Singalongs Make Everything Better

, , , , , , | Hopeless | March 1, 2019

During one of my summer breaks while attending college, I take a job as a summer camp counselor. Part of our weekly program involves performing a short play near the end of the week, and I volunteer to be one of the main characters. All goes well until I catch a bad cold. All the coughing I end up doing hurts my throat and makes my voice sound gravelly. I thankfully am not assigned a group of kids that week, but I don’t have anyone to replace me in the play. I rest my voice up as best I can, and even find a funny in-character reason to explain the way I sound. It works, right up until I have to sing a small solo. When I try to sing, absolutely no sound comes out of my mouth. I start to panic a bit, but the other counselors are quick to pick up on what is happening.

Every counselor in the audience knows this song, because of how much they’ve seen the play. So, when my voice fails me, the song only gets a couple bars in before the counselors all start singing my part for me! They don’t hesitate to cover the other bits of singing my character does, either. I swear it’s something straight out of a feel-good high school movie! Ten years later, and thinking about it still makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Always Room For A Little Kindness

, , , , | Hopeless | February 28, 2019

I’m on a flight to New Zealand; it’s a 30-hour flight that stops in LA to refuel and change the crew.

The first leg of the flight is literally hell for me. I am a fairly large person and the seats in economy are quite cramped. This would be tricky enough, but the person in front decides to recline his seat — which is entirely his right — but it stops when it hits my knees. He notices his neighbor’s seat goes further back, and so decides that force may help the problem; he slams himself backward whilst holding the recline button. After doing this twice, he notices nothing, and turns around to ask me if there is something blocking his seat… at which point he sees that it’s my knees and sheepishly turns around.

Then, the fact that my shoulder pokes slightly into the aisle means that I am constantly hit by people walking past. The solution is to hold myself in a very uncomfortable position that results in my arm going numb. I practically limp off the plane 12 hours later.

Fortunately, a stewardess notices my discomfort and asks if everything is okay. I explain that I was just so uncomfortable and that it’s no ones fault, but I’m just a little too large for economy. She promises to talk to the handover crew and try and sort me out. Feeling a bit cynical at this stage, I don’t expect much.

To my surprise, when I reboard for the next leg of the journey, a stewardess approaches me and explains that she heard from her colleague how much trouble I had on the previous flight and wants to move me to a seat that has opened up. I get moved to a new seat where there is no one beside me or in front, and during the meal service I get an extra dessert. I pretty much sleep for the next leg of the flight and feel much better when I get off in New Zealand.

To the stewardesses out there who saw my plight and did something for me, thank you!

As a side note, that airline actually changed its economy seating not long after this, giving passengers a few extra inches of width and legroom.

We Are Siamese, And We’re Pleased

, , , , , , | Hopeless | February 26, 2019

Fifteen years ago, I finally had a flat to myself again and, full of excitement, I had a friend drive me to a local shelter to adopt me a cat. To be specific, two cats. Indoor cats. Female. Indoor cats are a lot of hard work — and no one likes to deal with litter trays — but my new flat was on the junction of two very busy streets in a pretty grotty neighbourhood so outdoor cats seemed irresponsible.

We pulled up at the shelter and I leapt out of the car like a demented gazelle, giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and barely managed to wait for my friend before charging inside. I explained what I was looking for to the young lady inside and she took me to look at the cats that were up for adoption. To my shock, about half of the cats seemed to be chocolate point siamese — several hundred pounds a pop, so not what you expect to find in a shelter.

The girl explained that they had all been rescued from a mad old cat lady who was keeping all twenty of them in a one-bedroom house and feeding them enough for maybe fifteen cats. They’d been in a real state when they were brought in, but they’d been fed up and were now full of beans. I was now, if anything, even more excited at the prospect of adopting as the thought of a pair of these magnificent kitties wandering around my flat was really exciting to me. I wandered up the aisle, taking my time and greeting each of the cats in turn, trying to not just yell, “OH, MY GOD! JACK WANT ALL KITTIES! GIVE KITTIES TO JACK NOW!

Cage after cage was filled with these huge, beautiful, and very, very vocal cats, pressing themselves against the front of the cages for pettings. I was totally confused — how would I ever choose? — until I got to the last cage. There, my confusion ended.

In this cage were, once again, two siamese cats. But these two were maybe half the size of the others, and they weren’t pressing against the front of the cage looking for cuddles. They were huddled at the back of the cage, as far away from humans as they could get. I later found out that they were also recovering from cat flu. The cat I would come to know as Sif was huddled into the corner as tightly as she could squeeze herself, and the warrior who would be Freya was lying half on top of her, cuddling as close as she could and I knew. I just knew.

Those other cats, brimming with health and confidence? They could go anywhere, be adopted by anyone, but these two were going to need a special home with someone patient, and I was determined that I would give them that home.

