Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
By Danny Keating, Director of the Louisiana/Mississippi HVAC Insider
Although Ms. Bettie and I have never had a desire to visit Scandinavia, we decided to book a Scandinavian cruise simply because we had never seen that part of the world and we suspected the scenery had to be spectacular due to the sheer number of cruises that sail there each year.
I had always heard that in general the Scandinavian population was cold and uncaring. So, imagine being in a foreign country filled with cold and uncaring people and you don’t speak a word of their language. Imagine that your wife gets off of a plane and begins to show signs of being nauseated, dizzy, disoriented and generally in a very bad way.
Then imagine all of these cold and indifferent people responding in the most caring, respectful and helpful manner that you couldn’t even imagine. For 48 hours we were treated to a remarkable display of people being friendly and helpful and not asking or getting anything in return but a ‘thank you’. We had a remarkable 48-hour adventure that completely changed our pre-conceived attitudes towards this part of the world.
We left our house in Slidell at 8 a.m. and arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark at 11 am the next day (4 a.m. Slidell time). Of course, it wasn’t all flight time, but getting to the airport a little early, having a six-hour layover in New York, and then the transatlantic flight and we had the makings of a very long tiring day.
All seemed to be going well as we landed in Copenhagen. We simply had to deplane, claim our baggage and take the transfer bus to the Regal Princess to start our cruise, which was embarking that day. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it seems that the change in the altitude as the plane descended cause something to go wrong with Ms. Bettie’s system. She started to mention that she was feeling lightheaded and dizzy and an hour later we ended up at a Copenhagen hospital.
This story isn’t about Ms. Bettie or me. It is actually about all of the wonderful Danish people we met in Copenhagen. What a fantastic group of considerate, friendly, and caring people. Instead of shuttling us off to the transfer bus, the Princess representative lady took one look at Ms. Bettie and called a doctor. This doctor engaged with Bettie and would not let her close her eyes while she was experiencing what could conceivably have been life-threatening symptoms. She laid her down on the floor, but made sure that a screen was set up to avoid any embarrassment for the patient. The doctor didn’t like what she was seeing in the blood pressure and pulse measurements and when Ms. Bettie became nauseaus an ambulance was called and they administered an EKG test, thinking Bettie was having a heart attack. The ambulance workers were fast, friendly and efficient, but since they couldn’t stabilize Ms. Bettie, off we went to the hospital, Bettie in the ambulance and me and our four big and heavy suitcases in a taxi.
Tests were run in the hospital and it was decided that Ms. Bettie would have to spend the night until her nausea subsided, and the tests could be repeated in the morning. The care we received was incredible. I told them I wanted to stay with my wife, rather than go to a hotel. In response to that, they moved her to a private room and added another bed into the room so that I could sleep comfortably. The next day, after noticeable improvement and thankfully all negative tests results, the doctor decided to release Bettie with the warning that she probably should not fly again until she finds out what caused her issues. When the Doctor at the hospital released Ms. Bettie, he jokingly told her, “Please tell President Trump that Greenland is not for sale.” Then, when we asked how much we owed for the hospital treatment, to our shock, we were told, “you don’t owe us anything, healthcare is free in Denmark.”
Despite that shockingly good news about the hospital bill, we were still in a foreign country having to catch a train to another foreign country so we could join with our cruise. Imagine the thought of leaving the hospital with the four heavy suitcases and going to a train station, where you have no idea what you are doing and don’t speak the language. The Danish people were amazing. We ended up having to catch three trains in order to get from Copenhagen to Nynashamn (roughly 500 miles) where the Regal Princess cruise ship would be docked the next day. Nynashamn is roughly fifty miles south of Stockholm, Sweden. Now catching an airplane from Copenhagen to Stockholm would have been a simple matter and the luggage wouldn’t have been an issue. However, catching several different trains and not once being able to check your luggage is a whole different matter. Additionally, the high-speed train to Stockholm had a few delays and we were scheduled to get to Nynashamn at about 11 pm or midnight. This is when a Swedish gentleman came to our aid and helped us board an earlier train instead of waiting over an hour for ours. He suggested a hotel to stay that was within walking distance (300 yards) of the train station. At the end of the train ride, we exited in Nynashamn and we had our ‘walking directions’ to the hotel. However, after the train departed, it was dark and late and easy to get confused about the directions to the hotel. This is when another Swedish gentleman saw us alone with the four suitcases and obviously confused. He walked probably 100 yards out of his way just to make sure we were going the correct way to the hotel.
So with the aid of a few helpful Danish and Swedish “angels” we finally checked in to the Skargard Hotel in Nynashamn before 11 o’clock that night. We were happily onboard the cruise ship early the next morning with Ms. Bettie feeling much better.
Incidentally, the scenery in Scandinavia is every bit as spectacular as advertised.