Monday, October 6, 2008

This Story is Absolutely Incredible

Please read the story below in its entirety, because it is amazing.

Click on the title of this blog posting to link to the blog from where this article was taken. Thank you!


Not that it matters ...

Or does it?

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

Clarification for the literally minded: I do think these things matter, but I'm sure many will say that they don't. Anecdotal evidence, just a sappy human interest story, bla bla. Whatever. I think that this is a story that some may be interested in hearing. If you're not interested, cork it. I've translated the story into English and am posting it here. The original, in Norwegian, is here.

I'll be cross-posting this to the BookCrossing forum, since I'm sure there are some members there who will appreciate reading it.

I'm sorry about the annoyingly sappy language - this is a speculative tabloid so that's just how all their articles are. 

Mary lacked money to fly home to Norway – he saved her love

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.

*Not at all sure about this part of the translation. The Norwegian word used is 'miljøarbeider', I don't know what the exact English word for that is or even if there is one, and I don't know enough about Obama to say what job of his they're talking about.
**This is my translation of the reporter's translation of the letter. From English to Norwegian and back to English. So obviously it is not correct word for word.

And here she is with her husband and the letter.

This is not a big or important story. But it is a nice story and if one is voting for a person, and not just for a political platform, it might be interesting to hear it. Somehow I don't see this story being covered in American media much, so let's count this as one blogger's contribution to the news coverage of the 2008 election. :-)

If anyone wants to post this anywhere else, be my guest.


Leisha Camden said...

Yes, I have deliberately left Obama's name out of my translation up until the last possible moment, in order to make the denouement as exciting as possible. You are correct. No need to point it out any further.

Leisha Camden said...

BookCrossing forum thread:

Margo said...

Wow. I'm a skeptic, so I have trouble believing this, but it seems true enough, and if it is, that is pretty damn cool. 
And I do like Obama.

Anonymous said...

I believe "community organiser" is the phrase you are looking for! At any rate, it's what Obama was doing in Chicago.

Touching story! This is a man I would like to see as president of the US!

Mombi said...

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous... Thanks for posting this!

findabair said...

From the front page I got the impression that the story was about some sappy stunt of Obama's during the election campaign, so I couldn't be bothered to buy the paper myself. Am pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn't the case; if this story is true it says something about the man I think!

Leisha Camden said...

Margo: A point in favor of believing the story is that this newspaper is the biggest in the country ... they have a circulation of over one million, which of course sounds absolutely tiny to you ;-) but bearing in mind that our entire population is only 4.7 million, they do actually have a huge readership ... and a certain reputation to uphold. Their reporter has obviously seen the letter from Obama and I think I can pretty much guarantee you that the story has been thoroughly checked out. :-)

findabair: I agree, it definitely says something. It isn't a big deal, but what he did (I do believe the story; I see no reason not to) is something that not everyone would do. I can't say for sure that I would have done it myself.

My main reason for believing this story: VG is running it only for their own benefit (ie, to sell more papers because people will want to read about this very tenuous connection between Norway and Obama) - it can have no impact on the election in any way, so there would be no reason to invent it. That would be a lot of effort for basically no reward. The only thing that can benefit from this is VG's circulation ... but that only applies if the story is true, because otherwise it would hurt their overall credibility. That's my reasoning, anyway. :-)

Leisha Camden said...

Oh, and also: the url below will give you this woman's full name, address and cell phone number. I suppose anyone who's interested can send her a postcard and ask her to fax over a copy of the letter. ;-)

Margo said...

Okay, that adds to its credibility. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Big f-ing deal. So he gave a hundred bulks to a stranded woman. What percantge of his income did he give to charities? <1%. So the socialist/marxist is really generous.

Wake up liberals if you are not completely brain dead. Liberalism is a mental disorder and you should all get your heads examined.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I dont understand why anybody who is not a conservative is automatically labeled as a liberal. Conservatives tend to have similar (conservative) ideas about a lot of different social, political and economic issues. But it doesnt make any sense to say that someone is a liberal simply because they may have ideas about different social issues that are not conservative.

It seems to me that the people working on this blog would be better classified as 'progressive' simply because they are trying to progress into the future realistically and take everyone's issues and ideas into account. But even a term like that is limiting and frankly, it seems unnecessary.

Also, it is pretty incredible that obama gave that random woman money. I have been at the airport traveling internationally before with overloaded bags and had to dump stuff b/c i didnt have money to take the extra stuff. i was not trying to move to a different country to be with my love with all of my most prized possessions, but I can imagine that if i were in that woman's situation i would be DEVASTATED at the thought of giving up stuff that is meaningful to me that i have had for my whole life. the fact that someone (obama in this case) could give this random stranger a chunk of change knowing that you probably wouldnt get it back shows a very generous nature.

Also, Obama was not a senator at this point. He hadn't even gone to law school. He had been community organizing. Generally, community organizers are not paid very well. Anyone can tell you that there is no big money in the non-profit and the volunteer sectors. if you want to make money, you go into business, corporate law, or management of some kind. and organizing certainly doesn't pay you enough to where you can just throw around $100 like it ain't no thang. So again, that just shows that Obama has a generous nature.

Its a nice story. you dont hear many stories like this about politicians and people in power. And its such an international story and so totally random. i thought it was quite beautiful. And I thought that NOT because i am a so-called 'liberal' but because as a human being, i think it is a great story.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10/09/2008 01:16:00 PM
True Christian generosity is to give without ever expecting to receive.
To make such a big deal of this one act of generosity if only to elevate Obama and to put him on a pedestal for veneration is to dismiss all the anonymous acts of kindness that happen every day.

Arlington Heights Criminal Lawyer said...

Very emotional. we all should think.....

Arlington Heights Criminal Lawyer said...

Very emotional. we all should think.....

Anonymous said...

I do not contest that true generosity (Christian or otherwise) can be defined as giving without expecting anything in return, but I do think that it is, at least upon occasion, useful to cheer people for the good things they do. It's better than living in a world where people do good for each other silently and all we talk about publicly are the depressing things in the world.

And yes, @ Arlington Heights Criminal Lawyer, I think this is a touching story.