DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl. Last summer my family and I went on a trip to the Cayman Islands. I planned to go to a camp in North Carolina after our trip, but because of a scheduling mix-up, I ended up leaving the islands one day earlier than my family.
I was petrified to go on a plane alone -- especially in a foreign country -- and to change planes in Miami to get to our home in New Orleans.
Well, I got safely on my plane to Miami, but when I got off, I didn't know what to do. I followed other people to immigration, where I was supposed to show my passport, but I wasn't sure which line to get into.
This small, dark-haired lady was walking beside me. I had noticed her on my plane. She asked if I was traveling alone. I nodded, hoping the fear didn't show in my eyes. She directed me to the right line and waited for me to get through. Then she led me to the baggage claim, where I got my suitcase to take it to my next check-in.
It was extremely kind of her, because she hadn't checked any luggage -- yet she went out of her way to help me. After I got my suitcase, she guided me to my terminal. (Hers was on the other side of the airport.) She never told me her name. I am thankful that she helped me; otherwise I would have been completely lost at that big airport.
Please print this, Abby. I want that woman to know what a help she was. I'm so glad there are still good people in this world who will go out of their way to help a stranger. -- GRATEFUL GIRL IN NEW ORLEANS
DEAR GRATEFUL GIRL: I am pleased to print your letter. However, I would like to add that parents of children who are not used to traveling alone should make arrangements with the airlines. In this way, the minors can be escorted to other terminals or through customs, if necessary, so they can arrive safely at their destination. To paraphrase Tennessee Williams' famous line, they should NOT have to depend on the "kindness of strangers."