The story is about an act of kindness, and kindness always matters.
Here is the story:
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.
To Wendell in 1st comment on this blog:
The date was not November 2, 1998…..it was 1988.
A few things are questionable about this story. (Disclaimer: I’m a huge Obama supporter and have voted early for him here in Missouri):
1. Why was there a $100 surcharge for extra luggage in 1988. I would argue that surcharges have been imposed only recently due to rising costs in the airline industry. Plus, $100 in 1988 would be like $200-$300 today. Can you imagine paying a $250 surcharge on luggage today?!
2. I’m an attorney, who grew up in a modest income family. During college and law school you are scraping to make ends meet. If Obama was a new college grad or in law school in 1988, why in the HECK is he walking around with $100 in his pocket? I was happy to have $50 in my checking account when I was in college and law school!
3. I’m in agreement with the others that Obama and his family have had little to no contact with Kansas since they left in the 1950′s (Disclaimer #2: I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and currently live in Kansas City, Missouri).
4. I fully support Obama and have from the beginning, but this story is bogus.
Kristin, back in those days there was a fee charged for “extra Weight”. The amount was based on the amount of extra weight and the final destination. There were security checkpoints at airports which even our military personnel had to go through. Because you did not have $100 to carry does not mean someone else did not? Remember, he went to Harvard which costs at that time a heck of a lot more to attend than most other colleges. Do you have any facts as to how financially off his mother/grandmother were? To move to Hawaii then must have taken a few bucks?? I was an enlisted E-4 in the military in 1968 making less than $700/mo and I walked around with more than $50 in my pocket all the time, so because you did’nt have, does not mean others did not have also.
Whether this story is true or not, it’s too bad that Obama hasn’t found it in his heart to help his destitute half-brother in Africa or his aunt who lives in public housing and lives in this country ILLEGALLY!
Brad – Obama wasn’t brought up by his father. Obama’s father left USA when he was 2 years old, and met him only once when he was 10 years old. It is unfair for him to monitor the activities large family on his father’s side when they don’t live together.
However, as much as I like this story to be true (which could have been), it has not been proven. There’s isn’t a scanned copy of the receipt, and the paper they’re holding up is too white. In 1988 – papers would have turned yellow by now.
This isn’t to say that Obama isn’t a great person and leader. There are many nice stories about Obama’s character. Like going out to be extra nice to supporters who didn’t get into the rallies, speaking to them in the icy rain, giving hope to disabled supporters etc. Some are true, some may be over embellished. This is a man who chose his first job as a community organizer to help. He certainly leads by example.
Fact is, he has been under public scrutiny for 2 years. With all the mud thrown on him, he emerged strong. This demonstrates his character.
Can’t you all realize that each of the campaigns has told lies and greatly exaggerated the truth in many ads and statements. I am surprised that anyone spends her or his time in accusing the other side of being “mean little boys and girls”
It works both ways also. Some things each campaign could have used to its advantage was, by that campaign, ignored. I will give you an example. Michelle Obama’s PhD thesis, that was very racist, was not brought into view by the McCain election staff. Here is a link to support the charge.
And Obama stayed away from a number of McCain negatives. For example, his cheating on his first wife and subsequent divorce.
So, our campaigns are both lousy. I yearn for the day when we can all be open and campaign on facts. But sadly, I will never see that day.
Regarding the question about a surcharge for luggage in 1988, let me assure you that there was.
We had an exchange student from Denmark who was returning in August after a year with us. Her suitcase was overweight and they demanded payment at JFK. Ulla shed some tears and our daughter, Ulla’s age, stepped up and with some diplomatic words about the need for international understanding convinced the gate agent to overlook the surcharge.
And regarding security, it was already strict at JFK two years before when our daughter left for a year in DK. We had hoped to see her to her gate but could not.
