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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Kindness of a Stranger

Every so often, something totally unexpected happens in your life that restores your faith in humanity. I had such a diamond moment yesterday.

The situation was that I turned up at Christchurch Airport too late for my flight, having written down an earlier itinerary that was then changed and not having looked at the time on my ticket. Totally my fault. The problem was that it was going to cost me $400 to buy a replacement fare from Christchurch to Auckland and I didn't have that on tap. The vagaries of being a freelance writer are that you get paid when the publication feels like paying you. I have money going into my account on Wednesday and am picking up more funds next week so used most of my ready cash to purchase gifts for friends I will be visiting with. I also needed to be in Auckland today to make my flight to Korea, and from there to the US in two weeks time.

So, I Skyped a good friend on Jeju Island who is helping me finance this next project to see if he had a credit card I could put the flight on. Unfortunately, his credit card had been having issues and wasn't working, and the earliest he could get me any money would be Monday, when I'm due to touch down in Korea. I told him not to worry, I'd work something out, and said I would see him Monday or Tuesday, as already planned.

Just prior to my Skype call for help, we'd had another aftershock, a 4.1 this time. I looked at the airport roof and wondered if it would stay up, and the only person nearby and I looked at each other after it stopped with wry smiles. "Survived that one," we nodded at each other.

After my Skype call, the same gentleman asked if I had checked out prices at Jetstar, as he was on a flight with them that was due to be called for boarding. I hadn't, hoping that my Air New Zealand missed ticket could be factored into the cost (it was, and it was still going to take another $400 with them). So we wandered along to Jetstar, where I was told a ticket with them would still be $319. The gentleman, an aerospace engineer from Quebec, pulled out his card and paid my ticket. With no idea who I was or if the money would ever be repaid (it will, with interest and many thanks).

We sat together on the flight and discussed life, the universe and everything, and my upcoming US trip. He asked if I'd read the book he was reading - Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." (I haven't, yet.) He'd been reading a passage where Kerouac was stuck somewhere without any money and listening to my call for help and decided he could do so.

I thank you Yves, and found a new friend yesterday.

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