Doing the Right Thing
“I thought you’d be mad.”
“Are you kidding me?! I’m telling EVERYBODY!!!”
This is the true story (as I know it) of a girl who did the right thing.
My daughter was just finishing up four months of studying abroad for college. Before returning home, she and her roommate, who is also from the US but whom she met in Scotland, were preparing to go on a girl’s rampage through Europe for ten days together before flying back home to the States.
Having just completed sitting for final exams, on the next to last day of the semester, her roommate lost her wallet.
Here she was, 3,000 miles from home, about to embark on a trek across Europe, with no driver’s license, no debit card, and no credit card. And there was no time to get a new card to her before the semester ended the next day. She had money in the bank but no ready access to it.
Being the smart, resourceful girls that they are, they figured out a way to transfer funds into my daughter’s account. Sydney would be the custodian of all their money and would pay for everything using their pooled funds.
London, Stonehenge, ferry to France, train to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, ferry back to England.
For ten days, the girls had the times of their lives. French croissants, Belgian chocolates, overnight train rides, historic sites, exotic adventures…
Then, on the night before their return flights back home, Sydney’s roommate lost her passport.
Apparently it’s a common enough thing for travelers to lose their passports that there are already well-established processes in place to handle it.
One of the restrictions is that travelers can only return directly to their home country. So the original flight, which had a scheduled layover back in Amsterdam, had to be rebooked.
Sydney stuck around to make sure that her friend got onto a flight and would make it home okay. After all, she had no ID and no money. Sydney was her only lifeline in Europe.
It was a good thing too. Since her roommate had no form of ID, immigration officials led Sydney into an interview room and grilled her for personal details about her roommate until they were satisfied that she actually was who she said she was and not someone merely trying to hide their identity.
In sticking around and doing the right thing, she missed her own flight home.
That’s the part she thought I would be mad about.
Far from it, I’m proud that she shows such character. Especially despite the fact that she thought she would end up stranded in Europe herself and would have to ask my help and thought that I’d be mad about it.
Lucky for us, she told a white lie and told the airline that it was her own passport she’d lost and had to retrace her steps until she found it. The airline rebooked her on a new flight for only $75 extra.
When I started writing this article, she was still en route back home. Little did I know, the story hadn’t quite ended yet,
Sydney’s original flight was to take her from London to Philadelphia, with a brief layover in Washington, DC. The new flight’s layover was in Chicago.
It just so happens that a water main burst at Chicago’s O’Hare airport in sub-freezing temperatures and created ice all over the tarmac. After landing, the plane that Sydney was on sat and waited nearly 90 minutes before the pipe was fixed and enough ice was cleared for them to approach the terminal and disembark.
That, combined with lousy weather in general, caused more than 1,300 flights in and out of O’Hare to be canceled. Including of course Sydney’s connecting flight to Philadelphia.
To their credit, the airlines did their best to accommodate and rebook all passengers. (Thank god I don’t have that thankless job!) As you might well imagine, there were thousands of passengers and none of them were happy. Some were rather vocal about their unhappiness.
Despite waiting more than 7 hours in line before getting to speak to an airline representative, Sydney managed to remain cheerful and positive. I kept reminding her via text message that this was a minor inconvenience and was decidedly a First-World problem.
She’d just gotten to spend 4 months studying in Europe, plus had gotten to take an extra 10 days to wander freely before coming back home. It was also not the airline employees’ fault that it was freezing in Chicago. They were working all through the night to fix things as best they could.
Sydney was one of a small minority of travelers who remained pleasant and polite in speaking with the people from the airline. Finally, around 2am, she was rebooked on a new flight home.
She arrived twenty-three and a half hours later than originally scheduled. And I plan on telling EVERYBODY what an amazing girl she really is.
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