In my upcoming book, Love, Miracles & Mayhem in the City of Angels, I write about all the Earth angels I’ve encountered living here in Los Angeles–which of course, literally means “The Angels” in Spanish. Moving to this city where there is so much trouble to get into when I was just seventeen years old, so young and naïve, I found myself in some unexpected, sometimes even downright dangerous situations. Throughout it all, I’ve always felt very blessed. I believe I have a strong angel presence around me, some of these angels are unseen, but many of them definitely can be seen, in human form. When I first moved to town, much like Blanche DuBois said at the conclusion of A Streetcar Named Desire, I felt like I had often depended on the kindness of strangers.
I was reminded of this on a recent trip to Paris, Valentine’s weekend. A girlfriend of mine was planning to visit the City of Light with her boyfriend to celebrate the occasion. Sadly, my friend and her boyfriend got into an argument, and he decided not to join her. When my girlfriend asked if I could meet her in Paris, it seemed like a long shot, but I told her I would see what I could do. I looked online—plane tickets were $2,000, totally not in my budget. A friend of mine, whom I most definitely consider an angel, knew I really wanted to go, so he very kindly and generously offered to let me use his airline miles in order to meet my friend in Paris, making not only one but two girls very happy.
I actually love long flights because they provide me with a solid block of time where I can work on my book uninterrupted. I literally wrote fifteen hours straight on the plane—I didn’t even take a nap. When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle, I decided to take the train instead of a cab to the hotel since I was on a budget. As I was walking to the train, a young man, who happened to be an off-duty airport employee on his way home escorted me to the metro. He helped me buy a train ticket from the machine and showed me on the map which exit to take to get to my hotel. I found him to be very sweet and helpful. Although his English was much better than my French, which at the time was basically limited to “Bonjour,” “Merci,” and “Au revoir,” we had a hard time communicating. I eventually downloaded an app to help translate our conversation. He seemed really eager to assist me and was supposed to exit several stops before I did. However, when we reached his destination, my new friend decided to remain on the train with me all the way to my exit.
I had been warned about the pickpockets in Paris, especially on the train. The over-sized purse I use for traveling was stuffed to the max with my makeup, my hairbrush, whatever spiritual book I was reading at the time, and my laptop (or so I thought). I couldn’t understand much of what my new friend had to say, but I did understand when he told me I had pretty eyes and when he instructed me to close my bag, which he did countless times, but the bag, unfortunately, wouldn’t close.
When I arrived to my destination, the man from the train asked me to have a coffee with him. My girlfriend had been waiting for me in the hotel room, so I ran up to ask her to join us. I used this opportunity to empty out the all the things I didn’t need from my purse, so I could finally close my bag. My girlfriend and I had a quick cup of hot chocolate with my new friend before saying goodbye and going to the market to buy some things for the room. When my girlfriend and I returned to the hotel, the room had been cleaned but my laptop was gone. I was sure I had taken my laptop out and placed it on the bed when I got to the hotel. My girlfriend said she didn’t remember seeing the computer, which was hard to miss since it was encased by a bright hot pink cover.
My girlfriend was positive I must have left the laptop on the plane, but I was still convinced the laptop hade made it back to the hotel room with me. There was no way I would have been so careless with such an important item; my laptop is basically like another limb to me. However, I did call Delta, in the off-chance my friend was right. And although I didn’t think a hotel maid would steal my laptop–I’m sure people come to Paris with far more valuable items than my little pink MacBook Air—I thought perhaps it may have gotten lost in the sheets and mistakenly taken out of the room.
