Sometimes, my Facebook account surprises me. Today, it reminded me of a traumatic event I had tried hard to forget. But I had also forgotten how much good came from it. And all because of one tweet.
Three years ago today, on US Thanksgiving, I was robbed in the security line at LAX. My purse was spirited away in seconds, by someone who just as quickly disappeared into the crowd and was never seen again.
As usual, I had requested a wheelchair and an attendant to escort me through security. Their role is to help get me through the line, assist me in getting my belongings scanned and collected at the other end, and then get me to my gate. I usually have a decent experience – but not this time.
This attendent in LAX didn’t know how to escort a blind person through security, was rude, and worse, actually pushed me and the wheelchair into a cart of plastic bins to get them out of his way. I was appalled. Then, he chose not to stay by me when I was retrieving my belongings – instead, he yelled at me to hurry up and get back into the wheelchair because he “wanted to go home”. I guess he had a turkey dinner waiting for him.
Well, in my haste and confusion and with no assistance, my purse was stolen right off the line. My iPhone, iPod Touch, Surefire flashlight, wallet, cards, keys, sunglasses and my specially made reading glasses, all gone in a matter of seconds. Thankfully, they did NOT get my passport.
I was scared, devastated, crying, and helpless – and at the mercy of a negligent attendant who wanted nothing else but to go home on a Thanksgiving afternoon. I had no idea what to do.
But suddenly, happily, things began to turn around.
A very kind attendant relieved my surly guy, who apparently did go home. She then got her supervisor involved. Her name was Diane, she was an angel, and she ROCKED. She first apologized for her employee’s attitude and neglect. And in a kind act that astounded me, Diane reached into her purse and handed me $10. I KNEW she didn’t have that much money, and it was a big sacrifice on her part.
But the most important thing Diane did that day was letting me use her cell phone so I could do the best and most expedient thing I could think of. I sent out one desperate tweet about my predicament.
— Cathy Browne (@CathyBrowne) November 22, 2012
That tweet got the attention of friends and acquaintances, who offered help and moral support. My dear friends Lorraine and IdaRose sprang into action. Lorraine managed to cancel bank and credit cards, while IdaRose and her husband Neil arranged a cab (actually a white limo!) to pick me up at the airport to take me to their annual Thanksgiving feast. I was wined and dined and hugged many times that evening by a crowd of very supportive people, got to hang out with friends I love, and even had a night at a nearby hotel paid for so I could rest and recover from the day.
THAT is what I was thankful for on that Thanksgiving Day – and what I recall today with tears in my eyes.
Things are just things, life has its scary moments and hard times, but it’s people, in person and online, those in hugging distance, and those who offer them from afar, that make life worthwhile.
Thanks again Diane, for making me feel I mattered when all I felt was lost. Thanks, Lorraine, IdaRose, and Neil, for being there when I needed you the most. Thanks to everyone who saw my tweet, tweeted, retweeted, and made my heart sing. Thanks also to my dear friends Dick (who left us this year) and Barbara, who have always given me a place to call home. I will never forget your love and support. And I’ll always try to pay it forward.