Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Barak Obama, A Kind American Stranger

Finch found this article and passed it along to me.  I thought I would share it.  It originally appeared in a Norway’s VG Newspaper.  Here is a link to the original article.   Below is a translation of the article into english.  Enjoy.

Barack Obama--A Kind American Stranger
ÅSGARDSTRAND (VG) Mary had just married and was ready to move to Norway, but she was stopped at the airport because she didn't have enough money for the trip. That's when Barack Obama came by and paid her fee.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married the Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgardstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all her belongings to Norway. The date was Nov 2 1988.

At the airport in Miami it was business as usual with long lines in the check-in
terminal. When it finally was her turn and she put her luggage on the conveyor belt she got the message that would tear away her happiness from under her.

“You have to pay $103 in excess luggage fee if you want to bring both your suitcases to Norway,” the man behind the counter told her.

Mary didn't have any money. Her husband had travelled to Norway ahead of her, and Mary didn't have anyone she could call.

“I got filled with despair and tried to think what I could possibly remove from the bags. But they were filled with all the stuff I loved the most.”

Even though she explained her situation to the airline employee, he didn't show any sign of compassion.

-I started to cry, the tears poured down her face and she didn't know what to do.
Then I heard a mild and kind voice behind me say: "I'll pay her fee." Mary turned around and there was a tall, dark man she had never seen before.

-He had a mild, friendly voice that was still firm. The first thing I thought was, who is this man? This happened 20 years ago, but Mary can still remember the authority the man radiated.

-He was handsome and fashionable with brown leather shoes, an open cotton shirt and khakis, Mary tells us. She was happy to get both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that she would pay him back. The man wrote down his name and address on a piece of paper and gave it to her. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally went towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her. The piece of paper read, "Barack Obama" and his address in Kansas, which is the state which his mother originates from. Mary kept it in her wallet for a number of years before she threw it away.

She paid back the $103 to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At the time Obama had just finished his job as a low-paid environmental worker in Chicago, and was studying law at Harvard.

In spring 2006 Mary’s parents heard that Obama was considering running for president, but was still undecided. So they wrote him a letter where they told him they would have their vote. At the same time they thanked him for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4 2006 and stamped "United States Senate, Washington DC" Barack Obama wrote:
"I want to thank you for writing so nicely about me and for reminding me about the incident at the airport in Miami. I'm glad I was able to help that time, and I'm happy to hear that your daughter is doing well in Norway. Please send her my regards. Sincerely yours, Barack Obama, United States Senator."


The Dread Pirate Khan said...

Wow. That's very sweet.

I too got caught at the airport with excess baggage (an overly-heavy suitcase, actually) midway during a very long trip (DAMN YOU HEATHROW BAGGAGE HANDLERS!) and was completely overwrought. Sadly, I had no kind dark stranger to pay my fees; I had to buy an extra bag, re-pack right there, and pay an obscene amount I couldn't afford on a Pakistani teacher's salary.

Beers said...

I am sorry to hear that you did not share the same good fortune as the lady in the article. Thank you for reading. Please visit often. Nice Blog. You're on my RSS reader now.