When I talked to my friends back home, they asked, “Are you sure that guy from the train didn’t steal it?” Adding, “You should never talk to strangers in Paris!” Honestly, in my heart, I didn’t feel he took it. He seemed so kind and helpful and so completely sincere. However, for a second, I thought to myself maybe it was naïve of me to think this man was so gentlemanly and chivalrous that he simply wanted to make sure I made it to my destination safely. But, then I thought, even the best pickpocket could not have taken my laptop out and put it in his backpack while carrying my suitcase. Plus, he had given me his first and last name and his phone number and had hoped to take me out while I was in Paris. For all these reasons and my own intuition, I knew the guy didn’t take it, but I texted him to see if he had any clues. He said he really hoped I didn’t think he stole my laptop. I told him that I didn’t think he took it, but I wish he did because that way I know would get it back.
Now, the worst part of losing my laptop wasn’t the losing the device itself—a laptop is replaceable. It was the fact that I hadn’t backed up the book I was writing for longer than I care to admit. I was devastated to think of losing all that work, all that time and all that energy I had spent writing. For me, a writer, losing the laptop with the contents of the book I’ve literally spent years working on, was almost like another woman misplacing her child. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but this was a major loss. I was heartbroken. Even though there was a little a black cloud was hanging over my head, I did manage to shake off my sadness in order have fun with my girlfriend. We were in Paris, one of the most magnificent cities in the world, after all.
Shortly after I contacted Delta, I received an email from the airline that they couldn’t locate my laptop, and the hotel maid didn’t have any information either. Although I wasn’t feeling too hopeful, I prayed all weekend that I would miraculously get my laptop back. On the day before I left, the guy from the train texted me; he had gone to the airport on his day off to find my laptop. He told me he had been so upset I had lost my computer that he couldn’t even sleep; he was so sad for me. But that wasn’t all, he had very good news—the Delta counter at the Paris airport had my computer in their lost and found!
I honestly still can’t believe I left my laptop on that airplane–I must have been either deliriously tired or just that excited to be in Paris! Even though I would be going to the airport the next day for my flight to Los Angeles, I didn’t want to wait another second, let alone another day. I wanted the laptop back in my possession immediately. My new friend told me to wait for him. He would take the train to pick me up, and we would go to the airport together. The train ride, by the way, was about forty minutes from my hotel to the airport. So, he rode the train to come get me, and then rode the train all the way back to with me to the airport where my prayers were answered, and I was reunited with my beloved hot pink laptop. Voilà!
I was so happy and felt beyond grateful to my friend from the train and how he went out of his way to help me. Of course, I was going to inquire at the Delta counter before I went on my flight. But as an American girl, who doesn’t speak French, I wonder if I would I have gotten it back without this man’s help. Since he was a native French speaker who worked at the airport, I’m sure he had an advantage. Everyone I spoke to reminded me how lucky I was to get my computer back, and I have to agree. I was very lucky!
After I picked up my laptop, my friend and I rode the train together once more. Outside my hotel, he gave me a kiss on each cheek, and I once again thanked him for helping me. According to A Course in Miracles, there are no chance encounters—every single person is put on your path for a reason. I believe this man was an angel, sent to protect me on the train and make sure my laptop was returned safely in my arms.
When we said goodbye, I could tell he would have liked to spend more time with me, and I felt kind of bad he gave up his entire day to ride the train back and forth on my behalf. But my girlfriend was waiting for me–she and I had plans to visit the Louvre. Oh, and I forgot to mention, this all happened on Valentine’s Day, and I had a date that night that I couldn’t have been more excited about. (And just a little side note, not only did my date turn out to be wonderful, but my Valentine made sure I didn’t take the train back to the airport the next day.)
Right after I boarded the plane, I received a text from the man who helped me get my computer back. He was working at the airport and wanted to know if he could say goodbye to me. I told him that I was sorry, but I was already on the plane. As the plane was about to take off, I looked outside the window and saw him drive up in his airport vehicle and stand up, waving his arms goodbye. It was such a sweet and grand gesture, reminiscent of John Cusak holding the boombox over his head outside the girl’s window in Say Anything. As the plane took off, tears welled up in my eyes.
Although I will probably never see him again, one thing is for certain, I will never forget the kindness of this Parisian stranger♥