious! (listens) Well why not? OH! (she hangs up phone) He said no he couldn't and I am NOT taking another cab.
SHIRLEY: I can walk! Let's walk!
BENOIT: You could take ze metro.
NANCY: Can't the Police come and get us?
BENOIT: I don't zeenk zey will do zat.
SHIRLEY: Let's walk! I can walk!
ME: Shirley, I don't think you can walk to La Defense. That's like, REALLY far.
SHIRLEY: I can! Let's walk there!
NANCY: We are NOT walking there! Okaaaay, let's take the metro.
At this point, I realize there is no way I am letting these two ladies get on the metro alone with name tags and swinging video cameras to find their own way to the outskirts of Paris with no clue. I lie to them and tell them I am going the same way and will show them onto the metro. As we leave Nancy tries to slip Benoit a $20 bill.
NANCY: But you have been so NICE to us!
BENOIT: I weel not take your money!
NANCY: But why NOT? TAKE $20!
BENOIT: Beecause I would want a person to do ze same zing for me and I want to show you zat French people are, een fact, very nice people.
NANCY: Well aren't you just a DOLL? You should get together with Dana here, she's such a pretty girl, just look at her, she's...
ME: I'm MARRIED! I told you that!
NANCY: Well maybe she has a sister or something. You give me your address, Benoit. Such a nice boy.
Benoit laughs and writes his address down for her. I decide that it is now my personal responsibility to get these two ladies back to their hotel. If my Mom and Grandma were lost, I would hope someone would help them. Someone with more than just a vague idea of where La Defense is or where to catch the 1 train from where we are. But hey, I'm all they have at the moment.
"Ladies, on y va. We're off to La Defense."
And out the door we roll......