Kind­ness of strangers

Trav­el­ling’s eas­ier when peo­ple go out of their way to help

The Western Star - - Escape - JOHN BISHOP John Bishop is a travel writer who posts at www.eat­drink travel.co.nz

THREE in­ci­dents dur­ing my lat­est trav­els in the United States have reaf­firmed my faith in the es­sen­tial de­cency of hu­man be­ings.

I was trav­el­ling from Mem­phis to Nashville by Grey­hound bus. I duly ar­rived at the ter­mi­nal, handed over my suit­case to the loader and got on the bus with a shoul­der bag and a lap­top bag which I stowed above the seat.

A few min­utes later we were told the air­con was not work­ing and we were to get on an­other bus.

But down the road I re­alised that my lap­top bag (which also con­tained my on­ward tick­ets) was still on the bus we left be­hind. I told the driver what had hap­pened.

We were about to en­ter the free­way, but he cir­cled back to the ter­mi­nal. I leapt off and searched for the orig­i­nal bus – which had been moved. I found it with the help of ground staff, got it un­locked and re­trieved my bag.

The driver un­doubt­edly vi­o­lated com­pany pol­icy to do what he did.

Then on a hot day in Mem­phis I or­dered an Uber to go about a mile down the road to a shop­ping com­plex called the Bass Pro Shop at the Pyra­mid.

I’ve found that Uber driv­ers of­ten don’t bother look­ing at where their pas­sen­ger is go­ing un­til the pas­sen­ger is in the car. I al­ways check with the driver on our des­ti­na­tion.

Good thing too, as on this oc­ca­sion the GPS was telling the driver to take me to the Bass Pro Shop in Los An­ge­les, a jour­ney of 37 hours and no doubt thou­sands of dol­lars.

While he was driv­ing, my guy was try­ing to get my er­ro­neous trip can­celled, which turned out not to be easy.

Fi­nally, he called Uber Help to amend the des­ti­na­tion. He put him­self out so I would not be in­con­ve­nienced by ar­gu­ing with Uber about a large bill or a can­celled trip. He didn’t have to, but he did and I was grate­ful.

Fi­nally, on my last day in the US I was at the counter out­side the United Air­lines lounge in Hous­ton try­ing to con­vince the clerk that as an Air New Zealand pas­sen­ger with a cou­ple of lounge passes to my credit, I should be ad­mit­ted.

It was a bit of a long shot as the passes were earned from credit card spend­ing and I wasn’t a Koru Club mem­ber and I have long since ceased to have any sta­tus in Air New Zealand’s Air­points scheme.

It was clear that the guy was scep­ti­cal.

Then an Amer­i­can voice be­hind me said, “Well is it all right if he comes in as my guest?” and he showed his mem­ber­ship card, which had some sta­tus be­hind it.

“Yes, of course,” said the clerk.

“En­joy,” my ran­dom friend said as he bounded up the stairs and into the lounge be­fore I got a good look at him. My words of thanks tum­bled into empty air as I fum­bled to pick up lap­top and carry bag.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

FRIENDLY SER­VICE: Travel writer John Bishop was grate­ful for the help of an Uber driver dur­ing a re­cent visit to Mem­phis, Ten­nessee.

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