So, don’t forget Thursday is the 15th and if you want another shot at giving your $10 away, give it a try and leave a comment here to let us know how it went.
Day 200 was a Friday and Brazil was playing the Netherlands in the World Cup. I slipped on my jersey that my friends Keila and Gilson got for me and headed downtown with a neighbor to cheer on Brazil.
We found a table at the James Hoban pub on the circle. In our section, I think we were in the minority. There were several Dutch fans passionately cheering on their country. Two of them were Maria and Karel. My neighbor used to live in Holland so she seemed to change who she was rooting for as the Dutch pulled ahead. She ended up chatting with Maria and Karel about something and then I ended up helping Karel with some directions to Dulles airport.
As it turns out the couple the city of Bergen was here for some business meetings and they were leaving for the airport in a couple of hours. I drew a little map for him on the back of a print-out of the food and drink specials the bar was promoting during the world cup games.
After 90 minutes of play Brazil’s dreams of becoming the first team to ever win six World Cup championships were quashed; at least for another four years. Our new Dutch friends were ecstatic. I went over congratulated them and asked if they would share their joy and participate in a milestone day the Year of Giving: Day 200. They accepted.
Karel is the managing director of a Dutch industrial company. Maria works for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. I have flown KLM before. I remember it well. I was in business class from Sao Paulo to Amsterdam. The service was excellent, much better than Lufthansa or BA which is what I usually flew to Europe when I was living in Brazil. The captain came on the intercom alerting us that we were landing in about 45 minutes and I brought my seat to the dreaded “upright position” and noticed that in my lap was a small ceramic house that was painted the colors of Dutch flag and inside it seemed to be some liquid. I asked the person sitting next to me if it was theirs and they informed me that all KLM business class passengers received this token of appreciation and that it was filled with rum. I tucked it away in my carry-on bag, exited the plane and headed for my connecting flight only to get stopped by security and told that I would have to surrender my new found gift because it had liquid in it, even though it was just two or three ounces at most. For some reason I felt a little indignant about the situation and just to spite the security officer I opened it and drank it on the spot!
Anyway Maria and Karel were such a nice couple. They seemed rather impressed with Washington…well then again they were really in a good mood after watching their team pass on to the next round. “There’s more green than we expected,” said Karel. “It’s quite relaxed and comfortable here. Safer than I expected too!” I asked them where I should visit if I go to their country and Karel and Maria thought about it for a second and said that Rotterdam would be a good choice.
I found out that they were newlyweds having just gotten married on 09.09.09 after a whirlwind courtship of just about a month (well to be exact they had corresponded for much longer but had only met in person for about a month.) You know what they say. When you know, you just know. I guess this year there will be some people tying the knot on 10.10.10.
Maria said that she was going to give the $10 to someone else. She enjoys helping others. Just recently she volunteered for a program that KLM did for the homeless; part of their Wings of Support program. Later Karel asked if he could give me $10…a different $10 as they wanted to hold on to the one I gave them so they could pass it on to someone else. I tried to remember that I too need to be gracious when people offer me gifts and accepted their $10 which I will save and use to start a fundraising effort that I will begin in a few weeks to help a small bilingual performing arts school in Manizales, Colombia. More to come on how you can help in some upcoming posts!
Right before they left, they introduced me to their Dutch friends Farren(?) and Kees. Kees said that I had inspired him to give five different people 10 euros each when he got back to Holland. Yes! Way to go Kees!
Despite Brazil losing the game, I felt like a winner. In fact as I walked home wearing my Brazil shirt, four different people stopped me to tell me how sorry they were that Brazil lost. One Brazilian woman hung her head out of a stopped car and just shook her head in a mixture of disbelief and sorrow. I tilted my head to one side and shrugged my shoulders. “De aqui a quatro anos,” I told her.
Oh, by the way, I got a text message later that day that Maria and Karel made it to the airport! Stay in touch.