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A Traveling Mercy

Good morning from Paris, people. It was not easy to get here. Well, scratch that: it was easy for me, but my wife Julie came down with an apparent case of food poisoning from a meal she ate in the New Orleans airport before we boarded our British Airways flight. About an hour outside of London Heathrow, she started to vomit.

It was epic, and continued to be epic as we made our way through Heathrow to catch our connecting flight to Paris. I’ll spare you the gory details. I haven’t seen her so sick in years. She was so pale (green, actually) and weak that it appeared we weren’t going to be able to get on the plane for the short hop to Paris.

A British Airways employee manning that particular gate was incredibly kind in that moment of distress. Without complaining, but instead showing gentleness and understanding, he ordered our bags taken off that flight — holding the flight at the gate — so we could catch a later flight. But when he checked the computer and found that the next flight wouldn’t be for six hours, Julie said it would be better to go ahead and take it, so she could get to the hotel and rest.

Again without complaining, and showing nothing but tenderness and compassion, he ordered the bags re-loaded, and escorted us down to the plane. Julie was sick on the plane, and in the taxi all the way to the hotel, but as we live in the best of all possible worlds, airsick bags were well deployed.

She’s resting now, and doing better, but will probably have to spend the first full day in Paris in bed rehydrating. Awful! But the one good thing that came out of that experience was witnessing the compassion of this stranger to a couple of distressed travelers. Had he been merely professional, that would have sufficed. But he went above and beyond that call.

Last night I tweeted this:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [3]

The manager of the airport’s Twitter account wrote to ask for more information. I gave them the flight and gate information (I wasn’t sure that his name was Gavin, but Julie said she thought it was.) Anyway, this came this morning

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [3]

How satisfying! Everybody tweets when something goes wrong while engaged in air travel. It’s important also to tweet when, despite things going very, very wrong, things also go very, very wright. Whatever that gentleman’s name, Julie and I are grateful for his kindness, his traveling mercy. His good deed made me resolve to be kinder to people I meet in everyday life. Me being me, who knows how long that will last, but I appreciate the inspiration.

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "A Traveling Mercy"

#1 Comment By Pogonip On February 12, 2018 @ 5:18 am

Get well soon, Julie!

#2 Comment By Fiestamom On February 12, 2018 @ 5:46 am

If you really wanted to do a good deed,you would identify the restaurant and dish she ordered in New Orleans….

Thank God for kind people like Gavin!

[NFR: Shrimp poboy at the Dooky Chase outlet in the New Orleans airport. — RD]

#3 Comment By Uncle Billy On February 12, 2018 @ 6:47 am

When I travel overseas, I try to use British Airways. They treT their passengers like human beings, unlike the legacy US carriers who treat their passengers like cattle. I’ve flown British Airways, Air France, Japan Airlines and Lufthansa, and they are all better than the legacy US carriers.

I used to do a fair amount of international travel for my job and flew business class. The legacy US carriers are not as bad with business class and first class, but they are awful with coach. I think much of the problem is attitude. The legacy US carriers seem to want to punish their coach passengers for the “crime” of not purchasing a first class ticket. I am not alone in my opinion.

I would appreciate a response from an executive from a legacy US carrier as to why this sorry situation exists and what can be done about it. Perhaps if they paid the executives less and the flight crews more, things would improve?

#4 Comment By Logan On February 12, 2018 @ 7:10 am

I hope your wife is better. Do you not feel a touch of irony, though, as you scramble through airports and board airplanes on route to a conference on something somewhat akin to subsistence farming? Maybe the same forces that bring record snowstorms to the site of global warming conferences are at work.

#5 Comment By BlairBurton On February 12, 2018 @ 7:36 am

We all depend on the kindness of strangers. I am glad this turned out so well for Julie and you, and I feel for her, in the capitol of fine food, recovering from food poisoning, at least based upon my own experience. Take care.

#6 Comment By BlairBurton On February 12, 2018 @ 7:39 am

That should be “capital of fine food”.

#7 Comment By VikingLS On February 12, 2018 @ 7:44 am

Good story, hope Julie feels better soon!

I’ve had good experiences with BA in the past.

#8 Comment By Elijah On February 12, 2018 @ 8:17 am

“Me being me, who knows how long that will last, but I appreciate the inspiration.”

Ha – I understand completely. But that is a nice thing about social media: you can pretty much instantaneously express gratitude or mention a problem to a company right away.

Cheers to Gavin and Rob!

#9 Comment By Bernie On February 12, 2018 @ 8:24 am

Poor Julie! Most people’s lives have been touched by uncommon, even noble kindness, often on the part of a stranger or someone we don’t know well. It covers a multitude of sins and its demonstration to us is among the most precious of all our memories.

#10 Comment By Acilius On February 12, 2018 @ 9:09 am

That’s a terrific story and a great new nickname, Rob!

#11 Comment By sigaliris On February 12, 2018 @ 9:56 am

Ohhh poor Julie! Please give her my best wishes and tell her I’m praying for her to get better and be happy in Paris.

#12 Comment By grumpy realist On February 12, 2018 @ 10:14 am

Oh dear….wishes and good vibes and hoping that Julie gets better VERY SOON.

I’d also suggest a liver-function check-up as soon as you get back to the US. Acute food poisoning can have long-term effects, unfortunately. Just to make sure.

#13 Comment By Sam M On February 12, 2018 @ 10:31 am

Oh man. First vacation in 18 years. Here is hoping for a quick recovery!

