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My family and I are succeeding at traveling to some of the great cities of the world. It is one of my personal goals, 50 countries by 55. Well I doubt I can reach that goal. But we are having some great times going to as many as possible. Between the four of us we have 34.
Some strange happenings have occurred. But I shall describe a million to one.
It so happened that we traveled to Finland. All four of us. It was a difficult trip; Kristopher was 12 and Katy 7. Our visit to Helsinki was to visit with an exchange student from a few years before who lived in Arkansas. We accepted an invitation that was only predicated on bringing two items. One was plain M&Ms and the second was crunchy premium peanut butter. So we were laden with plenty of both. It and we arrived and the presents were received with much enthusiasm. The peanut butter was also looked upon longingly by the two kids who had politely eaten all manner of food and were now ready for anything American. A smaller jar of American peanut butter was produced and we objected to her sharing it, but as her stock had been generously increased she made the kids each a beautiful Finnish bread and American peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We asked her had she kept this jar the two intervening years since her stay and she replied. " No a friend from Arkansas had been there a month before and brought the jar."
No further was said on that subject. The kids and I greedily ate and we went on with our visit.
We had been home from that trip some three months when as the Student Orientation organizer I decided to solicit "freebies" from various businesses that I worked in. We would package them up as "welcome" bags and give each arriving international student a bag. It so happened that I went to 10 or more places and in each got some give a way that had the business name. Pencils, key chains, cups, can coolers, you know the "trash". My last stop was a dealer that I really did not expect much from. He and I hadn't been really friends. But I went in and made my pitch, saying that this stuff would end up in the hands of the American parents too and made good advertising.
Only partially convinced the general manager passed me off to a young lady about 19 years old and told her to fetch some pencils and pads. He walked off and I waited a few minutes while she gathered the stuff up. She returned and casually asked me what all of this was for:
"It's for some exchange students; I'm making some welcome bags. "
"Oh, I know an exchange student."
"Oh, uh ok."
"She's from Finland."
I perked up a mite.
"Where did you meet her?"
"Oh I went to school with her in ... ; I went to see her this summer." and she named the town where the Peanut Butter girl had stayed.
"What is her first name?" I asked.
"Nina .... "
I paused for a second and then said.
" I ate your peanut butter."
Kent M. Herrick
Written in 1998
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