Day 512: Opening door to kindness

I used to view opening doors for others as a gesture of kindness, but I recently witnessed first-hand the dangers inherent in such a foolhardy activity.

The wind was so cold here today – felt like the icy claws of Satan tearing through you … only worse – many downtowners (myself included) took to the subterranean “Path” system. This Path tunnels below ground conveniently connecting many of the office towers with the subway and train station.

Between the Path and the subway station, however, are a series of heavy doors. I held open a few for the people behind me and kept going. But then I encountered a stationary group of businessmen ahead of me.

What caused their immobility, you ask? A dispute? A disagreement? Nope. Turns out, they were at a good-deed stand-off. (Another hazard of the job.)

Before my very eyes, the suited fellows kindly acted out the “After you” … “No, after you” scene from the Looney Tunes cartoons until a third guy took the reins and grabbed the door. Unfortunately, when he stepped back and pulled the door open, I was standing behind him and he bonked me on the head with his elbow.

Of course, like all good Canadians, I found myself apologizing to him. Oh well.

But that gesture pales in comparison to the following story (excerpted from the Winnipeg Free Press. Never mind good deed of the day …  it ranks as good deed of the decade, in my books. Brought a tear to my eye. Enjoy!

Elsie Clark: An attitude of gratitude

Knight in shiny shoes to the rescue
by Mary Agnes Welch, Winnipeg Free Press

It started out as the flight from hell and ended with a taste of heaven. On her way home from a Christmas spent with her daughter in Corpus Christi, Texas, 80-year-old Elsie Clark found herself stranded in a deserted corner of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport Wednesday.

Clark has trouble with her hip and asked to be taken by wheelchair to her connecting gate, but she was dumped at the wrong one. By the time she found someone to help her, she’d missed her flight to Winnipeg.

With nary an apology — even though Clark was in tears — airline staff booked her on a later flight to Chicago.

That’s when her luck changed.

“He was my guardian angel,” Clark said from her tidy West End home Saturday. “I hope someone will hear this story and know what he did and it will catch on.”

On the flight to Chicago, Clark struck up a conversation with a young businessman across the aisle.

“I asked him about his shoes,” she said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by very shiny shoes.”

The man across the aisle, Dean Germeyer, must have overheard Clark fretting to the flight attendant about making her tight connection to Winnipeg.

Knowing about her trouble in Dallas, Germeyer quietly arranged for Clark to get off the plane first with him so he could escort her to her gate. But she again missed her flight, this time by 10 minutes. She hadn’t eaten for hours and was very upset.

“I would have sat there on a bench all night and waited for the next plane in the morning,” said Clark, who is on a fixed income and blanched at the thought of a $75 cab ride into Chicago. “But he said, ‘Elsie, I’ll look after you. I’ve called my wife and you’re coming over for dinner.’ ”

Turned out Germeyer, an executive with the global information technology firm ACS, lived in a condo on the 56th floor of a posh downtown highrise, with views of the Wrigley Building and Trump Tower.

After dinner, Germeyer took Clark out for a tour of the city in his BMW and dropped her off at a chic boutique hotel for the night, all paid for.

“He walked in with me on his arm so I wouldn’t slip and said, ‘Look after this lady,’ ” she said. “When I got up to my room, it wasn’t a room, it was a suite! I had to use my cane just to walk to the bathroom.”

Since Clark had no luggage — it arrived in Winnipeg before she did — Germeyer arranged to have some toiletries and snacks sent to the room. The next morning, Germeyer sent a limousine to pick her up for the early morning flight back to Winnipeg.

“Have you ever heard anything like it before in your life?” asked Clark. “My daughter asked if he had a brother!”

Later, Clark phoned Germeyer’s parents to speak to them and they said they’d already heard the story.

“He told them he couldn’t sleep knowing he’d left that lady stuck in the airport.”

P.S. Love the “O Canada” line in this song … and the rest is pretty cool too. Enjoy!


3 thoughts on “Day 512: Opening door to kindness

  1. Read this very heartwarming Canadian Press story in the Penticton,B.C. Herald. Hats off to Dean and the ACS firm…must be a great place to work. Happy New Year! J.K.

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