P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

23 October 2011

I Have Never Relied on the Kindness of Strangers-Suddenly A Damsel in Distress

I am fiercely independent.  "I Can Do It Myself" has always been my rally cry.  Frustrating for parents and teachers throughout my life no doubt, but I have always been determined to figure "it" out on my own and not ask for anyone's help-ever!!!!!  I choke on the words actually if I have to say "Can you Help"  This week,however, I found myself in a situation which required that I had to shout the H word and hope someone was listening--and you know what, I learned every so often it is OK to ask for help and to rely on the kindness of strangers.

While flying home from Europe I had a delayed flight in Rome which meant that I would not make my connection in Frankfurt to get home.  No one in the Rome airport, amidst a mass of humanity, cared whether I got home or not but a lovely young man overheard me scrambling to make sense of the lack of information I was getting -as a "techie" he had multiple phones to get to our airline and try to get through the red tape... unfortunately we missed our connection, but my new friend Michael helped carry bags for my Mom and stayed with us as we went up and down stairs, on and off buses, and finally onto a plane that essentially was going nowhere for us.  His company was so welcome and he single handily changed my view of a "cold cruel world".
 Once in Frankfurt the movie "The Out of Towners" became reality as thousands of stranded passengers were trying to figure out exactly what was happening--what to do next???  In one of the many many many lines I was standing in- with people yelling in multiple languages- I met a girl who was trying to get to Rome for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend.  As she stood in the line to nowhere her boyfriend was on his phone with the airline.  She took me over to him to use his phone, as my global service decided that this was the moment to lose connection.  I was on his phone for a good half hour---delaying them I am sure but their generosity was so kind and I so hope they made it to Rome and had the most wonderful weekend ever!

The woman on the phone at the airline could only suggest I stand in yet another line---I was through with lines and I just started wandering and hitting every counter I could for some direction, some answer--I was sent to the left, I was sent to the right, I was sent for miles through terminals, and I was done with all of it!.  Finally, I stumbled upon the Special Needs Office at Lufthansa.   In probably a pathetic whimpering voice I explained to the gentleman at the entrance that I was traveling with my Mom and could not drag her and our baggage another inch. He took me in and the process began to get us home.  Several people worked to get us out of Germany as quickly as possible but the earliest flight was over 24 hours later.  Not only don't I ask for help easily I also don't take "No" for an answer--ever!  So I kept at them and  eventually I got to a wonderful man who oddly enough was an ex-pat ---he spent 2 hours going from supervisor to supervisor to secure us a flight home earlier.  He went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable and arranged for a hotel and sent us on our way with a sweet escort to the Taxis outside to take us to the hotel.  Having never visited Germany I had no clue where we were, it was dark and cold, and after 18 hours of sort of traveling we arrived at the German version of Holiday Inn. There we found a warm welcome and  the next morning we returned to the Frankfurt airport and were literally escorted through the maze of terminals, customs and security to our gate. 

Alls well that ends well.  Home safe and sound. I know so many travelers got through this every single day but for me this wasn't about a delayed or missed flight.  It was about discovering that there are lovely people still in this world and sometimes you can rely on the kindness of strangers.  Thank you one and all!!