The man had looked desperate. She had watched the tears well in his eyes as he pleaded with the authorities. They were cold and indifferent to the pain that was written all over his face. Finally, he resigned. He walked over to the trash bin and dropped it inside.
After witnessing the whole ordeal from the sidelines, she couldn’t help herself. But when she realized what was in the box that the man had thrown away, she started crying too.
When Ivelise Hernandez, a Tampa, Florida resident, arrived at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport that day with her boyfriend, she hadn’t been expecting to witness anything out of the ordinary.
She was headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her boyfriend agreed to stay with her until she had to board her flight. But while they were standing in the security line, there was a commotion up ahead.
Rico Bankston waited patiently by Ivelise’s side as the TSA (Transportation Security Authority) conducted bag inspections. But something was taking longer than usual. There appeared to be a problem.
A middle-aged man was trying to take a wrapped package through the metal detector and it was holding up the whole line. Little did Ivelise know, she was already involved – whether she wanted to be or not.
The security guards pulled the man from the line and began to question him. Ivelise and her boyfriend couldn’t help but overhear snippets of the argument that ensued.
The problem was something inside the man’s carry-on bag, and the guards were refusing to let him pass through. The situation was growing tenser by the minute. What was the problem?
After the events of September 11 rocked the world, The TSA in the United States began to clamp down on what is and isn’t allowed to be in hand luggage on flights. Passengers are routinely stopped, pulled out of the line, and questionable items are destroyed or disposed of.
Of course, both Americans and tourists alike often become angry when they hear that innocuous items like toothpaste need to be thrown out. But what this man had was nothing like that.
Begging And Pleading
Ivelise and Rico watched the argument between the guards and the man intensify in front of them. But still, the man refused to part with his parcel.
And he was becoming visibly distressed. He begged and pleaded, but the guards wouldn’t budge. Seeing that his pleas were falling on deaf ears, the man tried to bargain with them.
That’s An Order
The man asked if there was any way his package could be sent to the airport’s lost and found, but still, the guards denied him. They wouldn’t budge. They coldly ordered him to take his package and toss it into the nearest trash bin. That was what brought the man to tears.
Ivelise and Rico watched on, appalled. Something had to be done.
A Heavy Heart
With his eyes welling up, the man took the package that the TSA had said he wasn’t allowed to bring with him. With a heavy heart, he carefully placed it in the bin with the trash. Then, he sadly walked through the checkpoint to board his flight.
The line began to move quickly after that, and it was soon Ivelise’s turn. She said goodbye to her boyfriend, but not before making a very strange request.
Ivelise was left with a very bad taste in her mouth after what she had just witnessed. She prepared to go through the baggage check and kissed Rico goodbye, but she knew she had to do something.
Before she boarded her flight to Pennsylvania, she asked her boyfriend to go and check the trash bin near the security line and retrieve the mysterious package.
Shaken But Curious
Rico went back to the trash bin and retrieved the man’s package. Then, he left the airport and drove back to Tampa. Ivelise, meanwhile, couldn’t stop thinking about how badly the TSA had treated the man. But she also desperately wanted to know what was inside the box.
As soon as she reached her destination, she scrambled to turn her phone back on and immediately called Rico.
What’s In The Box?
Rico had unwrapped the package but was surprised to find that its contents were rather underwhelming. At first glance, the object in question didn’t seem like something that would raise a red flag with the airport security.
He lifted the weighty souvenir out of its box and turned it over in his hands. But when he flipped it over, he realized just how valuable it was.
What had looked like a meaningless trinket was actually something much more. Rico now understood why the man at the airport had teared up when he was made to toss it in the trash.
He shook it gently and watched the flurry of glitter swirl around. It was a glass snowglobe, and there were two photographs inside.
The photograph was of a little girl, and the other side was a photo of an elderly couple. Underneath the globe was an engraving that read: “We love you Katie. Nana and Papa 1/25/16.”
When Ivelise heard what was in the mysterious package, she began to tear up, too. But she knew exactly what she had to do.
When Ivelise came back from her trip, she had already decided that she wasn’t just going to discard the snowglobe. It had clearly meant so much to the man who had been forced to part with it, so Ivelise came up with a plan.
She knew that tracking down the family wouldn’t be easy, but they had to try.
Taking To Social Media
With nothing to go on except that the man had been at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport that day, Ivelise decided to take to social media to try and find the family. She posted pictures of the snowglobe and begged all her friends to share them far and wide.
But Ivelise never imagined that the post would quickly take on a life of its own.