Yesterday was a weird day of twisted events and wrought emotions.
My morning started early in Madrid. My youngest son and I spent the night and were up early to make the Spanish Fencing Nationals. We arrived at the Polio Deportivo without incident where we met his Maestro and the other competitors from our Andalusian club.
By 9:30 the competition was underway and the angst began, My son (10) is the youngest in his current division and the 12-year olds were Amazonian size. My lil man is a fierce competitor but he happens to be a bit on the small side at this stage of the growing game. Some of these boys were taller than me and likely shaving.
My guy fought hard and pulled some good points and scraped a win. But I could see he was emotionally and mentally battered. I wanted to help him. But I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. It was his journey and I had to let him battle through the physical and mental shit storm that I was witnessing even if it killed me. He of course survived.
We then spent a chilled afternoon eating sushi while he licked his wounds at a rooftop lounge in the Centro of Madrid. Life was definitely not feeling quite so hard anymore.
It wasn’t until we were in the taxi heading to Atocha Station that shit got really interesting and not in a great way.
We turned off the Gran Via and onto the busy Calle de Alcalá and stopped at a crowded intersection. The light turned green. The cab rolled forward and then lurched to a grinding halt. An explosive noise filled the inside of the cab.
An out of control Beamer ran a red light and careened inches off the nose of our taxi before ploughing into a pole. The pole was a good option because at least 20 pedestrians had started across the intersection.
Our epic taxi driver didn’t stick around. After catching his breath he spewed off an unintelligible rant (I’m still not fluent in angry Spanish). From the back window, I caught a glimpse of the mangled car with the airbags deployed and a crowd of people too stunned to move.
Rattled but unscathed we made our train with loads of time to spare. When our platform was called we made our way to our car and found our seats.
As I was hoisting our bags onto the overhead. My son interrupted me by handing me a “book”. He said that he found it on my seat. It was a copy of the Koran. I scanned the car. We were the only ones there. I carried the bible out to the platform to see if anyone was rushing back for it. They weren’t. So, I got back on the train and placed it on the luggage cart adjacent to the door. That’s when I noticed a nondescript black suitcase. I scanned the train again. We were still the only ones onboard. My spider senses tingled as alarm bells rang in my brain.
Let me clarify something before I continue. I am not religious. So I wasn’t sensing a divine intervention. I was feeling creeped out. I am also not that asshole that persecutes people for their faith. However, finding any kind of bible in close proximity to an unaccompanied bag in a train station (public place) is a massive red flag.
I really wish that I didn’t feel this way. But I wish a lot of things. I wish kids weren’t gunned down in schools. I wish that concert and club goers weren’t targets of terrorists. I really wish that my kids didn’t have “lock down” drills at school. But these are the realities of our world and you can’t wish them away.
After stewing a few moments, I decided to see if maybe the neighbouring car was full. Maybe the “bag” was overflow luggage. But the car was not full nor was the luggage rack.
By now, I’m feeling fully uncomfortable, I catch a glimpse of a Renfe employee walking the platform. I stop him. Hand him the bible and ask him to find the owner of the bag before the train departs or to remove it from the train. He placates me by agreeing and taking the book.
Five minutes before the train is scheduled to leave, I flag him down again. He hasn’t located the owner of the bag. Annoyed, I ask for the bag to be removed. I mean c’mon in an airport an unaccompanied bag brings in the Calvary.
The conductor makes one last effort to locate the bag. A teenage boy (in another cabin) who had been lost in his headphones finally clues in and claims the bag.
I’m relieved and feeling a little silly as the AVE pulls out of Atocha. I spent the better part of the next two and a half hours analyzing my day. Did I jump to conclusions because of our frenzied morning and the close call in the taxi? No, I’m pretty sure that had little to do with it.
See here’s the thing. We live in a crazy world. I remember the Madrid train bombings in 2004 that killed nearly 200 people and injured somewhere around 2000. I was riveted to the television for all of 9/11. Those horrible events and so many others are deeply rooted in my memory. So although I wish it wasn’t the case… I’m cautious. I know that life is fragile and that every second is precious and that we can’t take anything for granted. But I also know that this world albeit crazy — is still mostly good.
I drove home from Malaga like a geriatric turtle. I guess not wanting to tempt fate. I was grateful to finally reach home and to spend the last bit of Father’s Day with the rest of my family. I called my Dad in Canada. I went to bed tired and content.
My last thoughts of the day focused on the driver of the car and hoping they made it out okay.
This morning, I couldn’t find any news on the accident. So I’m going to assume they did.
Thanks for reading.