Another good guy story

My good friend Mr. Ayele, the hero of Addis Ababa

The drawbacks to losing your luggage sneak up on you one thing at a time.  I knew immediately I needed socks and underwear, but it seemed like every day there would be something I needed, and I would realize it was in my luggage.  My pocketknife was in my bag–too dangerous to let people carry 2″ penknives on an airplane.  I had the charger to my camera battery, but not the cable.  Fortunately, I found that one in a camera shop for $5.

Contact lens solution was completely unavailable.  I actually saw some in an optometrists office, but they adamantly would not sell it to me–steady customers only.    I made do with bottled water, but my one and only lens finally died with a couple of days to go.  I only wear one lens; it lets me read with my left eye, and use the right eye for distance.  Works very well

This wasn’t a problem at first, but then I started contemplating 40 hours of travel home not being able to read.  DIdn’t find anything in the few stores I encountered.  In a nation with low literacy rates and a life expectancy too short for many people to face presbyopia, reading specs aren’t a big seller.

I had a couple of extra hours at the airport Tuesday, so I started a thorough search.  All the duty free shops had hundreds of pairs of designer sunglasses, but no readers.  Then I saw a bookstore—a likely place, I should think.

It was just a small place, with a eclectic selection ranging from Ethiopian tourist guides to used mysteries in 5 or 6 languages.  I asked the proprietor, the good hearted Mr. Ayele,  if he had the readers I needed, and he took a pair out of his pocket, to let me borrow  them while I chose a book, I guess.  So I tried to walk out of the store with them, but that didn’t work.  I told him I needed them for the flight, and darned if he didn’t offer to sell them to me on the spot.  They are old, and a little scratched, and too strong for me, but they were a gift from heaven at that point.

I was so pleased I even bought a book, a biography of an “old Africa hand” who lived through some exciting times in East African history.  And when I finished it, still at the gate waiting for a delayed plane, I sent it back to him so he could sell it again.

So here’s to the Mr. Ayeles of the world, the kind of nice guys who will sell their own reading glasses to a poor traveler in need.  Maybe the Good Samaritan was really from Ethiopia?

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