It’s taken years to get them to act like proper, confident goddesses-of-all-they-survey — y’know, cats — and they still get skittish around new people, but Sif will now walk up to people in my flat and demand cuddles — remember, siamese — and even Freya will allow people to pet her, though she has some hilariously specific rules.

And now, beloved readers, those two terrified little cats — the cats I didn’t even see for the first two weeks that they lived with me because they were hiding behind the fridge — those two cats will now not only climb onto my lap at any chance they get but, if I’m wearing a front opening top, they will climb inside that top — with no regard at all for my tender, easily-punctured skin! — and they curl up and they purr and purr as if they’ve finally found their happy spot. And sometimes this makes my face leak, just a little bit.

Kindness Is The Key To Success

, , , , , , | Hopeless | February 25, 2019

When I was in high school I was on the board of the KEY Club — a high-school branch of the Kiwanis organization. I was in my Spanish class and had finished my work early, so I decided to get a little paperwork done for my board meeting later after school. My Spanish teacher asked if I could stay after class for a minute, which got me nervous that I was in trouble for something. It turns out she saw my paperwork and realized I was in the KEY Club. She told me that her son, Abraham, was autistic. He could speak, just not well, and things were a little slower for him, but he was improving immensely and his therapist had suggested that it would be beneficial for him to join a service club to help with his socialization. She asked if it would be possible for me to speak with the rest of the board about letting Abraham join.

I immediately said I would, and the rest of the board thought it was a great idea for him to join. We discussed waiving the admittance rules for him — he would have to memorize and recite the KEY Club pledge — but he wound up passing that easily. I’ll admit, I was nervous over how the other members would act around him but I shouldn’t have been.

The other members all were enthusiastic about Abraham; at any activity we did during meetings they all encouraged him, sat with him, and chatted with him, making sure he was having the best time. No one treated him differently or made fun of him. It was really beautiful to see.

But one thing that surprised all of us were his service hours. Members were required to finish 25 hours of service per semester, and we discussed waiving that requirement for Abraham. But not only did he far exceed his 25-hour requirement, he was actually the first member to finish it. We actually started to use him as an example when other members complained about not being able to complete the require hours; if Abraham could finish his hours first then really there was absolutely no excuse.

For a full year, I got to watch this wonderful boy thrive. He loved going to the meetings and hanging out with the club. And at the end of the year we had a ceremony to commemorate the accomplishments the club had done, and one of the awards given was Member of the Year. At the board meeting where we discussed who should be given what award, the president of the club immediately suggested Abraham as the recipient for Member of the Year. The vote on that was unanimous.

I was never prouder when I stood up to give the award, speaking about this member always being the most enthusiastic at meetings, always bringing a smile, always laughing first at every joke, jumping into any activity with real joy, and of course being the very first to complete his hours. I’ll never forget when Abraham’s mother burst into tears when I announced his name; she was over the moon with pride at her son for earning that award. There was never any doubt among anyone in the club he had earned it.

A few years later, I emailed my old Spanish teacher and asked how Abraham was doing. She said he had graduated and was taking courses at a college, and he still talks about KEY club being the happiest time of his life. He still has his award on display at his home.

Paying It Forward Sometimes Comes Back Around

, , , , | Hopeless | February 20, 2019

(I work in concessions at a movie theater. I’m serving a customer at the beginning of the week on a slow day. She’s interested in some popcorn, but the prices are too high for her to consider buying some. It’s slow, and I’m feeling generous, so I give her some popcorn in a small bag at no cost. Touched by this gesture, she offers to pay me for the popcorn. The money is tempting, but I refuse, since I wanted to do something nice for her. I don’t necessarily want to be paid for trying to be nice. She won’t take no for an answer, though, so I get an idea.)

Me: “Pay it forward; do something nice for someone else.”

(She agrees and leaves the cinema. A few days later, I’m working concessions again when a teenage girl comes to order food, and she has her grandma with her. Turns out it’s the same lady from before! She recognizes me, although I don’t remember her. She turns to her grandchild, and says:)

Customer: “I have to tell you a story. This lady right here gave me some popcorn for free, and refused to take any money for it. Instead, she told me to pay it forward. I went and cried in my car afterward, and I’ve been telling my friends for a couple of days. I just wanted to say thank you for that.”

(I am overcome. I honestly didn’t think it would make all that much of a difference.)

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. I’m actually leaving for an internship in a few days, so I’m glad you told me this, and that I got a chance to hear how much it meant to you.”

Customer: “Oh, you’re leaving for an internship? In that case, take this, and have a good time!”

(She placed something in my hand, and I looked down to see a $20 bill! I opened my mouth to protest, but she was already gone. Wherever you are, thank you, ma’am!)

Page 3/20512345...Last