As usual, the trains run late in Italy, so we had about an hour and a half to wait in the railway station. My moment of peace came when my wife and eldest daughter brought me a doppio and went off in search of breakfast. The youngest fell asleep on the floor of the train station, and I sipped espresso knowing that I would never forget that moment of peace after the storm. When the train arrived, everyone was exhausted. We dragged our four massive suitcases onto platform and, finding no porters, we lifted them one-by-one onto the train. Soon after, I discovered that there was no place to store the bags except in the overhead space: the Italians had moved quickly to place their suitcases and duffle bags in the available space on the floor. They also chained them down so that no one would walk off with them. My wife and daughters had gone off the find their seats, leaving me alone with the bags, and the terrible task of lifting them up to the overhead shelf. Like an Olympic-power lifter, I squatted down for the clean and jerk. The crowd seated along both aisles watched with bated breath as I approached the first suitcase.

I crouched, from the standing position; I bent my knees, grasped the first duffle bag, and straightened my legs to propel the weight upwards. In successive movements, I shifted the suitcase around to position my arms underneath it, and pushed the weight up to the overhead compartment. The second and third bags went just about as well.  By this time, the Italians in the front row seats were ready to applaud: it was truly rare to have onboard entertainment. I was sweating profusely, and the train was beginning to move out of the station. I eyed the fourth suitcase carefully to ensure that the weight was distributed evenly. It was by far the heaviest of the four. I grasped the handles and in quick succession, using my hips, knees and feet, I lifted the bag up as high as possible, getting my arms under it by shrugging my upper back. I held the bag at mid level for an instant, not knowing if I was going to drop it or not, and then using my legs I propelled the bag above my head. No one cheered. I think they were secretly hoping I would drop it.

To be continued…

Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy:

About the Author

Jimmy Gabacho

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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