Charity Starts At Home, A Dozen Times

, , , , | Hopeless | April 21, 2018

(I am working for Concern, a very well-known charity in Ireland that focuses on famine relief and aid for developing countries. I go from door to door, asking people to sign up for a small monthly donation. It’s quite a gruelling job; I have a list of a hundred doors to knock on in a day, and am only expected to sign up two or three people. The rest will all be no-answers or refusals, sometimes very unpleasant refusals. I’m at the end of a long, tiring day of knocking on doors and giving my pitch over and over. I genuinely care about the work our charity does, but when you’ve said a thing dozens of times in a day it’s hard not to sound like a robot, and though I never resent a simple refusal, some people really are shockingly rude about it. I approach one of the last houses on my round, trying to pluck up my energy, and knock on the door. A slightly scruffy-looking young man in his late twenties opens the door and I start my spiel. He holds up his hand to stop me and I’m expecting a refusal, just hoping he’ll be polite and won’t shout at me.)

Guy: “Yeah, it’s okay. I’ve been expecting you guys; I saw you going around the neighbourhood earlier. Come on in.”

(Surprised, I follow him into his kitchen.)

Guy: “Here, sit down and show me how to sign up. Oh, do you want a beer?”

Me: “I… uh… Thank you so much, but I don’t think I’m allowed to drink beer while I’m working. So, you’d… like to sign up?”

Guy: “Yeah, sure. I know about what your charity does already. How much would you like?”

Me: *not believing how easy this is* “Well, the minimum is €11 a month, but if you could manage to make it €21 a month or over, the charity gets an extra tax break from the government, which would increase the value of your donation to us.”

Guy: “Let’s round it up to €25 a month, then.”

Me: “Wow, thank you!”

(I start walking him through the donation forms.)

Me: “You know, I’ve never actually met anyone who had already decided to sign up before I came to their door!”

Guy: *nonchalantly* “Yeah, well, I’m already signed up to twelve others, so…”

Me: “Twelve?! I have to ask, is this okay for you financially? We don’t want anyone to feel pressured to do more than they can.”

Guy: “Don’t worry; it’s no problem. I came into quite a lot of money recently, and I’ve enjoyed donating to charities ever since. I like to spread it around to lots of different organizations rather than giving a lump to just one, you know?”

(We finish up the forms and I go to leave, thanking him profusely all the time. He caps everything by saying:)

Guy: “No, thank you for coming around today. I might have forgotten to include your charity if you hadn’t come to the door. Keep up the good work.”

(I was so touched I nearly cried. I hope that if I ever get rich, I’ll enjoy generosity as much as that guy did. For now, I just do what I can, and try to remember how much pleasure there can be in giving.)

The Train Tracks Are Long And Bend Towards Justice

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 19, 2018

(The ticket machine at Winchfield train station is super crappy, and constantly has issues accepting cash payment. There are also no buildings anywhere near the train station. I am heading into Basingstoke for a Christmas work do at about nine pm. It is wet and icy, so it’s horrible. There’s a young girl, probably about 11 or 12, at the ticket machine. She has her cash in hand, so I know it won’t be a long wait, and I start fishing for my card.)

Girl: “Erm… Y-you can go ahead of me.”

(I look up, and she’s stepped to the side and pulled out her phone.)

Me: “Oh, thanks.”

(I go to the machine and the girl walks a fair bit away. The ticket machine isn’t accepting cash, and it takes a moment for me to click that the girl can’t get her ticket. She hasn’t cleared all her information from the machine, and I see her station is not one where she can get off without a ticket, so I buy hers and mine with my card. I head over to her after.)

Girl: *on the phone* “Please, Mum. It’s really cold and the ticket office is closed. Can you really not be here sooner? There’s nowhere I can wait! Mum, please?” *she starts crying*

Me: *tapping the girl’s shoulder* “Your ticket.”

(She turns round, and I hand the ticket over.)

Girl: *hesitantly taking it* “What?”

Me: “I bought your ticket. Get home safe, okay?”

(I head into the station platforms and start crossing the bridge.)

Girl: “Hey! The money for the ticket!”