I wonder is there anyway of findind the truth about this incident…Bullshit as usual
Phew. I stopped reading sometime around October 15th when some dumb-*** brain-washed American clapped on about Obama’s alleged association with Ayers, apparently claimed to be involved in terrorism some 20 years in the past, so it was dredged up and dragged into our current chaos to bad-name Obama, stop people for voting for him. I’m an Australian who will never get over the last mongrel Prime Minister of my country – John Howard – signing us up to a WAR CRIMINAL invasion of Iraq, to the murder of Hussein, to an ILLEGAL invasion of an innocent country and FETED MEDIA HYPE KILLING of its leader who had ZERO – ZILCH – NOUGHT (I trust we speak the same vernacular) to do with your PHALLIC SYMBOL CAPITALIST twin towers coming down. I think I might have to repeat that for the war and power mongers and deficient in brain capacity amongst you – Iraq had absolutely NOUGHT to do with the killing of your people in NY. And, if you think I am overly interested in your country, Obama’s rise to power etc, I am not. I stumbled over this clap trap when I was looking up 13 year old British citizen Hannah Jones’ win to end her life – her right to voluntary euthanaesia. However I was interested in the headline about Obama’s Act of Kindness so I read on. YOU ABSOLUTE BRAIN-WASHED MORONS. How much longer do you think your dead-in-the-water power hungry, insane Emperor-without-any-clothes (fairytale if you are lost) grandstanding country is going to be able to perpetuate its *******-myths that it is going to bring democracy to the rest of the World when it’s own backyard is a sewer? I cite all the recent headlines all across the world – global village that will continue, your bankrupt mess (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg) can’t be kept under wraps any longer. My statement could be regarded as a little late since the election is now over but better late than never – HEADLINE – NEWS FLASH- if the socio/psychopaths and narcissictic power-crazed amongst you wanted to have a go at Obama mixing with terrorists, forget the dim past and Ayers, try COLIN POWELL who endorsed Obama. Democrats applauded and Republicans shut their big mouths because Powell, I believe, is a war hero, applauded as Mr honest Squeaky Clean. If I was a politician I wouldn’t want Powell anywhere near me since he stinks to his most inner rotten core, just like those he served as a puppet for in your last Republican Government. Remember him? Secretary of State. United Nations? Powell trotted into the UN, swore that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction all over the country. The US refused to wait for UN Inspectors. The US banned French goods because they wanted to wait, slurred on the moderates. Ad infinitum. The US and its ******* followers, including Australia, on a serial basis DESTROYED an innocent country and its people. All these war criminals are 101% responsible for the killing of thousands of your US citizens on Iraqi soil, I think 100,000s Iraqis to date and Colin Powell gave the MANDATE for this in the UN, in fact insisted on it. Then the US came around again, in the UN, and demanded all the UN countries pay for the cost of their war, even those who hadn’t signed up to be war criminals in the first place. Phew. Not sure if that is double jeopardy but definitely damned if you do and damned if you don’t. This is common knowledge all over the world but has it even been written up in your local newspapers, you who support your troops regardless of their killing fields they have no more right to be in than in Vietnam, you who grieve for your dead?!! Yet I have not seen, up to now, one headline at all about TERRORIST COLIN POWELL being the terrorist that supported Obama, just old hat-news about Ayers. For the record I know exactly what injustice Hussein – former good mate of the US until he challenged their better mate Kuwait to the Arab League for digging under the borders into his country to syphon out oil – had perpetuated against his own people. But the US and no other country dealt with that, then US and its mates war criminals just stitched up Iraq to be their bunny for twin towers dead. If you want Bin Laden, the name is Bin Laden, somewhere in Afghanistan it seems, not Hussein (now murdered by the US and cohorts) ex-Iraq. Duh. So, light bulb on as to what terrorism and persecution is, this is not written by a bleeding heart but by an honest person who knows, if you keep perpetuating myths, one day, maybe not even in my lifetime, the myths will eventually come and bite you, yours, future generations VERY HARD ON THE ***. Who the F*** cares if Obama gave or didn’t give a woman $X in the 1980s? I suggest those among you who want to claim Obama mixes with terrorists need to start caring about what your filthy war criminals do, start outing them, start trying the truth for a change and admit that Powell is one of them, that he definitely is no hero or statesmen to be honored, revered. And, if Obama has erred by being in bed with a (former) terrorist, it’s because he didn’t have the gumption to tell Powell to F*** OFF as the Un should have all those years ago!!!! Ayers is a red herring.
