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MCT/ Winnipeg Free Press

Times are tough for flyers—not only are baggage fees rising as the economy continues to struggle, but recent events have caused an increase in airport security, adding delays and a heightened sense of fear to a long list of passenger headaches. There’s no question that all of this adds up to a stressful experience, making airports a breeding ground for bad behavior, but some are managing to see past the annoyances, to connect with others through random acts of kindness.

A recent Chicago Tribune article shone a spotlight on airport altruism, when a shiny-shoed stranger lent a hand to a stranded, and exhausted, woman.

December 30th was one of the worst days of Elsie Clark’s life, until she met Dean Germeyer.

The 79-year-old Canadian grandmother was on her way home to Winnipeg, Manitoba when she missed her flight out of Dallas-Forth Worth after an airport employee left her at the wrong terminal for hours. Clark, who has a bad hip that leaves her wheelchair-bound when traveling, was put on another flight, connecting in Chicago, which was then delayed due to bad weather.

While Clark, who was visibly shaken, waited to takeoff, she worried about what was going to happen if she missed her flight out of Chicago. After contemplating having to spend the night on an airport bench due to her fixed income, she decided to strike up a conversation with a man seated nearby.

“I wanted to talk to somebody to get my mind off things for a little while,” Clark told the Chicago Tribune on January 6th. “So, I said, ‘Sir, do you mind telling me what you do because I’ve always admired shiny shoes.’ ”

Germeyer, who runs a technology consulting group in Chicago, was more than happy to oblige. Their conversation grew, and while Clark told him about her life, Germeyer began to think about what he could do to help.

“There was a connection between Elsie and myself,” Germeyer told the Chicago Tribune. “She wasn’t asking for anything at all.”

Germeyer sprang into action, arranging for a flight attendant to meet Clark with a wheelchair upon their arrival in Chicago, hoping to get her to her next flight on time. After exiting the plane, Germeyer rushed her to her gate but it was too late. The airline gave Clark a voucher for a nearby hotel room but Germeyer didn’t think it was enough.

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