Don’t Question The End Result

, , , , , | | Hopeless | August 13, 2019

I work with a group of elementary school students who need extra help in math. Right now I’m doing multiplication flashcards with three students: two girls, and a boy. They’re all brilliant students, but the girls have a lot more self-confidence, while the boy frequently has fits where he keeps saying he’s stupid and the worst at everything. It breaks my heart because he’s shown that he knows the material, but if he gets the tiniest thing wrong — or even if he gets it right! — he goes into a full meltdown. Often he will say the wrong answer just so he can complain about being dumb. 

During this practice, the girls are on a roll, and the boy is getting increasingly upset. He’s getting the answers right, but he doesn’t say them fast enough so the girls are getting all the points. I try to remind him that it’s just a game, and what matters is that he knows the correct answers, but he’s not having it.

After a little bit, I notice that one of the girls is being more hesitant about answering the questions and even starting to answer them incorrectly. Soon, the other girl starts to do the same thing. I realize that they’re doing poorly on purpose so that the boy has a chance to give the right answers.

Normally, I wouldn’t want the girls to sacrifice their practice time, but as the boy gets more and more points, he gets visibly happier and stops speaking poorly about himself. When the game is over and he sees that he won, he’s through the roof! The girls seem genuinely happy for him. I know it’s not the most honest method, but all three of those students are equally good at math; the boy just needed a confidence booster to get him out of his rut.

At the end of the year, the school hosts an assembly where the principal reads the names of the students who tested at or above grade level for math and reading. All three of those students’ names are called, and to see that boy’s smile as he is recognized for his hard work is beyond worth it.

Just A Little Stroll

, , , , , , | | Hopeless | August 12, 2019

I work in product allocations for a well-known children’s store chain at their head office.

One day, I get a phone call from a store that has a bit of a strange and upsetting situation.

A woman and her seven-year-old son have gotten into a car accident, as pedestrians. He is severely autistic, as well as having several other disabilities that mean that he cannot walk for long distances. He has a special stroller, which has since been discontinued. The stroller was destroyed in the car accident.

The store phones me because they cannot find a way to order the stroller anywhere. We literally don’t sell it anymore and we were one of the only places in the UK that did. The mother needs it ASAP because they are being released from the hospital and don’t have a car. She is injured so can’t carry him. She is a single mum.

I manage to find the stroller in the stock files of a store about 80 miles away from me — 350 total miles from the mum and child. I phone the store, but the manager isn’t helpful. He just says he is too busy and that they don’t have it, even though their files very clearly say that they do. 

Their stocktake was only last week, so I am certain it is accurate.

Lucky for me, because of my job, I can schedule impromptu store visits. I drive down to the store and search the stockroom for this hidden stroller for a few hours before finding it. I phone the mother’s local store and tell them to expect it.

After loading it onto a truck to travel another two hundred miles, the local store assistant meets the truck right before her shop closes and drives the stroller to the children’s hospital to give to the mum. She does the full demonstration and then drives the woman and her son home and gets them settled.

When I speak to the store assistant later, I learn that she and the woman have become close friends.

The Magic School Bus

, , , , | | Hopeless | August 10, 2019

(In high school, I catch a bus once from school to a friend’s house, a bus I have never taken before. The moment I get on the bus, a young man — who I recognise immediately has an intellectual disability — smiles at me.)

Man: *loudly* “Hello!” 

Me: *smiling back* “Hello!”

(I take my seat on the bus as the man turns to me.)

Man: “You’re very beautiful!”

Me: *breaking into a grin* “Aww, thank you!”

