I have had a lot of jobs in my life. One of my favorites was teaching prep classes to students getting ready to take the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. For several years in the spring and fall, I got to travel around the country on an expense account, teaching in the evenings and either sightseeing or hanging out in the hotel by day.
Once, the company sent me to Belcourt, North Dakota, on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa reservation nine miles from the Canadian border. To get there, you fly to Grand Forks and rent a car for a 2-1/2 hour drive through a whole lot of nowhere. The night before, I stayed at the only motel in town, which was called--I am not making this up--the Sleepy Tepee. The next morning, I got up and met the guidance counselor who was helping organize the class. So many kids had registered that they didn't have a room big enough at the school, so they rented a hall. Said hall was attached to the back of a convenience store. It's like you walked into the PDQ, took a left at the potato-chip aisle, and there you were in a ballroom.
So it's 7:30 in the morning and we are setting up those big, long cafeteria tables from stacks against the wall. And I manage to drop one squarely on the arch of my right foot. I am pretty sure that I have done something serious to it, but since I'm the only person in a 500-mile radius who can teach the class, I have to hobble on. By the afternoon part of the all-day session, my foot had gotten so painful I had to lead the class sitting down.
After the class was over, I could have gone to the hospital in Belcourt, but decided instead to drive back to Grand Forks, where I had a hotel reservation and would be flying out in the morning. That was a mistake, because the injured foot was also my accelerator and brake foot. But I made it, and I decided to go to the hotel first, where the clerk greeted me not with "good evening sir" but "what in the world happened to you?" as I limped into the lobby. She told me where the hospital was, and so I drove over. Did I have to park in the very back of the parking lot and walk to the ER? Yes I did. The X-ray technician asked me if I'd injured the foot that evening. "Nope, 7:30 this morning," I said. "What did you do all day?" he asked. "Stood on it," said I.
They determined that I had a non-displaced fracture of my big toe, and they gave me some pain pills, which caused my head to lose radio contact with the rest of my body. I also got a pair of crutches. Although I didn't really need them, they were very useful at the airport the next day. If you have crutches, you get to ride from gate to gate in a cart, and you board the airplane first. It was so great that after my foot healed, I considered keeping the crutches just to use whenever I had to fly.
That adventure in North Dakota is one of those things that, even while it's happening, makes you think that it will be a great story to tell someday. And it has been.