When I was barely 18 I decided to go on a summer adventure to the US. I applied for a J1 Summer Work and Travel visa, found myself a job in a hotel in New Orleans, packed my bags and off to America (for the very first time) we go. Little did I know, that it would turn out to be one of the biggest learning experiences of my life.
Early morning a British Airways plane would take me from Madrid to London Heathrow. Later on an American Airlines would go from there to New Orleans via Dallas. There someone from the company I’d be working for would pick me up.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. The smell of adventure and airplane food in the air, families chatting about their coming vacation or how sad they were to leave Europe but so happy to soon be back home. I was just 18, but I had already been 3 years on and off on the road. I guess on that account I could have been considered old and experienced, but what would happen some hours later, made me feel like a little girl all over again.
Everything went smoothly. That is, until we were about to land in New Orleans. The plane started descending, and close to touch down, so close that I could smell the runway, it started to ascend quickly again. It went up and up and up and then started circling around. Then the second attempt to land began. This time successfully.
Shaking from the mini-shock, we all disembarked, collected our belongings and headed to the exit (I had already gone through customs in Dallas). It was past 10pm and pitch black outside. If you remember, I was expecting someone from my company would be waiting for me at the arrivals lounge, right? WRONG! There was no one, except for the odd family member coming to pick up their loved ones and a limo driver. No phone and no idea where I could go, I asked the limo driver if he could call the company for me. Which he kindly did. Once and again he tried, all without answer. Of course, no one is open at 10pm! Jet-lagged, desperate and without anywhere to go, I decided that I’d spend the night at the airport and would figure it all out in the morning.
Half an hour later, the nice limo driver came back. He told me that he knew an affordable hotel close by where I could go spend the night. He would drive me there if I wanted, as it was on his way home. The kindness of this stranger brought me to a warm and safe place.
After that night the summer just got more and more eventful as the days passed but that’s a story for another day, if it’s something you’d like to hear about. Anyhow, that day taught me two valuable lessons. One, that no matter how much you plan, you have to expect the unexpected when travelling. And two, that there are still good people out there willing to go the extra mile for a stranger. Random act of kindness and all, it was a summer I’ll never forget.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? If so, how did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below! 😀
P.s. and that’s the story of how I rode on a limousine for the first time in my life!