Winnipegger rescued by shiny-shoed stranger: compassionate story

Winnipeg (MB) via CBC - Here's a story that inspires me to do more, do better, give more and be better. A frail, elderly Winnipeg woman narrowly avoided being stranded at a U.S. airport thanks to a stranger in shiny shoes who transformed into her guardian angel.

Elsie Clark's return trip home from a holiday with family in Texas last week became turbulent quickly after she was dropped at the wrong departure gate by an employee working at the Dallas-Fort Worth International airport.

"By this time I was in tears," the 79-year-old Clark said in an interview on Monday with CBC News. She said she suffers from a bad hip, making it difficult to walk for long periods.

After missing her flight, the airline arranged for a different one with a connecting flight in Chicago.

It was on this aircraft that Clark said fate stepped in.

"I noticed a man with shiny shoes," she said, adding that since she was a little girl she's admired people wearing well-cared-for shoes.

His name was Dean Germeyer.

Clark said she and Germeyer shared stories on the airplane, which landed late, meaning Clark missed her connecting flight and would be stranded in O'Hare International Airport overnight.

Living on a fixed income, she said she couldn't afford a hotel room and would have to spend the night sitting on an airport bench with nothing but her purse.

"I'm absolutely in tears again," Clark said.

But that's when Germeyer stepped in and saved the day, she said.

The young businessman whisked her away to dinner with his wife at their apartment overlooking downtown Chicago.

Afterward, Clark said Germeyer took her sightseeing in the Windy City in his car.

At the end of their tour, Germeyer drove Clark to the Affinia Hotel where he had footed the bill for her to stay the night in a posh suite.

In the morning, a limousine arrived to ferry her to the airport and an uneventful flight home.

"Meeting a man like him — it's unbelievable," Clark said. "I will never forget him.

"You say 'thank you,' and it's not enough," she said.

Germeyer said he couldn't look the other way when he overheard Clark talking about her travel woes with an airline employee.

"I told her, 'I couldn't have slept with you sitting overnight with a bad hip at an airport. That wouldn't have been right,'" he said.

"This was a pretty easy thing for me to do — in the situation I knew exactly what to do — I had the means to really help her," Germeyer said.

Both Germeyer and Clark said they hope the story inspires others to help people in need.