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Annie Jul 29th, 2000 05:29 AM

NICEST thing a stranger has done for you while traveling?
I'll also pose this question in the negative, but since traveling entails running into so many different people from different places and it entails us dropping bags, pushing carts, waiting and everything else that goes with it. I was wondering if you would share what surprising (to you) thing has a stranger done for you while you were traveling?

Vick Jul 29th, 2000 06:51 AM

A group of teenage boys in Aruba saw my wife drop her traveler's checks on a local bus and actually came after us to return them. We hadn't seen them fall out of her purse. <BR> <BR>

Michelle Jul 29th, 2000 08:17 AM

After spending all day long walking in Bermuda, my husband and I were running to catch the bus we saw stopped ahead of us. Just as we got to the back of the bus it drove off. It was still a long walk (up a hill too) to our hotel. A woman who was dropping off her husband had seen this happen and drove back to ask us if we wanted a ride. It was so welcome as our feet were aching and we were very tired. All the people in Bermuda were wonderful but this just really made our trip.

Ruth Jul 29th, 2000 01:41 PM

Two incidents immediately come to mind: Years ago while driving through a lonely rural stretch of I-80 in Pennsylvania with my then young daughter, I blew out a tire. I didn't have a spare, as I had all my worldly possessions crammed in the car. Against my better judgement, but in desperation, I ended up prevailing upon the kindness of a stranger living nearby, who actually drove us a few miles down the road to get a replacement tire , then brought us back and replaced the tire for me. I was terrified the whole time, but he turned out to be a wonderful human being. Another incident occurred more recently in Key West, when I stepped on a piece of glass on some side street a couple blocks from Duval. As I leaned against a lamppost and tried to staunch the flow of blood from my foot, at least a dozen people walked by, saw me bleeding, and kept going. Finally, a little boy saw me, tugged his father's arm to point me out, and his father came over to ask if I was all right. I required no stitches, but I just can't imagine what kind of person bypasses someone who's clearly bleeding. I am grateful for the ones who did.

Ruth Jul 29th, 2000 01:43 PM

That is to say, I am grateful for the ones who didn't!

kristian Jul 29th, 2000 02:28 PM

When I first started traveling over 4 years ago, I knew NOTHING. I was in Newark Airport, and needed to rent a car to drive down to South Jersey, and hadn't a clue as to what I should do or where to go. I found the courtesy shuttle terminal, but it seemed like it was in some lonely, forgotten corner of the airport. I, along with an older black gentleman, was the only one there. He looked like he worked for Avis, and smiled at me. Ingrained since my youth was to never talk to strangers, so I continued to ignore him and wait for my Enterprise shuttle. <BR> <BR>Every shuttle but the enterprise one went by! He finally asked me what I was waiting for, and I told him. He told me it was the end of his day, he was tired, and it was time to go home (he was waiting for the shuttle to take him back). I just nodded. More Avis Shuttles went by (none of which he got on), and Hertz shuttles, and everything else, but no Enterprise! I must have looked visibly worried, because he assured me there would be one coming soon. <BR> <BR>15 minutes later, one came. He reached for my luggage and helped me load it. Grateful, I tried to tip him, but he just waved it away, saying, "no no just have a good trip. Time for me to go home." He had waited all that extra time at the end of a long just to make sure the idiotic girl who didn't know how to catch a shuttle was okay, and wanted nothing for it. <BR> <BR>So I have never forgotten my gratitude to the Avis man. He changed my perspective on travel and PEOPLE for years to come.

Annie Jul 29th, 2000 02:35 PM

Ruth, sadly the only ones who don't appear to stop are the ones in Florida. Not all, mind you, but most. I'm glad you find a caring little boy and his dad. <BR> <BR>Kristian, what a beautiful story. These are the things that restore my faith in people when I hear them. Good for you.

Nancy Jul 30th, 2000 12:37 AM

I can think of quite a few actually. Here are some of them: <BR> <BR>1. the man in France who paid for the balance of our fare to the airport on a bus since we were short of French francs. He paid about $5 or more I believe. <BR> <BR>2. the woman years before in London who did the same when I was alone and also short of British pounds on my way to the airport. <BR> <BR>3. the Japanese woman who looked at the note I had from the tourist office at the airport and helped me switch subways even though she spoke no Englisj and had to take my hand and literally lead me through a station when I switched trains from the one she was on. She had to get off her train to help me too. <BR> <BR>4. the Czech people we found outside a house in Prague when we were searching in vain for a distant relative's house. <BR>These strangers are people we stopped to ask directions of. We found they spoke neither English, German or French so we could not communicate but they looked at our map and the address we wanted and they got in their car and has us follow them. Even they couldn't find the address and they stopped strangers on the street to ask them until they found it!

