ROCHESTER, Minn. — Rochester International Airport employee Mick Bullerman could tell the man getting off a flight from India on July 16 had had a long day.
Bullerman, 20, is a “SkyCap” at the airport, helping travelers who need assistance. The Indian man, about 60 years old, had issues moving on his own, so Bullerman brought him a wheelchair and started to head toward baggage claim.
When Bullerman checked the man’s ticket, however, he knew the man was in the wrong Rochester. Later he would learn that the traveler had been robbed before he left India.
Bullerman said people mistakenly fly to Rochester, Minnesota, instead of Rochester, New York, at least twice a week, but he knew the situation was going to be even more challenging since the man was robbed.
“That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this may be a little harder, then,’” Bullerman said. “They took his credit card and everything. The guy had nothing.”
There was also a language barrier between Bullerman and the passenger, which made explaining the situation even more difficult.
“I pulled up a map for him and pointed out the difference and showed him it was a 14-hour car drive,” to the correct Rochester, Bullerman said. “When I said that, he said, ‘Oh, not bad, right?’ ”
It took the man’s wife — in Rochester, New York — to get the man to understand his predicament. He had a shocked look on his face, Bullerman said.
With no more flights available that night, the couple settled on the wife flying to Rochester, Minnesota, the next morning to help her husband get to New York.
In the meantime, Bullerman set the man up in the airport’s “quiet room,” which includes a bed and private bathroom. Bullerman gave the man his own TV dinner.
“I’m going to college, so I’m on a budget anyway,” Bullerman joked about his meal.
The man’s flight arrived about 8 p.m., and Bullerman left that night about 10:30, assuring the man he would be back in the morning, and assuring the man’s wife he would meet her in the airport the next day.
Bullerman arrived about 9:45 a.m. the next day with a Nature Valley Crunchy Bar as the man’s breakfast before reuniting with his wife once she landed at 11.
“She was shaking when she came up to me,” he said. “She said, ‘You’re an angel,’ and gave me a scarf and some chocolate.”
Throughout the night, Bullerman couldn’t help but think about how he would’ve wanted his grandparents treated if they were in a similar situation.
“Imagine if your grandparents were in their shoes,” he said, “so that’s kind of what I thought the whole time.”