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Encounters with friends & strangers

Let Me Introduce My Special(ty) Friend

, , , , | Friendly | June 16, 2022

My friend is a self-employed therapist doing telehealth. I was talking to her during a car ride about a problem I ran into and she gave me some unexpected helpful advice on the subject.

Me: “How do you know all that?”

Friend: “It’s one of my specialties.”

Me: “Another one?! How many specialties do you have?”

Friend: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, let’s see. You specialize in relationship consoling, LGBT issues, helping sexual assault survivors, hypnotherapy, and about a dozen other things I’ve already forgotten. At this point, it would be faster to just tell me what you don’t specialize in.”

Friend: “What can I say? It’s the nature of the job; you need to learn how to handle a wide range of things.”

Me: “All I’m saying is that if the zombie apocalypse starts tomorrow and we all get stranded in an airport, when they ask if anyone knows how to fly a plane, I could totally see you declaring it’s your specialty and flying us all to safety.”

Friend: “Oh, actually, I used to have a private pilot license.”

Me: “SEE?!”

At Least They’ll Be Warm?

, , , , , , | Friendly Related | June 15, 2022

It’s 2020. My son is a very social young man — fifteen years old — and the world situation has made him turn to online services to keep in touch with his friends.

One of his friends is very religious and in a way where certain “ways of life” means you go to Hell. Over several weeks, if not months, my son comes down and tells me about conversations with this friend.

Son: “[Friend] says all nonbelievers go to Hell. And if you do drugs or drink alcohol, same. Stop!”

Son: “[Friend] says transgender people and gays get a hot ‘ever after’ when they die, too.”

Son: “[Friend]’s not talking to me anymore.”

Me: “Why is that, kiddo?”

Son: “Today, we talked about food, and [Friend] said [Friend #2] is going to Hell.”

[Friend #2] is from a different country, and apparently, his diet and religion means he is doomed. 

I tell [Friend] that with all these rules, Hell sounds more and more like a place I would prefer over Heaven. Then he says all my other friends will be in Heaven while [Friend #2] and I are in Hell, and we will be lonely.

And I say, “No, not by your account.” And now he has blocked me, as well as my son.

Me: “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

Son: “Yeah, I guess. He’s been my friend for years, but it’s getting to be too much. I’m not going to say I’m sorry, because I’m not, but if he unblocks me and plays it off as if nothing happened, I’m fine with that.”

He stops to think for a while, before bellowing a laugh.

Son: “If not, I probably won’t see him again until Hell.”

And he walked off, laughing about his clever remark.

It’s now 2022 and they ARE talking. His friend is still very religious but better at accepting different cultures and religions and not so quick to judge others.

Maybe Those People Just Had Pet Allergies?

, , , , | Friendly | June 15, 2022

The fact that I’m at a fundraising dinner for wolf research and education makes this even more ironic. My partner and I are some of the first to arrive, and we happily take a seat at a big communal table already occupied by a gentleman with a service dog.

We start chatting and he sadly tells us how many dirty looks he’s received as people passed them by. We witness some of the treatment as people head further into the facility. The dog is a beautiful black lab mix and lying patiently at his side. We don’t bother her but we talk about animals and the shelters and rescue. The current facility has a pack of wolves raised by people and serves as an example for education while they still respect them as wild animals.

After everyone filters in, our table is still mostly empty but one of the staff brings a bowl of water for the service dog (with permission). The meals are terrific and our table fills up with the staff and biologists from the facility. We also get to meet the facility’s founder!

The conversation is amazing and the gentleman even gives a brief “release” command so his service dog can do the happy puppy thing and get pets from everyone. At the end, he gives her a signal and it’s back to work.

It was so cool to witness and interact with him and these amazing professionals, all because we chose to sit by a working dog.

Intimidation Isn’t Their Only Skill

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 14, 2022

Every year, outside of the convention, without fail, there will always be some fundamentalist protester holding a sign and preaching to anyone who walks past about fire and brimstone, and how the actions of the convention-goers will doom them to Hell.

This year was no exception. I was stuck at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change, forcing me to listen to the protester when a group of bikers pulled up to the light. As the protester started his sermon, the bikers began revving up their engines, drowning him out. Once they stopped, he began to speak again only for them to resume revving up their engines.

It was at this point that I realized they were doing this on purpose. This went on a couple more times until the light changed, and I and a few others crossed the street with a smile and a newfound appreciation for bikers.

We Wish We Knew What Church This Was So We Could Avoid It

, , , , , , | Friendly Right | June 14, 2022

When I worked in a print shop, I was the only person in the office. I often had people treat me like a therapist, and of course, I was trapped.

This woman came in to have a bunch of scraps of paper copied — torn notebook pages, scratch paper, ripped sticky notes, things like that. As I was copying everything and meticulously spreading them out to her liking, she started telling me why she needed these copies.

I wish I could remember it all, but she told me a convoluted story about how the young new pastor at her church was sweet on a married woman, caused a divorce, and then was flaunting his new bride.

Apparently, this customer was the organist and she knew something secret about the affair, and someone was trying to keep her quiet by stealing her organ music in hopes that she would leave. She had apparently confronted several people, but no one would listen to her, and she was laughed out of the church.

She later went to the pastor’s home and punched him in the face. The reason she needed all these notes was to use as “evidence” in her trial that she was actually the victim.

Folks. She talked to me for four hours. Four. And no, I never got her name.