[NFR: First vacation WITHOUT ONE OR MORE CHILDREN IN TOW in 18 years, let me clarify! She has recovered, and the fun-having has resumed. — RD]

#14 Comment By Adam Loumeau On February 12, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

Good for you Rod! In all seriousness, this is EXACTLY what being a true Christian is all about. This is similar to your reader who worked up the courage to share his two cents with the social workers in the library. As much as we would all like to do amazing acts of service and/or heroism, rarely is the kingdom built upon headline grabbing behavior but instead looking to bring about more good out of the mundane of everyday life.

#15 Comment By Laurrie On February 12, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

Terrific post!

#16 Comment By Jason On February 12, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

#17 Comment By Michelle On February 12, 2018 @ 2:32 pm

I hope that Julie is rested, rehydrated, and ready to take on Paris. It’s always good to be reminded that, despite how bleak this world often seems, there are plenty of kind, decent people out there who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. G-d bless Gavin.

#18 Comment By Doc Broom On February 12, 2018 @ 3:00 pm

Prayers for your wife’s speedy recovery and that your visit to Paris is a great time for you both.

#19 Comment By William Tighe On February 12, 2018 @ 5:11 pm

Rod, I would urge you and your wife to visit this while in Paris:


29, rue Pasquier
Paris 75008

#20 Comment By JB On February 12, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

So sorry for your wife that’s a nightmare- but huge kudos for making sure that saintly man was affirmed for his kindness – he helped cause he’s a good person but great he was acknowledged – I deal w public – people are often stressed and short fused and quick to criticize – so awesome to shine some light in the darkness

#21 Comment By Jeremy On February 12, 2018 @ 8:52 pm

As a frequent traveler, I fear for the day when I get ill like that on a plane–really, a nightmare. Best to your wife. I am so happy that you got merciful treatment!

In the spirit of mercy, may I recommend the following addition to your immigrant/refugee reading: “Go, Went, Gone” by Jenny Erpenbeck. A weirdly readable novel about a retired German man who becomes immersed in the lives of some immigrants from Libya, Niger, and other difficult places of origin.

#22 Comment By MichaelGC On February 12, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

Wow, sorry to hear about Julie’s ordeal, and yours. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. Blanche was right. Hoping the rest of your trip is thoroughly enjoyable.

#23 Comment By Zippy On February 12, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

You will probably delete this, since it undermines your feelgood story, but

[NFR: Nah, I’m deleting this because you seem to be an unpleasant person. — RD]

#24 Comment By Cheryl On February 12, 2018 @ 9:40 pm

I’m sorry Julie got sick. A similar thing happened to me after a meal in the Atlanta airport. The trip to Las Vegas was awful. This was a good reminder to me not to eat at the airport! I leave for Mallorca on Wednesday.

I hope Julie is better as quickly as she fell ill. Have a great time away.

#25 Comment By Frances On February 12, 2018 @ 11:38 pm

Having lived in Japan and traveled much internationally, I am surprised that the UK and later France admitted you. At Japanese immigration, they will certainly stop you if you have any sign of illness.

I hope Julie recovers quickly and you have a wonderful, wonderful time. Don’t forget to visit Sainte Chapelle–it’s exquisite! Bonne chance!

#26 Comment By Tom Marchione On February 13, 2018 @ 12:24 am

Thanks so much for posting this. It is so nourishing for the spirit to hear such stories of compassionate, caring people. As one who once lost a week to food poisoning, virtually unable to move for days, I can’t believe Julie was able to fly. What a trooper. Prayers for a quick recovery.

#27 Comment By charles cosimano On February 13, 2018 @ 1:10 am

Hope she has recovered. Having your wife get food poisoning is never fun. The last time it happened to Donna was when we made the mistake of eating in a college cafeteria because we had traveled to a college in Kenosha to hear someone speak. Don’t quite remember his name but he looked like a serial killer with really weird glasses. 🙂

Ok, I’ve had that story in my pocket for years waiting for the right time. Have a good trip and watch the food. We can’t have you turning into Mr. Creosote and making a god awful mess of the place.

#28 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On February 13, 2018 @ 9:47 am

I’m so sorry your wife got sick, but I’m glad you got to experience a heartwarming example of people being kind and generous! Hope she recovers and can enjoy the rest of your European trip.

#29 Comment By Erin Manning On February 15, 2018 @ 12:10 am

Rod, I’m not doubting at all that Julie had food poisoning (which is all too easy to get especially when traveling). One thing, though: I was in my late 30s–early 40s when I seemed to get food poisoning more and more often any time I would eat shrimp, clams, or any shellfish, and I blamed a lot of restaurants (my husband doesn’t much like fish so I wasn’t making this sort of thing at home). I didn’t find out that what I was experiencing was a symptom of my slowly-appearing fish/shellfish allergy until the time I ate shrimp and then had immediate swelling on my lips and a rash, along with some breathing difficulties, at which point it was sadly apparent what was going on. As I found out afterward, it is not uncommon at all for a shellfish or fish allergy (or an allergy to both, which is what I appear to have) to make an appearance in middle age even if you’ve never had one, and it can often start out as digestive upsets that are really like food poisoning (details aren’t necessary, right?). Hopefully Julie will have no further experiences of this sort after eating shellfish–like I said, food poisoning is common, and it’s the most likely explanation. But I wanted to mention the possibility in case she has similar experiences in the future, because an allergy test could be useful at that point.

#30 Comment By Rob G On February 15, 2018 @ 7:04 am

Great story, Rod. Glad Julie’s feeling better — food poisoning is no picnic.

Gavin’s a gem!

#31 Comment By Pavlos On February 17, 2018 @ 11:39 pm

Yes, by all means “tweet when. . .things also go very, very wright [sic]”
Frank Lloyd will love you for it!
And so will the United Brotherhood of Carpenters :-))))