(I look round. She’s trying to hand me a tenner, and I have no change on me.)

Me: “It was a few quid; it’s fine.”

Girl: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Positive. Good deed for the day and all that jazz.”

Massaging An Unfortunate Situation

, , | Hopeless | April 18, 2018

(We are on holiday in Sabah. On the way home, we are supposed to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur at noon. When we get to the airport, we are told the flight has been cancelled and we have been put on the next flight at six pm.)

Airline Employee: “I am so sorry. We contacted everyone who was supposed to be on that flight. We called your hotel; did they not tell you?”

Me: “No, we didn’t receive any messages.”

Airline Employee: “My apologies. If you could please wait over there.”

(We go and stand next to a couple who apparently are in the same situation. A few minutes later, a young man approaches us.)

Young Man: “If you would please follow me, I’ll take you to lunch.”

(He drives us to one of the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu and tells us the airline has paid for our lunch and he will pick us up in about an hour. After an amazing lunch buffet, he comes back:)

Young Man: “There are two options for you to spend the afternoon. I can take you to the chocolate factory or I can take you to have a massage.”

(We all choose the latter, and he takes us to a massage parlour where we have a fantastic one-and-a-half-hour, full-body Thai massage. When he picks us up again to take us to the airport, he hands each of us a box with a piece of chocolate cake.)

Young Man: “Since you didn’t get to go to the chocolate factory, I brought you something from there.”

(The cake was delicious, and he got us back to airport an hour before our flight left.

We spent most of the flight composing the most glowing review for the airline and its employees. Compared to how American and European airlines treat their customer, this was a surreal experience.)

Soaked In Kindness

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 17, 2018

Due to not owning a car, I rely heavily on public busses to get me to my destination whenever I need to go somewhere. This means I am often caught having to stand at the stop for upwards of twenty minutes in the worst weather. Unfortunately for me, at the time of this story, I was having trouble with finances and did not own an umbrella, nor anything thicker than a hoodie. So, I was stuck in the pouring rain and soaked to the bone one cold spring day.

That was when a lady in a van pulled up at the bus stop and rolled down her passenger window. Expecting her to ask for directions, I stepped forward to answer her questions,only to find a travel umbrella pressed into my hands. She told me that she’d seen me as she was passing by going the other way, and had used the intersection further onward to turn around. She wanted to give me her spare umbrella, because she felt that no one should have to stand in the rain in such a thin hoodie without an umbrella.

I was already soaked to the bone, so it wasn’t too much use for me by that point, but she refused to let me give it back, and instead drove away, saying that she hoped I got dry soon.

I’ve never seen her again since that day, but I still have that umbrella. If you’re reading this, thank you for backtracking just to give someone already completely soaked the means to stay dry in the future!

Giving You A Break

, , , , | Hopeless | April 16, 2018

(I work in the bakery department of a busy grocery store. The lines are always long at the main cash registers, so my coworkers and I usually try to buy food for break or lunch in our department. One day, it’s particularly busy for us, with customers lining up at the coffee bar and the cake case, and catching anyone who is putting out product with questions. Many of them are unhappy with waiting and are impatient with us when we can finally help them. My manager sees me finish taking an order with a particularly difficult customer and pushes me out of the department to grab something to eat for the first time all day. I go up to the main registers to cash out, since I know that my coworkers are already stressed out with how busy it is. I find the shortest line — six customers, several with big carts full — so I can to begin the wait which I know will take up most of my break. The woman in front of me looks around and sees my uniform.)

Woman: “Oh, you must be on break! I know you don’t get a lot of time; do you want to go in front of me?”

(I stammer a thank-you, and move in front if her. The next couple in line turns around, and offers the same.)

Me: “Oh, no, that’s okay. You guys don’t have a lot to check out, either.”

(They shook their heads, insisted that they had nowhere to be, and moved aside to let me go first. This process continued all the way up the line, with every single person at that point hearing that the people behind them were letting me go so I’d have time to eat. I cashed out very quickly, turned back to my very sweet customers and thanked them all again, letting them know how much it meant to me, and ran off to eat. I’ve had sweet customers, but never an entire line of them, and it really restored my faith in humanity.)

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