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Encounters with friends & strangers

The Trust In This Friendship Has Gone To The Dogs

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 4, 2023

My friend went on vacation and asked me to check in on her dogs. It was a twenty-mile drive one way, but I knew she was really worried about the dogs being alone for the first time, so I agreed to sit with them twice a day for about an hour or so each time, working around my ten-hour work days, if someone else could check when I was not available. She agreed. 

Day 1:

Friend: “I know you’re not planning on going over for a couple of hours, but could you go early?”

Me: “I’m at work for the next six hours. I can’t go until after.”

Friend: “Okay, but I can’t get a hold of [Friend #2] and she was supposed to go over.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t go until I’m done with work.”

Friend: “You said you would be there!”

Me: “So did your other friend. I cannot go until after work.”

Friend: “Fine. I’ll find someone else.”

I went over after work as I said I would. The dogs were fine.

One morning, my phone started ringing at 2:00 am. I picked it up without opening my eyes.

Me: “What?”

Friend: “[My Name], I need you to go check on the dogs.”

Me: “Now? Why?”

Friend: “I’m worried the neighbors will complain if they’re barking.”

Me: “Are they complaining?”

Friend: “What if they call animal control?”

Me: *Sigh* “I have to work at 5:00 am. Where—”

Friend: “[Friend #2] still isn’t answering. I don’t know what to do! Jesus Christ, [My Name], you’re supposed to help me!”

Me: “I am! I went out before and after work yesterday, and the five days before—”

Friend: “But—”

Me: “I am doing all of this for free. I know you’re stressed, but you are being very demanding. It has to stop. I cannot be available twenty-four-seven.”

There was a moment of silence.

Friend: “Oh. I see. I’m sorry my dogs are such a burden. You can mail my spare key back.”

Me: “[Friend], no, I just—”

Friend: “Goodbye.” *Hangs up*

I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went to check on the dogs one last time. It turned out that [Friend #2] was already there; [Friend] was so panicked about leaving her dogs that she told each of us that the other wasn’t answering to guilt us into checking on her dogs more often.

[Friend #2] and I worked out a schedule for the remainder of her vacation and then mailed our keys back together.

Some Queenie-ly Advice

, , , , , , , , , | Friendly | February 3, 2023

My dad is gone now, but he was an easy-going, jovial kind of guy with the gift of gab. In the 1960s, he owned a fast food restaurant that specialized in hot dogs called “Queenie’s Weenies”. At the restaurant, nobody called my dad by his real name; everybody just called him Queenie

At the time, I was fifteen years old. I would work with my dad at the restaurant on weekends. One Saturday, we were driving to work and stopped off at a supermarket to pick up some supplies.

We grabbed our purchases and got into the checkout line. I noticed something while we waited in line: our cashier was in a very, very, bad mood! She offered no smiles, no greetings, no small talk, no “have a nice day”. Her “anger aura” was palpable and kind of scary to me.

When it was our turn, I was thinking that we should just get our stuff and leave quickly before the cashier went “Death Star” on us. My dad had a different idea. When it was our turn, he started chatting her up, looking at her name tag.

Dad: “Hi, [Cashier], how are you today? Isn’t this weather great? This is my son; we work together. Do you like hot dogs? I have a restaurant. It’s called ‘Queenies Weenies’. We specialize in chili dogs. Do you like chili dogs, [Cashier]? Drop by my restaurant sometime and I will treat you to a chili dog made special, just for you, by me, Queenie.”

By the time we were done checking out, [Cashier] was smiling.

Cashier: “Thanks, umm… Queenie. I hope you and your son have a very nice day.”

Back in the car, he “dad-splained” it to me.  

Dad: “[Cashier] was obviously having a bad day. Who knows why, but it happens to everyone. A warm smile and a few kind words were all it took to brighten her day. I made her a little happier and it didn’t cost me a dime. Try it sometime.”

Up To Your Ears In Thoughtfulness

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 2, 2023

I used to date an autistic girl, and we were having a fairly good time together. To test our live-together resolve, we went on holiday around Northern Italy.

The first few days around the smaller cities were fine, but when we got to Milan and had to use the metro after a long day of walking, things went downhill fast. The crowds, noises, smell, and tiredness compounded together and made her start having a meltdown while on the train, and with nowhere quieter and calmer to take her, both of us were stuck on that noisy train.

