TALES From The Road: Falling star

Monthly Column for Monday Magazine, Victoria BC, Published Dec 30, 2013.

6365603-City_Center_Hotel-VictoriaHotel balcony lesson number one: when going out onto a hotel balcony, if you are closing the door behind you, make sure it doesn’t lock you out!

This happened to me a few years ago. I went out onto the balcony at my hotel after a gig and closed the sliding glass door and I heard a click. It was winter and after midnight. When I tried to open the door, I discovered to my horror that it had locked. So I quickly went for my phone and then realized it was sitting on the desk inside the room. I was on the second floor, what should I do?

I could see the light on in the next room and I leaned over the wall and shouted to the lady inside that I was stuck. She was alarmed and probably thought that I was some sort of drunk freak (really I wasn’t.) She yelled at me to go away. I yelled back asking her to call the front desk and she closed her curtains and turned out the light.

What was I going to do? It was freezing out, I couldn’t stay there all night. So I decided I would crawl over the balcony wall and climb down. I climbed over the wall and found myself hanging off the balcony – my feet wouldn’t reach the ledge underneath. Suddenly I heard someone yell: “what’s going on?”

I looked down and the hotel manager was looking up at me. Just then the wooden balcony rail I was holding onto broke and I fell nearly 20 feet to the sidewalk, landing on my feet!

The front desk manager recognized me and thought all was well and went back inside. When I tried to stand up I couldn’t. So I crawled on my hands and knees back to my room. A few hours later I was in such pain I asked the hotel to call an ambulance. So of course the police came too and I was questioned and loaded onto a stretcher and taken to the hospital. The doctor who first came to check me out said “Hey I know you, the Grapes of Wrath.”

After X-rays it was revealed that both of my heels were fractured. I was in a wheelchair for a month. Of course, the best part is going home and your wife telling your kids, ”Dad broke his feet after he fell off the balcony.”

- Tom Hooper, the Grapes of Wrath Dec 30, 2013