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.
The train had just pulled away from the station (without me on it) when it struck me. I wasn’t flying from CPH this time. I was on a Ryanair flight from Malmo/Sturup. And I was suddenly in a big hurry.
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 had hardly finished briefing him, when the train crossed into Sweden. No more connection. I remember standing there, looking out at the landscape (seascape, to be precise) flying by, and looking to my left. I made eye contact with a well-dressed Swedish looking man in his 40's.
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’ve heard that we’re taking you to the airport. I hope you’re ok with going fast.” he grinned.
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.
I liked the fact that there were these two brothers, who would happily kill their immediate plans to give a stranger a ride to Malmo Airport, in exchange for nothing more than spoken thanks and an excuse to go a bit crazy.
And the flight, you ask?
In the end, it wasn’t enough. It was the last flight that day. I missed check-in time by seven minutes, and due to Ryanair policy that was the end of it. I paid the rebooking fee (steep at the time!) and got permission to sleep on a couch in the airport lobby.
That didn’t matter too much, though.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that ride.
I’ve since been the one on the other side of the equation. Sometimes you get to help in a way that means a lot, in a way that you also enjoy. It’s a great feeling. And though I never got their names and never talked to them again, I still owe those two brothers.
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.
If you like my writing, and want to free up my time, so write more, you can do exactly that, by supporting me via Patreon.