I guess this could sound like an advertisement with the exception that it isn’t. I have been slapped on the hands already for trying to sneak those in. This short story is about people and how we impact each other.
I was waiting for my appointment in the lobby of one of the high rise hotels when a tourist approached me and asked if I was Charles. Easy answer “Yes I am.” From there a conversation started that gave me reason to evaluate so many things. After my meeting, I felt it was time to call my good friend and “EX” Iracema just to let her know about the impact that rental phone companies have on our tourism. She was impressed with what I told her. It went like this:
In the lobby, the lady said to me, “Charles, what a pleasure it is to finally meet you.” This is a compliment that I love to hear and fail to understand, thus leaving me with a confused but inflated ego. She continued; “I am sure you don’t remember us but we did business with you when you worked out of the airport location. It was an experience that sold us on Aruba and we have told so many people back home about what happened.” I forced a ‘Oooh yes – I remember’ look on my face. She saved me by saying that she knew I could not remember but that she and her family and so many other families would not forget that particular week-end.
It seems as if several years ago, there was some bad winter weather in the North East sector of the USA. Our airport here on Aruba was jammed with people that were to leave on that day. The lines were getting long and the people in line were sweating and becoming irritated. Many of those vacationers that were stuck had rented phones from one of the several phone rental companies on the island. Some were DIGICEL phones and others SETAR. Yet the carriers were not the important part of what happened, nor were the season or the bad weather – let me take that back, the weather had something to do with it. As it turned out, several of the airports in the North-East were closed down and many of our tourists were stuck in paradise. Tough luck isn’t it? Anyway, all of a sudden, communications became an issue and everyone wanted their phones back so they could call home. In many cases, the numbers were already committed to new incoming tourists and we had them reserved. Dilemma!
At about the time we were trying to figure out what to do, some of the other rental companies called us and we made a decision to let the tourists stay with their phones and not charge for three days. I remember going into the packed departure ticketing area and finding some of the customers and telling them that their phones would be available for them at no cost except airtime. Everyone was pleased and I feel sure that the other rental companies did something similar because I heard comments to that regard. It was one of those good and cuddly things to do and a general feeling of good will existed.
The weather cleared up a bit, airports opened up, a landslide of phones were returned and the event was over. Or was it?
Let me go back to the lady in the lobby - she then said to me, “You know Charles, while I was standing in that mess of people waiting to see what was going on, my husband and I heard our brand new grandbaby on that little phone.” I was puzzled. She went on to let me know that she wanted to call her son and daughter in law to let them know that they were all ok and would be at a hotel – for them not to worry. At about that same time, when they were ready to make the call, their son called, he was with his wife and newly born son. She answered the rental phone and her son let his Mother listen to the newly born baby – all on one of Arubas’ little rental phones. How cool is that? Want another dose of cool? The hotel where they were staying, made sure everyone that was bumped had a room and put on a massive BBQ on the pool deck. The Minister of Tourism published something in one of the local tourist oriented papers, with a message along the lines of assuring everyone that Aruba was glad to host our tourists and that we are one happy island. But most importantly, at least to the lady in the lobby, she heard her grandson cry.
Anyway, like I said, while waiting for an appointment in the lobby of one of the high rise hotels. a tourist approached me and asked if I was Charles and the answer was an easy one. She then proceeded to give me joy. I wonder if it has ever occurred to the tourists that visit us that we could not be one happy island all we by ourselves. It is a participation sport. Think about it.
To a 4 or 5 year old kid,
We patiently await you on our shores. Your baby cries helped make us a happier island.
Be well kid.