From the U.K., Jamie and 2 others were lost in Los Angeles. Then a stranger walked up
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Time now for My Unsung Hero from the team at Hidden Brain. My Unsung Hero tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression. Today, a story about what it feels like to be lost in a new place. It comes from Jamie Spurway of Glasgow, Scotland. In 1998, Jamie flew to the U.S. to study in California - his first time traveling overseas by himself. Luckily, he met a young Irish couple along the way. They were going to Venice Beach, and since Jamie didn't need to be at his final destination till the next day, he decided to tag along. Problem was, none of them knew how to get there.
JAMIE SPURWAY: I think we maybe took three or four, maybe even five different bus journeys, possibly going in different directions each time and always getting instructions from the driver so that they would just say a sort of, OK, first of all, you need to take the No. 22 down to such and such street. And then you get off there, walk around the block, then take the No. 57 to the - it was just an endless list of numbers and names that we didn't fully understand or remember. So we're getting more and more flustered, hotter. We probably hadn't packed much food or water, you know, just not very prepared in every respect. So it's not just that we were kind of tired and hungry.
There was certainly a level of anxiety growing in our minds as well. And so eventually, we decided, OK, we're going to need to just stop and try to figure this out properly and buy ourselves a map. So picture three people, two from Ireland, one from Scotland, going into this gas station to then buy a physical map and then stand outside the gas station wearing our backpacks. We could not have made ourselves look more conspicuous if we had tried. So we stood for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. And then this young woman comes up to us wearing a T-shirt that said, God answers prayers.
Now, I'm not a person of faith, but I admit that in that moment I did have a sense of, wow, has this person been sent from heaven? Because she just looked at us and said, do you guys need any help? And we enthusiastically say, yes, yes, we absolutely do. And we explained where we were trying to go to. And she said, OK, why don't you just get in the car and my mother and I will take you? And that's what we did. And on the journey, they discovered that, you know, I was going to need to travel to Newport Beach the next day. So they said, well, why don't you just come back and stay with us overnight? So not only did they drop off the Irish couple in Venice Beach, they then drove me back, and I stayed with them for a night. They gave me dinner, you know.
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SPURWAY: I think at the time, I was probably conscious of being really grateful, but I don't think I really appreciated just how unusual that level of generosity was. I really would like to be able to reach out and thank them because it was a pretty big thing that they did for one little Glaswegian lost in LA (laughter).
KELLY: Jamie Spurway of Glasgow, Scotland. To share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.