Yesterday, I got a surprise e-mail from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a few years. Her e-mail reminded me of welcome and kindness to a stranger.
On 12 September, 2001, while most people were watching the news, I found myself in Cornerbrook, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada, part of a coach load of passengers that were originally headed for Washington DC. I was with my five year old niece, and we’d spent the night in the airplane. We had access to snippets of information, some of which, even by the standards of that day were wild exaggerations.
Jacqueline worked for Social Services in Cornerbrook, and it was her duty to get us settled. She made sure that I and my niece were settled. Then, as my luggage was still in the airplane, she got her dad to take me shopping for change of clothing. In the evening, she introduced me to her boyfriend over dinner.
Now, I think that’s beyond duty, that’s friendship. To prove it, we kept in touch till I lost her address in the great hard drive crash. And she wrote me again.
Come to think of it, the Canadians really looked after us. Apart from keeping us fed and watered, they said we could make free telephone calls to inform our families that we were safe and well. I must have been so comfortable; when the captain told us we were returning to London, I spoke to him. I said we were better off in Cornerbrook, as we were closer to our final destination. I didn’t win that one and had to spend one more night in London. I spent almost 36 hours in a hotel near Heathrow. I couldn’t get out or do anything. When I wanted to tell my sister where I’d brought her daughter to, I was told I had to pay for the call.
So, thanks to all the people of Cornerbrook; Thanks Jacqueline, glad you got back in touch.