The Gift Of Giving

, , , , | Hopeless | March 21, 2018

(We have huge stacks of little stuffed animals on the counters as part of a promotion. If you spend over a certain amount, you can buy them for $5 each. We have a huge box near the exit doors where you can put them so they will go to children in need for Christmas. You can obviously just choose to keep them for your kid, so most people buy two and toss one in the box on the way out. A young woman comes through my checkout with her adorable five-year-old girl. The girl is instantly over the moon when she sees the purple penguin toy on the register. Her mum grabs it for her.)

Customer: “How much are these?”

Me: “They’re five dollars each because you spent over [amount]. Would you like one to donate?”

(The customer looks over at the box by the doors, sees the huge charity logo on the side, and starts to speak to her daughter.)

Customer: “Look, [Daughter]. If we buy some to put in the box, then another nice lady will bring them to kids who don’t have any toys for Christmas!”

Daughter: “Like [Lady], who brought me presents last year?”

(The little girl is in very nice clothes, and the mum is well-dressed and holding a new model of phone, so I am mildly surprised.)

Customer: “Yes. When Daddy was sick and couldn’t go to work anymore, they brought you presents! Let’s get some for some other kids, too.”

(The woman purchases the penguin, along with five other toys, and tells her daughter to go put them in the box while she packs up her groceries. I watch the little girl go over to the box and put the toys inside. Then, she stops and looks down at the purple penguin in her other hand. She pauses for a moment, and then puts that one in the box, too. She comes back to her mother.)

Customer: “Sweetie, I bought the penguin for you for being a good girl; I didn’t mean you had to give that one away.”

Daughter: “I know, but I have lots of toys, so it’s okay. Now, someone else will get him for Christmas!”

(My supervisor who was manning the checkout behind me grabbed another penguin and shoved it into the little girl’s hands, demanding that she kept that one, while everyone teared up a little. Lady, if you ever read this, you raised one heck of a kid.)

Celebrating The Holidays By Half

, , , , | Hopeless | March 20, 2018

(We sell crumble cake in various sizes; we can sell the whole plate, half of it, or a quarter. My coworker has a customer who already ordered a coffee and is now looking at the cake we offer.)

Customer: “Oh, I’ll take some of that crumble cake there; that looks delicious!”

Coworker: “Sure! Would you like the whole plate or half of it?”

Customer: “Ha, half of it will do; I’ll never finish that whole plate.” *laughing* “Well, unless you want some of it, too!”

Coworker: *also laughing* “Well, I wouldn’t say no to that, and I’m sure my coworkers won’t, either!”

Customer: “Well, then. Take the whole plate, please. I’ll pay for both halves, and one is yours!”

(My coworker starts laughing again, but she quickly realizes the customer is actually serious.)

Customer: “Yes, I mean it! It’s almost Christmas, and I love coming here. You are always friendly, all of you here, and the cake is awesome. Take it as an early Christmas treat.”

(They finished the transaction with my coworker thanking him, then she took our half of the plate into the back and related the story to us. My other coworker and I thanked the customer, too, before he left. It really made our day, and that cake was awesome.)

Everyone Should Have The Gift Of Music

, , , , | Hopeless | March 19, 2018

My younger brother was born with a condition called ectrodactylism (missing fingers and/or toes). Thus, he has only three fingers on his right hand and four on his left. The first Sunday we went to church after he was born, one of the regulars, a piano teacher, came up to my parents to check out the newest member of our family. She took one look at my brother and said to my mom, “I want to teach him piano some day.”

Years later, when my brother was old enough, he started taking piano lessons from her. She made special scale sheets for him, chose songs specific to his abilities, and modified songs so he could play them. He went on to take several piano exams, and scored very well on them, too. To this day, he is a beautiful piano player.

It still brings tears to my eyes to think about my piano teacher’s reaction when she saw my brother for the first time. She obviously believed everyone should have the gift of music, and felt immediately inspired to teach this little guy with missing fingers how to play.

A Different Kind Of Humanitarian Tour

, , , , , | Hopeless | March 18, 2018

(I’m a woman in my early 20s, and I decide to try traveling alone for the first time after finding a cheap flight to Massachusetts. I’ve always wanted to see Cape Cod, so my plan is to fly into Boston and then take a bus out to Provincetown. Right off the bat, the trip does not go well. Among other things, a woman on the plane tries to steal my clearly labelled backpack and has to be stopped by the flight attendant, and a man literally pushes me into the street to be the first one onto the bus. By the time I finally arrive in Provincetown, I’m exhausted and miserable and wondering if I made a mistake, but I came all this way, so I decide to at least get a drink before collapsing. While at the bar, I start chatting with a guy there with a bunch of his friends, and he mentions he works for a local whale-watching company.)

