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As relatives, loved ones and colleagues desperately seek news of the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a poignant tale has emerged of an encounter by a JR/Duty Free employee at Perth Airport, Australia, with one of the passengers on the missing plane.
The story comes from Radio station ABC Perth and I urge you to listen to the Podcast you will see via this link.
It relates the contents of an e-mail sent to the Radio Station from Patricia Lind, an employee at JR/Duty Free in Perth Airport, West Australia.
“I served a passenger from the missing flight Malaysia Airlines 370 on Friday the 7th of March,” Patricia wrote. “His name was Shi Xian Wen from China, who was on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Perth to KL and then in transit to Beijing. I spent about 40 minutes with Mr Shi, as he wanted to purchase some gifts from duty free and take them back to China.
“Somehow with Mr Shi’s limited English as well as my limited Mandarin, we struck up a conversation and I learned that he wanted to buy a watch for his wife. With my help, he bought a lovely [Swatch] bracelet watch for his wife and I wished Mr Shi and his travelling companion a safe trip back home.
“After the news broke with this plane disappearing, I was hoping Mr Shi might have missed his flight but my worst fears were confirmed when I checked the passenger manifest and discovered his name on the list. He was only 26.
“I’m still feeling sad and devastated. It is such a strange feeling when you have a chance meeting with a stranger. You wish him all the best and a safe trip, then he doesn’t make it home… and in such violent and traumatic circumstances.
“I just wish to let his wife know that he was thinking about her with the purchase of a watch.
“As for myself and those I love, it’s the message to make the most of every day. Be kind to each other, love your family and friends and be happy with what you have – even in your crappiest day at home or work. Remember, you are still here and will get to see the sun rise with your loved ones.”
The radio announcer noted: “It is a lovely reflection and something of a philosophical musing about the impact strangers can have on your life.” (His comment reminded me of a Blog I wrote a few years back during a tough time in my life, called ‘The Comfort of Strangers – and Friends’ –MM).
The radio station has contacted Malaysia Airlines, asking the carrier to forward the message to Mr Shi’s wife to help her get through this terribly painful time. A nice touch.
The Moodie Report has also forwarded the story to JR/Duty Free Chairman Garry Stock. I’m sure he, as we, will salute Patricia for the kindness and attention she paid to a stranger and for her efforts to in some way alleviate the anguish and grief of a loved one.
[We also send our most heartfelt wishes to all at Malaysia Airlines who are missing colleagues, several of whom, of course, work directly in our industry.]