Humanity Is Going Down The Tubes

| London, England, UK | Friendly | February 21, 2014

(I am an American student studying abroad in London. I wake up late one morning and rush out the door without eating breakfast. As it’s rush hour, the train is jam-packed and I have to stand. On the way to class, I start to feel woozy and start swaying.)

Stranger #1: “Are you all right?”

Me: “I- I don’t know. I feel dizzy.”

Stranger #2: *gets up* “Oh God, love. Here, have my seat.”

Stranger #3: “Maybe low blood sugar. Here, I have some orange juice.”

Stranger #1: “Where are you heading?”

Me: “Gloucester Road.”

Stranger #1: “Okay. You’ve a few stops yet.”

(These strangers took care of me the rest of the ride and made sure I got off at the right stop. The common belief is that the English are a cold, aloof people, but I will never forget their kindness!)

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Divorce Followed By A Break Up

| Walled Lake, MI, USA | Friendly | February 21, 2014

(It is morning, before school starts. My group of friends and I usually meet in a specific hallway and hang out since most of us arrive well before the first bell. Three of us in this story have known each other since we were very young and are incredibly close. One of the three is a guy and he acts as a big brother to us girls. It’s just accepted that we are, essentially, siblings, and all of our significant others are made aware of this fact. I, Friend #1, his girlfriend (a more recent addition to our group of friends; they had been dating for several months by this point), and a couple of others are sitting around talking, reading, and being our usual geeky selves when Friend #2 arrives, in tears.)

Friend #1: “[Friend #2]! What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Me: *pulling her down between me and Friend #1* “Was someone bullying you again?”

Friend #2: “N-no. No. I just, I just found out—” *starts sobbing too hard to speak*

Friend #1: *puts his arms around her* Hey, it’s gonna be okay. Shhh, it’s okay. What’s wrong?”

Friend #2: “My parents… They’re getting divorced!”

Girlfriend: *rolling her eyes* “Jeez, is that all? Why are you being such a drama queen? It’s not like someone’s dying.” *tugs at Friend #1, clearly irked that he’s hugging Friend #2*

Friend #1: *shrugs his girlfriend off* “[Girlfriend], be nice. This is hard on her, okay?”

Girlfriend: “It’s just a divorce! She’ll live.”

Friend #1: “[Girlfriend], look. It’s not my place to tell you this stuff, so I won’t go into details. But because of stuff that happened when she was little, as far as [Friend #2] is concerned her world is pretty much falling apart right now. She needs us right now. I’m sorry, but you and I can hang out later. Okay?”

Girlfriend: “Oh, just let her go kill herself, then, if she’s gonna be this dramatic about a stupid divorce! We were talking!”

(All of us go quiet, and stare at the girlfriend in shock.)

Friend #1: “What?”

Girlfriend: “She. Can. Go. Kill. Herself. If it’s so bad that she has to hang all over you, she can just do us all a favor and go slit her wrists or something and stop being an attention whore.”

(Friend #2 is crying even harder by this point, and I’m about to go after Friend #1’s girlfriend. I hadn’t much liked her before that, but respected the fact that Friend #1 did and so never said anything. However, as she had just made my ‘little sister’ cry I don’t care any more how much Friend #1 likes her.)

Friend #1: “We’re done. No one talks about my friends like that.”

Girlfriend: *stares in stunned silence for a moment before exploding* “You can’t just dump me like that!” *turns to the rest of us* “He can’t just do that!”

Friend #1: “I just did.”

(None of us jump to her defense, as she had apparently been expecting.)

Friend #1: “I don’t wanna talk to you again, and you’d better stay away from [Friend #2].”

Girlfriend: *sputters a bit before getting her stuff and storming off*

(We don’t see her again; apparently no one else in the group wanted anything to do with her after what she said. Friend #2, with the support of all of us, managed to get through her parents’ divorce.)

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Don’t Use Your Outdoor Voice For An Indoor Activity

| Germany | Friendly | February 21, 2014

(I’m about 14 years old. Two schoolmates of the same age are standing nearby. One of them is reading a magazine hidden in an exercise book.)

Schoolmate #1: “What are you reading there?”

Schoolmate #2: *shows him*

Schoolmate #1: *looks at the magazine, then, shouting for everybody at the bus stop to hear* “HEY, LOOK AT THIS GUY! HE’S READING PORN!”

(Schoolmate #2 then starts speaking under his breath, but I happen to be near enough to overhear.)

Schoolmate #2: “But you’re going to let me read it too, won’t you?”

Talking Total Bolado

| Van Nuys, CA, USA | Friendly | February 20, 2014

(I am one of two female missionaries assigned to a Spanish-speaking parish in the San Fernando Valley. All of the parishioners are very supportive of the local missionaries, not to mention friendly. They’re sort of our family away from home at times. This also means that they tease us at times. My fellow missionary is a native of El Salvador, but later moved to Canada.)

Parishioner: “I don’t believe you’re from El Salvador!”

Missionary: “Of course I am! I have the accent! I make pupusas! I was born in San Salvador!”

Parishioner: “Yeah, well, anyone can say that. Sister [My Name] could probably say she’s from San Salvador!”

(I’m redheaded, freckled and have only recently started speaking Spanish fluently, in part because of my fellow missionary’s efforts.)

Missionary: “Someday, you will believe me that we’re from the same country. Just watch!”

Parishioner: “I don’t believe it.”

(Three weeks go by. One day, the missionary drops her favorite ring down the sink by accident. Since this parishioner is a plumber, she calls to ask for advice on how to get it out.)

Parishioner: “Where do you think it is?”

Missionary: “Well, I turned off the water immediately, so I think it’s still stuck in the—” *he tries to think of the word for the pipe or u-bend or the trap or whatever she means to say* “—in el bolado!”

Parishioner: “YOU ARE FROM EL SALVADOR! I’ll be right over to fix it.”

(As soon as the conversation is finished, I speak up.)

Me: “So, the word for the trap is bolado?”

Missionary: “I said the El Salvadorian word for ‘thingamajig.’ Guess it finally convinced him.”

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Jet Lag Lag

| China | Friendly | February 20, 2014

(I have surprised many of my former high school classmates by using my BA to teach English abroad. Many of them have found this exciting and interesting, often asking me questions whenever they catch me online. One former classmate starts asking me about time differences.)

Friend: “Hey, I just realized. Though it’s [afternoon time] here, you’re in a different timezone, aren’t you?”

Me: “Yes.”

Friend: “What time is it for you?”

Me: “Well, there’s a 12-hour time difference in our time zones, so it’s the middle of the night.”

Friend: “Wow, it’s the middle of the night?! Why aren’t you sleeping? Aren’t you tired?”

Me: “I’ve always been a night person. Even in high school, it was hard for me to sleep at night and easy to sleep during the day. I guess my biology is just backwards.”

Friend: “Or you could be experiencing jet lag. I’ve heard of it. It’s a condition where your body has trouble adjusting to a different time zone.”

Me: “Not everything can be blamed on me being abroad. As I just told you, I’ve always had this problem, even before I ever left the state. It’s not jet lag; it’s just the way I am. Besides, I think you’re forgetting that I’ve been abroad for two years now.”

Friend: “Two years? Wow! I didn’t realize jet lag could last so long!”

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