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Encounters with friends & strangers

We’re Not Crying; We Just Have Hair In Our Eyes

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 6, 2022

I’m an African woman living in Australia, in a small town where the odds of running into anyone else who even looks like me are almost zero. Thankfully, while there aren’t any other African people in town, there are TONNES of people from other cultures and there’s very, very little racism. I love my small town.

I am in line at the grocery store when I hear a very small “Excuse me” from behind me. I turn around and see a beautiful little girl with a skin tone almost identical to mine.

Me: “Oh, hello, little one! Where did you come from?”

Little Girl: *Shyly* “My daddy said I could come to tell you your hair is beautiful.” 

She gestures at a redheaded white man standing about six feet away, shrugging his shoulders and smiling. I recognize him from my school; his oldest adopted daughter is in the year I teach, though in the other class.

Me: “Oh, thank you! They’re called twists. I’m glad you think they’re pretty!”

I notice the little girl’s hair. It’s done in two adorable little puffs with beautifully done braids down each side, sporting purple glittery beads, and it looks professionally done. It looks beautifully healthy, too, which is a miracle in a place where it’s hard to find good products for black hair.

Me: “Your hair is STUNNING! Where did you get that done? I want my hair to look like that.”

Little Girl: *Grinning* “My daddy learned it on YouTube!” 

I was stunned. I’ve seen dozens of foster kids and adopted kids go into white families who have no idea how to care for their hair. I’ve been helping one of my student’s mothers for months to get her hair in order.

The little girl skipped back to her dad. I was touched deeply that this man had gone to the trouble of learning a gigantic amount of information to keep his girl’s hair healthy and looking nice. It might seem like the bare minimum to most people, but a lot of people won’t do the work.

Have A Heart, Pushy Guy!

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | October 4, 2022

My father had a Ph.D. and worked in the administration in Hamburg, Germany. Through his tennis club, he became friends with a guy who was the general manager at a small factory on the outskirts of Hamburg. [Friend] didn’t have a college education — which is not remotely as unusual in Germany as it is in the USA — and [Friend] made a lot more money than my dad did. My dad suspected that [Friend] was mainly his friend so he could introduce my dad to his peers as “my friend, Dr. [Dad]”.

One day, my dad had a heart attack. It was very serious. Word traveled that he was sick, and [Friend] called our house.

Friend: “I heard something is going on with your dad. What is it, exactly?”

Me: “He’s really not well. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”

Friend: “Oh, come on. Tell me what’s going on?” 

Me: “He’s really not well. Let’s leave it at that, please.”

Friend: “No, I’m one of his closest friends. I demand that you tell me what’s going on with your dad!”

Me: “Fine. He’s had a heart attack and he’s dying. When he’s out of his misery, you and your wife will get a notification about the time and place of the funeral.”

Friend: “…”

Me: “If you’ll excuse me, sir, I’d like to return to the hospital now.”

My dad died the next day.

[Friend] and his wife attended the funeral, but whenever they saw my mother later, which happened regularly in our suburb, they pretended they didn’t know her. 

I guess my father was right about his Ph.D. as a main motivator for this “friendship”.

Give Them An Inch And They’ll Take The Whole Road!

, , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: PokeGirl16 | October 3, 2022

I live in the English countryside, where most roads don’t have paths or sidewalks. The highway code here states that if there is no path, pedestrians have to walk against traffic to the side, so as far right as possible. This is for the safety of the pedestrians, as drivers will recognise faces more quickly than the backs of heads. Everyone knows this and mostly abides by this.

I was having a pleasant run in the winter sun down a quiet country road with no path. In the distance, a group of people appeared, walking shoulder-to-shoulder across the width of the road toward me.

“No problem,” I thought. “I will just run to the right side tight to the edge of the road.” I was running closer, and the group of people saw me and started filing to their right side. Great; they knew the score.

Then, suddenly, a woman from the group broke ranks and started walking toward me with kids in tow. I continued running until she stopped right in front of me and started yelling.

Woman: “I’m not moving! I don’t have to!”

Not one for being bullied, I explained to her the highway code and why I was running on this side. But, alas reason was not gifted to the Entitled Jerks of the world.

Woman: “I was run over on this road! You should move for me!”

I was through with this woman, so I yelled back.

Me: “Well, you and your kids will get hit again walking on the wrong side!”

She looked shocked, and then she turned to scream at the group.

Woman: “Did you hear that?!”

The group walked on without her. Not one looked back.

Then, the kids, embarrassed, walked on, as well. Finally realising she couldn’t bully people in public, the woman walked after her kids.

I ran on my merry way on the correct side of the road.

Don’t Be A Tool; Learn To Fix Your Own Car

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 2, 2022

In high school, I had a friend who was mechanically inept. [Friend #1] was so bad at using tools that, even after we tried to show him, he reminded me of a toddler getting their hands on a toy tool for the first time and having no idea how to work them.

For example, [Friend #1] wanted to help [Friend #2] and me build a box for skating that had a rail, a ramp, and an edge for doing tricks. He asked to help do something, so we handed him a hammer and nails so he could help. He held the hammer’s handle just below the head and he could not hammer a nail in. It was painful to watch him fumble with the hammer. We had to take the hammer away from him and make him just sit on the side and watch.

Fast forward a couple of years from the skating box. Against our recommendation, [Friend #1] purchases a used Honda Civic that was abused; it was driven hard and the transmission was dropped. Sadly, he sold off his decked-out Honda Prelude to purchase the broken Civic.

