A Thanks and Testament to Our Community in France
My cousin who lives half the year in Perugia, Italy, was so looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with me in Nice, as was I to have her. She arrived on Wednesday evening having flown from Rome where she had driven and parked her car at the airport in the long-term lot. Her first night in Nice we had a delicious meal at Peixes in Old Town, one of my favorite restaurants. The next morning we had breakfast at Café Le Liber’Tea on Place Magenta knowing Thanksgiving Dinner wouldn’t be until 3 p.m. That left time for a bit of shopping.
I am telling you all this because it was all so innocent enough, but, when we stepped into Bemon on avenue Jean Medecin to look at luggage, Leslie’s toe caught a little rise at the entry and she went flying. Her landing seemed “soft” to me, but nonetheless, she was down on the ground and the pain in her leg was so excruciating that she was seeing stars. She couldn’t move for several minutes.
In usual French fashion, a dozen or so people came to the rescue. This is something that always amazes me, I’ve seen it time and time again. The shop personnel came out, but so did people on the sidewalk, all willing to help.
The Pompiers were called (France’s firefighters and emergency rescue teams) and within minutes, she was lifted on a gurney and loaded into the back of an emergency vehicle. We were whisked away to the Hôpital Pasteur in the northern area of Nice. I’d never been there before, but it’s at the end of Tramway Line 1 and very easy to get to.
The emergency room was wide open and calm. She speaks no French, but some Italian and English, of course. Between us all, we managed to communicate. The staff attended to her immediately and asked only for her ID. No one asked for insurance or financial information…not then and not one time since. Again, this can be shocking for an American because without proof of payment, you wouldn’t get treated in the U.S.
There was nothing I could effectively do while they took care of her, so I headed back home to prepare for the Thanksgiving Day event we sponsoring. We had almost 60 people coming for Thanksgiving Dinner as part of our Après-Midi bi-monthly coffee gathering that we hold regularly in Nice.
The upstairs at Restaurant Oscar was perfect in every way. Fifty-six people were able to dine comfortably and have views of everyone else. Patty Sadauskas sat at a table at the top of the stairs and checked everyone in. She gave them name tags…which seemed a bit formal in the beginning, but was a great ice-breaker. People could easily meet, talk and make friends. As people came up the stairs and checked in, it gave me a chance to say hello, many of whom I’d met on Zoom, but not in person until that moment. It felt like one big happy family. I couldn’t help but be very proud of the community we have created and brought together for this special occasion.
Once everyone came in and got settled, I clinked a wine glass to get their attention and was able to give a short welcoming speech, that Patty recorded, before the plates of turkey, potatoes and green beans were served. Meanwhile, my phone was buzzing with text messages from Leslie who was giving me a blow-by-blow description of what was going on at the emergency room of the hospital.
As the plates were set before us, the turkey didn’t look like turkey, smell like turkey or taste like turkey! It looked like beef! (I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo!) We were all surprised! That sent me down to the kitchen with the question, “What happened to our turkey?!”
“Madame, this is turkey. Have a look for yourself!,” the chef said.
He then showed off a log of turkey rolled around stuffing that he had roasted and then dowsed with a red-wine gravy! The taste ended up good, even though nothing about it resembled turkey. As far as I know, no one complained…but it certainly wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving plate. Dessert was Tarte aux Pommes, not pumpkin pie, but no one seemed to care. The point was that we were all together and it was really fun! Lots of friendships were made. We even had several pups including Ella and Simone, our company mascot, both dressed stylishly in pink!
Before saying so-long and “Happy Thanksgiving,” I clinked the wine glass again to get everyone’s attention and told the story of Leslie’s mishap. That’s when the community popped into action. Ella Dyer immediately offered her wheelchair accessible apartment for Leslie to stay in while she was in the U.S. as she was flying there the next morning. Another couple said that they “were in for an adventure” and would happily fly to Rome to pick up Leslie’s car and drive it to Perugia for her as long as they could stay in her apartment there! Others offered all sorts of solutions to the problem…but at this stage, we had no information, just a lot of willing helpers. What a testament to our community!
(Click here to see the report, see all the photos and watch the video! Special note: the wide-angled lens made it possible to include everyone, but might not be so flattering as those on the outside look particularly wide! Ha!)
After dinner I gathered up Leslie’s belongings from my apartment and headed to the hospital. X-rays and scans definitely found a break in her tibia and they had put a toe-to-thigh cast on her in preparation for surgery in the sometime near future, as she’d need a pin installed to attach it back to the kneecap.
They had not yet installed her in a room when I arrived so I waited for a while until I could meet her there. The hospital is a world unto itself and navigating it is no easy task. The elevators to Zone A only go to the second floor, not to the fifth floor where her room was located…in Zone A. After wandering around, up and down, through the halls, all the time dragging the suitcase, and asking several people, I was able to access Zone A by taking the elevator in Zone B. Don’t ask. There is a disconnect, but who was I to argue at that moment?
I found Leslie in good spirits, but with a roommate who was not. She wasn’t happy about anything and she had the TV blasting really loud. We tried our best to make friends with her, which wasn’t working well, but as of the next day, she and Leslie were bosom buddies. She left on Friday, leaving Leslie all to herself.
The surgery took place on Friday and was very successful, as far as we knew. The good news was that she will be in a soft bandage, on crutches and able to get around, but not put weight on her leg for several weeks. The staff—nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist, etc., could not have been nicer or more helpful. I brought lunch to Leslie every day so she wouldn’t have to eat the hospital food, which didn’t look too appealing. Together we watched Netflix on my computer to pass the time and have some time together, even if it was in a hospital room in the northern part of Nice.
At one point she realized that it might not have been so amazingly easy and perfect in Italy—that if you were going to have this kind of accident, it might as well be in France. Not only did she have excellent healthcare, but she had all of us to guide her through it.
She is being released this morning and will be installed at Ella’s. Mid week she will board a plane headed for Rome accompanied by two of our Thanksgiving Day guests who volunteered to do this and drive her in her car to Perugia where they will stay for a couple of nights. It was an adventure for them that they offered up when I announced Leslie’s dilemma to the group. This is yet another example of Community coming to the rescue.
This was certainly not the Thanksgiving either of us was expecting, but all-in-all it has been as positive an experience a serious mishap like this could have been…all thanks to our community.
And one thing for sure, we can be thankful for France and thankful to our community. If you move to Paris, Nice, or anywhere in France, I suspect you’ll discover this, too.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian speaking at Thanksgiving Dinner in Nice
P.S. Special note: Our Office Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. France Time, Closed: All France holidays and December 24th through January 1st annually. This means we ask you to remember that we don’t work nights and weekends, holidays and the week between Christmas and New Years. If you were planning on using these holiday times to visit properties, think again! Happy Holidays to all!