flashback … the kindness of strangers

Source – 2008 (extracts): 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 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.

….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 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.

“It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president,” says Mary delightedly.

Original Norwegian newspaper link

11 Responses to “flashback … the kindness of strangers”

  1. 1 Maritza
    December 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I enjoy this story every time I read it!

  2. 3 Nancy
    December 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for a reminder about this lovely story!

  3. 4 Symmetry
    December 10, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I can never read that story enough. It shows that our President has a huge heart and that he cares about people.

    • 5 Maritza
      December 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      This was posted on the “O” blog (www.barackobama.com) back in 2007-2008 and there is where I picked it up from way back then. I remember him (Senator Obama) when I encounter people in need since. This gives me the Childs for sure!

      This is a true story of coming down from the top so let’s be kinder to each other!

  4. 6 achieve
    December 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I have never heard this story before. it warms my heart. I will have to tell others about it.
    Thank you for posting it, and thank you for this wonderful blog. It is very much needed.

  5. 7 Asher in Boston
    December 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I could readvthis story over and over again. Chapsticks thanx for posting it. I always knew deep inside my heart there was a reason why I supported and liked this man from day one.

  6. 8 CR
    December 10, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks Chipsticks! What a cool story! I love my President Obama!

  7. 9 Kat 4 Obama
    December 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Wonderful story. It is in his nature to want to help and to solve problems. Bless our President.

  8. 10 Tracy
    December 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    I remember this from the campaign. Thanks for reposting it. I never forget that our president is a good, compassionate man. As he said yesterday, in this holiday season we should remember that we arevresponsible for one another. I am my brother/sister’s keeper. Peace to all.

  9. 11 EDP4BHO
    December 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Well, don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sending the president a holiday card thanking him for his handling of the nation’s many problems. He didn’t have to take on this humongous job. But his mother taught him how to care for people, from the work she did in foreign lands helping the poor. It’s in his nature to do the same. As I’ve written before, when he is gone by either term(s) served or worse (God forbid), he is going to be tremendously missed, and even by some haters out there. They just don’t know it yet.

Comments are currently closed.







Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.



RSS Obama White House.gov

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS WH Tumblr

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Steve Benen

  • President Biden hopes to revive vaccine effort with new rules, incentives
  • Americans 'strongly approve' of vaccine mandates, polling shows
  • Hit by a crime wave after 11 minutes in the United States
  • How the U.S. right is having its 'hippie phase'
  • House Dems pressure leadership on voting rights legislation



Blog Stats

  • 43,060,859 hits
December 2010

%d bloggers like this: