Monday, May 14, 2012


 May 12, 2012, Joan Wester Anderson
Hello, friends. Today's story is short, but hopefully sweet.

Barbara was 25, traveling by herself through Italy. She had grown up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and despite the differences in travel was managing the challenges that European trains bring. She had just come down from Brussels -- "I...
'd flown there because the fares were much cheaper --" and was on her way to Rome, where a distant cousin and his wife were going to meet her at the train station. Barbara knew that sometimes trains would split apart at certain cities, and part of the train would go one way and the other part would go elsewhere. "So you had to be sure you were in the correct car," she says. "I thought I had it all under control. I'm good at that kind of thing."

But as the day wore on and evening approached, Barbara realized she was NOT headed toward Rome. In fact, she could see the Adriatic Sea out the window. The train had split off in Florence, she realized, and she'd been been on the wrong car. "When the train stopped at a seaside city (maybe Ancona?) I hopped out to make a frantic call to my cousin," Barbara recalls. "But I could not figure out how the phones worked."

Night was falling. Barbara was panicking. She didn't have enough money for a new train ticket. "But I did have a Eurorail Pass I had been planning to activate later in my trip. I decided I'd better activate it right then." She did, and hopped on the next train toward Rome.

But her troubles were not yet over, she realized, for her Italian was not very good, and she had no way to notify her cousin that she would be late. She was really frightened now.

"Somehow the man sitting across from me on the train realized I was an American," Barbara says, "and he spoke to me in perfect English." How could he help? he asked.

Barbara hesitated. Was it a good idea to tell strangers about her dilemma? But the kind man seemed to see her from the inside out. "There's no need to worry," he reassured her. "I have spent a lot of time traveling in the United States.. I know my way around, especially in the West."

"What part of the West?" Barbara asked, curious despite her concern..
"A beautiful little area called Colorado Springs," the man replied. Barbara gasped. Her home town!

The stranger wasted no time making arrangements. He would be getting off at a station before Rome. "Give me your cousin's phone number," he told Barbara, "and I'll call him when I get off the train and tell him when you're arriving."

Barbara could hardly believe it. "And when I finally did arrive in Rome, at around midnight, there were my cousin and his wife, who had gotten the message from the man on the train."

What were the odds of two strangers from Colorado Springs meeting at just the right moment? Barbara has always felt that man was an angel.

Joan Wester Anderson

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