My last post gave a glimpse into the rare negative experience when traveling. I wanted to let you all know about some of the amazingly positive experiences I have encountered when traveling.
Experience 1: A number of years ago, I met an amazing person named Elsa in Austin, TX. This person met me when I was speaking to a group of teenagers about college preparation. Elsa asked me about my plans while in Austin, and I really didn’t have any. She asked if I would like to join her, her husband, and possibly her two sons and daughter for dinner. I ended up having dinner with them on two nights, visiting a Presidential Library, and taking in some great music. I make an effort to see Elsa and her family when I am in Austin, and they have always treated me like I was an old friend or family. I can’t say enough about them!
Experience 2: I travel through Charlotte airport almost weekly, and I travel through the local terminal, Terminal E, each time. The skycaps in Charlotte airport and the ground crew literally know me. They say, “Oh, he is part of our family, and he comes through all of the time.” They go out of their way to assist me, and know that I am a competent person. Some people find it strange that I wander around the far end of the terminal, and that I know where a number of the restaurants, restrooms, and stores are located. But, the staffs that are there know me, and they treat me extremely well. I literally feel like it is filled a lot of my good friends. I have traveled through with coworkers, and they are blown away by the treatment I receive there. I can’t say enough for the service provided in the Charlotte airport and from US Airways. Thank you!
Experience 3: I have met people on planes who have become good friends. I have met business persons who have looked to hire persons who are blind or visually impaired because of our interactions. Recently, I have met a ton of great people on my flights and in different airports. There are times when I need assistance and have solicited it. Persons have been willing to step up and help me on every occasion. I am grateful to all of these persons.
Experience 4: In many hotels, I have received great assistance from staff. When I arrive to a hotel, I typically ask for a few things (I think that is a separate blog post). But, I can remember the best and most specific assistance I received were in three Marriott brand hotels. One was in the Newton, MA Marriott. The second was in the Marriott Midway Chicago. The last was in the Residence Inn Austin University. In all three, the staff was knowledgeable, comfortable, and understood my specific requests. This also makes me think about how sad I am about Stephen Marriott’s passing. I had the opportunity to meet him, and I could see his passion for his work and making a difference was quite evident. He will be missed. Anyway, these were some of the extremely positive experiences in hotels. There were many positive, but these were the best.
Experience 5: I attended the first Presidential Inauguration for President Obama in Washington, DC. I think about my travel after the ceremony. I had to navigate on my own to the Metro line. This may sound simple, but many of the stations were closed. I ended up having to walk to Georgetown to get on a train, seriously. It actually was a positive experience because people were so helpful, courteous, and provided appropriate assistance. I can say I was tired and it took a ton of effort, but it was well worth it.
Experience 6: I can’t say how many times while traveling in random cities for work, I have asked for information or assistance about directions or locations. I have way too many positive experiences to even attempt to provide examples. I can tell you people are nice when you are nice. I make a huge effort to be polite and courteous. I hold myself to a high standard, but I am not saying I am perfect. I would tell you that I am a good traveler, not a perfect one. I know what type of assistance I need, and I am willing to ask for it.
Not too long ago, I used to attempt to navigate through airports all on my own, but I have realized that it is okay to ask for assistance. I used to stress and work extremely hard to navigate totally on my own. Now, I think back at all of the strain I wasted. All persons are interdependent. Travel is already a stressful situation for most persons, and I didn’t need to add that extra level of stress and aggravation. I am a good traveler, but you can not know every airport and location. If you are going to make flights, trains, and buses, most persons with a lot of vision loss will need to ask for assistance. Not everyone, just saying, I know I’d rather use that stress on other issues.
I hope this post makes up for the one negative experience I shared in my last post, Thoughts from the Road: Dealing with the General Public and Always Being "On".