Making Sure The Survivors Are Surviving

, , , | Chicago, IL, USA | Hopeless | May 19, 2016

(My family is 100% German, and came to the US around 1900. Shortly after WW II ended, my grandma, who was working on getting her nursing certification, decided to volunteer at an aid center for recently arrived Holocaust survivors. My grandma was born in Chicago, and English was and is her first language, but she spoke German because her parents and grandparents spoke it, and had a slight accent. She’d been bullied about it all through the war, and was worried it’d be the same at the center, but decided to volunteer anyway. Sure enough, some of the other nurses started making snide comments, until one of the patients, a woman in a wheelchair, beckoned her over.)

Patient: *in halting English* “You… German?”

Grandma: “No.”

Patient: *disappointed* “You no speak German?”

Grandma: *in German* “Ja. I speak German. My parents are from Germany.”

Patient: *in German* “Oh, thank the Lord! English is such a hard language, and everyone here is so brusque, and there are no trees anywhere! I miss the mountains! What part of Germany are your parents from? Do they miss it? Have you ever been?”

(As soon as they found out my grandma spoke German, all of the other survivors came right over and started chatting away, completely dumbfounding the rest of the nurses! To my grandma’s relief, none of them held it against her that her family was German; most of them just wanted to talk about their homes and families, and were relieved to find someone who spoke their language. It wasn’t long before some of the other nurses and the aid center director asked her for help learning German themselves!)

Get Them To The Prom On Time

, | MI, USA | Hopeless | May 19, 2016

(I manage my family’s service center where we sell and repair various household appliances (e.g., sewing machines, vacuums, fans, lamps, etc.). A gentleman walks in at the same time as an older lady who is carrying a serger. Note: these are very complicated machines to repair properly and require a lot of work.)

Older Lady: “I broke a needle on my machine.”

(I look and notice that one of the upper needles is missing, one that is easy to replace so I assume that this is the issue and that she might have difficulty replacing it herself because of the tight space and small tools required.)

Me: “I can put one on for you really quickly. Those needles are less than a dollar apiece” *I go fetch the needle required and the small screwdriver needed to make the repair*

Older Lady: *as I begin to get the needle into place* “Oh, not that one. One of the bottom needles.”

(She opens the machine and shows me another part that is actually more expensive and much more difficult to replace. A call to our technician reveals that the part will be about $20 and that the service will be far more than a basic labor charge because she will have to disassemble much of the machine to replace it.)

Me: “Okay, with the part, your total will be [much larger amount than she or I had expected].”

Older Lady: “I really can’t afford to do that right now. I’ll have to come back next month.”

(I realize that she much be on Social Security or some other monthly stipend, and begin to feel a little awkward for her and me because at this point the gentleman, who has been quiet the whole time, has been waiting quite a while and is now privy to her financial situation.)

Me: “I can print this estimate out for you so that you know what to expect when you bring your machine back and so that this won’t take quite so long.”

Older Lady: “It’ll have to be soon. The girls will be coming in with their prom dresses in a couple weeks.”

(At this point, the gentleman reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, handing me the full amount for her repair.)

Gentleman: “Here. It sounds like you have a lot of projects coming up and this way your machine will be all tuned up when those girls come in for their prom fittings.”

(The amount he paid for a stranger’s machine is about what my base pay is for a week. The lady and I didn’t really know how to react but I finished taking her machine in to our service system and as she walked out she asked if she could give the gentleman a hug which he obliged. Thank you, sir. I should have gotten your name but our whole family appreciates what you did and we’re trying to pay it forward!)

Completing The Cycle Generosity

, , | Portland, OR, USA | Hopeless | May 19, 2016

(Driving home one day, we see a bicyclist fall off her bike just ahead of us. When I see in our rearview mirror she still hasn’t gotten up, we pull over to see if she is okay. I jump out of the car with my 11-year-old daughter.)

Me: *calling out as we walk towards her* “Hi, do you need a hand? Are you okay?

Cyclist: *picking her bike up* “I’m okay… This was my first time riding my new bike and I am more worried I damaged it than me.”

(Her arm is bleeding a little, and her chain is dangling off her bike.)

Me: “Yeah, you’re a bit scraped up but the bike looks okay to me.”

Cyclist: “My chain came off and now I have to walk the bike home.”

Daughter: “Oh, I know how to fix that! Here, I’ll hold this thing in and you loop the chain back up there… Okay, hold it in place; I’m letting go. Okay, now pedal it gently to click it into place.”

Cyclist: “Oh, wow, you fixed it. Thank you so much!”

Daughter: “You’re welcome! Have a nice day!”

(As we walked back to our car, my daughter was beaming that she had the knowledge and ability to help a grown up and make their day better. The cyclist waved as she passed us as she rode by.)

Low-Rent But High-Class

, , | Finland | Hopeless | May 18, 2016

(I’ve had an awful week altogether: a close relative’s battle with cancer is not going well, I sprained my ankle and it has been hurting for days, my tooth has been aching, I had to get a biopsy of a lump in my breast, my studies are not progressing as well as they should, due to our differing schedules I haven’t been able to talk to my best friend in few weeks… Pretty much nothing is going my way. Then I call my landlady.)

Me: “Hi! I just called to ask if it’s okay to lend the spare key to my friend? She has university’s entrance exams here in a few weeks, but I won’t be here during them because I’m going on a trip with another friend. She will just leave the keys here when she’s done.”

Landlady: “Oh, that’s fine. I’ll try not to visit then, so I won’t scare her. But how has it been going? We haven’t seen each other for a while.”

Me: “Well, I should be getting on with my studies, but I’m a bit behind the schedule. It’ll take me another year to graduate from [University].”

Landlady: “That’s not even slow. My daughter took ten years to graduate.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess six years is just fine. Well, in other news, I’ll be going home to work for the summer. I’ll still pay the rent for my room, though.”

Landlady: “I was meaning to say something about that. You and [Roommate] have been really good tenants, so I was wondering what you’d say about not paying rent for June?”

Me: “Oh, that sounds really good, but that’s… too much. I can’t ask for that.”

Landlady: “Well, you’ve lived there for many years, always paid your rent on time, and I don’t have to worry about the apartment, so I’d really like to do this. I know you don’t make too much money over the summer anyway. Can you tell this to [Roommate], too?”

Me: “Of course! Thanks. This is amazing.”

(My landlady had always been an awesome lady, but this left me almost crying from happiness after the horrible week I had been going though.)

Bringing Tolerance Up To Date

, , | AZ, USA | Hopeless | May 18, 2016

(I have been dating a girl online for a while now, and we meet each other for the first time. We decide to meet up at a popular burger joint. My area is known for LGBTQ discrimination, so I am a bit nervous. This happens a while into our dinner. An older gentleman walks over to our table.)

Older Gentleman: “Excuse me, but are you two ladies on a date?”

Me: *nervous about what might happen* “Yes.”

Older Gentleman: *smiles* “The two of you look so cute together. It’s so nice to see romance is still alive. I’d like to pay for your meal, the same way someone once paid for mine on a date.”

Girlfriend: “Sir, that is so nice of you. Thank you.”

Older Gentleman: “No problem.” *hands us $20* “I know how nervous it can be to date in this area; my husband and I went through the same thing. Have a good day!”

Me: “Thank you so much, I hope you have a good day, too!”

(Whoever you are, thank you. You made our night so much better!)

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