Twenty years ago seems like ancient history to my 21-year-old son, of course, but seems such a short time ago for me. In 1986 I made a quick weekend trip from Texas to Cuernavaca, Mexico to attend a friend’s wedding. I took only about $50 in cash, since the trip was so short and
I was staying at my friend’s house.
When I got back to the airport, I had about $15 left. My husband would pick me up at the airport in Texas, and I wouldn’t need money while flying, so I decided to buy a couple of bottles of Mexican Kahlua to bring home. This left me about $4.
At the boarding area the attendant told me I needed to pay a $10 departure tax. I was unaware of this tax, and when I told her I only had $4 she wasn’t too sympathetic. I did have my American Express card, so I decided to see if I could get some money that way. I figured, if worse came to worse, maybe I could return the Kahlua and get the cash back. In those days, we had nothing like today’s check cards.
While in line at the “banco,” the woman in front of me in line was a little taller than me, with blonde or light-brown hair, probably in her middle 30’s. She was dressed well, and seemed business-like. I asked her if she knew whether I could get some money on my credit card. There was still time to make my flight, but I was starting to panic a little.
She asked what the problem was and I told her. She pulled $6 out of her purse and insisted I take it. I started to refuse, but then decided she was the answer to a prayer I hadn’t prayed yet. I took her card, discovered her name was Carolyn, and told her I’d return the money when I got home.
It turned out she was originally from Australia, worked for an advertising firm in New Zealand, and was traveling to South America.
When I got home, I immediately sent Carolyn the money back with a thank-you card and a self-addressed stamped postcard so I’d know when she got the money. About a month later, I got the postcard back. She said she’d forgotten all about it and my card was a nice surprise. I’m sure she thought she’d never see the money again.
I’ve never forgotten the kindness of Carolyn from New Zealand, and whenever I can I try to pay her favor forward to someone else.