I leaned against the wall as it seemed like the wait was going to be awhile. Then I recognized the guy currently talking to the foreign exchange clerk. It was the backpacker that we had met when we were walking to the hostel, the one that had the passport that went through the wash and now it was barely recognizable. I listened to the conversation for a bit. It seemed like she wasn’t going to let him cash his traveller’s cheque without a proper intact passport. It seemed he needed the money from the traveller’s cheque to pay for a new passport at the embassy. He had no other money on him. To compound matters, he had to catch a plane back home in less than 5 hours. He had tried other exchange offices and it was apparent nobody was going to let him cash the cheque without a passport.
When he finished with the clerk, I briefly spoke to him to clarify what I had overheard. He knew he had no options at this point. He went outside and sat on the steps to think of what to do next. I was next and I did my exchange quickly. When I went outside, I knew he was still there.
I already knew how much he needed. “I know this is going to sound crazy” I said. “But, I will give you the $100 you need.” He gave me a look of disbelief. “You have no options. You need a passport to get on your flight.” He told me he could pay me back after he got his passport, and that he could be back in 2 hours. I was leaving the city in about an hour. I knew there was no chance. I told him that he would not be able to catch me, but if we ever crossed paths again, he can pay me back in the future.
Of course, I wasn’t being realistic. I was probably never going to see him again, and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t recognize him. All I had was a first name and that he lived in the U.K. What are the chances right?