Upon entering the lobby of my new hotel at 10 p.m., I made it no further than the front desk (where the clerk had several messages awaiting me from my brother-in-law and sister), when a man and woman approached me. The man had a British accent and asked me, “Are you Keri Potts?” I immediately stiffened as my stomach flipped on itself. I thought, “Oh my God Marco found me!” But before I could act on my fear, the man said, “Rob [my boss] sent me.” Hot tears sprang to my eyes and I became a blubbering mess right there in the lobby. For the FIRST TIME all day, I felt safe. Until then, I had felt jumpy, weary and alone. But no more. I knew I was in the home stretch of my experience.
The man said his name was Richard, and he told me I needed to call my sister (who was distraught about not having heard from me for 10+ hours) and to call Rob. Apparently, my sister had called Rob shortly after she lost track of me from the Embassy. She told him she needed help. Way to go, Big Sis! Good thinking. He, with the support of others, moved quickly to get one of our UK colleagues to reach out to an Italian colleague to get someone to me on the ground in Rome. I know. Wow.
Richard handed me his cell. When I called Rob, I was piped into a speaker phone with him and another executive, Chris, who knows me well. And I just burst out, “Oh my God, I love you guys! Thank you! Thank you!” Chris said, “Pottsie! You did it! You did it, Pottsie! D-1 Athlete, baby!” To which I screamed back, “I kicked his ass! I kicked his ass!” It was the most chest-thumping, fist-pumping, sports-drunk celebration I may ever know. It was perfect, and exactly what I needed at that moment to make my world normal again. I will never forget that. I am so blessed and I know it.
EXTRA NOTE: For years, Rob has told me I need a reality show camera crew to follow me around. “You just can’t make this stuff up,” he used to tell me. And that was before Rome. I would like to make the point that Rob and Chris, and many of the good and caring people at my company who assisted me, would do what they did for any one of my coworkers. We spend so much of our lives working for other people, companies and causes. I think having a supportive and understanding workplace made a big difference in pretty much every aspect of my recovery from that night forward. Just something to think about.