My mother doesn’t speak any English, and she needed to travel alone from New York to San Fransisco to visit her student.
She was quite afraid of being “thrown” into an “alien world”, where she couldn’t communicate with anybody. What could she do if she encountered any problems? She wanted to ask me to go with her, but was reluctant to say so.
I felt very guilty for not being able to go with her. So I called Alaska Airlines, with which my mother would be flying, and ordered a “special service” for her. I asked Alaska Airlines to provide escort service to my mother as she doesn’t speak English and would have difficulties finding the gate and the exit.
Yesterday I went to the airport with my mother. After I helped her to check in, Alaska Airlines soon sent over a young staff member to help my mother. I saw the staff leading my mother to the security checkpoint; and then left with confidence that things should be OK.
Early this morning, my mother called with much excitement. She said, she had arrived without problems. Her flight arrived earlier than schedule yesterday, and the airport had her name displayed in very big letters in the billboard so that her student could see it as soon as he arrived.
She said, after they landed, a staff member, a young lady, got her sit in a wheelchair, and pushed her all the way to the exit. She stopped at the water fountain and restroom and asked my mother if she needed to drink water or visit the restroom (not in English, I guess with hand gestures. )
Then the staff waited together with my mother for a very long time until my mother’s student arrived. She even somehow managed to express to my mother that it was too cold outside, so she would like to wait together with my mother inside the airport.
My mother said very emotionally, “ I was so moved! How nice they are! How patient! America IS Great indeed! I wanted so much to thank them, but it is a shame that I don’t speak English! Can you please give them a call and express to them my gratitude?”
I was quite moved too, but managed to said to her calmly, “Mom, this kind of service is just everyday practice here. Nothing too special about it. There is no need to call. “
I knew why my mother was so moved and excited. She comes from China, where one usually cannot expect such kind of kindness and “special” service, unless you belong to the very small privileged circle.
Although I don’t feel like making a special phone call to express my mother’s gratitude, I feel like writing about it as my way of expressing our gratitude. I am a writer after all, am I not?