Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Random Act of Kindness in Oslo

I was walking to class today--my last day of class--which started at noon with an exam review/prep. It's a 20 minute walk from Majorstuen to the Pilestredet campus of the Høyskole i Oslo/Akershus. I stopped in to a bookstore kitty-corner from the nursing building to buy a notebook (yes, on my last day of class) but when I got to the counter to pay, my wallet wasn't in my backpack. I clearly remembered sticking it in the outside pocket when I packed up this morning; I also remembered reaching back to pull out my hat and gloves from the outside pocket 5 minutes into my walk, and noticing that the outside pocket was unbuckled, and thinking nothing of it; but I also remembered flipping through the collection of free coffee cards stored in my wallet as I sat at the kitchen table this morning.

Did the wallet fall out when I pulled out my hat? Was it sitting on the kitchen table in the apartment? Was it sitting on the sidewalk somewhere along my 2km route?

I left the store, unable to pay, and stood on the corner wondering what to do. My class was starting now. It wasn't mandatory that I be there, but since the other four weeks have essentially sucked, and this one was discussing how to prepare for the final exam--the only thing that actually counts towards passing or failing this course--it was probably one of the more important classes to attend. My phone rang; I pushed the ignore button and sent it to voicemail. If I walked all the way back to the apartment--20+ minutes and back again--I'd miss almost the entire review. And if I found the wallet in my apartment--a strong likelihood--I'd be ticked at myself. My phone rang again and I let it go to voice mail again. It was probably work or the midwife's office trying to change an appointment.

I'd go to class and unpack my backpack in a dry, secure environment and listen to the review. My phone rang again. Suddenly I realized: this might be important.


"Er det Emily Stange?"  (maybe this is obvious, but "Is this Emily Stange?")

"Ja, det er det. . . "  (Yes, it is. . .)

"Har du mistet lommaboka di?"  (have you lost your wallet?)

"JA! DET HAR JEG! Har du fant det?"   (YES! I HAVE! Have you found it?)

(We continue in Norwegian, which is not my favorite thing to do on the telephone, especially in conversations that are very important!)

"I'm in Majorstuen," (where I had just walked from), "Where are you? I'll bring it to you."

"I'm on Pilestredet, at the college campus."

"I'm near Bislett stadium, coming down Pilestredet. . . what store is near you?"

"Uhhh. . . Akademika bookstore (there are only about five of these in the vicinity, as they spread out their subjects into different stores). I'm on the corner of (I sprint across the street) somethingsomething veien and Pilestredet."

"I'm at Deli de Luca, I think I'm just around the corner. . . "

"I could meet you at Deli de Luca, " (again, only about a hundred million of these convenience stores in Oslo, so while I knew where the closest one, who knew if it was the one he was driving past at that exact second).

"I'm coming to a light. . . Yes. . . that's me in the Porsche."

That's right: my wallet-rescuing-Oslo-hero/angel was driving a gray convertible Porsche, with the top up. He rolls down the window, a ruggedly bearded guy in his late 30s, and hands my wallet to me.

I gush my thanks to him, and ask him where he found it.

"On suchandsucha-veien. . . " he explains, and I have no idea where he's talking about, but I'm standing in the middle of the street, and the light begins to turn. 

"Tusen tusen takk!" 

"Ingen problem. . . " 

I text Erik a very abbreviated version of the story, and he responds by telling me how very very lucky I am. I text back that it changed my whole perspective of the day.

His response: "Yay Norway!"

Yay Norway, indeed.

***How did he get my cell phone number, you ask? In Norway one just goes to and type in a person's name and you get a phone number (including cell phone) and address. Or type in their phone number and get their name and address. Pretty simple.


  1. Great story! You were so lucky to get it back, what a great guy.

  2. My friends and I joked that he obviously didn't need my credit cards and money-less wallet if he was driving a Porsche!

  3. Hey - Was wondering how to get in touch with you by email? Could you let me know! Thanks, Kristie

  4. Hi Kristie,
    You can email me at em(dot)stange(at)gmail(dot)com