Sunday, September 26, 2010

I don't speak Chinese

but while my friend, Michelle, and I were on our way down to LA to see the girls, I sure wish I did!

It was a chaotic day. 
SFO had an emergency landing on one of their runways, therefore delaying a whole heap of flights - cancelling some... including ours.  We made the most of it, found another airline that was flying down there, and had a chatty drink at the bar while we waited through our 5 hour delay. 
But, a family visiting from China behind us in line, did not.
They didn't speak very much english... they only knew a few words - and no one in our terminal at SFO knew any Chinese.  From what I could gather from them, they were doing a self-guided tour through California and they had to catch another flight in LA before heading back to China. 
I felt so helpless.  I was trying to think of different ways I could find out some Chinese words.  I even looked up a translator app on the iPhone, but it was taking so long.  (I was also speaking very loudly, I finally caught myself, but you know when you're trying to tell someone something and they don't understand you speak louder, thinking it's your volume and not your words... I must have sounded like a dork!)
So, I thought... who do I know that knows Chinese?? 
Of course... a very smart reporter from my work, Suzanne Phan, speaks it.  She lived in China for a while.  She's also extremely nice.
So, I called her.  She was driving and had to pull over to help me... but she translated everything for this family over the phone.  She had a full conversation in Chinese with them, and they got all the details they needed!
It was awesome.
She was so helpful, and I cannot tell you how thankful that family was.  They kept saying "Thank you", over and over.

After my short little list of places I have been out of the country, I know how frustrating it can be when you are somewhere no one else knows what you are trying to say and you can't understand a thing.  It can really ruin everything!
Hope you are having a fabulous Sunday!

9 comments:

Adrienne Gomer said...

That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard Tracy. You are so thoughtful. It's people like you that make me have faith in the good in people.

Jenn @ WestSacHoney said...

That was very very resourceful Tracy! You made their day and trip! I can't believe anyone at the airport didn't speak Chinese. Something a little similar happened to me on Muni before and I only know a few things in Chinese that's when I realized my family really should have taught me it made me sad but that was a great job!

Claire Kiefer said...

So sweet that you stopped to help them! I hope that your gesture bolsters their impression of Americans as a whole. :)

Chiara said...

You are so thoughtful!!!!
I have to say that I've been in that situation, where I couldn't speak to language and felt lost and confused and was freaking out when I first moved to South America on my internship.... so someone like you to come and help, is HUGE. You made their trip that much better!!
xoxo

www.joiedevivre-chiara.blogspot.com

Mrs. Potts said...

That was so wonderful of you to do. Too many people now don't appreciate how much things like what you did can touch people.

Kudos to you!

Allison said...

Awwe, Tracy, this is one of the reasons why I just adore you.
After being in China in May, it struck me how absolutely accommodating the people there were to us. Clearly, we didn't speak Chinese, and they went out of their way to use the few English words they knew, and to do gestures and count with their hands for us. I had said to a few of my friends that it made me so sad that a lot of people here have this mentality that everyone needs to speak English to come here - and your story makes me happy that it's not all of us!
I think you're a wonderful and amazingly sweet lady :)

Lori said...

You are sooo sweet to have done that for that poor family! So sorry to hear that you experienced delays in getting your week-end started but I know you had a fabulous time. Happy Monday Tracy! xo

Jamie Pickle said...

That was so sweet of you. Nice to know there are a few caring people left in the world. Most people would simply carry on with thier day.

Kristin said...

That is so awesome you were able to help them!! Way to go thinking of someone!!