There was a very good reason that I physically restrained my wife from throwing a coin into the Trevi fountain. Even though every euro was precious to us personally, it had nothing to do with the recession back in Ireland. But the police, or polizia to be exact, were having a hard time understanding.
It was my wife’s first ever time on an airplane. It was my second. I was the expert! Even though I was too young to remember my first time, I was such a know-it-all.
“Don’t worry. Sit back and relax. You won’t even know you’re in the air.” I reassured her.
My wife was making her peace with God, just in case. She was feeding the rosary beads through her fingers at a rate that would have made Mother Teresa green with envy. The plane taxied down the runway. I was all business. Until it hit full throttle.
I don’t know what came over me but, when the pilot gave her the welly, I cracked. I snapped the beads from my wife’s hands and prayed like this was the cresendo of my life on earth.
I had spent more than fifteen years of my life as a motor mechanic (before this trucking lark) and the laws of physics had led me to believe that there wasn’t a rivet on the earth which could stand the sheer acceleration dished out by these jet engines.
We must have been in the air about thirty minutes when my wife, who had just discovered her life’s purpose (flying) was asking me to look out the window at all the little tiny houses down below. I couldn’t look. My fear of heights had been heightened by the shaky rivets and the volcano ash cloud which had blown all the way from Iceland to northern Europe.
Bing bong! The captain informed us that we would be taking the scenic route (long route) to Rome. Lovely! Just flipping lovely!
Bing bong! “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now over the Alps. Enjoy the view. Oh and by the way, I will take this opportunity to introduce a new pilot. This is his first time in charge and I am sure you all agree he is doing a fine job…”
That’s was it. Our fate was sealed. I know it is a cliché but I whispered to myself “We’re all going to die.”
I could picture this little apprentice, barely through puberty, grinning from ear to ear on his spotty wee face. Saying to himself, ‘Let’s see what this baby can do’, as he gazed around the dashboard like a kid in a candy store.
Have you ever spent four hours putting on and taking off your seatbelt? No? Well I have. There was a red light up near the front which was going from red to green then red again, at roughly ten minute intervals. What I thought was the ‘Seatbelts on‘ light turned out to be the ‘somebody’s in the toilet‘ light.
Of course nobody corrected me. Why would they? A full grown man hammering out Hail Marys to beat the band had enough on his plate.
We made it to Rome. When I stood up my wife commented that my shirt was stuck to my back with sweat and my face “looked a bit grey.” I didn’t care how it looked. All I could do was smile. I would have kissed the ground but we had to walk through a tunnel straight into the airport buliding.
We were in town for my older brother’s wedding. He was always the awkward one. He couldn’t just get married in Ireland like the rest of us. Oh no, that would make too much sense.
Anyway, he got married. It was a lovely wedding, I’ll admit. And the weather!! I always thought weather like that only happened in the movies.
The following day my wife and myself, wandering around, found ourselves looking at the famous Trevi fountain. When I say looking I mean standing on our tip toes trying to catch a glimpse of the thing over the shoulders of every other person on the planet who all had the same idea, on the same day. Damned Tourists! With their cameras that appear large enough to snap somebody pretending to place a flag on the moon.
We wiggled our way through the crowd until we reached it.
“Give me a euro,” my wife said, in a panic.
When I asked why, she informed me that if a person throws a coin into the Trevi fountain fate will ensure that person will return to Rome again sometime in the future.
Upon hearing this I quickly removed my empty hand from my pocket. I lied that I didn’t have any change. As beautiful as Rome is, I wasn’t prepared to put myself through the hell, better known as flying, it took to get there. I have been on mainland Europe a few times but my choice of transport is always the car ferry. Probably because I can swim. I haven’t quite been able to master flying yet. Perhaps it’s the lack of feathers.
Of course as fate would have it, she had found a coin in her own pocket. I grabbed her wrist just as she was about to throw it. A struggle ensued. I could hear bystanders discussing if they should interfere or not. Just then a little street urchin made a grab for my wife’s camera (a lego camera by today’s standards). So I grabbed him with my free hand. This was turning into the ridiculous.
Within seconds three big straight faced Polizia-men arrived. One of them took the boy away by the scruff of the neck, whilst the other two handled our little “domestic”.
That is as much as you’re getting. Did she or didn’t she? That is the question.
There is a famous saying; When in Rome.
There is another famous saying; Not on my shift.
There is also a third; She wears the trousers!
Thank you for flying