SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Eileen Small


December 19, 2007
Wednesday AM

I had a wonderful opportunity to witness human kindness recently. As often as we see "the other side" of individuals, I thought this was worth a short letter to share it. This past weekend, my 94 year old mother flew from Ketchikan back home to Houston, Texas to visit with my sister and the rest of our family for a month.

This was a HUGE deal, not only due to Mama's age but because she is wheelchair dependent, nearly deaf and is blind in one eye and can barely see with the other eye. I made the ticket acquisiotion about a month early and then began trying to be sure she would be assisted to and from gates etc---the whole thing. About 2 years ago my Mom made the same trip and was left in an airplane for several hours (accidentally) because the airline forgot her. Needless to say, while Mama eagerly anticipated this trip, she was also scared to death of a repeat of her last experience. I made a number of phone calls both to Alaska Airlines and to American Airlines which was the connecting flight she had to pick up in Dallas to get to Houston. Even after multiple reassurances from BOTH airlines, I still took Mom to the airport on Saturday evening with a lot of trepidation. I knew if there was any "mess up" that my Mom was emotionally unable to deal with it and that it was nearly impossible to handle such a problem from Ketchikan.

About 5 a.m. on Sunday morning my phone rang. My heart sank as I answered it because her flight was supposed to land in Houston at shortly after 9 a.m. their time, and I was sure that the very worst had happened and that Mom was stuck some where and hysterical. I was met on the phone by a calm male voice who said: " Hello, I am the captain of the plane your Mom is on. We have experienced a little mechanical difficulty and are running late and your Mom is upset. She didn't have the phone number for your sister in Houston who's picking her up and if you can give it to me I'd like to call and explain the situation to her so she can pick up your Mom when we get there." My response was that I appreciated his notifying me and would be happy to contact my sister myself, but he replied again: "I think your Mom would feel better if I just called with her here if you don't mind just giving me the number." I gave him my sister's phone number and he did contact her about the delay.

In my confusion, in the dark, at that early hour, I never asked for that kind pilot's name. I was in shock in the first place just to have a pilot call me about something that must have seemed so trivial to him---a mechanical delay and a plane running late. I know the flight number and intend on writing American Airlines a note to commend him---hopefully it will trickle down and he'll hear about it. All I know is this: in a world where we're all so very busy (especially this time of year) and where all of us get annoyed with airlines when they run late or lose our luggage-- or a million other inconveniences, there are still some very good and decent people. This includes a pilot on flight 2385 from Dallas to Houston, Texas on Sunday morning, December 16, 2007. This stranger took his time and used his phone to be of comfort to a frail and elderly 94 year old woman who was a long, long way from home. I hope he and his family enjoy peaceful and blessed Holidays.

Eileen Small
Ketchikan, AK


Received December 17, 2007 - Published December 19, 2007


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Ketchikan, Alaska