Floor 22

I hate winter! Can I just get that out of the way? Anyone who knows me, knows that the beach is my happy place. Cold, winter months have me craving Florida sunshine. Knowing this, Mom would often do a winter rental somewhere in the sunshine state. This particular year it was in Miami so that we could be close to my brother and his family.

Mom got a cute little condo facing the ocean. The kids and I flew down excited to be spending a week in South Beach. When we got to the hotel, it was sprawling! A circular drive led to a forty story building with multiple pools and a private beach. The valet took our luggage and we headed up to our suite.

Noah was about 6 years old and had a propensity to wander away. With Mom, Renee, Zoe, Marley, Malia and I all taking Noah shifts, we were confident that someone would always have an eye on him.

Going up in the elevator I took the opportunity to review Noah’s numbers. We talked about how we were on floor 22, and how it was a repeating number. The elevator was pretty full, but I’m so oblivious to spectators observing our unconventional life. I asked Noah to recite our floor and to show me the number. We counted the floors as we went higher and higher.

A week of elevators was Noah’s dream, not to mention our view was of a drawbridge on the Intercoastal Waterway. The sights and sounds were a six year old’s dream!

His favorite thing about the hotel was the garbage chute. His chore each day was to walk the trash to the foyer of the floor, open the hatch and drop the bag down the conveyor.

Since there were seven of us in our condo, we were generating a lot of refuse. Noah was using the chute multiple times a day! An escort would make sure he was not attempting to slide down it himself.

One morning, Noah told me the trash needed to go out, I was the only one up. He and I walked down the corridor, I stopped at the corner, he continued a couple more yards to where he was to drop the days waste and come back.

I waited a second, nothing. I looked around the corner and Noah was gone! That quick! I ran down the hall, no sign of him. Every parents worst nightmare was flashing before my eyes.

I ran back to our suite, and screamed at everyone to wake up! Noah was lost. We all spread out, some checking our floor, others walking down the emergency staircase.

Each minute felt like days. I was having a panic attack while I was running around our hotel in my nightgown, barefoot. I asked all the service personnel if they had seen a little blond boy anywhere. Most spoke Spanish, so no one understood my question.

I ran to the front lobby which lets out on a very busy street. Could he have left the building? Do I run through the streets?

I needed to call the police, then call Joe. Shakily I got on the elevator to make two calls I dreaded. Time was of the essence.

I got off on our floor and there was a handsome gentleman holding Noah’s hand waiting in the foyer of our floor!

I rushed to Noah crying, sweeping him in my arms. The man told me the day we arrived he was in the elevator with us. As I was going over Noah’s numbers, I kept repeating that we were staying on floor 22, double digits.

He found Noah wandering the downstairs lobby. Apparently he dropped the trash in the chute, got on the elevator and escaped to the front desk, all in nanoseconds.

The kind stranger said he recognized Noah’s tow head, and almond eyes immediately and knew to bring him back to floor 22. Slowly, one by one, the rescue party came back to our suite overjoyed to find Noah was safe.

From that day forward, all the service people, front desk workers and hotel guests would call out and greet Noah by name wherever we went. Mr. Mayor took his notoriety in stride and greeted everyone with high fives and fist bumps.

Crisis 10,001 averted. Mom and I caught our breath, thanked the Lord and headed to the beach. You would think the day had enough excitement, but there was much more in store for us that day!

To be continued….

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