Tuesday, 2 February 2016


I was going to write about the stupidity of the people at Park2Go at the Calgary Airport. I was going to tell how they assured me of wheelchair service yet completely failed at providing it. I was going to tell about how they left me and Katherine standing outside in the cold for a half an hour while not doing the pickup promised over the phone after we called right from the airport. I was going to rail about the statement from their supervisor that they had never helped someone with a wheelchair before, and would never do it again.

But I won't. They're not worth the effort.

Instead I want to tell the story of three young men, lifeguards on the beach at our resort in Cuba, the Blau Marina resort. The story begins with an understanding of beach access at the resort. There is a boardwalk down from the hotel to the sand. The sand, however, begins well before the beach area, through a cut in the dune that protects and separates the beach from the inshore area. What this meant is that I could get to the sand, but rolling through the sand to the beach was out of the question.

Given this difficulty, I spoke with the front desk. They shrugged and suggested their was little they could do. So I spoke to one of the real workers, one of the bell staff. He said "No problem. We'll get you to the beach." So we went to the end of the boardwalk, where he and a couple of other strong young men dragged me in my wheelchair down to the beach. This is when the beach staff noticed the situation, and jumped in to help.

The young men on the beach, the lifeguards, were terrific, learning quickly the best way to pull my wheelchair, leaning backwards, learning quickly the best way to lift me from my wheelchair to a beach chair, with three of them working as a team. All afternoon they were incredibly attentive; I barely had to finish a Pina Colada when they were asking if I wanted another. But it was more than "business as usual". I got the real and very sincere feeling that it actually mattered to them, that I, the man in the wheelchair, have the opportunity to enjoy their beach as much as possible.

The first day went so well that we went back for a second day on the beach. Instead of asking the bell staff, Katherine went straight to the boys on the beach. They seemed to come running from all directions to help. One of them was clearly off duty, but came anyway. They hauled me down, transferred me, got me drinks. When I wanted to go, they lifted me into my wheelchair and hauled me back to the boardwalk.

That's when the most interesting thing happened. I asked Katherine to give them a tip. She turned to give each of them a CUC peso, not an insubstantial tip but not gigantic either. Fair. The first took it. The second turned it down, as did the third. Then the first fellow, seeing what was happening, returned the tip to Katherine. We protested. They demurred. They smiled, shook my hand, and went back to the beach.

There is no moral here, no statement on the nature of humanity. I just thought of it as an incredibly kind and respectful gesture, to help someone in need with no expectation of return. We found this all over Cuba, but these three boys really demonstrated it. It wasn't big, but it sure impacted me.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. You have the right to write or call someone about the airport...but you're smart to use your time and beautiful writing skill to share the story of the 3 who went out of their way just because it was the right thing to do!

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  3. ^ cause I posted on the wrong blog day