Guy: “If you’re only in town for a few days, you should definitely go. It’s probably the coolest thing to do in town.”

Me: “Yeah, it looked neat, but I’m not sure; the tickets were kind of pricey.”

Guy: “Oh, that’s no good! You can’t miss out on it just because of that! Go down to the pier tomorrow and tell them [Guy] sent you, and they’ll hook you up.”

(I thank him, and the conversation soon drifts in another direction. I’m not sure how serious the offer was, but I figure why not, so the next morning I head down to the pier and the ticket booth.)

Ticket Seller: “Hi, can I help you?”

Me: “Yeah, I’d like to get a ticket to the next whale-watching trip, please. [Guy] sent me down here; I was talking to him last night and he said it was absolutely not to be missed.”

Ticket Seller: “Oh, you’re a friend of [Guy]’s?”

Me: “Kind of? I met him in a bar last night.”

Ticket Seller: “Totally counts! He wouldn’t have sent you here if he didn’t like you. Which bar was it?”

(I tell him, and immediately get the impression that I’ve given him the best gossip of the month.)

Ticket Seller: “Oooh, [Guy] was at [Bar]? He hasn’t been back there since the breakup! Wait ‘til tell [Friend]!”

(He hands me a ticket and pulls out his cell phone.)

Me: “Wait, how much do I owe you?”

Ticket Seller: “On the house, m’dear. You’re a friend of [Guy]’s, and you just brought me the best gossip I’ve heard all day; that’s well worth a tour. Just make sure to tip the crew.”

(The tour was completely amazing, and I did indeed make sure to tip the crew well. It was like the conversation in the bar flipped a switch, and for the rest of the trip, everyone around me was so nice, I started to wonder if it was a town-wide prank or if I’d accidentally landed in a Disney movie or something. The locals cheerfully directed me to the best beaches and restaurants, usually with the offer of a ride from a friend who was heading that way. Complete strangers checked to make sure I was enjoying myself, pulled me out onto the dance floor, invited me to join their group heading to a club or karaoke, or insisted on walking me back to my hotel if I turned them down. If I stopped at a bakery or chocolate shop, half the time, there was an extra cookie or chocolate thrown in with whatever I’d ordered. And when I was disappointed that I’d waited too long to go for a walk along the point and night was falling, a quite lovely elderly couple lent me a flashlight and invited me to dinner when I came to return it. Anytime I asked, or expressed amazement at just how genuinely nice everyone was, the answer was always the same: “Well, it’s almost the end of tourist season, we might as well. And besides, we like people here!” Despite my initial misgivings, it was an amazing trip, made so by a bunch of seriously amazing people, and I can’t wait to go back!)

Vending Some Hope For Humanity

, , , , , , | Hopeless | March 16, 2018

The week before Christmas, my brother-in-law and his family stayed with us for a few days. They wanted to meet up with his grandmother while they were here, so we tried to think of a warm place to sit and visit with her. We decided on the lobby of one of the buildings on Temple Square, since it was near Grandma’s apartment. We also wanted to visit the Light the World vending machines in that lobby. These were five charitable vending machines that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had temporarily placed that allowed the user to choose specific donations to some organizations.

When we arrived at the lobby, we found that a local high school madrigal group was performing Christmas carols. We very much enjoyed visiting quietly on the ground floor while the choir sang in the mezzanine above. As we neared the time we had to leave for other appointments, my nieces and nephew were steered toward the vending machines to choose their gifts for the charity.

One niece chose 100 meals for the food bank. The other chose a pair of glasses for the eye-care group. As my four-year-old nephew was trying to choose his gift (he eventually chose to help the water charities), I realized the choir had stopped singing. I looked around to find that most of those teenagers had joined us at the vending machines, even having to stand in line to reach them. They had just finished their third of five concerts in various buildings on Temple Square that same day, and instead of resting or visiting the small cafe in that same lobby, they had come to spend their money on other people. No one forced them. No one was watching to make sure the money wasn’t used elsewhere. They chose to do it.

Makes you think there’s hope for the future, after all.

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