Monday, March 9, 2015

The Blind Leading The Blind

I'm in a hotel restaurant not far from O'Hare Airport in Chicago.  With my partner Joe and his wife just having had their second child a few months ago, I thought it best for them if I didn't add more complications to their life by staying there during my trip.

I'm having dinner in the fairly nondescript hotel restaurant, when the restaurant  (which is relatively small) suddenly is filled with a number of Asian groups - families, couples, groups of 3 or 4.  They clearly have little or no English.  I remember before I left the airport club and came to the hotel that there was a long line of folks getting reservations changed - the sure sign of a canceled flight.  All of the people in the hotel restaurant had coupons from the airline for their meal.

Confusion was reigning because the coupons came in $7 increments and you had to use all or none of it.  Plus the restaurant had to add tax to prices.  The staff was having a very hard time communicating to the people.  As I've been in this boat but as the one in a land that didn't speak my language, I decided to try and help as best possible even though I was in the middle of my meal.

Turns out they were Chinese Mandarin speakers.  My Mandarin consists of one word - thank you.  Fortunately there was one woman who had a tiny pit of English.  Between that and doing some math calculations on paper, we were able to get two of the groups to order their meals.

Once I was done helping and then finishing my meal, I realized I could have used Google translate - DUH!  At least before I left I was able to show them "Have a safe trip home" in Mandarin. I don't know if the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel gives any credit for going out of the way for helping strangers in a strange land but maybe my karma will come back to me on our next trips.


alexis said...

when last we were in the land of the mandarin speakers we had a lot of help from strangers as we tried to get around. I'm sure it will come round again when you are in Asia again!

terri said...

I'm willing to bet that this act of generosity will result in something good coming your way!