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

30 Responses to “flashback … the kindness of strangers”

  1. 1 Titti
    August 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Awwwwwwwwwwww thanks ((((Chips)))).

  2. 3 utaustinliberal
    August 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    We really hit the jackpot with President Obama. Thank goodness he decided to run for re-election. He’s amazing. 🙂

  3. August 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    President Obama is a man for the ages. As I’ve said before, he fits perfectly into the Great Man theory, a man who appears when there’s a crying need for him to lead. The Great Man doesn’t always appear in armor with a sword in his hand, but more likely and necessary, with calm deliberation, an impressive intellect, and an all-encompassing heart.

    • August 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm


      YES.WE.CAN…DO.(Much)More, Together!
      YES.WE.CAN, Again…Obama/Biden 2012!

    • 6 Sue in Minnesota
      August 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      I believe your theory is true. And the strife that surrounds him is in part precisely why he is here.

      I hope you have fully recovered from your recent health issues. It is always nice to hear your voice.

  4. August 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    This man has a deeply profound and sincere kindness about him. It comes through in incredible stories like this one but also every single day. We are so privileged to have such a fine gentleman as our nation’s president. Let’s all work hard to see that he is reelected.

    • August 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      This is why I say, there is more to this man then what he looks like. Don’t anyone get me wrong, President Barack Obama is a handsome man, but stories like these show you that there is a good man, not a perfect man, but a good man who truly cares. And I’m so thankful for him being our President.

    • August 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      What you said!

      YES.WE.CAN…DO.(Much)More, Together!
      YES.WE.CAN, Again…Obama/Biden 2012!
      I’M IN…FIRED UP & GOIN’! 😉

    • 10 HZ
      August 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      Good Afternoon Meta and Family,
      I just read your comments and I concur deeply. This is a very special human being that we have in our President, and I will do all that I can to help to re-elect him in 2012.

  5. 11 jacquelineoboomer
    August 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Waiting for the President’s townhall, starting shortly … love the “wooden pallet” look of the backdrop behind the podium!

  6. 13 jacquelineoboomer
    August 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Spotted this old ’08 website (later turned into a book called “Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares”) back in the day when people were first calling then-Senator Barack Obama “the nicest man who ever lived.” ! I don’t think there’s any snark in it … the website shows one-liners on improbable things that he’s supposed to have done. Funny! Might keep our spirits up, as high as they are already this week!


  7. 15 Sheila R.
    August 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    What a kind thing for him to do. He likely didn’t have a lot of money at the time so his act was particularly generous.

  8. August 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Hi everyone, happy Wednesday! 😆 This story is such a heart-warming reminder of who the President is at heart – a caring, thoughtful, compassionate leader, one who ‘leads’ even when the cameras are not on. As one commenter at the source site admitted s/he didn’t know if s/he would have done the same under the circumstances. Neither do I. I would probably have thought about it, then wandered away and while driving home or whatever beat myself up mentally for not helping. Some of us are decisive when action is need and some of us are ditherers. I’m so happy that America has a caring and decisive person in the lead position. He has to win 2012, Lord, he just has to! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!

  9. 17 Sue
    August 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I had never heard this story before, so glad that it was posted again. So proud that this man had and has something special. He is the first Presidential candidate I donated money to, he is actually the first President I cared to listen to since JFK. Our President is a good man, actually history will prove he is a great man.

  10. 18 Anonymous
    August 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I just love this story and it moves me every time I’ve re-read it. Ms Chipsticks, thank you so much for what you do here. It is such a blessed counterbalance to the constant negative caterwauling. Even the ostensibly supportive sites can be overcome by the poster’s occasional insulting pov, or the horrid attacks from the commenters. I leave them and come here to rest and get my positive engine charged before the day is done. I miss BWD, and consider her a trailblazer whom I followed over from Dungeons and Dragons. I hope to see her posting again soon. Meanwhile, you seem to be doubling-up on the photos–perhaps to make up for her absence(?), perhaps I’m making that up;-) But thank you anyway!

    PS: And I love everyone who posts here as well. You all make this a delightful haven.

  11. August 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    OMG!! Just when I thought I couldn’t love him ANYMORE!!

  12. 20 a4alice
    August 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    And here’s a story of how dramatically one person affected another for the good simply by giving something of themselves. This is the kind of man PBO is. His actions show us how we can help affect change for the good in others too. I said it last night and I say it again. He is a good and decent man. I am SO GLAD he is our President.

    sigh….OK back to work. Thanks Chipsticks for putting this one here – it was a real day brightener!


  13. 21 PoliticalJunkessa
    August 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    This is the first story I thought about when I read the last thread! No lie! Thanks for posting it for “ol’ times’ sake,” Chips! :mrgreen:

  14. 22 mtmarilyn
    August 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for finding this Chips. I remember when I first read this I knew this was the man I wanted for my President. I knew then the kind of heart this man had. It is a beautiful story.

  15. August 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you for posting this story, it’s one of my favorite. I watched his townhall and refuse to watch the tv chit chat and lies that followed. This was such an affirmation of what I believe is so authentic about our President. Now to get ready to watch his next townhall @ 4:30 on the white house blog.

  16. August 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    One of my dear friend’s sister is very good friends with this gal from Norway.

    • 25 MTmarilyn
      August 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      That is really nice!!! You know these are real people, but it is extra special when they are known by someone you know. Thanks for sharing.

  17. 26 Obama Grandmama
    August 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I remember this story coming out during the campaign. I think it was about the time the GOP were trying to paint him as a terrorist, untrustworthy person. I thought it was a beautiful story then and still think it was telling about his character.

  18. August 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Nothing has brought tears to my eyes like this story has. What an example of actions speaking far louder than words. This story is one I never heard before, so maybe a lot of folks haven’t. Let’s spread it all over the place!

  19. 28 Karen Sr.
    August 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Read this story on my cell this afternoon and wished I could have commented. Then I saw Firefly’s comment and there was nothing else I could have added that would have summed it up any better. Exactly how I feel, Firefly.

    This is how I ended up supporting the President in 2007. I started to research his positions, etc. by looking for articles in the Chicago Trib and the Boston Globe, etc. and following any links. I just kept being more and more impressed with all of his accomplishments and what people were saying about him.

  20. 29 carol in ky
    August 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    What a wonderful and heartwarming story! I don’t know how I missed it during the campaign, but I did. I’m so glad you posted it today
    Chipsticks. It just made me more proud than ever to have him as our president. He is truly a kind man.

  21. 30 Lightfoot
    August 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I am at a loss for adjectives that would sufficiently describe the president’s act of humanity and generosity. Truly, I am actually near gaga not knowing what to say. Perhaps simply, “Wow,” is going to have to suffice at this time.

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