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102. The time I got driven to an airport by two strangers in a sports car

In the summer of 2004, I was part of a reality TV football team. I was also seeing a lovely Finnish woman, who lived outside London. Neither of those pieces of information are relevant to the story, but they help set the mood.

I was poor, and had a cell phone subscription that didn’t extend beyond the borders of Denmark. Why that’s relevant will become apparent.

I was on my way to London on a low-cost flight. Destination: Finnish girlfriend and a short vacation in England. For once, I was in good time, and I congratulated myself on that fact as I stepped off the train in Copenhagen Airport.

Shit.

I jumped on the next train to Sweden (Malmo is close to Copenhagen, but on the Swedish side of the Øresund bridge) thinking that I might still make it, even though time was running out.

Now I had a rough ETA. My next move was to call my father, who I happened to know would be at home. I quickly briefed him on the situation and asked him to call the airport and tell him I was going to come in hot and late.

No internet on my phone, then.

I smiled at him, and said “No more connection.” or something like that. I appreciate life’s little ironies, and while I wasn’t happy with the situation, I could applaud it for its absurdity.

What happened next was something of an eye opener, though.

“Don’t worry. I heard everything. My brother is picking us up at the station. We’ll drive you there.”

I didn’t really know how to respond, so I said thank you and tried to stop myself from seeming too idiotic. This was a pure “Pay it forward” moment. Damn. Hadn’t seen that coming.

Sure enough, the brother met us at the station.

I hoped I wasn’t, either. I guess I was going to find out, though. The brother’s car turned out to be a sports car, of the “expensive looking and dangerously sleek” variety.

And Brother Saviour was not afraid to put the pedal to the metal. Not in the slightest.

We did inner-city turns doing 90, had a lightning pitstop at a gas station, and spent most of the trip on the fun side of 160. At the time, it was probably the fastest I’d ever (been) driven in a car.

Meanwhile, the two brothers were grinning like madmen and enjoying themselves immensely. And that was when it hit me. They were doing me a favour, but I was also doing them one. I was providing then with an alibi to be a little reckless and to play race car drivers.

It was a win/win in a way that hadn’t been obvious to me from the start. It didn’t make me any less grateful, or the whole thing less cool. It just made it more human.

I liked that.

And the flight, you ask?

That didn’t matter too much, though.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that ride.

Not just for taking me to the airport.

But for teaching me something valuable about life. And for providing me with a lovely memory about the kindess of strangers.

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Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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