He doesn’t have the money to pay for a shop to replace the transmission for him, so he asks a few of us to help him replace it with the rebuilt one he picked up. We tell him we can help, but he will need to rent an engine hoist because the engine rests on the transmission and we need to lift it to remove the old transmission and lift it to put the new one in place. He says he will take care of getting the hoist, and we agree to come over to help this coming Saturday.

We show up on Saturday afternoon and [Friend #1] is anxious to get going. With how bad he is at using tools, everyone else does the work for him. Since the car is going up on the jack stands, we also check the brakes and rotors and fix a part of the exhaust that has a hole in it and the hanging brackets that are broken.

Time for replacing the transmission. We get the car up, disconnect the transmission, and ask [Friend #1] to bring over the engine hoist.

Friend #1: “Oh, I never rented one. You can do the work without it.”

We should say no and walk, but we are young and determined that we can get it done. It takes three of us to muscle up the engine just enough to pull out the old transmission, and it takes a lot longer to get the new transmission in.

About six hours later, it’s now after 10:00 pm, and we’re all exhausted from the work, while [Friend #1] patiently sat around trying to help as much as he could without being able to actually work on the car. We check and make sure everything is bolted down correctly and clean up all the tools. We get the car back down off the jack stands, tighten the lug nuts on the wheels, and we’re done.

One of the guys helping brings [Friend #1] over and shows him where to add the transmission fluid, tells him how much to add, and shows him how to open and close the cap for where the fluid goes. This is the one and only thing our mechanically inept friend has to do. He’s excited his car is done and can’t wait to drive it.

It’s now close to 11:00 pm. We’re all tired after the unnecessary extra work and cleaning up, and we all leave him to his car and its new transmission.

At about 8:00 am the next day, I get a call from another friend, and he’s laughing as I answer the phone.

Friend #3: “You’ll never guess what happened to [Friend #1].”

Me: “What? What’s so funny?”

Friend #3: “[Friend #1] backed his car out of the garage last night after we all left and wanted to drive the car around for a bit. He got a few blocks from his house and the car stopped.” *Laughs* “The moron never put in the transmission fluid, and he seized the new transmission!”

Me: *Laughing* “What a dumba**! He was literally handed the transmission fluid, and [Friend #4] told him how much to add and showed him where right before we left. How did he forget to put it in?”

Friend #3: “I don’t know, but he’s pissed, and he wants to know if we will help him replace the transmission again if he can get another new one.”

Me: “I hope you told him no. I’m not helping again.”

Friend #3: “I told him he was on his own.”

[Friend #1] had to borrow money from his parents to get his car to a mechanic and have them replace the transmission. He was upset with himself about letting his Prelude go and getting into the mess with the Civic. Sadly, this isn’t the only stupid thing he’s done with his cars, but those are other stories for another time.

Your Next Destination: A Lesson In Manners

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | September 30, 2022

I’m sixteen years old and very shy. I have an ankle injury. I’m on crutches, waiting for the bus. When the bus arrives, it’s overly crowded and there’s no seat for me to sit. I stand near the driver and try to get a grip on a railing, so I can hopefully keep my balance on one foot.

The driver turns the engine off.

Passenger: “Sir, why have you turned the engine off?”

Driver: “Isn’t that obvious? I can’t drive when there’s someone standing here on one foot.”

Passenger: “But I need to get to the hospital. My wife is there, in labour.”

Driver: “Then I suggest you stand up and let this girl sit down, and I’ll drive.”

Passenger: “But I was here first. I’m not going to stand.”

The hospital is two stops away — about a twenty-minute walk.

Driver: “Girl, come here. You can have my seat.”

I sit down in the driver’s seat. A few passengers are beginning to talk among themselves, but nobody stands up.

Another bus driver passing by notices the bus is turned off and comes to investigate what’s going on. He notices me in the driver’s seat.

Driver #2: “Hello, where’s [Driver]? Oh, there you are. Nobody’s standing up, then?!”

Driver: “Nope.”

Driver #2: “You know what I did last week? I cleared the entire bus; only the person on crutches was allowed to stay. The rest had to either walk or take the next bus.”

Passenger: “You can’t do that. I NEED TO GET TO MY WIFE!”

Driver #2: “Then stand up and he’ll get you there.”

Passenger: “NO! I PAID FOR MY SEAT! I’M NOT GOING TO STAND!”

Both drivers exchange a look.

Driver: “All right, that’s it. Everybody out! NOW!”

Driver #2: *To me* “You just stay here, honey. It’ll be all right.”

Both drivers begin to clear the bus. Passengers who are unwilling to leave are simply thrown out by the two drivers. By now, a crowd has formed around the bus and I feel really anxious. When everybody is thrown out, I’m crying out of anxiety. [Driver] helps me to a seat and [Driver #2] gets back to his bus.

At the next stop, a few people get in, and one very professional-looking woman comments on the empty bus.

Driver: “Yeah, nobody was going to stand for this girl, so we threw everyone out.”

Woman: *Laughing* “Great! Good job.”

She sits next to me and tells me she’s an inspector from the bus company. She’s doing a random check to see if the driver is behaving like he’s supposed to. I begin crying again, fearing he’ll be in trouble for throwing paying passengers out.

Woman: “Oh, honey, don’t cry. He’s done brilliantly. Now, had he been driving while you were standing up, he would have been in trouble. But this will not get him in trouble. I won’t let that happen.”

I had a really nice chat with her and the driver after that.

A couple of days later, I got on the same bus at the same bus stop. Again, there was no seat available and nobody got up. At first.

Then, the driver — a different one from the two the other day — got up and loudly proclaimed, “Do I need to clear this bus?”

It’s unbelievable how many people actually stood up.