Good Samaritan in shiny shoes aids woman stranded at O’Hare
January 5, 2010 1:25 PM
| UPDATED STORY
Elsie Clark was having one of the worst days of her life when fate intervened in the form of a Chicago businessman wearing shiny shoes.
On her way home to Winnipeg from Christmas spent with her family in Texas, the 79-year-old was stranded at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for hours after an airport employee left her at the wrong terminal and she missed her plane.
When she finally boarded another plane to O’Hare
International Airport on the evening of Dec. 30, Clark — who suffers from a bad hip and uses a wheelchair — had not eaten for about 12 hours and did not know if she would make her connecting flight.
“Then I noticed a man sitting across the aisle from me wearing shiny shoes,” said Clark. “I said, ‘Sir, do you mind telling me what you do because I’ve always admired shiny shoes.’ “
Dean Germeyer, who runs a computer software consulting company in Chicago, had been scheduled to depart Texas later that evening, but at the last moment caught an earlier flight. Seated across the aisle from Clark, Germeyer said he had immediately noticed that she was having a bad day.
“People were coming by and putting their hands on her shoulders and saying, ‘I hope you get home tonight,'” said Germeyer. “She was doing OK, but you could tell she was at a breaking point.”
Although Clark didn’t ask for his help, Germeyer found himself making arrangements with the stewardess to have a wheel chair ready when the plane landed so that they could rush across the airport to catch her connecting flight.
When they landed, Germeyer hurried Clark to her next terminal, but Clark had already missed her second flight. The airline offered her a night for a discounted rate at a nearby hotel or she could sleep at the airport. That didn’t sit well with Germeyer.
“She is somebody’s grandmother,” Germeyer said. “And to slide this piece of paper across the desk and say, ‘Here is your voucher, good luck,’ when she hasn’t eaten, doesn’t have her luggage, and doesn’t know Chicago… I just wanted to make sure that she got some sleep that night.”
So, Germeyer called his wife, who had dinner waiting at their Streeterville condo, and said to put an extra place setting on the table.
Suddenly, Clark found herself being whisked away to their home some 56 floors above the city looking up Lake Shore Drive and out over Lake
Michigan. After dinner, Germeyer took her on a tour of the city before putting her up in a suite at the Affinia Hotel next to his building. He arranged for a car to take her back to the airport the next day.
“I just sat down when I got to the hotel and I cried and cried and cried,” said Clark. “Everything he did for me was just so beautiful. How do you say thanks to a man like that?”