Last week we left Lombok, Indonesia (and a great travel adventure with the Grays) to head to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. It was a three-hour international flight on “Air Asia.” Guess how much the flight was? About $100 per ticket! The flight itself was fine, but we were worried about Porter.
The day before we flew out Porter developed a painful earache, and the local doctor was not in. So, we did some quick “internet-doctor-diagnosis,” and figured it was swimmer’s ear. We read that Porter maybe should not fly – extreme pain and the possibility of a burst eardrum were both mentioned by http://www.youwithoutanymedicaltrainingcandecidewhatyourkidhasandifitisserious.com. We decided to go for it, because $100 tickets are a bargain, but probably not transferable.
We arrived at the airport, and asked if they had a chemist where we could buy some eardrops. We were swept to a table with two ladies in headscarves (Lombok is a muslim country). The two ladies eagerly plopped Porter onto a table and had a look at his ear. They conferred in a mix of Indonesian and giggles. They showed us a medication, antibiotic eardrops, and a quick Google search confirmed they were appropriate for swimmer’s ear. They wouldn’t accept any money and had packets of snacks for everyone in the family to munch on while we waited. They were lovely, and we felt well cared for.
Ten minutes later we were off through the labyrinth of security, check-in, re-security, and immigration. Air Asia has a very clever business plan: sell a very cheap ticket, but charge for everything else. Even water. When you reach the gate, they have you pass through a third security check point (no liquids allowed) to wait to board the plane. The last waiting room has no food or water, so basically you develop a thirst for on-board products.
The flight was uneventful. As we descended towards Kuala Lampur, I was worried about Porter’s ear. We read that chewing gum and swallowing would help. So, I approached a flight attendant to ask for a cup of water.
“Could I have some water for my son with ear infection who needs to swallow during landing?” I asked.
“Yes, but you need to pay.” he replied.
“How much?” I queried, slightly annoyed.
“One dollar.” I offered him a $20 bill. “No change.”
I offered him a 50,000 Rupiah bill (about $4). “Only US money.”
I just stood there and repeated my original request. He relented, and I got a cup of water. Luckily, the magic of those eardrops, chewing gum and a video game all contributed to a painfree landing.
A few days later, Amy took Porter to our friends’ Malaysian doctor – Dr. Perkosh. Amy reported “nicest doctor visit ever.” He was seated in the waiting room, ready to greet his patients. He looked at Porter’s ear, prescribed meds, looked at Amy’s ear and a skin thing on Mia. Amy said that he was playful, patient, engaged and never looked at a computer once. He also allowed them to have a “multiple symptom”, multiple person visit. Appointment total with meds about $20.
I always feel fortunate when we are in need, and and run into the kindness of strangers. I am left to wonder, do I treat strangers so well? I think I am considerate, but do I take the time to really encounter, and make a brief but meaningful relationship with them? Things to ponder on the road…