Toni Jul 30th, 2000 09:59 AM

This is a great thread...restores your faith in humanity. <BR>We had an experience I'd like to share. We were in Paris awhile ago and trying to find our way to Versailles by way of the metro. We had a map but were having a hard time trying to figure out the train to get on, and the stop to get off. We speak no French. At least 5 Parians came over to us and offered their help and made sure that when our destination arrived, we got off the train. I have heard so many stories about the people in France being rude and we found this to be totally unfounded. Everyone was very nice and more then helpful.

Owen O'Neill Jul 30th, 2000 10:38 AM

There are many occurrences of this type that I've experienced but what comes to mind is my dining car experience on Amtrak's Lakeshore Limited (NYC to Chicago). I noticed "yellow grits" on the menu and had a burning desire to try them, suspecting (and later proven to be correct) that they'd have flavor lacking in conventional white grits (please note that the yellow color comes from an extra part of the corn that's included and NOT from cheese or butter). The elderly waiter, obviously a "lifer" in the Amtrak dining car, informed me that the yellow grits couldn't be bought as a separate item because they were only available as part of a complete breakfast with eggs, toast etc. I had a hankering for pancakes and regretfully decided to pass on the opportunity to try them. When my pancakes arrived the waiter set an additional covered bowl down at my place. Uncovering it, I found it to be chock full of yellw grits!. Upon remarking to him that I thought they couldn't be ordered as a separate menu item, he smiled and with a twinkle of the eyes said "I only said you couldn't buy them, not that I couldn't get them for you!". They were delicious and as you might have guessed, no charge appeared for them on my bill. Service and thoughtfulness like this can brighten an entire trip. For the price of a few kernels of corn and due to the wisdom of a savvy waiter(who received a very generous tip, as you might have guessed), Amtrak had a very happy customer who still remembers this positive experience many years later.

TheGoldenRule Jul 30th, 2000 12:55 PM

What wonderful stories related here. <BR> <BR>Let's each make a commitment right now to help tourists -- whether foreign or American.

Owen O'Neill Jul 30th, 2000 02:36 PM

Here’s another experience I recall that truly made a vacation memorable. My sweetheart and I took a 3 day weekend to Toronto, the first trip we’d taken together and the first vacation of any sort that she’d taken in many years. The year was 1989 and the time early spring. Perhaps it was just timing and location (we were staying at the Royal York Hotel and didn’t venture out of tourist areas into Toronto neighborhoods due to time constraints and inclement weather), but we found the reception we received from people in general (excluding those who were actively angling for gratuities) to be less than friendly, despite Toronto’s reputation as a cosmopolitan and friendly city. We hoped that this wasn’t prompted by our being a racially mixed couple (she is African –American and I am Caucasian) but began to wonder after our disastrous experience at dinner on the second night. We randomly chose a restaurant close to the hotel, I recall the name being “The Olde Fish Market” (or something to that effect). We were seated by the kitchen door I a restaurant that was nearly half empty (no other parties were seated within 30 feet of us), the server greeted us with the monotone statement/question “Order?” after we waited 10 minutes for him to appear, he reappeared once to notice the mostly unfinished portion of my partner’s meal (which was burned), then looked at her dish and said “Looks like you’re not enjoying that at all.” before he walked away. After a lengthy wait to get a check (which we asked for several times) he finally delivered one and when I made it clear that I would be waiting for my change (less than a dollar), he never returned to the table. To describe the treatment we received as rude, unfriendly and hostile would be diplomatic. Although I hesitated to declare it to be openly racist, the subtext was self-evident and my partner preferred that we leave immediately afterwards and chalk it up to experience rather than attempting to follow up with management (we were referred to the “home office” by the on site manager who informed us that he was not in a position to address our complaint). <BR> <BR>The following morning we made reservations at “Noodles”, an Italian restaurant that had been recommended by my former employer, a regular traveler to Toronto. Unbeknownst to me, the gentleman who took our phone reservations and chatted with me at length about our visit as tourists was Dante, the restaurant’s owner. When we arrived that evening the maitre’d informed us that “Dante has been expecting you”, showed us to one of the best tables in the house and a few moments later Dante himself (in his chef’s whites) joined us at the table to discuss the menu and make recommendations. He reappeared after our meal to ensure that we’d enjoyed it and insisted on buying us dessert. How ironic that the worst restaurant experience of my life was immediately followed by an evening that holds a very fond spot in my memory many years later. Regrettably, Dante has retired and Noodles is now closed but the pleasant memories live on. Little did he know that he reaffirmed our somewhat shaken faith in the hospitality of his city (to which I have returned and had much better experiences). <BR>

David Jul 30th, 2000 06:03 PM

It was during a trip to NY City. I'm from the midwest and had heard all the horrible tales of NY and how god awful mean the people of NY are. However, I goofed up while getting on to the bus (did not have exact change) and a local guy let me use his metro pass to charge our fares. In addition, he refused to take my money.

