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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Woman Who Knows Where She is Going

By Jackie Harrison

Many years ago, I was asked to sing at the installation of the incoming president of the Southern Medical Association. The meeting was held in New Orleans.

Since all my expenses were paid, I was assigned a roommate, whom I had never met. When I arrived at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street and headed up to my room on the top floor, loud music streamed from my room. I thought, "What kind of roommate is this going to be?"

I opened the door expecting to see some type of rock and roll woman, but the room was empty. The music was coming through an open window facing Bourbon Street. There were cheers as a scantily dressed "woman" in a swing swung back and forth over the street.

The incoming president had selected the songs she wanted me to sing at her installation. As I sang, I noted tears in her eyes and in the eyes of several others. I had not anticipated this response. I thought, "It has to be the pathos in my voice or the words that struck a sentimental chord." Maybe it was both.

Following the successful installation service, I declared my mission accomplished. I said goodbye to my roommate, who turned out to be a nice and quiet lady. I packed my bags and ordered a limousine to pick me up. I waited and waited for it to arrive, checking my watch repeatedly. Finally it pulled up in front of the hotel. I took the only seat left, located in the back of the limousine.

I assumed we were headed for the airport since all the seats were taken and we were running behind schedule. But the driver stopped at the rear of a nearby hotel. He opened the door on my side and flipped down the jump seat directly in front of me. I was unaware of its existence.

Then he walked to the hotel where he took the bags of a somewhat wobbly young man. After placing the bags in the limousine, the driver directed the man to the backseat of the vehicle and pointed to the jump seat.

Making no attempt to sit down, the man stood there looking at me. Then his eyes moved from my face to my feet. He slowly scanned me from my feet upward to my head. When he finished the scan, a dragged out "hummmn" rang out for everyone to hear.

He sat about three feet away from me and began telling off-color jokes to everyone while his liquored breath blew directly into my face.

I looked at my watch, eager to get out of the limousine and away from this man. I also feared that we would be late for my flight. I said aloud, "I hope he hurries or I will miss my flight."

The man immediately asked, "Which flight is it?"

I said, "Eastern 441."

He slapped his leg and joyfully exclaimed, "That's my flight, too." He then proceeded to tell me that the plane stopped in Atlanta and I should get off with him and tell my husband I was delayed.

When we reached the airport, I was certain I could leave this man, in his drunken state, far behind by employing the semi-jogging walk I used on the beach back home. I had walked only a short distance when I heard loud breathing and panting behind me, then next to me.

I looked to my side. There he was! In a breathless but satisfied voice he said, "What I like is a woman who knows where she is going."

I managed to board the plane ahead of him. My seat was next to a young man who looked to be in his twenties. I mustered up enough courage to ask this stranger for a favor. I said to him, "If a man comes over here asking to exchange seats with you, please tell him no."

As soon as I had said this, up walked the man from my limousine. I held my breath as the stranger sitting next to me sternly told him no. I thanked him profusely.

During the flight, the man from my limousine repeatedly left his seat and came over to me, drink in hand, saying, "How about a little drinky?"

I guess he had too many "little drinkies" because I finally lost him.

I often thought his comment, "What I like is a woman who knows where she is going," would be a good title and theme for one of my speeches to women.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow! That drunken young man must have seen something in Jackie for him to have scanned her from head to toe. I don't blame him, having known Jackie as a raving Southern beauty who could knock you off your seats with her looks.

I have also listened to her sing on many occasions, mainly at medical meetings in Florida and occasionally at weddings, and it's no surprise she moved so many to tears with that angelic, mesmerizing voice.

Having known her personally and professionally for years since we were both in the health profession, I can indeed say, unequivocally, that she is one woman who knew where she was going. She was named Woman of the Year in our community, she headed the state medical auxiliary, and she became CEO of a mental health facility for years before she retired, just among her many achievements.

In retrospect, it's easy to blame that young man for having too many "drinkies." That is New Orleans, after all. But I admire him for his perspicacity in perfectly describing Jackie as a woman who knew where she was going.

As the French would say, TOUCHE!

That is quite a story. You have certainly lived a fascinating life, and done what many can only dream about.

Yes, you are a woman who knows where you are going, and I think the journey is the whole point in living. You make things happen, and do not just wait for life to be exciting!!

What will your next adventure be? Take me along. I cannot sing but I can take notes!!

Interesting story!!! -- I wonder if the young man ever got to where he was going????

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