This Train Will Be Terminating At Your Hearts

, , , , | Hopeless | April 24, 2019

Mumbai, India has two major arteries for its public commutes: its railway lines. They’re overcrowded, overloaded, and held together by sheer force of will and prayer, but they still carry the city on their shoulders. An average intra-city train with a capacity of 1,900 passengers will, on a normal run, carry over 5,300 at a time. Trains are identified by the time they are scheduled to arrive at the station, and even if they’re running a few minutes late, they’ll run the exact same route every single day. Platforms at each station can range from 300 metres length at the shortest, to over half a kilometre long elsewhere. They’re connected using a warren of tunnels and overhead bridges, so it wouldn’t be out of order for commuters to walk over a kilometer or two to reach the exit gates.

I commute using one of these lines. This time, while I was waiting on the platform, an old, blind man, hard of hearing and holding a crutch, was asking if the 12:15 to [Terminus] had arrived. The train prior to that, the 12:04, hadn’t arrived yet, and the passengers around him were saying so. He probably wasn’t getting the answers he wanted, so he kept asking. I gently told him it was the 12:04 next, and I’d put him on the train.

He then asked if he could be helped to board the 12:15, since the 12:04 would mean a walk of over two kilometres from the platform it ended at to the main gates at [Terminus]. The 12:15 landed on the platform closest to the gates. I had time on my hands, so I agreed. The poor guy was so overwhelmed that he held on to me for the ten minutes or so it took for the train to arrive. “My keeper is with me; I have no worries,” he kept chanting. I gave my bags to him to hold, as an assurance that I wasn’t going anywhere until he was on the train.

The 12:15 arrived and I helped him to the doors of the train. People on the train immediately held on to him, pulled him up, and held on behind him so that he wouldn’t fall. A few people immediately emptied their seats for him and he sat down on a corner, trying to occupy the least amount of space. I moved on, finding luggage space for my bags and then a seat for myself, so I lost track of what happened to him after.

When I was alighting at my stop, two halts before [Terminus], I caught sight of him once again. He was asking around if someone would help him alight at [Terminus]. A group of teenagers, heading home from school, told him they would do that. He was still worried and kept repeating his request to the compartment. So, they just created space in the middle of their own seats and got him to sit there safely, telling him, “Uncle, we’re all alighting at [Terminus] only. We’ll make sure you, too, reach it comfortably.”

I alighted at my destination with a smile, realising one thing: Mumbai’s regular commuters never lack empathy. They will give answers to everything you ask, even delaying their own journey if someone is in need. They’ll look out for everyone with more difficulties than them. No matter how uncomfortable the journey, if you’re less able than the rest, we’ll make sure it’s comfortable for you at least.

Helping A Stranger Is Good Medicine

, , , , | Hopeless | April 23, 2019

(I decide to spoil my daughter and myself on this particular day. I have just gotten paid, as I get paid monthly through Social Security Death Benefits, and have just finished paying all bills and doing whatever shopping we need. I have taken my daughter out to dinner at a restaurant we don’t normally go to, as it is a bit pricey. While we are there, an older lady is trying to get ahold of a pharmacy and her insurance. I happen to overhear a snippet of her saying she was just released from the hospital after having a heart attack, and doesn’t know how she’ll be able to afford her medication. It is all I could do to hold tears back, remembering how hard it was when my husband was alive, and we were struggling to pay for his medication after his first heart attack. I tell my daughter to stay where she is and I walk up to this lady.)

Me: “Ma’am, I couldn’t help but overhear, but did I hear you correctly when you said you were just released from the hospital after a heart attack and didn’t know how you’d be able to pay for your medication?”

Lady: “It’s $1,100 a month! I don’t know how I’ll afford that and my insurance is being a pain. They may not get it going until tomorrow, but today I have no idea how I will get that medicine. I need it.”

Me: *understanding exactly how much she needs this* “Miss, if you allow me…”

(I press $40 into her hand, and hold it.)

Me: “My late husband had a heart attack, and it was a struggle to pay for his medication. Please accept this to get you by for today, at the least.”

Lady: “Oh, you don’t have to.”

Me: “Ma’am, I want to. I know how hard it is.”

Lady: “Thank you so much!”

(My daughter and I left before finding out if her insurance was able to cover today or not, but lady, I sincerely hope it got better for you. I know $40 is hardly enough to cover the cost of medication in this place, but I know even a little can go a long way.)

This IS The Cat You Are Looking For!

, , , , | Hopeless | April 22, 2019

(My friend loves cats; her husband does not. After much discussion they agree to adopt one, but they must both agree on the cat. At the shelter they are introduced to many cats, but my friend’s husband isn’t too keen on any of them. Then, my friend notices one last cage tucked away in the corner, which turns out to belong to a timid little grey female. The shelter employee opens up the cage so they can interact with her, but as my friend’s husband reaches in to pet her the tiny, wide-eyed girl lets out a fearful hiss. My friend fears this is that is the end of that, but instead he turns to her with a wide grin.)

Husband: “I like this one; she sounds like Darth Vader!”

(They took her home that day. Three years later, she is still the undisputed queen of their house and the perfect cat for them.)

You Always Remember Your Last Great Customer

, , | Hopeless | April 20, 2019

(At my store, we get a lot of older ladies coming in. Most of them are nice, and a few are entitled and rude. But occasionally, we get angels sent from Heaven. A woman comes up to my register one day and sets down a bag for a return.)

Customer: “I bought this yesterday, but I found out it’s on sale today for half off. Can I return it and rebuy it?”

Me: “Actually, we can do a price adjustment! You’ll get the same amount back as you would with returning it and repurchasing it, with half of the steps!”

Customer: “Oh, that’s even better!”

Me: “I’ll just need to start with your receipt!”

(She looks through her purse and suddenly looks upset.)

Customer: “I think I left it at home. I’m so sorry!”

Me: “Do you have the card it was bought on? I can look up your receipt that way!”

(She hands me her card. Luckily, it pulls it up, and I do the adjustment. She’s getting about $50 back.)

Customer: “Oh, thank you so much! I forgot to use my gift cards when I bought this, but I also forgot to get some fabric, so I guess it works out.”

Me: “Things always work out! You’re free to go look at fabric now!”

Customer: “You’re my hero, [My Name]!”

(About an hour later, she comes back through my line.)

Customer: “I think I got everything I needed this time. If not, I’ll be back tomorrow!”

Me: “And I’ll be here! Your total is [amount], and don’t forget your gift cards this time!”

(The customer pulls them out of her wallet.)

Customer: “Why thank you!”

(She finishes her transaction but asks to see a manager before she goes. She moves enough out of the way that I can keep ringing people out, but I can still hear the conversation.)

Manager: “Hi. You wanted to talk to me?”

Customer: “Yes, [My Name] is a wonderful person and I’m so glad she was working today. I have awful memory problems, but she’s made this trip so much easier on me. Is there anything I can do to show my appreciation?”

(She ended up filling out a form for corporate about me. She’s also promised to come back to see me. People like that are why I love what I do.)


They Manipulate Grass Now, Too

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 18, 2019

I’m an adult living with my parents. My mom’s chiropractor lives across the street from us. One day at an appointment, she is telling him that she is rather sore. She has to do most of the chores around the house, including mowing the lawn, because both my dad and I are recovering from surgery.

A few days later, my dad steps outside to get the newspaper and finds the chiropractor mowing our lawn for us.

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