Suddenly, I noticed a guy wearing big headphones gesturing at me as he dramatically removed them, and I looked at him.

Guy: “Hey, does she need any help? Anything I can do?”

Me: “I wish there was something to be done here — she’s tired and the noise bothers her — but, y’know, we’re here and still have four stops to go.”

Guy: “Would giving her my headphones help? They’re noise-cancelling.”

Me: “Uh… are you sure?”

Guy: *Dismissive* “I’m going to the end of the line, and I was just listening to music, anyway. I’ll live.”

I reluctantly accepted his offer, taking his headphones and giving them to my girlfriend. She put them on, and soon enough, she calmed down enough to sit down on a seat and not on the floor, and she got off the train more cheerily than she had boarded. I quickly thanked the guy and then left.

We eventually broke up, but I will never forget the time a random stranger offered to lend away his headphones to soothe a distressed young woman.

Stop! In The Naaaaame Of OW!

, , , , , , , | Friendly | February 1, 2023

I’m a college student. To save money, I drive to a friend’s house near campus, park, and bike the rest of the way instead of paying for a park-and-ride pass that starts at a ridiculously far away location. 

Due to the traffic, student driving, and general chaos in our town near the university, it’s a given that if you bike, you will eventually get hit by a car. It all boils down to how severe the accident is. After six years of biking at least twice a week, nearly every week, I let my guard down for a moment and got hit. 

A car was pulling up to a stop sign while I was in the bike lane and, a bit annoyed at a previous encounter with a driver parked and idling in the bike lane a block back, I mentally told myself, “This guy is going to stop.” A moment later, as I was perfectly aligned with his oncoming bumper, I thought, “Aw, s***, he’s still coming.”

The next minute saw me extricating myself from my mangled bike, several onlookers running over to check on me, and the panicked driver getting out and yelling about not seeing me at all.

After doing a quick check of myself and only finding a badly gashed hand and a scraped knee, I sat up and, in a moment of shock and anger, spat the first thing that came to mind.

Me: “Dude, don’t you know what a f****** stop sign is?! God d***!”

A police report, a trip to the ER, and an insurance scuffle later, I got a nice card post-insurance claim from the driver. He apologized for running the stop and offered to pay for my bike repairs. He also included, word for word, the definition of a stop sign from Wikipedia.

There’s Such A Thing As Caring Too Much

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | January 31, 2023

In July 2016, my friend and I were visiting another friend’s house to drop off a birthday present and arrange a birthday celebration dinner for later in the evening.

We just so happened to have a dog with us, a Bichon Frisé by the name of Rocky and, unfortunately, we had to park on the street because there were no visitor stalls.

Upon realizing we didn’t have a leash in the car, I volunteered to stay in the car with the dog so my friend could safely leave the ignition on to run the air conditioning. While he went off and did the tasks we arrived for, I dozed off, only to be awoken by a woman rapping against my window as hard as she could muster with her ring hand.

I wound down the window.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Woman: “You can’t leave a dog in a car like this! How dare you?! I have half a mind to call the police!”

Me: “What? Ma’am, I am in the car with him and the air conditioning is running. Do you not hear the engine?”


Me: “The air conditioner is on, ma’am. And I am in the vehicle; the animal isn’t unattended.”


Me: “It really does, actually.”

Woman: “What is your name? Where do you live?!”

Me: “Who the h*** are you to be asking me questions like that?”


Me: “Yeah, and I don’t care.”

I started to wind the window up but she put her hand on it so I released the switch. (I didn’t know if a 2009 Nissan could remove fingers.) 

Woman: “I asked you who you are! I am going to report you for animal cruelty!”

She proceeded to slam her hand on the roof of the car. 

At this point, I opened the door and got out of the car. At six feet even and about 270 pounds, I was far above her size in every measurable sense.

Me: “I suggest you jog on because if anyone is going to call the police, it’s going to be me, and I can guarantee you their response will not be in your favor.”

She stared up at me for a moment before hustling away. 

About twenty minutes later, my friend came back with apologies for taking so long. 

Friend: “Sorry, did I miss anything?”

Me: “Nah.”