When I landed at the San Francisco airport last Wednesday, I glanced out my window only to see the burned out shell of the airplane that had crashed just days before. The ground was still littered with plane parts and personal items from inside the cabin. It took my breath away to see it all spread out in front of me, starkly real. I said a prayer for the people who were on that plane, and felt gratitude that my plane had landed without incident.
I was walking a little slower than usual through the airport, still reflecting on bigger thoughts and feelings than, “where do I pick up my luggage.” I was just about to exit the moving sidewalk when I glanced down and saw it … something I had never seen in my entire life. It was a wad of 100 dollar bills large enough, as we say in West Virginia, to choke a horse. In a fast, fluid motion, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. Then, off the moving sidewalk, I stopped and looked around. The corridor was empty. Completely empty. I was totally alone in that part of the airport. There was no indication of who had dropped the money, and no one had seen me pick it up.
I stood there for a moment with many thoughts running through my mind. Mostly I was trying to decide what to do next. Eventually people passed me and then I began walking again toward the baggage claim area. I looked around for someone who looked “official,” maybe a security officer or someone from TSA. Just about then an official looking person zoomed past me on a Segway … off to an emergency it seemed. I wondered if the emergency had anything to do with the contents of my pocket.
I kept walking. I was scanning the crowd looking for “something.” The closer I got to baggage claim, the more I wanted to count the money and claim it as my own. A part of me starting thinking about what I would buy with the money while another part thought about filling out the paperwork associated with turning the money into authorities.
And then I saw him: a foreign-looking man standing to the side of the hallway frantically searching his pockets and luggage. He was obviously in a panic. I approached slowly and said, “Did you lose something?”
“Yes,” he said.
“What did you lose?”
He looked at me in desperation and said, “Money.” And after a pause, he finished: “A LOT of money.”
I reached into my pocket and handed it to him with the simple words, “I know. I found it.”
His panic changed to relief and disbelief. I heard his thank you as I walked away. I saw him joined by his wife and children and I caught just a bit of what he was saying as he pointed in my direction, “That woman found it.”
And that is the end of my story. I continued to the baggage claim, a little late, with a feeling that I had been used by the Universe, ever so briefly, to take care of someone. It’s not the first time I’ve been in the right place at the right time to help someone in need. I hope it’s not the last. It’s sort of nice to know how angels must feel on a daily basis.