Thursday, March 21, 2013

To Russia with love and admiration

Her name was Lana.


She had beautiful blue eyes.


The kind of luminescent blue that sparkled.


I was captivated.


I know what you're thinking.


His wife's name isn't Lana, so what's the deal here?


Here's the story.


Last Tuesday I had a meeting in downtown Chagrin Falls.


It was about 6 PM when my appointment called to say he was running late.


No problem.


I could kill a few minutes by filling my gas tank at the BP station near the town square.


As I was about to pull out of the British Petroleum, there was a tap on my window.




And those penetrating eyes.


I lowered the window.


A very thick Russian accent greeted me.


She was lost.


She wanted directions to an address near Warrensville and Cedar in Cleveland Heights.


But those eyes.


They told of a life of suffering and hope and leaving a homeland far away.


Lana was about 85 years old.


I first began to explain the directions.


To no avail.


I began to confuse even myself.


Do you know how hard it is to describe the route from Main Street in The Falls to Cedar Center in the Heights?


It's complicated.


Poor  Lana.


She was lost and just wanted to get home.


I walked with her to a black Toyota and found her gentleman friend behind the wheel.


Driver was also elderly and also first language Russian.


Now I'm late for my appointment.


But how could I abandon Lana in her time of need?


That's when I had an idea.


I grabbed my Garmin and entered the Cleveland Heights address as the destination.


Then I put the GPS on Lana's dashboard and hit the "Go" button.


Lana and companion understood the proper English of Miss Garmin and they understood the map on the screen.


Off they went with my $150 device.


Would I ever see Lana or my satellite road assistant again?


I had my answer the next day.


She called the number on my business card to say thank you and to arrange return of the gizmo.


That's when I chatted about her life.


She's had it rough since she emigrated to the United States a couple of years ago.


Separated from family.


Struggling financially.


I told her to keep the little direction finder.


I can always get a new one.


She said thanks but no thanks because she did not own a car.


The vehicle she was riding in Tuesday night was owned by the Russian fellow who had been doing the driving.


So next week, I'm stopping over Lana's for a Garmin retrieval.


I don't think I'll forget Lana,  her spunk, her story.


Her eyes.


Her honesty.


And that's what really made her beautiful to me.


Do Svidaniya.

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