22 Apr 2014
Blind Bandit on the Run
My father doesn’t like to be late for any function, least of all, for an event to celebrate International Guide Dogs Day.
“One hour should give us plenty of time to find a car park.”
My elderly father chirps as we cruise the city streets of Melbourne.
“We’re way early.”
I smile, keeping vision-impaired eyes peeled to the grey city streets as they zoom by.
But after forty-five minutes, we can’t find one single space on the street. We drive round and round in the belly of two underground parking lots and then drive round in reverse order inhaling fumes of panic.
We escape a heated argument with the attendant at a boom gate and zip past which sets off a screaming alarm. High-tailing it down Collins Street, we do a u-turn, straight out of some movie car chase and speed off again.
With options diminishing by the second, my father prepares to sell his preserved grandmother in exchange for a park anywhere in this concrete jungle.
His foot hits the accelerator and then the brake pedal in syncopation with his heart beat.
Anyone seeking a terrifying ride should forgo the famous roller coaster at Luna Park and book a dare-devil parking adventure with my stressed-out father!
Minutes before the luncheon, he seizes a spot in another parking lot. How to get out of this underground maze poses a new set of blood pressure problems. We have five minutes to get to a building we have yet to locate.
Fleeing as fast as we can, like bandits on the run up the stair well of the fire escape, we spill out onto a Victorian laneway.
“This way... no, this way...” he calls, as I thrash my white cane to keep up, hoping I won’t collide with a brick wall or whack the shin of an unfortunate pedestrian. I feel like a human tsunami – chasing after my father’s coat tails billowing in the breeze as he whirls in front.
In the foyer of the South Tower, I finally latch onto his coat sleeve and skim along white floors polished to a mirror finish. I take a running leap, cane first into the lift just as the steel doors glide to a close.
Bing. Thirty-fifth floor, announcers the robot.
Guests and Guide Dog staff mingle admiring the view. The long white table is still being fussed over.
“Care for an orange juice, Sir?” asks a waiter.
“Why not,” says my father. “Got to live dangerously, hey?”
©Maribel Steel 2014