A stranger saved me from a Christmas blizzard. Now I am stranded once more



(CNN) — Someplace on that 7 a.m. Greyhound bus journey between Port Authority and Albany, I began crying.

Being stranded by a blizzard in New York had been enjoyable at first: crunching via piled-high sidewalks was a Christmas film come true.

However the record-breaking snowfall within the Jap United States from December 16 to twenty, 2009, induced 1,200 flights to be canceled out of New York’s three main airports.

I received much less of a kick out of spending hours on maintain in my shoebox resort room, scrambling to get journey rescheduled at one of many busiest occasions of the 12 months.

I used to be alone, having prolonged a piece journey, and I had a accomplice in London to get again to, adopted by a visit to see household in Eire and a brand new child niece.

I lastly finagled a patchwork itinerary that may get me residence. Since there have been no flights from New York Metropolis to London, I received a seat on a flight from Albany to Detroit on December 22, then one other on a red-eye flight to London. I would hop again to my house for an hour or two, then catch a flight to Belfast on the night of the twenty third.

One-way ticket to Albany

I barely slept the night time earlier than, which was lucky as my resort room’s alarm clock by no means went off. Waking simply by likelihood, I threw my issues collectively and raced throughout city in a blind panic.

The grubby grey concrete of Port Authority bus terminal is not any prettier by daybreak’s early gentle.

I used to be on the earliest bus attainable, however the schedule was 40 minutes later than marketed and, because the journey received underway, it was delayed even additional.

Realizing that I used to be on a pointless journey upstate to Albany, a spot I would by no means even heard of until 24 hours earlier, and that I would not be residence with household by December 25, I gave in and commenced to weep.

Planes, trains and cars

“Are you okay?” requested the lady within the window seat subsequent to me. It was calming to see a kindly face after the stony blankness of the officers at Port Authority and we fell into dialog.

Susan Lee was a realtor from Brooklyn, on her approach to her mom’s for the vacations, and as we talked, I started to calm down and settle for my scenario. Then Susan got here up with a plan.

As an alternative of staying on the bus to the airport, my new buddy and I had been quickly hopping off collectively at Albany Bus Terminal, the place Susan’s mom Judy was ready within the automobile to choose her daughter up.

Susan took the wheel and the three of us made the 12-mile sprint to the airport, the Lees’ plan for the morning put to 1 aspect.

I jumped out of the automobile, raced via the airport and made it onto the primary of three flights. I received to London the subsequent day, despatched Susan a thank-you e mail, and by night I used to be again residence, able to spend Christmas Eve within the Northern Irish countryside.

And that was that, till April 2020.

‘We want that proper now’

“I am simply so excited that you simply received in contact with me,” beamed Susan, becoming a member of me through Zoom from the cottage in Sullivan County, New York, the place she and her accomplice had gone to sit down out the coronavirus lockdown.

She was fresh-faced and smiling, and it was onerous to imagine that greater than ten years had handed since that fateful journey.

See also  What history got wrong about the 'female Saint Patrick'

I used to be in my bed room in North London, within the residence I purchased a few years earlier than. I have been at CNN 5 years now, having been laid off on the on-line video start-up which introduced me to New York in 2009. My Irish household’s a bit of larger, with a nephew becoming a member of us in 2010.

The pandemic restrictions have given me much more time to reconnect with individuals on-line, which is why I would dug out Susan’s enterprise card from a drawer and Googled her.

Susan informed me she’d choked up when she received that shock communication telling her that, as soon as upon a time, she’d performed a bit of factor that meant so much. “We want that proper now,” she added.

“I traveled fairly a bit after I was youthful, too, so I acquired loads of goodness from individuals,” recalled Susan. “It was a feel-good second, you realize. It was rewarding to get your e mail and discover out what had occurred.”

10 years ago, this stranger saved my Christmas (images for story)

Susan Lee (left) and Maureen O’Hare (proper) catch up by video name from their houses in upstate New York and North London.

Maureen O’Hare/CNN

Household ties

In 2009, “I used to be simply going to spend Christmas with my mother,” she mentioned. “My father had handed away a 12 months previous to that. It felt type of empty with my father being gone.”

The Lees emigrated to the US from Seoul, South Korea, in 1976. Her father was a dental technician, and “he wished to dwell the American dream.”

Stated Susan, “It is a horrible factor to lose a cherished one, particularly anyone that I cherished dearly. However trying again now, it is fairly wonderful how I have been capable of transfer on, after I thought that I would not be capable to dwell with out him.”

Susan has a sister in Hawaii and a brother in California, whereas Judy remains to be in Albany, a few hours’ drive away from Susan’s cottage.

“She’s an incredible lady. A most cancers survivor, she’s had such well being points for lots of her life,” mentioned Susan. “When Covid-19 got here out I used to be very involved as a result of she has to journey 3 times every week to the dialysis heart.”

See also  Traveling to France during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Susan had made a socially distanced go to to Judy 10 days earlier, to carry provides. “It was bizarre not to have the ability to hug her,” she mentioned, however she was glad her mom was secure and nicely.

‘Make lemonades with lemons’

Susan helped me reunite with household that 12 months, however now, like billions all over the world, we’re undecided once we’ll be capable to hug our family members once more. It is a reminder to treasure the moments we now have.

December 22 would be the 11-year anniversary of the day Susan helped me get residence. This 12 months I had flights booked from London to Belfast on that day too, to spend Christmas with the household I’ve not seen since March.

Now that the UK journey bubble has been canceled and London is in lockdown, I will be spending the vacations with my new housemate of some months, and catching up with family and friends over video.

Again in 2009, I used Google Hangouts to ring residence when stranded, and video calls have additionally been an important assist this 12 months — and the WiFi’s higher too.

I will be messaging Susan as we speak forward of our anniversary, to find out how the remainder of her 12 months has panned out. Again in April, her work as a realtor had paused, however she informed me she was doing her finest to “benefit from the much less hectic life” and “actually making an attempt to make lemonade with lemons right here.”

We ended our name with hopes to have drinks in particular person in the future, once we may go away our houses and the Atlantic was now not between us.

Stated Susan, “It’s going to take a while, however life will proceed.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here