The tired man seemed as though he would give up. The female bystander was watching a familiar scene usually played out at airport security check-ins. She knew the signs of prejudice and discrimination well.
She wanted to say something. She tried to help the man. She would have wanted someone to stand up for her if it were her. But she couldn’t move. So she watched him sadly walk over to the trash can and throw his package away. That day, she died a little inside.
When Ivelise Hernandez, a Tampa, Florida resident, arrived at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport that day with her boyfriend, she hadn’t been expecting to witness anything out of the ordinary.
She was headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her boyfriend agreed to stay with her until she had to board her flight. But while they were standing in the security line, there was a commotion up ahead.
Rico Bankston waited patiently by Ivelise’s side as the TSA (Transportation Security Authority) conducted bag inspections. But something was taking longer than usual. There appeared to be a problem.
A middle-aged man was trying to take a wrapped package through the metal detector, and it was holding up the whole line. Little did Ivelise know, she was already involved – whether she wanted to be or not.
The security guards pulled the man from the line and began to question him. Ivelise and her boyfriend couldn’t help but overhear snippets of the argument that ensued.
The problem was something inside the man’s carry-on bag, and the guards were refusing to let him pass through. The situation was growing tenser by the minute. What was the problem?
After the events of September 11 rocked the world, The TSA in the United States began to clamp down on what is and isn’t allowed to be in hand luggage on flights. Passengers are routinely stopped, pulled out of the line, and questionable items are destroyed or disposed of.
Of course, both Americans and tourists alike often become angry when they hear that innocuous items like toothpaste need to be thrown out. But what this man had was nothing like that.
Begging And Pleading
Ivelise and Rico watched the argument between the guards and the man intensify in front of them. But still, the man refused to part with his parcel.
And he was becoming visibly distressed. He begged and pleaded, but the guards wouldn’t budge. Seeing that his pleas were falling on deaf ears, the man tried to bargain with them.
That’s An Order
The man asked if there was any way his package could be sent to the airport’s lost and found, but still, the guards denied him. They wouldn’t budge.
They coldly ordered him to take his package and toss it into the nearest trash bin. That was what brought the man to tears. Ivelise and Rico watched on, appalled. Something had to be done.
A Heavy Heart
With his eyes welling up, the man took the package that the TSA had said he wasn’t allowed to bring with him. With a heavy heart, he carefully placed it in the bin with the trash. Then, he sadly walked through the checkpoint to board his flight.
The line began to move quickly after that, and it was soon Ivelise’s turn. She said goodbye to her boyfriend, but not before making a very strange request.
Ivelise was left with a very bad taste in her mouth after what she had just witnessed. She prepared to go through the baggage check and kissed Rico goodbye, but she knew she had to do something.
Before she boarded her flight to Pennsylvania, she asked her boyfriend to go and check the trash bin near the security line and retrieve the mysterious package.
Shaken But Curious
Rico went back to the trash bin and retrieved the man’s package. Then, he left the airport and drove back to Tampa. Ivelise, meanwhile, couldn’t stop thinking about how badly the TSA had treated the man. But she also desperately wanted to know what was inside the box.
As soon as she reached her destination, she scrambled to turn her phone back on and immediately called Rico.
What’s In The Box?
Rico had unwrapped the package but was surprised to find that its contents were rather underwhelming. At first glance, the object in question didn’t seem like something that would raise a red flag with airport security.
He lifted the weighty souvenir out of its box and turned it over in his hands. But when he flipped it over, he realized just how valuable it was.
What had looked like a meaningless trinket was actually something much more. Rico now understood why the man at the airport had teared up when he was made to toss it in the trash.
He shook it gently and watched the flurry of glitter swirl around. It was a glass snow globe, and there were two photographs inside.
The photograph was of a little girl, and the other side was a photo of an elderly couple. Underneath the globe was an engraving that read: “We love you, Katie. Nana and Papa 1/25/16.”
When Ivelise heard what was in the mysterious package, she began to tear up, too. But she knew exactly what she had to do.
When Ivelise came back from her trip, she had already decided that she wasn’t just going to discard the snow globe. It had clearly meant so much to the man who had been forced to part with it, so Ivelise came up with a plan.
She knew that tracking down the family wouldn’t be easy, but they had to try.
Taking To Social Media
With nothing to go on except that the man had been at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport that day, Ivelise decided to take to social media to try and find the family.
She posted pictures of the snow globe and begged all her friends to share them far and wide. But Ivelise never imagined that the post would quickly take on a life of its own.
