Encounters with friends & strangers

All Creatures Great And Small

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 1, 2021

When I was a kid, we hosted a Japanese exchange student. She was very interested to learn about our culture and came to church with us when we invited her along.

We got to church and found a place to sit. It was a warm day, and the doors were all propped open to let in the breeze. Right before church started, a huge Newfoundland dog came bounding in through the open door, ran up to the altar, faced the congregation, and barked loudly several times. Then, it sprinted back outside as quickly as it had come in.

No one said anything; we were all too surprised. To this day, in three and a half decades of regular church attendance, the only other dog I’ve seen in a church is a service dog. Our exchange student looked around at people still sitting quietly, apparently not reacting, and then gave us a very confused look.

Exchange Student: “Is that normal?”

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You May Want Something Stronger Than Coffee

, , , , | Friendly | May 31, 2021

I am sitting and sipping on a coffee, all pepped up for the day, when these two pretty girls walk up.

Girl #1: “Excuse me. You’re [My Name], right?”

Me: *Perking up* “Yeah, do I know you?”

Girl #1: “My sister is your coworker, and I’m one of your followers on Facebook. I just wanted to say that I think you have a really nice and interesting personality, and your writing has me either totally cracking up or really thinking deep. You have such an interesting perspective on common issues. Honestly, I couldn’t personally date you myself because I don’t necessarily find you that attractive, but I just wanted to say I think you’ll make some girl out there really happy and I wish you the best of luck.”

I stare at her and an awkward silence falls.

Girl #1: “Oh, my God, that… totally came out all wrong, didn’t it?”

Me: “Yeah, thanks for walking up and politely telling me I’m too ugly to date. Anything else you’d care to depress me with?”

Girl #1: “Sorry, I—”

Her friend starts pushing her toward the door.

Girl #2: “Nice job, [Girl #1]!”

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You Try To Do Something Nice…

, , , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: 5_Frog_Margin | May 30, 2021

I saw someone lose their smartphone in real-time. I was driving behind her and saw it fly off the top of her car on a busy one-lane highway. It was a little dangerous, but I pulled over, waited for a break in traffic, and darted out to grab the phone. It was miraculously unharmed. Her background pic showed a woman in her twenties and her partner.

I kept driving around doing my errands until her phone rang, about thirty or forty minutes later. I told her where the phone had flown off the roof and how I’d retrieved it and mentioned that she must have put it up there while getting gas or something.

Her response?

Woman: “Okay. Could you bring it here to me in [Her Town, thirty minutes away], please? I work at [Pizza Joint].”

Me: “Uhhhh… That’s nowhere near me. I’m in [My Town]. You can pick it up here. I’ll meet you at the [Donut Shop].”

Woman: *Annoyed* “I can’t drive all the way to [My Town]. I don’t know [My Town]. Let’s meet halfway at [Popular Restaurant].”

Me: “That’s not even remotely halfway. [Popular Restaurant] is still in your town. Want to just pick it up later?”


She put her boyfriend on the phone.

Boyfriend: “Dude, what’s your f****** problem? Give her back her phone already.”

This went on for a few minutes with the boyfriend getting “tougher and tougher.” I have zero tolerance for s***ty behavior, so I hung up on them and shut off the phone.

I was going to visit my grandfather the next day, so I kept the phone on me until then. When I got to granddad’s town two hours away, I turned the phone on, found the girl’s father in her contacts, called him, and told him everything. He was very apologetic, and I’m guessing it wasn’t his first rodeo. I told him that, due to her rudeness — and her boyfriend’s thinly-veiled threats — the phone could now be picked up at the local police station in my granddad’s hometown.

Dad’s response?

Dad: “Looks like she’ll have a three-hour drive both ways this weekend. Sorry again.”

This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of May 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of May 2021 roundup!

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Playing The Sympathy Card

, , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: miawdolan | May 29, 2021

About two or three weeks before Christmas, a lady posted a request on a public group asking if anyone was willing to send her a birthday card since she’s always lonely and sad on her birthday, which is shortly before Christmas. I’ve been in a bad financial situation, but I’ve been blessed by not being lonely, and I know how much it sucks, so I wanted to send this lady a really nice card and letter. I contacted her and she gave me her address. I bought a card, wrote what I thought was a nice and caring letter, and designed a little calligraphy. I also wrote that I would like to send her another card next year, hopefully with something else to give. I sent the card and was genuinely hoping that it’d at least make the lady feel a little less sad and lonely.

A few days ago, about a week and a half after her birthday, she sent me two messages. One said that she was doing very badly at the moment (not sure why), so she would be very happy if I would get her an additional birthday present.

The second message was an Amazon link.

As I said, I’ve been in a bad financial situation. The money I spent for the card and postage could’ve been my meal for a day or two. What this lady wanted was about twice as much. It wasn’t a lot of money but definitely enough to make me remove her from my contacts. I wonder if anyone else sent her a card and got the same message. And she never thanked me for the card — not that I was expecting that, but getting an additional request for a birthday present instead? A week and a half after it passed? Yeah, no.

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Sounds Like Someone Made A Friend!

, , , , | Friendly | May 28, 2021

As a black American living in Germany, I’ve had my share of “unusual” experiences with strangers based on my skin color, whether it’s someone getting up and moving when I sit across from them on a bus or a smarta** teenager coming up to me and yelling, “Yo! Yo! Yo! Compton!”

My most memorable ones always involve small children, such as one child who removed her hand from her mouth and proceeded to rub her slobbery fingers on my cheek, causing her poor mother to turn bright red and profusely apologize.

But my favorite was an incident in which I was working in a restaurant sweeping up and a woman motioned me to come over. She motioned toward her daughter who looked about three or four.

Woman: “My daughter won’t eat her food and keeps watching your every move. I think you’re the first black person she’s ever seen. Can you say something nice to her?”

I made sure to put on a large smile, told her my name, and asked for hers — which she squeaked in a barely audible voice — complimented her stuffed dog that she was clutching, and gave her a fun-sized packet of jelly beans that employees include with kiddy meals. By then, she managed a smile, and her mother thanked me before I went on back to work.

They did come back to the restaurant a few other times after that, and the mother would always come to my register, with the child smiling brightly whenever she saw me.

I just hope the impression I gave will be a lasting one on that sweet child.

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