Writing, words and written work

While exchanging travel stories with friends the other night this memory resurfaced and I decided it was time to make it public as a way of honouring the kindness of a stranger.

In July 1999 I was travelling with my sixteen-year-old niece, Sally, from America back to Melbourne when our airline tickets disappeared at Los Angeles Airport.

Since leaving Houston, Texas Sally had insisted on taking charge of the tickets, carrying them in her hands along with her fluffy purple purse.

With time to spare before our flight we went to a café not far from the departure lounge.  Walking back to the lounge after our snack my niece stopped abruptly. Her face went pale. She could not speak but I knew what had happened. I looked at her hands. No tickets! No purse!

When she had calmed down enough to talk she said she remembered putting both items down on the ledge in front of the serving area when she ordered her snack. We hurried back to look for them. They were not there. Sally’s distress increased. I fought to control my panic. As calmly as I could I explained our situation to the café workers who were very helpful but the tickets could not be found. I recalled seeing a man at the serving counter while we were eating. I saw him only from the back and I remembered he was wearing light brown cargo pants.

We went to the Qantas counter in the departure lounge to report our loss but there was no one yet in attendance. Sally and I roamed the airport waiting areas carefully inspecting men’s trousers looking for the thief in cargo pants. We were in fighting spirit and would have challenged anyone we believed to be the scumbag who stole our tickets. However, we did not see a similar pair of trousers.

Sally was becoming more and more distressed. Finally, we returned to our departure lounge to wait for the staff to arrive. Other passengers offered kind words and reassurance which helped to calm Sally. Finally, a Qantas staff member arrived. After hearing our story, she indicated she would send word through to the check-in counter to see if anyone had handed in our tickets. It was a long and anxious wait until another staff member eventually arrived. I raced back over to the counter and to my great relief she had our tickets and Sally’s fluffy purple purse. Apparently, a gentleman had handed them in.

After we had calmed down we worked out what must have happened. The man wearing light brown cargo pants who came into the cafe for a snack just after us had seen the purse and tickets on the ledge. Rather than take the easy option of handing them up to the café staff he took the time and trouble to do the right thing. He walked all the way back out to the Qantas desk in the main area of that huge airport and handed them in to the staff there.

We never knew who he was but his kind thoughtfulness and honesty made a difference and will always be remembered. JB 🙂


Comments on: "Someone stole our plane tickets!" (9)

  1. Fran Vitale said:

    Hi J.B.,
    Whisper My Secret is one the most touching, and well written books I have read in a long time. In addition, your mom looks like a twin to my Aunt Jeanette! Have you ever tried to find out about her birth parents?

    Fran Vitale

    • Hi Fran,

      Thank you for taking the time to visit me and for your comments on Whisper My Secret. Is she really like your Aunt Jeanette? Wow! That is amazing. Yes, I do have a little information on her birth parents. Her father’s side go back to the Mills of Kent, England and there is a Norwegian sailor by the name of Johnson on her mother’s side. Very interesting isn’t it?

  2. I can imagine your horror.
    Glad it all worked out ok and to see that there are still honest people around .
    I bet you never let your tickets ( or fluffy purple bags) out of your sight now.

    • You are absolutely right. I do take very good care of plane tickets (and all travel documents) these days. Thanks for visiting. JB 🙂

  3. Thank you Ellis, for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment.

    And thank you, Rae Ellen. I love that you have shared your story. I can imagine myself reacting in the same way as you did, in that situation. And yes, people with such generosity of spirit as the man in your story (and the man in mine) do remind us to pass on to others the same unconditional kindness. Even a small gesture can have a deep impact on the recipient. JB 🙂

  4. Such a good story with a happy ending. Sometimes we can only “pay it forward.” Once on a two-section bus in Warsaw, connecting the train station with the airport, I got on with my luggage at the nearest door when everyone else did, in a rush of bodies. There was no one to pay for the ticket so I sat waiting for someone to collect. I’m a bit of a travel virgin, you might say. Soon enough 2 uniformed men arrived. I had no ticket. I was in very big trouble. They yelled at me. Not only did I owe for the ticket, but a sizable fine for trying to cheat and ride for free. I did not have enough money. They were angry, speaking Polish, and there seemed no solution. I began to cry. I’d have to go to jail. And then a kind man paid them all I owed, just before getting off the bus. He must have been an angel. So now I try to be helpful whenever I can. Thank you for posting the story about your tickets. I guess I’ve always wanted to tell my story too, and you provided a wonderful opportunity.

  5. What a nice story. Good people do exist, and I still believe they are in the majority. So glad you and Sally made it home, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

  6. Thank you, Teresa. Your story made me laugh. Losing plane tickets definitely causes panic! JB 🙂

  7. So glad it all worked out! That is a very sick feeling to not be able to find your tickets. One time I was flying halfway across the USA (alone). In a little podunk airport along the way–where I had a changeover from a small jet to a large commercial jet, I was killing time. I had my laptop out, made some cellphone calls, went through my purse, etc, etc, lol, and when it came near time for the gate to open, I reorganized everything (I did not check baggage–just a couple small carry-on pieces) and realized that my tickets were not in the back section of my purse. I went back over what I had done since I sat down, nearly an hour earlier, but nothing came to me. Finally, I recalled having them in my hand when I arrived at the gate–to be sure it was the right gate. I searched everything, trying not to pull out my underclothes in front of the people sharing the seating area with me. Still, no ticket and boarding pass.I stood to head to the counter and see what I had to do to get on that plane, and lol, turned around to grab my rolling carry-on to drag with me, and voila! There they were. My fifteen minutes of panic had me solidly perched on top of them. lol, they were on my seat. “All is well that ends well.”

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