I'm posting this on the business forum so as not to disrupt the stories posted on hotels and local area, and since no one posts here anymore.
How about some stories about a bad situation somehow turning out well, either through people, hotels, seeing new places, or whatever? We would have had to be on Mars in the past few days not to know of the horrors happening on the runways of JFK, LaGuardia, O'Hare and many other airports -- but those are airline horrors, which of course still count. For example, did you get to know your seatmate? Did you talk to those people from another country?
Or, more to the point of my question, did something happen to you on a business or leisure trip that at first seemed OMG I can't deal with this and then turned into something wonderful?
It has happened to me, more than once. I've gotten to know a lot of people on planes, in line for planes, at hotels and in my already written post about getting lost in the Piazza Venezia in Rome en route by foot to the Vatican.
But I'll add a new one. When I flew back to Boston from Lyon via Amsterdam in September after my trip to Avignon we had a very long delay. I was standing in front of a lovely woman who appeared to speak only French. She wasn't complaining, only asking what was going on since most of the announcements were in English (go figure). I filled her in, and then we got to talking. Who would've believe Héléna, with whom I've corresponded a number of times since, spoke beautiful English? She didn't think she did, so she didn't try until I kept speaking French to her. Then when we finally got to the gate, she asked the agent in English if we could sit together. He said we couldn't do so right now, but people might be willing to switch on the plane. As soon as we were on board, Hélena got to work asking her seatmate and the flight attendant about a switch. She spoke of kindred souls. I can't claim any bit of that, but I think our mutual ability to speak each other's language opened a door, despite initial hesitancy (me because I'm a strange hermit and she because she hadn't spoken English in so long). It finally worked - so well that the flight attendant thought we were relatives.
On an hour long flight to wherever I was going (there are so many legs I forget), I got to know Héléna, and her life in a beautiful place called "Le Rochefort" in central France. Turned out she was a renowned artist who'd had many exhibits. I got to see a small version of her portfolio of exhibited paintings, which was spectacular. On that short flight we shared many of our lives' happinesses, woes, and joys. What struck me about Héléna, above all, was her joy in life despite some recent major setbacks.
I just got a Christmas card from Héléna. Her life has taken some turns for the worse, but I got the sense from our short time talking together in line and on the plane that she is a happy person, a survivor of whatever life hands her. After we parted at Amsterdam, she embraced me, saying she'd felt like she'd known me forever. I felt the same. She told me anytime I'm near Clermont-Ferrand I should visit her, 900m above sea level at her house.
So sometimes bad isn't always bad. For the people this past week they really were in most cases, but in short delays, short inconvenience situations, you have the opportunity to meet new friends -- or as Héléna said, if this is the only time we meet we will both be richer for it. It could sound trite, but not if you'd met her.
Happy New Year to all, since you know I'll be sound asleep!
Without question, my bad experience has to have become the best of my life.
It was in the 1980's, I was stuck at Logan Airport in Boston, flying to Tampa, Florida. There was this threat of a hurricane looming in the Gulf of Mexico that delayed my flight.....for hours and hours and hours. There was this very cute gal waiting in the gate area that caught my eye (I was in my late 30's and never married, so it was OK), but I was really not the type to go and strike up a conversation with a stranger in an airport terminal....but wow, was she cute. Oh, well. I suffered through the wait until about 10:30pm when they decided to board the flight (it was supposed to leave at 4:30 that afternoon).
Lo and behold, that cute gal was sitting in the same row of three across seats as me! Better yet, there was an empty seat between us!! I mustered the gumption to strike up a conversation. We talked the whole flight.....about anything and everything.....or so it seemed. Time flew.....or so it seemed.
Then, the flight was forced to stop in Orlando, saying that they were running low on fuel. Two hours later, we left for the final "leg" to Tampa. Finally arrived at about 4am.....or so it seemed. Could have been later, could have been earlier.....or so it semed. We decided to stay in touch to see if we could top this airline nightmare story at some point in the future.
As it turned out, we have become the best of friends, sharing good times and bad....and we continue to exchange cards and gifts every Christmas.....with the last 20+ as husband and wife.
Couldn't be any better.
My car's radiator exploded as I rammed into a tractor trailer truck, an 18 wheeler carrying Styrofoam containers, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Breezewood. The driver failed to signal his intention to pull into my lane. He was doing "big truck slow" and I was cruising at the limit. Physics tells us that a body at rest, well, you all know that one.Trucks always win in these kinds of crashes.
Bruised and mad that I would be getting back to my DC job late, I was surprised when a State Policeman pulled up, and though we'd gone to college together, pretended not to know me. He asked the driver what had happened, and of course, the driver claimed that I was in his blind spot, that I was going too fast, etc. Coming over to me sitting at roadside, he asked if I needed a doctor, nothing else. As he turned away he handcuffed the truck driver, charged him with reckless driving, called for a tow truck for me and left, not saying a word.
At home a day later the doctors said I was going to be out of commission for at least two weeks. My office in DC was understanding to a point since they knew I was in the Marine Corps Reserve and about to head off to training, active duty, and then to Vietnam.
My next call was from the Marines, who had heard of the accident and wanted me to have a physical at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland when I got back to DC. I said I would and limped back to bed rest and contemplation of my future.
Bethesda's examination confirmed that I was, in their words, "Unfit for service and discharged at the convenience of the government."
The draft board decided that this did not apply to my obligation to serve in the US Army and I enlisted just before being drafted.
I can't say what might have happened if I'd been on active duty with the USMC in Southeast Asia. I can say that my three years in the army were relatively uneventful, but they included a sunny summer day in July 1970 at the National Cathedral in Washington when my wife and I were wed, over 40 years ago.
Life is never a straight line, and there's no rehearsal. The truck on the turnpike altered the course of my life and allowed me to meet the person who is mother to our child and an excellent wife to me.
So, yes, bad experiences, even near-death ones, turn into good, at least for me.