“I saw this gentleman, Tim, in Boston’s Logan airport with the sister he’d been visiting. It appeared he was both deaf and blind, as I observed her signing into his hand for him to feel her words.
When he came aboard the plane he had been assigned the middle seat of my row. The kind gentleman who had the aisle seat graciously gave it up for him.
At this point Tim was traveling alone. The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate. I watched as they didn’t flinch when he reached out to touch their faces and arms.
They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, to no avail. He had some verbal ability, but clearly could not understand them.
The man who had given up his seat did his best to assist him with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee. When Tim made the attempt to stand up and feel his way to the restroom, his seat mate immediately was up to help him.
The flight attendants were talking among themselves and someone suggested paging to see if anyone on board knew sign language. That’s when this lovely young woman came into the picture.
15 years old, she learned ASL because she had dyslexia and it was the easiest foreign language for her to learn. For the rest of the flight she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met.
It was fascinating to watch as she signed one letter at a time into his hand. He was able to ‘read’ her signing and they carried on an animated conversation. When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed as the seat mate, who had learned a few signs, communicated an enthusiastic yes to Tim.
I don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being. All of us in the immediate rows were laughing and smiling and enjoying his obvious delight in having someone to talk to.
Huge kudos to the flight attendants of Alaska Airlines who went above and beyond to meet Tim’s needs. I can’t say enough about this beautiful young woman named Clara who didn’t think twice about helping her fellow passenger. It was a beautiful reminder, in this time of too much awfulness, there are still good, good people who are willing to look out for each other.”
6/21/18 Addendum: This has come to the attention of Alaska Airlines and they are in touch with Clara’s family, the facility where Tim lives, and the kind seat mate. I have been so touched by the response to this story. We are all starving for good news and this was just what we needed. Thanks all!
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