Park It Forward

, , , | Hopeless | June 9, 2017

(My wife and I are very close, and neither of our families fully accept us as a same-sex couple or live near us. We also married young, and I still look like a teenager. This means that when she is in the hospital with a badly broken leg, I am her only visitor, and I have to do everything she normally would. Needless to say, I am stressed out. I go to the gift shop to buy her flowers, but have forgotten my wallet.)

Me: “I-I’m sorry. I guess you have to put those back, but I don’t know how I am going to get out of the parking garage now… I just wanted to do something nice for my wife; she’s all I have. I am just so stressed out that I forgot things.” *I start to tear up*

Clerk: “It’s okay. How much is the parking ramp?”

Me: “Really, I couldn’t…  Don’t… It’s an $8 maximum and I can’t stay all day. Don’t—”

(The clerk goes to a back room and gets her own wallet, and hands me $9.)

Clerk: “Pay for your parking, okay, and get yourself a snack?”

(I couldn’t do more than stammer out thanks and try not to cry. Clerk, if you’re reading this, thanks for making a hard time easier!)

Squirrelling Around The Goth In The Room

, , , , , , | Hopeless | June 8, 2017

(I’m visiting my favorite zoo and walking around the nature pond when I see a scary-looking, gothy couple — leather jackets, crazy, bright blue hair, piercings and safety pins everywhere, the works. I’m a little nervous… until I see the guy pull a bag out of his pocket, bend down, and start feeding the squirrels! This is clearly pretty routine, as at least three squirrels come up, and are eating right out of his hand, while the girl takes notes. Seeing how curious I am, they invite me to try, too, and I soon have squirrels very delicately taking sunflower seeds and acorns out of my palm.)

Girl: “I’m a Biology major, and I’m doing a survey of these guys as part of my thesis. [Boyfriend] is kind enough to help me out, and the squirrels around here are so tame, it makes it easy to take measurements.”

Me: “That’s pretty awesome. I will admit I was a little nervous at first when you walked up.”

Girl: “It’s the hair, isn’t it?” *I nod, and she laughs* “I’m starting an internship in six months that I’ll have to look normal for, so I’m getting all the crazy fashion choices out of the way now.”

Guy: “I work from home. I always look this way!”

Girl: “Yeah, I know, don’t rub it in. I’ll have to re-dye my hair and lose the piercings soon enough!”

(They were an absolutely sweet couple, and told me more about urban squirrel populations than I ever knew existed. Guess you can’t tell by looking!)

Rock-A-Bye Banana

, , , , | Hopeless | June 7, 2017

(I am disabled and on benefits. One day I go to the local Disability Resource Center to get a form that will let me camp for free at Provincial Parks campsites. Sitting behind me are three children, ranging in age from approximately one through eight. At one point, the eldest starts singing ‘Hush Little Baby’ to her youngest sibling.)

Girl: “And if that diamond ring gets broke, Mama’s gonna buy you… umm…” *she pauses for a moment, trying to remember the next line* “… a banana!”

(It was just too cute. I couldn’t help myself and burst out laughing. I smiled at her and a minute later she began singing again. I was also treated to a rendition of ‘Miss Molly’ and ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’.)

Computer Buddies For Life!

, , , | Hopeless | June 6, 2017

In high school, I sign up for a program called Computer Buddies, where anyone in the community with a question about their computer or the Internet can come in and a student will help them solve it.

It’s my first time doing it, and I’m a little nervous, when I get paired with an absolutely lovely, elderly, Vietnamese lady who came in with her laptop. One of her brothers is in Vietnam, one is in Hawaii, and her kids are scattered across most of the mainland US, so she wants to learn how to do things that will let her see her family — email, Skype, and booking plane tickets, especially. One of her sons gave her the laptop, but none of her kids have had time to teach her how to use it, so we get it plugged in, and I show her how to set up an email account. Before I know it, the hour’s gone, and we’ve barely covered half of what she wants to know… so we make arrangements to meet at the local library, and I’ll keep helping her out.

While she openly admits to being nervous, she’s clearly a bright woman, and despite her protests that she’s never touched a computer before, she picks it up pretty quickly. She’s also pretty fascinating; while in the US, she worked as a teacher and social worker, and before moving here, she lived in Vietnam, Cambodia, France, and Germany, and speaks at least half a dozen languages.

Ten years later, we still see each other every other month or so, but these days it’s mostly for coffee or lunch. She now has a smartphone and can email, Skype, and web-surf like a pro, and though she still occasionally asks for my help changing her security settings or troubleshooting a problem, she’s one tech-savvy grandma. She’s also just a genuinely lovely person.

I’ve met most of her family and she’s met most of mine; when we see each other, we often bring each other a small gift like a bar of scented soap or an interesting bit of jewelry or a plate of cookies. My boyfriend and my parents quite adore her, and when we go out to eat, we always end up happily arguing about who gets to treat the other! She’s become an adoptive aunt/grandma, and one of my favorite people.

I’m glad she swallowed her nerves and came into my high school ten years ago!

Frozen Yoghurt For Warm Hearts

, , , , , | Hopeless | June 5, 2017

(I work at a small self-serve frozen yogurt store. One night, a man and his young daughter come in, the daughter clearly excited about getting frozen yogurt. I chat with them, help them out, and everything goes fine until it’s time to pay. He reaches into his wallet to pay, and pulls out a $100 bill. Because $100 bills are so easily faked and because we have so little in our change drawers, our store policy won’t let me accept it.)

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t accept a $100 bill, sir; it’s against our store policy. Do you have another method of payment, like a credit card?”

Customer: “No, this is all I have. Are you sure that you can’t take it?”

(He shows me the entire wallet, which, true to his word, only has $100 bills. By this point, from his accent and the contents of his wallet, it’s clear to me that he and his daughter are foreign tourists out for a late night treat, and as she has been so excited, I don’t have the heart to make her give the yogurt back.)

Me: “In that case, I’ll just let you have the yogurt for free.”

Customer: “Oh! Thank you — but I’ll come back to pay you. I’ll go to the bank and get smaller bills.”

Me: “You don’t have to do that; it’s all right. Have a good night!”

Customer: “No, no, no. I will come back!”

(The two of them start to head out with their yogurt.)

Customer’s Daughter: “Where are we going, Daddy?”

Customer: “To the bank, so that I can pay the lady. Go ahead and eat your yogurt.”

(They leave, and I leave the check open and go back to tending to the store. About fifteen minutes later, I notice a truck pull up in front of the store, and to my surprise, it’s that customer and his daughter!)

Me: “Hello, I see that you are back!”

Customer: “Yes, I went to the bank to get money you can take. Here you are!”

Me: “Oh, thank you!”

(He hands me a $20 to pay. Since I’d left the check open, I was able to give him change and hand it to him.)

Customer: “They closed the exit to here so I had to drive all the way around to the other exit — but I was going to get you your money!”

Me: “Thank you very much for coming back, sir. A lot of people wouldn’t have bothered.”

Customer: “No, thank you for letting us take the yogurt. Have a good night!”

(That girl is lucky to have such a great father!)

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