Baked Cortex Jul 30th, 2000 06:48 PM

After spending most of the day at the Flamingo Hilton pool, I walked over to the Mirage for lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. I sat at the counter and ordered pizza, salad and a drink. After consuming all, I opened my little change purse and realized that I had taken all of my money out before going to the pool, so I only had $2 with me!! I apologized to the waitress and told her that I'd return with money,(she wasn't pleased) but 2 men sitting next to me said to not worry about it and they paid for my lunch!! No strings attached. Thanks to Annie for starting this----I've enjoyed reading these random acts of kindness!!

Jayne Jul 30th, 2000 07:37 PM

My family was in London and running very late for an evening performance of the Lion King. We got off the Tube and got very lost. We stopped a business man, as he was getting into his car, how to find the theatre. Fearing that the directions would be too confusing, he walked us several blocks to the theatre. <BR> <BR>Annie-As a native Floridian I'm sorry to read that you think so little of those from our state. You obviously have had a bad experience, but I wouldn't write off the entire state. I know many rather lovely people here.

John Jul 31st, 2000 05:42 AM

I work in NYC and I am always helping the tourists!! I just look for the person with the Map turned "upside-Down" and go over and offer assistance. I like the instant gratification I get from helping someone, which i do not get on my job!! My travel story goes back to my backpacking college days......We, my girlfriend and I, had just missed the last train out of Austria (town escapes me!) and had just spent whatever shillings we had left earlier in the day. This is before ATM"S!! We sat looking forlorn on the station bench, hungry and tired! A man full of dust and grime and smeeling of Beer came over and said something that I, being a slick New Yorker, interpreted as " Hey, give me some Shillings"!! I yelled at him to "go away, we have no Shillings, we have not eaten and we are stuck here"!! He went away and came back about 10 Min. later with sandwiches and sodas!! It seems he was a construction worker, comming home from the Gastehaus, and saw us two pathetic souls! He was asking if we NEEDED MONEY but since I knew no German I put my own biased spin on the situation and pegged him as a bum!!! <BR> <BR>JOHN

Chris Jul 31st, 2000 06:25 AM

When vacationing in Puerto Rico, we lost our car keys at a beach late in the day after everything had closed and few people were still around. We didn't have correct change for a pay phone, know where one was, didn't have a pen, etc. While running crazily about, we asked some locals where a pay phone was, (all of the beach stores/restaurants, etc. had closed). All of them emptied their pockets to give us a pen, paper and enough change for several phone calls. They assured us all would work out. We left and rechecked our gear for the keys and found them. We then returned to the place where we met our helpers to return their goods, and they were gone. I still have their pen as a reminder of the kindness of those people. <BR>

Louise Jul 31st, 2000 09:20 AM

The nicest thing that was ever done for us by a stranger occured at Alaska airlines ticketing in Seattle. We were returning from Turkey and had been robbed there so we had to purchase a new ticket from Seattle to our small town and had barely enough money left. When the tickets were given to us the agent had taken $20 from her own wallet and put them in with our tickets. When we said we couldn't take it she insisted that we might need to get a taxi home from the airport or need something to eat. We sent her flowers later and tried to return the money but she would not take it - she said it made her feel good to help someone as she had been having a bad day.

Ken Jul 31st, 2000 09:43 AM

While on holiday, I asked in a shop for directions to another shop. The woman explained she would rather take us there than describe how to get there. So she did, it took around 15 minutes of walking. <BR>Most appreciative.

sherrel Jul 31st, 2000 11:26 AM

This past May, my husband and I (both in our 60's) were in Arles, France and unable to find the expressway entrance to Avignon. A stranger approached and told us to follow him in his car and he would take us. Three years ago, we went by taxi from our hotel in Bejing to the Pekin Opera House. The taxi driver deliberately (?) dropped us off blocks away. We did not know exactly where we were and stepped in a book store to ask directions when the bookstore employee offered to walk us there. Christmas 1999, we were in Bermuda at a restaurant when we realized the last bus would be leaving soon to go back to our hotel. The couple next to our table realized our plight and offered to drive us back.

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