Book Driving To A Good Place… Eventually

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 17, 2018

Me: “And would you like to purchase a book to donate to our holiday book drive?”

Customer #1: “Who’s getting them?”

Me: “The heart unit of [Local Children’s Hospital].”

Customer #1: “Oh, no, thanks. I mean, if it were [Cancer], I’d donate, but not just for that.”

Me: “Um… Okay. Have a nice day!”

([Customer #2] comes up.)

Me: “And would you like to–”

Customer #2: “GOD, NO! I just want to buy my stuff and get out of here, and not have you people trying to swindle me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I am required to ask these questions, and the books are going to the [Children’s Hospital]…”

Customer #2: “Not my problem. Just give me my receipt.”

Me: “Here you are. Have a nice day.”

Customer #2: “Shut up.”

(I just kind of stand there in shock for a minute until my next customer comes up. They have a basket full of books, and two giant deluxe-edition board games. I start ringing them up.)

Me: *kind of anxiously* “And would you be interested in donating?”

Customer #3: “Absolutely. I’d like to donate these books, and if you’d like to pick out five or six more from the display behind you, since I don’t really know what the kids are reading these days?”

Me: “Thank you; that’s very generous!”

Customer #3: “I heard those other two. Who thinks like that at Christmas? I want to donate these games, too, if you’re allowed to take them.”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a problem. Again, thank you!”

(Years later, I still remember that customer. Thank you for being the anti-Grinch!)

Drive It Forward

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 15, 2018

(My husband has had a really hard day at a new job involving physical labour out in the sun. It’s about nine pm and we are on our way home, stopping to get fast food for our two young children and ourselves. We have both worked at different restaurants in this chain before, and are familiar with protocol. We pull up to the drive-thru to someone who seems to have been waiting a few minutes in the other lane, and have enough time to figure out our own meals. After we decide, the employee comes over the speaker to our lane first.)

Employee #1: “Hi! What can I get for you?”

Husband: “I believe the gentleman in the other lane was here first.”

Employee #1: “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

(The employee then greets the vehicle in the other lane, while the driver gives us a wave of thanks, to which we smile and return. We order next, and they tell us to pull ahead. When we get to the window and my husband goes to pay after confirming our order…)

Employee #2: “Yeah, that’s already been paid for.”

Husband: “What?!”

Employee #2: “Yeah, that truck right there–” *points to where the other customer was, now at the intersection beside the restaurant* “–paid for your order.

(We thanked the second employee in shock, too surprised to pay it forward to the next vehicle. We had been going through some tough financial times, and this was the first steady job my husband had been able to find in over eight months, so this counted as an expensive treat to our budget. We are very big on paying it forward, and are very glad that there are other people in our city who do the same.)

From Neglected Cold To Cherished Warmth

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 13, 2018

I grew up in a single-parent household without a lot of money. My mom couldn’t afford health insurance and ended up developing severe pneumonia from a neglected cold. She was in ICU for two weeks just before Christmas, and we were flat broke. She was stressed because she couldn’t afford food or presents for my siblings and me.

Some of the nurses, doctors, and staff at the hospital pooled together to get food, and someone told a local radio station about us. Perfect strangers gave us money, presents, food, coats, and decorations, so that instead of my mom having to rush straight back to work as a waitress, she was able to recover, and we actually had a good Christmas.

Cupcakes Have Restorative Ingredients

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 11, 2018

Last Thursday at school, the whole school was under a medical lockdown for two periods in the middle of the day; no one was allowed to leave the room they were in. We later discovered a much-loved teacher had collapsed, and suffered a heart attack in front of his students and fellow staff.

Unfortunately, paramedics were unable to revive him, and he passed away just after third period started. Our whole school was very shocked, and understandably a lot of students and staff were very saddened at the news.

The next day, there was a “dark cloud” over the whole school and the lessons were certainly not as cheerful as normal. A boy in my class took it upon himself to bake cupcakes for all the staff at school — 144 cupcakes in one night — plus ice them all, and leave a note saying, “It may not be a relief but just know that we are all here for you. -A message from all of your students.”

He really did restore my faith in humanity.

“It Gets Better” Requires Work

, , , , | Hopeless | August 9, 2018

I work in video game publishing as a producer. I’ve actually been in the industry for nearly a decade, but with this company for only a few years. My previous job was terrible. I worked for a guy who was awful to his employees and his customers — which meant they, in turn, were awful to us. I was working insane hours for no appreciation or recognition. He would regularly cut our pay because he “couldn’t afford us,” but then would take regular vacations to his luxury cabin in the mountains.

I stuck with it both out of a misguided sense of loyalty, and because at the end of the day I still loved the industry and wanted to be part of it, which is exactly the sort of cycle that enables awful working conditions like what I went through and worse. It didn’t help that so many people just tell you how lucky you are and how grateful you should be no matter what because they would kill to have your job, so you feel even worse about… feeling the way you do. I didn’t even notice how miserable and depressed I had been for years until I finally left and realized what an awful spiral I had been in. It was like I had existed for years in a sort of fog, and on the rare occasion I wasn’t working because I had time off, I was still unhappy because it was just looming over my whole life.

It was bad enough that I was actually scared to get back into the industry when my current company reached out about hiring me a few months later. I didn’t talk about my previous experiences. The first few months I felt like I was walking on eggshells. Whenever something went wrong, even something I wasn’t involved in, I would panic and become terrified, even though the owner was an amazingly chill, gracious, generous guy. My coworkers, who rapidly became actual friends, wondered why I was always so nervous or self-deprecating. One very bluntly asked me why I seemed to have no confidence, while praising my work. It was like being on another planet. Working with people who were themselves hard workers and good people, who valued my work and me, was literally a transformative but alien experience.

All of this came to a head when we attended a major industry conference and got invited to be guests of honor at an awards show. We weren’t up for any awards ourselves, but sitting there, surrounded by happy, excited people, listening to everyone talk about how much they loved their work just sort of overwhelmed me. I started to cry a bit because I finally realized after over a year that this was how it was supposed to be and that I was among friends.

I played off my tears as just being moved by the acceptance speech onstage at the time, but I do want everyone to know that you deserve to feel this way, too. You deserve to have work that is rewarding and that you enjoy, with people you like being around and who value you in turn.

I know I’m fortunate to do the work I do, and that a lot of people who will read this are working the jobs they have to in order to get by, and can’t do anything else right now for whatever reason. I guess I’m just sharing this to say that I hope one day you get to feel this way about your work, because you deserve to, no matter what that work may be. In the meantime, know that I’m sending good vibes to you no matter who or where you are, because I’ve been there, too.

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