Despite complaints that Americans are rude and arrogant, I have seen little evidence of it. They are nice, friendly and hospitable. Americans would go out of their way to make you feel at home, or extend a warm hand to someone in trouble.
Driven by religious beliefs,warm and kindness to strangers are better manifested in Southern part of the US, which is often described by the Southern Hospitality mantra. I witnessed that warm and kindness through my recent road-trip to South Carolina.
My husband and I planned a 16 hr drive from Toronto to Myrtle Beach SC, with one night stopover at West Virginia. After we reached Ohio at around 5 PM, my GPS indicated it would take another 4hrs to reach our hotel in Charleston, West Virginia.
What we didn’t expect was the icy and treacherous road conditions. As we slowed down our speed, our arrival was delayed. Not long after we left Ohio, the mountain road became pitch dark. Imminent danger lurked as driving conditions got worse. However, having driven in snowy conditions as seasoned Canadians, we felt we would make it.
Around 8.pm, we were hit by a sudden snow storm. But our car was still racing through the snow at a high speed. A few kilometers into the stormy road, our luck had run out. As the tires failed to grip the ground, it pulled to the right towards the mountain and began fishtailing. Frantically, we tried to regain control, but it was too late. The car had become disobedient as it spun around.--I thought I was going to die.
We eventually landed in a snow bank to the left of the road and we realized we had survived a deadly accident. Had there been a truck behind us, we would have surely been killed.
The storm got heavier and we were swallowed by sheets of snow and darkness. After a few failed attempts to climb up from the ditch, I grabbed the phone in a panic mode and called 911.
But I couldn’t provide our location to the patrol officer, and I had no clue of where we were except the highway number we were on.
My phone was now nearly dead, and it seemed that it would be an eternity for the police to reach us. What if they would be unable to locate us? Were we going to be freeze to death in this mysterious mountain road? Would we be buried by the deep snow?
But we found hope amid despair. Americans never lack random acts of kindness. As our plight has drawn the attentions of drivers on the road, about 5 to 6 drivers stopped their vehicles, asking if we were injured and need help. While the location was quickly determined, none of them carried the equipment that could pull our van out from the snow.
When we provided the position of our van to the patrol officer, we were told that it would take “a while” before they could reach us, due to the high number of accidents on the highway that night.
As we watched every vehicle pull away from us, our hope diminished and our anxiety level skyrocketed. The dwindling car light seemed to be the only indication that we still existed.
When all looked lost, a truck suddenly pulled over and the driver brought us amazing news.
“I have a chain to pull you out!” yelled the driver through the storm.
We were thrilled. A few minutes later, our car was back on the road again.
The driver told us that they were in tow truck business and they spotted us on their way back home. As we offered to pay for the service; they refused.
We were very grateful and very lucky to meet him. But this wasn’t an isolated case of Good Samaritans. The spirit of warmness and hospitality was abundant at service centers, gas stations and even at McDonalds.
As love, compassion and care iswoven into American society, it sends a strong message that all visitors are valued– regardless of whether you are White, Black or Asian. I received the warmest and kindest treatment in America than anywhere else I’ve traveled – including my home country China.
Note: The story was published in Chinese News in March, 2015.
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