Nothing but Good – On Random Acts of Kindness

For most of this month, my very good friend Marc Smith has been engaging himself and a number of like-minded organizations and individuals in what he calls his #30DaysofKindness – the latest round of his 30DayAdventures. So far, Marc and friends have brought cookies and cheer to seniors, given away warm toques and socks to needy people on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, handed out flowers to brighten up many commuters’ days, encouraged literacy among youth through book drives and writing tools, and so much more. This inspiring exercise in kindness is happening till mid-December, so feel free to visit Marc’s site, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook if you want to learn more.

I’ve  known Marc for several years now, and I know about his kind heart and giving nature first-hand. In December 2010, Marc was part of an amazing team of people who helped to organize a fund-raiser for my late husband Dave and me when he was desperately ill in the hospital. It was an event that touched me and my entire family and will always be one of my most treasured memories.

That experience, and Marc’s wonderful work came back to me this past Thanksgiving, when a horrible day was turned around by several acts of kindness from not only friends, but total strangers.

When I left you at the end of the last post, I was stranded in a wheelchair at LAX, having just been informed by the very nice airport police that my stolen  purse and all its contents had not been found. I was at the mercy of a negligent wheelchair attendant who wanted nothing else but to go home on a Thanksgiving afternoon. I was devastated, scared and shaken. It was a Very Bad Day.

But suddenly, happily, things began to turn around.

A very kind attendant did relieve 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. She had me meet with her boss, a lovely man, who also apologized profusely and sincerely. She let me use her cell phone so I could do the best and most expedient thing I could think of. I tweeted my predicament.

But the random act that I’ll most remember from Diane was the fact that she reached into her purse, and handed me $10. I KNEW she didn’t have that much money. I knew it was a big sacrifice on her part.  I cried as I took the money and thanked her. And I hugged her tightly when she dropped me off at my departure gate and told her I’d never forget her.

In the meantime, and through that flight to SFO, my tweet had gotten 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 the family pe, and even had a night at a nearby hotel paid for so I could rest and recover from the day. I was so very lucky.

And after the initial shock and mourning for my possessions in that bag, I again remembered Marc, and what he and others were doing for their community. For people.

THAT is what I was thankful for on Thanksgiving – the reminder that 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 Marc.

Thanks 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, Dick and Barbara, for always giving me a place to call home. Thanks everyone, from the bottom of my heart.  I won’t forget your love and support.

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First, the Bad News…

Bear with me, people. I need to tell you about some unfortunate stuff before I get to everything that was bright and good about a bad Thanksgiving Day. But I think you’ll find it as worthwhile as I did.

It was One of Those Days…

My early flight out of Vancouver’s YVR Airport was delayed about an hour. That meant, of course, that my connecting flight from LAX was going to be tight. Very tight. And that’s when things started to spiral out of control.

We landed with less than 30 minutes before my flight was to take off. As usual, I was escorted off the plane by an attendant, who wheeled me to the exit, where I needed to take a handicapped van to yet another terminal. My chances of making that connecting flight were dwindling – especially when the handicapped van pulled away just as we got to the curb.

Once I got to the next terminal, the van driver walked me in to find an attendant. A young man was summoned to try to get me to my gate. He shuffled up, got me into my chair and proceed  to the gate, slowly. Very slowly. Then we came to another security checkpoint. And my hell truly bagan.

This wheelchair attendent in LAX didn’t know how to escort a blind person through security, was rude, and worse, actually used me and the wheelchair to push a cart of plastic bins 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. Subsequently, in my haste and confusion, 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.

But I didn’t realize that till about 10 minutes later, after we made it to the departure gate, found I had indeed missed the connecting flight, and was given a new boarding pass for the next available flight three hours later. We returned back to the security area, where the TSA folks did have an image of the purse being stolen, but despite the best efforts of the LAX police, neither the thief nor the purse was found. I was devastated, crying, and helpless. Meanwhile, the attendant slumped down on a bench near my chair and proceeded to flag down other attendants passing by and ask them to relieve him because he wanted to go home

OK, so much for the bad. I have a far happier story to tell in Part Two:-)

 

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