I went to Austin, Texas expecting some Southern hospitality but I was also careful not to expect too much knowing it’s a big city. From the moment I arrived until the day I left, I had the pleasure of experiencing the niceness of the city’s people.
It started with Stephen at the airport who waited for me to exit (instead of hurrying home) so that he could say goodbye one last time after having shared a row with me on the flight. And then the first of many bus drivers who realized I would easily get lost. His solution was to pull out a map of the city’s public transportation and explain to me the basics of the city’s public transportation system.
The next instance was at the ER. Due to a lab mistake, my doctor called me and told me to get to the nearest ER. I arrived at Westlake. The entire staff was amazing, but the one that really blew me away was the attending doctor. Once I was released, I requested that they call a cab for me. Twice the cab company flaked out (my only bad experience in Austin). Since by this point, I had been waiting in the lobby for over an hour, it was raining outside and I was after a very long and stressful day, the doctor ordered me an Uber to the other side of town where I was staying and paid for it on his dime. As I’m sure you can imagine I was flabbergasted.
Here is where I should also bring up the generous constable. Waiting at the bus station, I noticed I had the correct change for a ride but not for a daily pass. I saw a constable and asked if there was a store nearby where I could purchase something so as to receive change which I could use to buy a day pass (for anyone who does not know, the buses require exact payment as they do not give out change). As we were chatting about where I’m from, what I’m doing there (Texas is amazing! Of course I needed to come visit!), etc. I see him fishing in his pockets. Since he was holding what appeared to be an electronic cigarette (to my untrained eyes as a non-smoker), I thought he was looking for something related. As our conversation ended, he pulled out some notes, handed them to me and said “Welcome to Texas!”. I offered him my large note as exchange. He would not accept and just repeated “No, no. Welcome to Texas!”
On another day, I stopped at a MacDonald’s for a quick drink, rest and some wifi. A gentleman there waved at me to come over. This man had ordered two breakfasts and was looking for someone to share it with. Though we hardly spoke the same language (my Spanish really is not up to par), I sat with him to have a chat with him as he appeared to be a truly special man. We decided he should give the second breakfast to someone who needs it. After a long conversation (yes, we managed) I found out that he habitually orders a second breakfast to share with someone. He does not do this because he is wealthy (he is not) but because it’s a good thing to do.
I had many other incredible experiences while there but these were the ones that stuck out the most (except for the talk with the Travel Club of a local high school – but that’s a post for another time).
All in all, Austin – you are awesome and you definitely know how to show hospitality!