I´m in the Frankfurt airport where I have been since I missed my flight to SF (at 5pm CET yesterday). After a virtually sleepless night it´s now almost 9am, and I´ve had a chai latte and managed to get myself on the list for a standby flight this afternoon at 2 (I implore anyone listening out there to focus prayers of mercy to the Airport Gods of Frankfurt to allow me entrance into the hallowed sanctuary of the afore-mentioned United Flight).
I´m thrilled to have found this free internet access (thanks, Samsung!) because I wanted to make a public note of appreciation for the kindness of strangers. Besides the wicked guardians of the Gate of the Missed Flight, who were bearers of unspeakable bureaucratic cruelty (I´ll spare you the gory details), there have been some amazing and unexpected gestures of generosity and compassion in my hours of need.
The most helpful example was a young girl girl at the information desk, who, after telling me the only accommodation in the city was in an industrial park 20 minutes from even a tree, much less a colorful historic building and would cost me 200 euros (there are three conventions in town), took pity on me (I looked pretty bad, I must admit) and suggested I take a train into town and walk around a bit. See some sights and take a few photos while it was still light, treat myself to a nice meal, and then my night in the airport wouldn´t seem so long. What was even better, she gave me step by step instructions- where to check my bag so I wouldn´t have to lug it around, which train to take and where to get off for the most promising sightseeing, and gave me a city map and a train map. This kindness was above and beyond "information" and it made all the difference to my bruised psyche, in sore need of solace at that point.
On the train back to the airport some American boys offered to let me sleep in a chair in their hotel room, but I had the feeling I would get more sleep at the airport and gracefully declined. Then a late-night airport attendant tried to help me, saying she would invite me home with her except that she lived in one room and didn´t have to come in to work until late this morning. I was completely touched by these offers, and even though it was still a purgatorial evening bouncing from seat to uncomfortable seat trying to get some rest, I was no longer in despair or freaked out.
To me this is such a lovely miracle – that we human beings reach out to each other, even complete strangers, with generosity and kindness. Thank you people of Frankfurt! And may the Airport Gods be with me with afternoon…
(footnote: thanks to the powers that be – no doubt including airport gods – I am now safe at home in California and except for a little jet lag, as good as new)