I began texting my friend while still in the air that I’d soon be touching down. My flight was 30 minutes late I felt bad if my buddy was waiting. I mentioned to check flightview.com to track my flight’s status before driving out to Oakland airport, but I’m sure he forgot all about it.
Low and behold, Steve didn’t check flightview.com and actually arrived 15 minutes early, with his wife! I rushed off the airplane and ran through baggage claim to meet him curbside. I kept thinking about how many times he had to circle around the airport given the security guards would always wave cars through if they sat too long.
Steve gave me a fist pump when I saw him and I apologized for being late. ”No worries Sam!” he said as he popped open the trunk of his completely beat up 1994 Honda Civic that stunk of old socks. When we reached my house at 11:15pm I thanked him by giving him $40 dollars I told him I’d give him earlier. A taxi ride would have cost about $65 and I’d probably have to wait in line for 5-10 minutes for one as well.
Steve graciously accepted the cash. I would have insisted otherwise since Steve is underemployed and works odd jobs on the side. I don’t think Steve makes much more than $1,500 a month, which is extremely tight for someone living in San Francisco. It’s a win-win situation as I’d much rather give my money to a friend than to a stranger.
SOMETHING FELT OFF
The first thing I did when I got home was check on Fluffy the bunny and go through the week’s worth of mail that had been piling up on my front steps. As I was going through the mail, I had a funny feeling something was amiss. At about 12:30am, it suddenly hit me.
CRAP! I forgot a plastic bag on the overhead compartment because I was rushing to get off! Because I went on the trip with only my backpack, I wasn’t thinking of the second bag on return. The bag contained only three things: 1) mango bread, 2) five finger vibram shoes, and 3) a card from my mother. My heart sunk like a skipped rock into the ocean. I could care less about the mango bread and my hiking shoes. What was this mysterious card my mother gave me?!
I couldn’t stand the unknown and gave my mother a call at about 9:30pm her time. I sheepishly told her that I had left her card on the plane and asked her what was inside?
I could hear her disappointment as she told me it was personalized birthday card she wrote. She gave it to me early because we wouldn’t be seeing each for at least another six months.
Knowing that she sometimes includes something else in her greetings cards, I asked her if there was anything else.
“Yes, I put $300 dollars in the card as well,” my mother answered.
“Oh no!“, I couldn’t help but reply. ”Was the $300 in check form hopefully?”
“Unfortunately no. I decided to give you cash because I thought it would be easier for you,” replied my mom.
I apologized to my mother for my absentmindedness and told her I would do everything possible to get my bag back!
She said, “Not to worry. Hopefully whoever finds the card will put the money to good use.”
I was floored. Sadness engulfed my soul. I could not believe that in my rush to get off the plane I had forgotten a bag that contained her precious card. Even though I’m an adult, she’s always being nice by adding a little bit of cash for my birthday, just like when I was a kid. The sum would usually be $10, $20, and at the most $100, so I was shocked when she said there was $300.
My mother is retired and doesn’t have much in terms of income. $300 is a lot of money to her, to anybody frankly. What she does earn, she spends it freely on other people. She’s frugal and finds joy in the simple things. Plenty of her clothing are over a decade old and she doesn’t mind at all. What I admire most about her is that she’s always thinking of others.
I called the airport hotline and they told me the lost baggage department opened at 5am. I stayed up until 2:30am and woke up at 5am to call. I called and called and called and nobody picked up. I then called the national hotline who told me the lost baggage clerks didn’t get in until 8am. I killed the next three hours writing a couple posts and catching up over e-mail.
By the time 8am rolled around, I was an absolute zombie. I didn’t care because I was on a mission to retrieve my bag. When a woman finally picked up, I blurted out my entire story and prayed she had my bag. A couple minutes of hold time felt like an eternity until she responded, “I’ve got it! A beat up plastic bag with a loaf of something, funny shoes, and a card with your name on it right?”
“Thank goodness!! Yes indeed! I’ll come over this morning!” I responded as if I had just won the lottery.
There was only one problem though. Moose, my beloved truck was wounded. He needed a new alternator and could not even start as what was left of the battery got drained from sitting idle in my garage for a week while I was away.
I was thinking of spending 2 hours and $16 to get back to Oakland Airport by Muni (subway), but decided that I would rather spend another $40 and give it to my buddy Steve if he was available. I texted Steve at 8:15am and told him I had stupidly left my bag on the plane and had to go back to the airport. I offered him $40 again, but he did not acknowledge the money in his text back. Instead, he just asked when should we go, and I told him whenever was convenient for him.
Steve came by at around 10am and off we went on the 26 mile journey. Steve couldn’t believe I had forgotten the bag, and I couldn’t believe the airlines had my bag. Together, we shook our heads intermittently at what transpired.
After retrieving my bag, we went to go play tennis for a couple hours at the park. I told him I’d buy him lunch if I lost, and lost I did. We went to his favorite Tacqueria in the Mission on 24th and Valencia where he proceeded to poke endless fun at me for losing. No problem, that’s what good friends do.
When Steve dropped me off, I told him I wanted to give him money for taking me back to the airport. This time, he refused. He said, “Don’t worry about it. We’re friends. Next time we play at your club or go out for a drink get me then.”
“No problem Steve. I will get you back and then some!”
Steve’s gesture meant the world to me. He went out of his way to pick me up, drove me all the way to the East Bay, burned some gas and give up an hour of his time all for free.
THE POWER OF SMALL GESTURES
Small gestures go a long way. I will be forever indebted to Steve for being there when I needed him most. I will always be thankful for my mother’s generosity and her response when I thought I lost her card.
Small gestures are the greatest gestures of all. They usually come from folks who might not have a great deal. But, what they lack financially, they more than make it up for their thoughtfulness. If you’re reading this post, thank you guys! You’ve inspired me to be more thoughtful and giving.
Readers, what small gestures have you experienced that touched your heart?
Shout out to Kevin at Invest It Wisely for gifting me a nice bottle of Canadian Maple Syrup when we met up for lunch in Hawaii! Kevin is busy building his Android apps and I’m pleased to hear things are going very well. Kevin could very well be the nicest Canadian fella I’ve ever met. Go check out the link to see how his entrepreneurial dreams are doing a couple months since quitting his job.
Photo: Went Mango, Pear, And Apple Picking. SD