(I could tell the guy was harmless and just meant to put smiles on other people’s faces, and to that end, he was succeeding. But I worried that other people on the bus might get annoyed at him or worse, start bullying him for his disability. But it never happened. I watched as he loudly said, “Hello!” to everyone that got on the bus, and even to people who had been sitting on the bus for some time that he’d already greeted before, and everyone cheerfully said, “Hello!” back. He told many passengers they were beautiful; they all smiled and thanked him. He cracked “jokes” with punchlines that didn’t make sense, but everyone still laughed and cheered for him. Every time a new passenger got on the bus, I worried that this would be the person who would be intolerant or nasty, but everyone — schoolkids, young adults, the middle-aged, the elderly — EVERYONE seemed delighted with him. The entire half-hour trip to my friend’s house, I don’t think there was a single frown on that bus. When I got to my friend’s house, I asked her about him, and she confirmed that he was a regular on that route and everyone loves him. Sadly, I never got the chance to take that bus route again, but that memory remains as one of the sweetest moments between strangers that I was lucky enough to be a part of.)

A Picture Perfect Finish

, , , , | | Hopeless | August 9, 2019

Due to very complicated administrative reasons, my partner and I could not get married in a timely fashion in either of our home countries or the country where we currently reside. After much research, we hit on Denmark as our best possible option and applied to be civilly married there. Our application came back approved a week later and we started planning our trip. Neither of us makes very much money and we’re both fairly thrifty by nature so we make things work the best we can. We plan to spend the minimum amount of time possible in Copenhagen, we book the cheapest possible non-refundable flights on a budget airline, and we decide to stay in a hostel dorm with access to a kitchen so we can self-cater.

There is one thing I want to splurge on: I want pics of the big day because I have a terrible memory and because it’s just the two of us basically eloping and we both have friends and family who wanted to be there but couldn’t.

My partner thinks I’m being a bit silly about it but agrees, if we can find someone in budget. I look for professional, reputable photographers but I can’t find anyone in budget and I rapidly realize that all listed options that I’m finding are much more than we need or want.  

Finally, I come to the conclusion that it would be cheaper for us to fly and accommodate a third person out with us to do the photography than it would be to get a professional. I ask colleagues and local friends if anyone’s free for a random two-day jaunt to Copenhagen. 

A friend of a friend is free, and he and I sit down together and book his tickets and hostel. All’s well until we go to check in online before our flight. My partner and I check in with no problem. [Friend of Friend] goes to check in and it turns out that somehow, despite having two sets of eyes on the whole booking from start to finish, I somehow managed to book him the wrong way round — Copenhagen to our city and then our city back to Copenhagen. Since we did the cheapest possible booking, the tickets were non-refundable and the price has since dramatically increased.

My partner accepts this all very philosophically but is annoyed about the lost money. I am incredibly upset and can’t believe how stupid I was.

In desperation, I try a FB page related to Copenhagen and I pour out the whole story of my stupidity with the booking and begging someone, anyone, to come to take pictures of us in exchange for a few mementos from our city.

Someone does get back to me and says he can do it.

I am happy but don’t want to be too happy in case it doesn’t work out. My partner is much more openly skeptical. But on the day of, our impromptu photographer shows up and spends the morning taking pictures of us! He is so thoughtful and has such good ideas for places and poses! I couldn’t have asked for a better photographer! Thanks to him, we have beautiful photos to show our friends and family!

Calling Out Bad Behavior Results In Good

, , , | | Hopeless | August 8, 2019

(I ride the train to school every morning. Unfortunately, this train line is known as the most unstable in the country, so most of us passengers are used to it. One morning, the train is very late and we keep stopping between the stations because of some technical error. It is becoming clear that everyone will be late to work or school. The train driver and the conductor update us a little over the speakers. Suddenly, we hear a message over the speakers:)

Conductor: “This is the conductor speaking. Thank you so much for your patience this morning. I know that you are all stressed, but most of you have been so kind to me. We are doing the best we can to get you to your destination. Thank you for not yelling at the staff, except for the gentleman who spent five minutes complaining and yelling at me. We hope to get clearance to continue on our journey soon. I wish you all a pleasant day.”

(The mood lightened after that. Several people smiled and started talking to each other — in Denmark, you generally don’t talk to strangers unless absolutely necessary. I don’t know who the rude man was, because there hadn’t been any yelling in my car. I hope that man learned not to yell at innocent staff.)