Couple Returns Package to Emotional Man Forced to Throw It Away Before Flight
Sometimes the smallest actions make the biggest impact. While waiting to board her flight, a Florida woman named Ivelise noticed a man ahead of her who was forced by security agents to throw away what was clearly an important package.
She and her boyfriend wanted to help him, and that desire set off an unbelievable chain of events. Their actions over the next few minutes ultimately led to a sensational news story and coverage on the local news. More importantly, they made some lifelong friends.
Seeing Her Off
In Tampa, Florida, Rico Bankston was waiting at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (short for St. Petersburg) with his girlfriend, Ivelise Hernandez. Ivelise was flying to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Rico was waiting with her until she was ready to board her plane. They were both used to airports and expected it to be an uneventful day.
What's the Hold Up?
Very few people look forward to going through airport security. Between having bags searched and going through metal detectors, the ordeal can be quite a hassle. Rico was patiently waiting outside the line as Ivelise waited for her turn, but there seemed to be a delay.
A Line That Just Kept Getting Longer
As they continued to listen, Rico and Ivelise were able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The man had planned to take the mysterious item on the plane in his carry-on bag, but it had set off the metal detector. Security wasn’t going to allow him to take the package on the plane.
A Difficult Decision
Since the deadly tragedy of September 11, 2001, the airport travel experience has changed drastically — as it should have. Airport security is now handled by a new federal agency, the Transport Security Authority. TSA has stringent guidelines about what passengers can and cannot take on a plane.
What's in the Box?
Thirty years ago, it was common for travelers to board planes with anything that could fit in their luggage. Today, travelers in security lines are forced to get rid of belongings that are not allowed to be taken on planes.
The man started to become frantic when he realized there was no way his package would be allowed on the plane. He asked if he could leave it in the airport's lost and found department until he returned from his trip.
A Glum End to the Struggle
The TSA agents weren’t moved by the passenger's emotions. Realizing that his pleas were useless, the man despondently put his important package in the nearest trash can. Finally, the line started to move. Ivelise had to move, and it was time for her to say goodbye to Rico.
Rico Steps In
Rico and Ivelise were both upset on behalf of the stranger. Rules are rules, but surely the TSA agents could have done something to accommodate the gentleman, even if it was just allowing him to retrieve it later. That's why Ivelise gave Rico a mission to complete.
Although Rico was a little nervous about what could have been in the package, one fact made him a little more comfortable about the situation. If the package had seemed to be actually dangerous, the TSA agents would have confiscated it.
Ivelise couldn’t get the man in the security line off her mind. She was hoping they would end up on the same flight, but he was nowhere to be found. Still, she just kept thinking about how devastated he looked when he had to throw his package away.
The Big Reveal
Once he was back at home, Rico had carefully opened the box. He really didn’t know what to expect, but he certainly wasn't expecting something so mundane. It wasn't jewelry. It wasn't treasure. It wasn't a suspicious device. It was a regular old snow globe.
Examining the Mysterious Trinket
The snow globe was clearly a custom order. Rather than a generic winter scene, two pictures were housed inside the globe. A young girl and a dog were on one side, and an elderly couple was on the other. Rico thought the man looked familiar, but it wasn’t the same man from the airport.
The Impossible Search
When Ivelise flew back to Florida, she sprang into action. The snow globe meant a lot to a family she didn't know. It was in her possession, and she wasn't just going to throw it away. Ivelise was determined to find the owner of the snow globe.
Putting the Clues Together
Ivelise and Rico wanted to find the rightful owner of the snow globe, but they had their work cut out for them. They didn't know the name of the man who had to throw the snow globe away, and they only knew his granddaughter's first name.
Turning to Social Media
Where do you go when you need to find a stranger from a chance encounter? Social media, of course! Ivelise made a Facebook post about the snow globe. She detailed exactly how it came to be in her possession, and she posted a few pictures of the engraving and the pictures inside the snow globe.
Will the Post Go Anywhere?
Ivelise is no Facebook celebrity. She and Rico had plenty of Facebook friends, but neither of them had more than a few hundred connections, much like what the average person has. Even if every one of her friends shared her post, how far was it going to go?
The Post Goes Viral
It didn’t take long for Ivelise's post to go viral. Soon, her phone was pinging constantly with notifications. Hundreds of people were commenting on her post, but, more importantly, thousands of people were sharing it. Ivelise's story was making its way around the world.
A Promising Clue
As time went on, Ivelise's post collected more shares but didn’t yield any results. She was starting to feel like she had been unrealistic in thinking her post could actually work when she finally received a message. It was from a woman. Ivelise hoped the woman was related to the mystery man, but she wasn't.
Finding the Facts
The Things Remembered employee had worked for the company for several years, and she happened to have a photographic memory. After looking at Ivelise's pictures, the woman knew the exact model of the snow globe.
Someone Is Identified
The employees at the Things Remembered headquarters were eager to help. It took some digging, but they connected the snow globe in the photos with a woman named Linda Modry. Linda bought the snow globe at a gift shop for her granddaughter named Katie.
Ivelise and Rico were ecstatic to read all the information in the message. Apparently, Linda had told the workers who took her order why she was buying it. In the span of a few weeks, the return of the snow globe went from being a hopeless endeavor to being imminent.
A Newsworthy Occasion
It had been a roundabout journey, but Facebook came through in the end. When Linda ordered her snow globe, she included her phone number and address. The Things Remembered headquarters gave the local store permission to share Linda's contact information with Ivelise. Ironically, Linda and Ivelise lived in the same area!
Emotion in the Air
The scene was almost movie-like. News crews were lining Ivelise's yard. In the heat of summer, the tropical Florida climate had produced yet another rain shower. Undeterred, Linda Modry excitedly knocked on Ivelise's door. After several weeks, an important memento was about to be returned to her family.
An Emotional Encounter
Ivelise had been eagerly anticipating Linda's visit, so she quickly opened the door. When the two women finally met each other, they couldn't contain their excitement. They hugged, and then they both burst into tears of joy.
A Memorable Birthday
Linda explained that the snow globe was supposed to be a birthday present for her granddaughter Katie. Thankfully, Ivelise had salvaged the gift, and it could still make it to Katie before her birthday passed.
A Mysterious Phone Call
Linda was almost too overcome with emotion to finish telling the story. She wished she could have done something more for Ivelise than simply say thank you. She felt that there was someone else who could tell the rest of the story better than her.
Linda called her son, Michael, the very man who Ivelise and Rico had seen on that fateful day at the airport. She wanted to give him the chance to express his gratitude. Michael explained that he had been leaving his parents to return to his home in Ohio that day.
Katie's Favorite Day
Katie hadn’t been born in 2016, but 1/25/16 was a date that was forever ingrained in her memory. On that day, Michael and his wife officially adopted her, and Katie became a permanent member of a new extended family.
Michael wasn't the only person on the other line. Katie was listening in on the conversation too! Linda was happy to let her 5-year-old granddaughter know her gift had been retrieved. Katie was ecstatic. Everyone could hear her jumping up and down.
An Everyday Hero
Ivelise wasn’t the only person to witness Michael's plight at the airport, but she was the only person who decided to take action. She explained to the news crews that she was raised to do good for others. She noticed an opportunity to help, and she took it.