Going To Bed
Ivelise went to bed after posting the photos on social media. Her trip and her constant worry over the snow globe’s owner had taken a toll on her.
She had dinner with her boyfriend, freshened up, and climbed into bed. Little did she know that her post was gaining traction on social media. Her wish would soon be granted.
She Wakes Up
Some hours past midnight, Ivelise woke up to a vibrating phone. The gadget was almost falling off her nightstand, with notifications streaming in constantly.
“It was louder than my morning alarm,” she reported, stating that the vibrating sound wrenched her from sleep. Not knowing what to expect, she reached out for it, turning it on. What she saw made her freeze in place.
It’s Self-Sustaining Now
Hundreds of notifications stared at Ivelise, with more still coming in. She logged into her social media account and started scrolling through the comments, likes, and share notifications.
Most of the people on her page were commending her for trying to help the man get his snow globe back. But other commenters had other ideas.
Among the many comments thanking Ivelise for her kindheartedness were a few affirming that they knew the man she was looking for.
It turns out her friends and family had done a stellar job at sharing the pictures. They had reached the man’s relatives, each of which couldn’t believe that their grandpa had been forced to throw the snow globe.
One of the commenters identified herself as the man’s niece. She shared that her family had lost the girl in the photo, and the snow globe was among her most cherished possessions.
Ivelise fell into detective mode the minute she read the woman’s comments. She searched her profile and her photos, friends, and posts. But what was she looking for?
“I wanted to ensure that she was related to the man,” Ivelise said. “The internet is a very dangerous place.”
She found a few pictures of the woman with the man from the airport, which were not edited in any software or otherwise. Although she opened the woman’s private message, she still held her trust back.
“That snow globe was one of a kind,” said Ivelise. “Anyone could come and claim they knew the owner. Anyone could lie to get to it.”
Although the woman had already proved to know the man, it didn’t mean she deserved Ivelise’s complete trust. But Ivelise would still give her a chance to prove herself. It was the least she could do to find the man again.
Talking To Her
Ivelise and the woman, Mandy, got to talking. After about an hour of conversation, Ivelise could tell that the woman was related to the man and loved him dearly.
The way Mandy talked about her uncle was endearing. There was a warmth to the relationship she described, painting the man as a very loving man. But there was something else that Ivelise caught while talking to the woman.
Who Is The Woman?
Ivelise realized that the woman really loved the girl in the picture as if she were her daughter. But she didn’t ask any questions on the matter.
She only assured Mandy that she had the snow globe with her and would be open to meeting at a restaurant near the airport where the man lost it. So, what was Mandy’s answer?
From Miami To Tampa
Mandy agreed to Ivelise’s terms. She lived in Miami and was willing to drive to Tampa to pick up the snow globe.
But the trip was a four-hour long drive that would need commitment and sheer strength to see through. As someone already juggling family life and work, could Mandy find the time to make the trip?
I Can’t Make It
Mandy told Ivelise the reality of her issue. The drive was long, and although she wanted to, she didn’t know if she could make it.
Ivelise thought for a while and asked Mandy if she was comfortable sharing their plans on social media. Ivelise planned to ask the public for help. A Go Fund Me campaign would solve Mandy’s issue by helping her buy a plane ticket.
Asking For Help
Mandy agreed, and Ivelise wasted no time writing the post and opening a Go Fund Me account for the same. She shared everything about Mandy, saying she needed the people’s help getting her to Tampa.
She reminded them that all the progress she’d made so far was because of them. Although she was eternally grateful for what they’d done, she still needed their help.
The People’s Answer
Ivelise didn’t know if her and Mandy’s plan would work. But the people heard their plea, sending all they could to help Mandy fly to Tampa.
The money in the Go Fund Me account surpassed what Mandy needed for her flight to and from Tampa. So what could she do with the rest of the money?
Flying To Tampa
By the time Mandy was flying to meet Ivelise in Tampa, the story had taken a life of its own. Mandy even contacted her uncle about the snow globe, and he suggested accompanying her to the Ivelise’s to pick it up.
When they finally received their snow globe, his cheeks streamed with tears as he kissed it before hugging Ivelise in gratitude. He even explained who the girl in the photo was.
The Girl In The Photo
The man, John, explained that the girl in the photo was Mandy’s niece and his first granddaughter. He revealed that her doctors had diagnosed her with leukemia a few years back.
She passed away after three years of fighting valiantly. On hearing the story, Ivelise suggested they donate the rest of the Go Fund Me cash to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Mandy and John agreed wholeheartedly.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.