The Outdated Bill
by Vimala Ramu
Hailing from a country notorious for small swindling as well as super scams, certain experiences I had abroad have left an indelible print on me.
After a pleasant, long stay at our son’s place at Maui, Hawaii, we were home bound. Since it was our third visit and also as our onward journey had been booked by Korean Air, our son was confident that we would find our way and so did not accompany us to Honolulu, the international hub. We took the small 19 seater Aloha Airlines aircraft from Maui and landed in Honolulu airport half an hour later.
Loading our humongous items of luggage on to a groaning trolley, we proceeded towards the Korean Air counter. There we were told that the pilots of the said airlines were on a strike and so they were trying to put us on alternative airlines.
After quite a bit of running up and down tensely hampered as we were by our overloaded trolley, we were told that we would be put on Japan Airlines flight which in fact would take off earlier than Korean Air schedule.
Leaving my husband with the luggage in the lounge, I snatched a single dollar bill from my purse and rushed to ring up my daughter-in law at Maui lest they hear about the strike and worry. There I found a long line of passengers waiting patiently for their turn at the telephone booth. I joined the line behind a fair young man whose nationality I could not fathom.
I was feeling nervous as I was not sure if I would be able to put forth my case in my Indian accent if I were to deal with an operator. The young gentleman saw me fidgeting nervously with the dollar note. He looked at the note and said, “The dollar bill you have is outdated. It will not be accepted by the phone.” I got panicky. Being an alien I could not make out an outdated dollar bill from a current one. I did not have any more one- dollar notes. I did not want to leave my place in the line to go back and change a higher denomination note.
Seeing me in distress, the young man offered to help me. He took my son’s telephone number from me. When his turn in the line came, he put in his own dollar bill (a crisp, current one), dialed the number, waited till my daughter- in law came on line and then handed the phone to me. I explained the situation to her and put the telephone back. By now the young man had finished his talk at the next cubicle. I thanked him profusely and went back to join my husband at the embarkation line at the Japan Airlines counter.
How often do we come across such good Samaritans in life! Such small acts of selflessness indeed make you feel that there is certainly a benevolent presence up there watching over you. *******