Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too.
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Last year, I entered a competition, connected to the film Ocean's 8, to win a three night break in New York. I'm just back from there and it was a great experience - a very nice hotel, lunch at The Met, sightseeing, shopping, dining, and a few hundred dollars spending money. But I'll not bore you with the details. Rather, I'd like to mention one thing, amongst a number, that impressed me.
Included in the package was an executive car to take us from and back to JFK airport. On the return journey home, the car arrived promptly and off we went. I was in the back seat with my wife. The driver had his radio on and we heard the news that a helicopter had crashed into a high-rise building in Manhattan, in an area we had been only about a half hour before. As we listened, I received a text from my brother Kevin asking if we were okay and I responded we were. I texted my sons to let them know we were fine and on the way to the airport. I kept my phone out in case other messages pinged.
At the airport, we got out of the car, paid the driver and hauled our suitcase to the check-in desk when it occurred to me that I had left my phone in the back seat of the car. Now, the route from Manhattan to JFK is traffic madness, no make that utter madness, and God knows where the driver was ten minutes after he had dropped us off. Whilst I had the number of the car company, three attempts to ring failed to connect. Then, my wife had the brainwave for me to use her phone to phone my phone. This I did and the driver answered.
To cut a long story short, he told me to wait outside the departures door and he would return to the airport with my phone. A quarter of an hour later he arrived handed over the phone, graciously accepted my apology with a "No problem sir" and went on his way again.
Moments like this stay with me. I could talk about the big stuff, the touristy things and all that jazz, but little acts of kindness are not forgotten. I had thought that my phone may well have been lost forever, based on a stereotypical impression of tough-ass Big Apple taxi drivers, but no. This man saved the day and is embedded in my memory's hall of fame.