By Mary Agnes Welch
WINNIPEG - It started out as the flight from hell.
On her way home from Christmas spent with her daughter in Corpus Christi, Tex., 80-year-old Elsie Clark found herself stranded in a deserted corner of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport Wednesday.
Clark has trouble with her hip and asked to be taken by wheelchair to her connecting gate, but she was dumped at the wrong one. By the time she found someone to help her, she'd missed her flight to Winnipeg.
With nary an apology -- even though Clark was in tears -- airline staff booked her on a later flight to Chicago.
That's when her luck changed.
Clark struck up a conversation with a young businessman across the aisle, Dean Germeyer, who must have overheard her fretting to the flight attendant about making her tight connection to Winnipeg.
Knowing about her trouble in Dallas, Germeyer quietly arranged for Clark to get off the plane first with him so he could escort her to her gate. But Clark again missed her flight, this time by 10 minutes. She hadn't eaten for hours and was very upset.
"I would have sat there on a bench all night and waited for the next plane in the morning", said Clark, who is on a fixed income and blanched at a $75 cab ride to Chicago. "But he said 'Elsie, I'll look after you. I've called my wife and you're coming over for dinner.'"
Turned out Germeyer, an executive with the global information technology firm ACS, lived in a condo on the 56th floor of a posh downtown highrise, with views of the Wrigley Building and Trump Tower.
After dinner, Germeyer took Clark for a tour of the city in his BMW and dropped her off at a chic boutique hotel for the night, all paid for.
"He was my guardian angel," said Clark said from her Winnipeg home Saturday.
From Waterloo Region Record news services
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant.