There was a sharp piece of exposed metal extending from the bed frame in my hotel room, an instrument by which one of my toenails was cruelly severed off. And this was one of the toes of my broken foot, the shy neighbor of the piggie which had been abruptly twisted and mangled six weeks ago. My sock was becoming a recovery ward for piggies.
This toenail business caused me a delay of perhaps a half hour in getting out to dinner, and I still had a stop to make along Michigan Avenue. I found that my pronounced limp (which in the past week had all but disappeared) had returned with a vengeance, primarily because the severed toenail, which I had carefully reattached using two Band-Aids, was shifting as I walked and scraping against the raw underside of my toenail.
(When I related the accident to my daughter over the phone, her first question was, "Behind the toenail, is it gooey?")
I phoned down to the front desk and asked for the name of the manager on duty, stating that there had been an accident in room 2103. I made an appointment and rode the elevator down to see him.
I was taken to the manager's office and was surprised to find there a young man extending his hand and saying, in a fake English accent,"What's all this then, laddie? Accident in the room, you said?"
I told him what happened.
"Not minding your piggies, eh? Terribly sorry, old sod. What can I do to make it better?" He pronounced it beh-tah. Fake.
"You could have someone remove the bloody towels from the floor," I said, hoping my statement might levy some kind of visible emotional impact, sympathy, or offers of cash and freebies.
It did not.
"Will bring round fresh towels right away. How about a wheel chair, what?"
"Right-o, then. Ring down if you need anything."
I hobbled up Michigan Avenue to a bookshop and bought a Richard Scarry book for my daughter. I joked to the young clerk that I was going to teach myself to read tonight, and she asked why I was limping."I severed off a toenail about forty-five minutes ago," I said, and she responded with a grimace. Our transaction continued, but the clerk had terminated our conversation. Which was fine. She had been speaking in a fake Long Island accent and I was annoyed with her anyway.