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About a year ago, Susan, a 30-something-year-old American woman, was spending a couple of weeks vacationing by herself in Japan. Her trip was coming to a close, and as she was packing her bags, trying to stuff all of the little knick-knacks she got in her luggage, she started getting a little stressed.
Then, that slight anxiety turned into a full-on freak out.
"I was trying to organize myself, and I slowly began to realize that my passport was not in my bag," Susan said. "So I went through everything and realized it wasn't there, and I panicked. Like, holy crap, what do I do?"
Susan frantically called the U.S. Embassy, but she was told she would have to wait until Monday to get help. It was Saturday, and Monday was the day she was supposed to be back at work at a New York non-profit.
She decided to call the last place she stayed — a hotel in Kyoto ... 300 miles away. The hotel staff told her they'd found her passport, which gave Susan some relief. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly helpful, as her flight was taking off in just eight hours. It would take her a full day to go to Kyoto and then back to Tokyo.
She wrote the post, closed the app and let her request simmer in the subreddit for about 45 minutes.
What Susan didn't realize was that her post was attracting the attention of several people online who were trying to help her solve her problem. One of them was Vince Maggio, another American vacationing in Japan.
Vince was in Osaka, hanging out at a cafe, drinking coffee and browsing the Internet, when he came across Susan's post. He replied, "Hey. I'm closer to Kyoto than you. I can be your long-range courier."
"Someone was in a bind, so yeah, I just decided to help them out," Vince said.
"Hey. I'm closer to Kyoto than you. I can be your long-range courier."Vince Maggio
When Susan saw Vince's response, she decided to take a chance and gave him a call.
"He just sounded like he was completely ready and willing to accept the mission," Susan said. "And there was no time wasted on the phone."
Vince sprung into action. He hopped on a train to Kyoto to pick up the passport at the hotel, and along the way, he decided to document his journey, posting photos and videos to his Instagram. In one video, he passes by a dance troupe performing at a train station to a pretty epic soundtrack — the perfect music for our young hero.
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This is Karasuma station in Kyoto, I had to transfer subway lines to get to Kyoto station. I’m not sure what’s going on, but this is some dramatic music for my little adventure eh?
A post shared by @ oneforkshort on
In total, it took Vince about four hours to get to the train station in Tokyo, where Susan was waiting for him. Vince said actually meeting up with Susan was the hardest part of the whole endeavor.
"We were messaging each other about where to meet, and then actually, it still took us probably like at least 10 minutes to find each other at the station because there's so many entrances," Susan said.
"And, of course, she was looking for a 6'2" goofy-looking ginger with glasses," Vince said. "So, I mean, you can find me from a mile away in Japan."
The two finally met, and Vince quickly handed Susan her passport. After all, she had a flight to catch.
"I still didn't know if I was going to make my plane, actually," Susan said. "My train left in, I think, maybe 10 minutes, so we had like a very frantic rushed conversation. Obviously I expressed my gratitude repeatedly and told him how much it meant to me that a stranger would do something so kind and, you know, I just thanked him a bunch of times."
Mission accomplished: Susan got her passport, she made it in time for her flight and, like a true hero, Vince downplayed the whole thing.
"It didn't really seem like that big a deal," Vince said. "I honestly think most people wouldn't say no to a reasonable help request."
Still, why would he spend his whole day helping a complete stranger from the Internet? Vince said it's because he lived in Japan for a couple of years before coming back as a visitor. At that time, he frequently met locals willing to go out of their way to help him and he wanted to pay their kindness forward.
"It meant a lot. I'm going to be thinking about this for a long time."Susan
"I want them to have that same sort of Japanese experience when I first came," Vince said. "That hospitality and that security that someone is here to help you is important to me."
It's a hospitality that Susan hopes to return one day.
"It meant a lot," Susan said. "I'm going to be thinking about this for a long time. I let him know next time he's in New York, many beverages will be on me."
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