Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not that it matters... or does it?

This is a story from the Norwegian newspaper VG, the biggest newspaper in the country, from the October 4th, 2008 edition. Not that these things matter in today's dog-eat-dog world, but I found it quite touching, and I want to share.


ÅSGÅRDSTRAND (VG): Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.-I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes**:

‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes.
Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator'.

The parents sent the letter on to Mary.This week VG met her and her husband in the café that she runs with her friend Lisbeth Tollefsrud in Åsgårdstrand.-It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president, says Mary delightedly.She has already voted for Obama. She recently donated 100 dollars to his campaign.She often tells the story from Miami airport, both when race issues are raised and when the conversation turns to the presidential elections.-I sincerely hope the Americans will see reason and understand that Obama means change, says Mary.


The picture included in this post is of Mary, her Husband, the the letter she received.


Country Comes To Town said...

Angie that's a wonderful story. It's hard to believe that a few in this country are trying to paint such a man as somehow un-American. That story shows that he embodies the American spirit, that he is a good and decent man who will reach out and help others in times of need.

Sue said...

What a fabulous story. And it speaks volumes about the man.

Angie ^i^ said...

Random Acts of Kindness.. a beautiful thing!

My personal quote: "How you treat someone at their most vulnerable defines you".

Isn't it great when you can define someone with such beauty?


OweMe1Cannoli said...

Good post, Angie ... you're right about the RAOK. But it goes to show that anyone is capable of kindness. Not EVERYTHING Obama does is bad, but not everything he has in mind is necessarily gonna be good for the U.S. either. If we could just keep our eye on what is or is not good for the U.S. going forward, we might actually make a good choice in November.

Jinxie said...

I think it was awesome that he helped. I wondered if that was during his time he traveled to Europe and Kenya for 8 weeks. I think those the article said it was in November though that would have been most likely after he entered Harvard. I would like to think that if I could afford to travel to Europe and Kenya and pay for Harvard that I could give $103.00 to someone in need.

To me his $103.00 is a drop in the hat like my $5.00 is to the bumb on the street, not really note worthy, nice but nothing special.

Man I just keep thinking he should have purchased her entire ticket. lol

$103.00 does it matter or not? Does serving and being tortured for your country matter? What price do you put on it? Is it worth more than $103.00?

When I see Obama actually doing something I will be impressed.

Angie ^i^ said...

Martha, I've always appreciated random acts of kindness, no matter how big or small! Had Obama not been there at that moment, who knows if anyone else would have done what he did.

There is no price to be put on the torture McCain endured as a prisoner of war. Bless his heart for his strength, and I'm so thankful to him and all our Vets! It's because of them (McCain, my Father, your Husband, Paul, Lee and so many others) that we have the freedom to voice our opinions without fear. We're all so fortunate to live in this country!

I couldn't put a price tag on what it would be like to be a POW, or for that matter to even serve our Country. But I also can't put a price tag on random acts of kindness. Remember when there was a true sense of community? Now we're all so isolated. Heck, very few folks now a days even know their neighbors names! So, in this self centered world we live, any act of kindness towards our fellow man is a gift!

I respect McCain, which is one reason I will not refer to him with an abbreviation. I know that may seem silly and meaningless, but to me it's not. I have a great deal of respect for both of our Presidential candidates! Both are accomplished men, and both are deserving of the Presidency. IMO.

My intuition is sometimes off.. and if it is today, then I apologize! I get the feeling that you're feeling a tad beaten up from the conversation that has taken place today. I often sit here and think of my own situation and take the comments personally! If you are feeling on edge, I'm here to listen. I hope you have a peaceful night!

Jinxie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jinxie said...

I respect RAOK too...

I don't feel beat up today.... cause I didn't think anything was directed towards me personally.

Some topics I have a very strong opinion on. Some, not so much.

I don't think RAOK embodies Amercian spirit... I would hope it more so embodies much more than that.

As for it speaking volumes about that man, I would love to know more about his relationship with his half and step siblings and if he has helped them along the way.
Now that would tell me a lot about his Character.

Thanks for a great blog Angie.