We are parked by the north tower of the hotel, Joe is dropping off the luggage and the great apartment hunt is about to begin. I wait in cars more often now and Joe has taken to ensuring that I'm always parked with a view so I can watch the world's comings and goings. I appreciate the thoughtfullness. A car pulls into the driveway and pulls right up beside me. A man gets out of the car and walks with an odd gait into the hotel. I look at him with diagnostic eyes and figure that his walk was created by spina bifida. That's my best guess anyways.
He comes out of the hotel with a very tall man, a hotel manager of some sort, wearing a hotel manager kind of suit with a little brass name tag over where his right nipple would be. The manager has brought with him a cart from the kitchen and I hear the driver speak asking if he'd parked his car in an appropriate place. The manager's face registered some kind of shock both at the fact that this guy had a car and that he'd parked it. With a bit of malice, I thought, he told the fellow to move the car closer to the curb. This means that he's got to pull the car back and then up so that our cars sit nose to nose. He does, expertly.
Then he gets out of the car and opens the trunk of the car. He disappears from my view as he reaches into the car and then steps back into view carrying an elaborately decorated wedding cake. It wasn't the kind of cake that had layers standing on columns, it was a huge three layer cake were each successive layer was smaller than the layer previous. It was completely white but had elaborate icing scallops along the edges and big icing roses where layer met layer. A pretty cake, a solid cake, a heavy cake, and he's got to carry it at least ten feet while walking on two feet that don't work in the typical fashion.
Even I gasped.
He didn't even look concerned. Like he'd delivered a hundred such cakes in his life and this one was just one more. The manager's eyes were glazed over, like he was viewing every kind of possible disaster instead of the calm yet ricketty walk of this guy with the cake. The cake makes it with no difficulty to the cart. The driver then takes hold of the cart and indicates for the manager to open the door. Our man in a suit then opens the door and for some reason grabs the front of the cart and yanks it towards the opening. This throws the driver off balance and he lets go to stop from falling and the cart careens dangerously and and such an angle the the cake slides over to the edge. God's finger reaches down and stops the cake from crashing to the ground.
The driver, in a calm but firm voice, tells the manager to just hold the door. The manager, now sweating, stands rigid with the door open while the driver moves the cake into the building. A few minutes later the driver comes out, gets in the car and drives off. Seconds after that the manager is out, sits on the bench and lights up a smoke. I notice he's trembling.
What a story he's got to tell when he gets home from work. A story where a guy with spina bifida places a wedding cake onto a tray and a non-disabled guy nearly knocks it over. I watched him as the experience began to rearrange prejudices and preconceptions in his head. That's heavy furnature and I see the work it takes reflected on his face. Then he sees me in the car.
"You saw that?"
"Un-frigging-believable," he said. Then he noticed the wheelchair in the seat behind me and added, "I'm surrounded."
Then, he laughed.