While at the Los Angeles airport, a man approached me and apologized for bothering me, but had a favor to ask. He was traveling from Canada and lost his wallet. He had locked his passport in the hotel safe, but lost all his other ID, cash, and credit cards. He had his boarding pass, but couldn't check his luggage because of the $25 per bag fee. He asked if I could help him out and that he would gladly repay me when he got home. He honestly looked frazzled. I went to the desk with him and asked if they could waive the fee for him considering the circumstances, but they said that they could not. I asked if they could charge the card that he bought the tickets with, but they said that they did not have access to that information. The man was clearly stressed and looked like he was about to cry.
What would you do in this situation?
I have traveled the world, and unfortunately have been in a very similar scenario. I was in a foreign country and had my wallet stolen. Fortunately for me, I was traveling with travelers checks and was able to replace them, but I could sympathize with this man. I paid the fee for his bag and wished him safe travels. The ticket agents all thanked me and told me that the good deed would come back to me. While you could see the relief and gratitude, you could still tell he was stressed. He thanked me, gave me his phone number, and went to his gate. While on my flight, I had 5 hours to think about the situation. It bothered me that the airline would not waive the fee (A fee that is ridiculous in my opinion at that). I was irritated that the airline personnel would allow me to pay for another customer, whom I had never met, and praise me for doing so, but wouldn't (couldn't) do anything to help him out (He did have a valid ticket after all). I tried looking at it from the viewpoint of the airline employees and the airline policies, and even played devils advocate in that some people will always try to scam the system. I even questioned if I had been scammed.
Ultimately, I feel that I am a decent judge of people and while skeptical, like to believe in the general good in people. I had nothing to gain from helping him and quite honestly, never expected that I would see the money returned, but understanding his dilemma, I was glad I helped him out. I think that as a society, we often become overly skeptical and protective and lose touch with humanity. How do you think the man felt, having to ask a total stranger for help? What would you do If you were in his situation? What if you were in mine?
I encourage and look forward to your responses. Thank you for reading and helping clarify my introspection. :)