Wow,… I just received the “act of kindness” story via email and thought I would check it out on Snopes to see if it was legit. I don’t know why I was so surprised to see the barrage of bickering that followed. While I would like to know if the story is true, here is what I DO know,…
Barack Obama WILL be the next president of the United States of America – because the majority of us voted for him to be. He has a lot of work ahead of him and I, as a US citizen, hope he does right by our nation. I am quite certain that not all of his decisions will be looked upon favorably, no president’s decisions ever are.
I would just like to make a suggestion,… Perhaps, now that the majority of us have appointed him to lead our nation, shouldn’t we give the man a chance to do his job (which hasn’t even started yet) before we virtually beat the **** out of him?
As I ponder how to end this posting, I am realizing that this is exactly what America stands for – it is our right to bicker back and forth publicly, if we so choose. It just doesn’t seem very productive.
President Elect Obama is not the ONLY person who can improve our nation’s economy and environment. Each and everyone one of us plays a very important role as well. He is one man. We are millions.
Now the question I find myself pondering is, how many of us are willing to stop pointing fingers and placing blame and start figuring out what WE can do to make things better.
I’ve been in financial trouble. It never occurred to me to contact my brother to ask for help and because I never asked, he never helped. Brothers might lend each other money or give each other money, but brothers also respect boundaries. Obama’s doing ok, but he’s far from a rich man. He has children and obligations of his own. If he were my brother and I was doing ok on a dollar a day in Kenya, I wouldn’t bother him about it. I’d do whatever I could to improve my situation, but since when are handouts required between family members? Lots of people in Kenya are poor. The US has lots of money. Why don’t we send all our money to Kenya? Same logic, same logical fallacy.
I have a friend who is a church deacon and with the good grace of the church, she does good deeds whenever she can. If she is behind a person in line who can’t pay for an item she needs, she will pay for it and hand the person a tract for her church. She is reimbursed from the church funds, if she asks (she doesn’t always ask). She does report to the church what happened and sometimes it makes people feel good to know that their titheing is going to good use. Ever since I heard that, I am also alert for opportunites to help people out. I’ve offered my cell phone to strangers, paid for a person to get air to fill a low tire, things like that. It’s never much money and no amount of money can pay for the good feeling that comes from it. I wonder about that $100 for a checked bag. The cost seems out of proportion unless the bag was full of iron. Usually airlines let you check two or three if you wanted back in the 80s. I often returned from book shows with a hundred pounds of printed matter in my suitcase and never was asked for a surcharge. I never flew international back then and never on a Norwegian airline. Does anyone else have any experience with flying to Norway in the 1980s?
Does Snopes.com check these out to see if they are true?
Hi Julie. Had a look at Snopes after your comment since I’d never head of it. I wish Snopes.com would check out my contention that the only terrorist I know of that Obama can be definitively linked to is Colin Powell’s endorsement of him for President – which he may or may not have sought – since Powell is hugely responsible for the invasion of Iraq by war criminals (Governments) having gone to the UN on numerous occasions with briefcase after briefcase of documented LIES about weapons of mass destruction (look in the good old USof A, under Bush’s bed if you wanted evidence of weapons of mass destruction) put forward as a valid case for war on an innocent nation, at least innocent of what the LIES were all about and of the Twin Towers attack for which revenge was apparently being sought by nutter Bush and Cheney etc, resulting in a world publicised MURDER of Iraq’s leader and, if you don’t care about Hussein and Iraqis, world publicised stats of the USA and other war criminal Governments’ dead including the dead of more innocent nations that only went into Iraq as true peace-keepers, were bullied there by the USA and good old Colin Powell until not so sweet Condoleza stepped into his shoes without missing a beat. TRUE OR NOT TRUE? TRUE, otherwise I wouldn’t open myself up for anyone to be able to say this is not correct.