When William Armstrong lost his driver’s license on a night out, he may have assumed he’d never see it again. Still, all he needed to do was replace the document, then his woes would be over. A few days after Armstrong’s mishap, however, he received a letter through the door – one that proved that someone, somewhere had found his license. And what they had apparently done with it made Armstrong sit up and take notice.
Armstrong hails from Cheltenham, situated in the English county of Gloucestershire. The picturesque town is famed for its nationally renowned cultural events, which include the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. But it wasn’t while attending either of those that Armstrong managed to misplace his driver’s license.
No, Armstrong actually made his fateful error while on a night on the town. The Cheltenham native was a little the worse for wear on that occasion in November 2017, even admitting later on on Twitter that he was “pretty drunk” during the evening in question.
During the proceedings, then, Armstrong also managed to lose his driver’s license. And when he discovered exactly what had happened, he was likely kicking himself over it. After all, in the U.K., replacement driver’s licenses cost money, so he was about to be out of pocket. What’s more, he’d have to go to the trouble of reapplying for the documentation, too.
With presumably no idea where he’d left the license, Armstrong may have thought that it was gone forever – never a good feeling, no matter how simple the card is to replace. Mere days after the Brit’s drunken disaster, though, a letter showed up in the mail addressed to the man himself.
That missive had been sent from international travel agent Flight Centre. And inside the envelope was an itinerary for a swanky vacation, seemingly booked using the identification that Armstrong had lost. The trip planned wasn’t just to another part of Europe, either.
Instead, the run-down of events showed that Armstrong would first fly to Abu Dhabi, where he’d take a connecting flight to the Maldives. He would stay at an undisclosed location on the island nation for just under a week before finally returning to the U.K. What’s more, all of his flights were first class ones.
To Armstrong, this probably all sounded too good to be true – at first, anyway. After all, if someone had found his ID and booked this lavish vacation, then surely he’d be the one going on it? All he needed to do was order a replacement driver’s license, and then he could embark on what was ostensibly a free holiday.
Unfortunately, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Indeed, included alongside the travel itinerary was a letter that read, “Thank you so much for popping in the other day. We certainly appreciate your business and hope your [sic] beginning to get excited about your upcoming first class flight to the Maldives! Please keep in mind [that the] balance is due in full on Friday, November 10 at 12:05 p.m.”
Yes, the vacation had in fact not been paid off. And as the booking had been made in Armstrong’s name, it was apparently up to him to settle the account. The balance wasn’t exactly small, either – understandable, given all of those first class flights. Specifically, the letter claimed that Armstrong owed Flight Centre an eye-watering $7,165.
Of course, if Armstrong had just explained the situation to Flight Centre, he may have been able to cancel the booking and so not have to worry about the debt. That would still have been an ordeal he’d probably rather not have dealt with, however. It was fortunate, then, that another twist in the tale was yet to come.
That twist was revealed, moreover, when Armstrong spotted that the bottom of the sheet demanding the payment of the balance was folded over. Then after he had looked at the concealed portion of the paper, he found that there was an explanation to this strange situation after all. Even better, he wouldn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars, either.
Yes, it turned out that the whole thing had simply been a prank by a Flight Centre employee, who had found Armstrong’s driver’s license outside the Cheltenham branch of the travel company. And enclosed alongside the itinerary and letter was the photo card identification the youngster had lost earlier that week.
“We’re just kidding,” read an added note. “We’ve found you’re [sic] driving license (enclosed) outside our shop and thought you might need it! Just make sure you consider us for your next holiday. Take care!” The letter was signed by Flight Centre employee Stephen Lee, though he left his name as only “Steve.”
“I was sitting in the window here and saw the ID on the sidewalk outside,” Lee told website Gloucestershire Live. “I picked it up and thought, ‘This guy will want it back.’” However, the travel agent added, “But [I] also thought we’d give him a bit of a run for his money and have a bit of fun.”
Lee continued, “Will came in yesterday, and he was quite red. He said he’d had a bit of a shock but was definitely very relieved to get his ID back.” He added, “It could have gone one of two ways, I guess, but I’m glad he took it so well. It was a good deed – but with a bit of fun attached.”
Indeed, it seemed that Armstrong took the joke well enough to upload pics of the letter to his 140 followers on Twitter. And that tweet eventually went viral, racking up over 66,000 retweets and 170,000 likes to date. It’s also since amassed more than 600 replies, with some commenters chiming in to congratulate Lee for the effort.
However, some Twitter users were more skeptical of the stunt and its validity. Indeed, more than one person responded with an image claiming that the whole prank didn’t really happen. But Flight Centre confirmed to Metro that it was in fact totally real, saying, “We’re delighted that the dedicated Flight Centre team in Cheltenham were able to reunite Will with his lost driving license, and we hope he’ll visit the store again soon.”
Just to add further authenticity to his story, Armstrong even went into Flight Centre to meet Lee. He then tweeted out a snap of the two together, captioned, “Here’s the man himself, thank you Steve!” This photo also racked up likes – nearly 7,000 of them, in fact.
Despite how well Armstrong took the prank, however, we have a feeling he’ll make sure not to lose his driver’s license again. After all, although things turned out okay this time, they could have very easily gone the other way. And we can’t imagine it would have gone down well with either Armstrong or Flight Centre if someone had fraudulently booked a vacation using Armstrong’s identification…