Irish musician Dermot Barrett tells PlayIrish USA the heartwarming story of his experience with a kind stranger while travelling in the United States.
The first time that I travelled to America, I was on my own, an impulsive youth. Immediate ‘disaster’ struck as my flights were ‘doubled booked’ (this was the mid 90’s cell phones and the internet were just being imagined really) – So, Instead of arriving in Boston at midday… I was arriving into Boston, 18hours later, after being to Glasgow, London and New York. I was on the last flight to Boston, with nowhere to stay…at midnight.
My young brain was unsure of what to do and racing. I was beginning to regret my impulsiveness. My anxiety was raised further by the stink of the man beside me, who then spilt coffee on both of us. He apologised gracefully, saying that perhaps the smell of the coffee would override his own unavoidable BO. He explained that he had been stuck on runways in delayed airplanes and in airports for the last 72 hours as he tried to make his way home from Mumbai to Boston. We joked a little about how very Gary Larson it was, that I always get stuck beside the ‘weirdo’. My accent caught his ear and he asked very politely where I was from.
“Dublin.’ says I.
“Ahh, Dublin, I thought I knew the accent! I had one of the best experiences of my life in Dublin many years ago”.
Now, he was a second generation Indian American, as my foolish young brain ‘stereotyped’ on its internal keyboard, I was thinking that he would never have even heard of Dublin, never mind Ireland! Yet, He went on to tell the tale of how he had flown into Dublin, late at night, to find no one from his business meeting to greet him, as planned(again, this was the mid 90’s). His first time in Europe, his first time trusted to go abroad for the family business and he was lost. Then a complete stranger approached him and asked “Are you lost?”
“Don’t you worry; we’ll take care of you.”
This complete stranger then brought him into the city, found him a hotel, got him a room, and came back the next day, proceeded to take him on a tour of Dublin, the Guinness brewery , Trinity College, brought him to his meeting then to a restaurant with the man’s wife, followed by a trad session in a pub!
“This guy not only saved my petrified life and my business career, he brought me out on the town…for the craic!”
As the plane landed, he asked me if I had a place to stay. In typical Irish fashion I said, “No, but it’s grand! Don’t worry about it!” I was in fact doing enough worrying for everyone!
“I’ll sort you” he said as we headed towards the baggage claim, but there I lost sight of him. I collected my bags and tried to find any info on hotels. I was ‘browsing’ some leaflets when he came running back in-“I’ve found my wife, you’re coming with us!” he said.
Five minutes later I was getting into the back seat of their Volvo with his two kids (who had been waiting up to see daddy after eight weeks away). They gave me a look of shock that said “Wow, Daddy went to Mumbai and brought us back a HIPPIE!!”
They took me from hotel to hotel and finally, as his kids slept in the back, he found me the last room at the Buckminster on Beacon St, at 1.30 am.
I thanked him profusely, but he just said, “You thank that wonderful stranger in Dublin. And pay it back some day, somewhere. Pass it on!”
One week later, after my main trip to South Dakota, I arrived into New York’s Grand Central Station. I was met by a friend, who had the keys to an apartment where I could stay for a few days. We were approached by a girl with tears streaming down her face.
“I just heard your accents, are you Irish and can you help me?” she said, “ I’m only here for a night, I fly out tomorrow, my friends were supposed to meet me, they haven’t, I have no money!”…
Next day at the bus bound for LaGuardia, this young girl from Athy (if memory serves me) was thanking me….
“Don’t thank me….” I said….”Thank a wonderful stranger in Dublin… and, pass it on…”
The world is a wonder when you let it.