Traveler’s Aide

by Barbara
Illinois, USA

Traveler's Aid

Several years ago I did some training which presented the notion of “the magnificence of humanity.” Hah! My inner skeptic fought that concept, but then I began noticing all the magnificent little things people do for one another for no apparent reason.

In 2005, I tended a booth at a Florida symposium for our non-profit patient advocacy organization. Departing was simple. I rode the bus 90 minutes to O’Hare, checked in curbside and proceeded with my carry-ons to the gate.

Carrying luggage is painful and awkward for me due to degenerative arthritis in my thumbs, and I’m vision impaired as a result of a disastrous Lasik surgery. Airports are difficult to negotiate with their low fluorescent lighting.

Half an hour into the flight, a gentleman traveling developed appendicitis. The plane landed in Nashville to let him off. The delay caused me to miss my pre-arranged airport transit to the exhibition center. When I arrived the time had passed for exhibitors to enter the hall to set up. However, a lovely woman at the check-in desk took one look at my frazzled appearance, relented and let me in.

I still had to manage the trip home. Returning home from O’Hare is much trickier than departing for me. Baggage claim isn’t close to the bus terminal. Typically, I rent a cart, but there wasn’t a cart in sight and I couldn’t leave my luggage to find one.

My flight arrived late, and my bus departed in under 20 minutes. If I missed the bus, I’d have to wait for another 90 minutes for the next one. It would be dark when I arrived at the bus terminal in my city, and I’d be unable to see to drive myself home.

I began the long, slow, painful process of managing my small-wheeled suitcase and carrying my heavy carry-ons, including symposium materials and my laptop, to the bus terminal. Straining to read directional signs, I made my way to the escalator and stepped on.

Suddenly, a gentleman appeared beside me, asked if I was going to the bus and offered to carry my bags! Though generally skeptical and guarded of strangers, I figured he was on his way to the bus, too, and accepted. We chatted as we walked, and I asked what bus he was taking.

To my surprise, he replied that he wasn’t taking a bus anywhere. He lived in Chicago and his car was parked in the lot! He had noticed me squinting and struggling with my bags and offered to help. I made it to the bus with minutes to spare, and arrived home while it was still light.

When I asked if there was something I could do to repay him, he replied, “No, no, just pass it on”. I do earnestly try. I will always remember this man’s “random act of senseless kindness”. Thank you, sir, whoever and wherever you are.

Originally published as HeroicStories #734 on Dec 8, 2007

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