Early one morning, in the tropical port of Madang, a small group of us was up at the airport. We were saying farewell to one of our friends who was being escorted home for medical treatment. Everything went well and the patient had been given special care by the airline staff. Just as the aircraft had taken off, a family group of overseas visitors came rushing into the terminal expecting to just catch the same flight. They were stunned to hear that the flight had gone. A wave of anxiety overtook them as they sought an alternative route to the capital in order to connect with their overseas flight. Actually there are no roads that connect the capital with other cities in the country. Quite unusual! There had been some misunderstanding about the flight schedule times at their Hotel-Lodge. Thus their late arrival at the airport.
We happened to know the manager of the airport well. We assured the anxious family that he would do his utmost to help therm. Soon the manager appeared and explained that the next flight would be in 2-3 hours time. It would still connect with their ongoing overseas flight to the States. My, what were the stranded passengers going to do? The manager explained that we had offered to host them on the world’s oldest ocean-going vessel as the airport would be closing until the next flight. They could have a tour of the historic vessel, some refreshments onboard and then return to the airport. He would make the VIP Lounge available to them. Some skilful public relations at work.
Little did we realise that the family had heard about the ship but had never actually been on board. The youngsters in the family were in their mid-upper teens. Thus it was a very good experience for them and leading them to join the crew as volunteers later. Although the parents were not totally at ease during the ship visit, nevertheless they were able to see it at first hand. The normal huge crowds were not onboard at that time of day. Soon, much to their delight, it was time to return to the airport and enjoy refreshments in the VIP lounge. Soon they would catch their flight. The extra package deal, creatively organised by the airline and ourselves, proved to have a calming effect. Being alert to opportunities to bring enjoyment to others is a rich experience. Never underestimate the seemingly casual meetings of life!!