Even in blizzard, helpful people still around

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY – As the cab driver slid into the icy motelparking lot late Thursday night, he was the third person who toldme it never snows like this in Oklahoma. Seven hours earlier, I hadexperienced the thrill of landing in a commercial jet during ablinding blizzard.

Little did I know that the fun was just beginning.

I was attempting to get to Kansas City for a board meeting ofthe National Newspaper Association.

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Leaving from Jackson earlier in the day, I pondered cancelingthe trip due to the impending storm. But after talking to a nicelady in Kansas City who said the worst of the weather seemed to beover and the streets fairly clean, I thought, “What the heck, itwould be an adventure!”

As we dropped out of the clouds on our approach into OklahomaCity, the fellow sitting next to me laughed as the reality of thesituation appeared. Pointing to his feet he commented, “I didn’teven wear socks.”

What I was in for over the next 24 hours was something out aChevy Chase movie.

First, my cell phone went dead. “No problem,” I thought tomyself, “An old-fashioned pay phone will suffice.” The only problemis that in the cell phone world we live in pay phones are almostnonexistent these days in airports! When I found one, it would onlytake coins!

Cranking up my laptop computer found me unable to connect to theairport’s wireless network. No cell phone and no e-mail meant noeasy way to communicate with the outside world.

Little did I know the evening was only just beginning to getinteresting.

For seven hours, we went back and forth getting on and off theairplane. The airline was determined to get the plane to KansasCity – although all other flights had already been canceled. Theygave up around 10:30 p.m. when the power went off in theairport!

Outside the winter weather was howling and snow was pilingup.

Few, if any, cabs were available and hotel rooms were evenscarcer at the late hour. Sleeping in the airport with onlyemergency lighting and no heat was becoming a real possibility.

I revisited my conversation earlier in the day with the “nice”lady in Kansas City. My feeling of her optimistic demeanor waschanging.

Because of airport security, I was not able to move to an areaof the airport where motel information was available.

A guard suggested I look in the yellow pages of a phone book butoffered no suggestion on where to find one. I eventually did, butno yellow pages – just an ad suggesting accessing the phonecompany’s yellow page Web site!

I started looking for a comfortable bench!

Last week, a TV network morning show featured a series ofstories on how unfriendly the American public has become.

Thursday night I found the opposite.

What I found was more like a current TV commercial for aninsurance company about people helping people.

A member of the flight crew offered me the use of her cell phonecharger and her phone while mine got a quick charge. Anotherstranger helped me secure a motel room using his frequent flyercard.

A cab driver appeared out of nowhere. At the hotel, they offeredto refund my cab fare because the motel’s shuttle had been shutdown due to the weather.

I never made it to my Kansas City meeting, opting instead to geton the first plane I could find heading south.

My sockless friend? I have no doubt someone helped him with anextra pair of socks.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.