Begging For A Happy Ending

, , , | Hopeless | July 16, 2017

Story takes place outside of a deli type store, during a heat wave in the middle of the summer. In 2012 I find myself homeless due to enormous medical bills that leave me bankrupt. I don’t have a bed in a shelter yet and I am not proud but have been begging outside the store for some spare change, to get a bottle of water. I feel ashamed for begging but I haven’t had any water since the day before and feel so hot and weak. I have only had 35 cents so far.

An ambulance stops by for what I assume is snacks. The woman crew member apologizes and says she doesn’t have any spare change when I ask. I thank her anyway and resume standing outside.

The woman comes back out after about 5-10 minutes in the store. She approaches me and hands me a bag. Inside the bag is two large bottles of water and a sandwich. I break down crying from her generosity.

She then asks if I have someplace to stay and I tell her no. She asks if it would be okay if she makes a phone call on my behalf. What happens next is a miracle for me. She calls a homeless outreach program and tells them I have nowhere to go. Within an hour, a program counselor comes to pick me up and I have a shelter bed and access to food and water.

The shelter helped me find a new job and eventually helped me transition into my own place three months later. I never did catch the woman’s name, but she truly saved my life. I can only hope that she realizes how much of an impact she had on turning my situation around. I still call her my angel.

Some Stories (Chop)Stick With You

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 14, 2017

This story takes place about 20 years ago. I own a small Chinese restaurant and every week on Sunday at 11:30 on the dot, a family comes in. The father is Caucasian and the mother is Chinese. Their daughter is about five or six and is one of the loudest and rambunctious children I’ve ever met.

Every Sunday without fail, they’ll come in, and the kid will make a mess, scream, etc., and the father will ask for a fork for himself and their daughter. The mother will constantly try to calm her daughter down and tell her to be a “proper lady” and tell her husband to at least attempt to use chopsticks — and usually fail to do so. It becomes a habit and I usually have to deal with this table because the kid’s such a pain that none of my servers want to deal with her.

One week, the family just stops coming. Most of us are thinking “Oh, good, no more brat.” Three months pass and the family comes back, but it’s just the father and the child.

Surprisingly, the child is very calm. In fact she orders the dishes, says please and thank you (I’d like to mention that half of our adult patrons don’t do that), and she uses chopsticks better than my eight-year-old.

After the meal the father comes up to pay for the bill. I ask him how he got his daughter to be so polite, because quite frankly it seems like a miracle.

He gives me the most forlorn look I’ve ever seen. Apparently his wife died in a car crash about three months earlier (at this point I am feeling very guilty about calling her a brat) and never came home. For some reason his daughter thought it was her fault and that because she was being naughty her mother didn’t want to come back. Even though the father said it wasn’t the case, she insisted on being a “proper lady” and got both of them to learn how to use chopsticks, “Because Ma Ma will come back if she sees how nice we are.”

After he paid for the bill I just went to the back and cried. I went home and hugged my daughter.

It’s been 20 years since then and they’re still regulars. She even has a little family of her own that she brings in. The little girl eventually realized that her mother wasn’t coming back, but was still the most polite customer I’ve ever had. I’m sure her mother would be very proud to see how well she’s grown up.

It still brings me great joy when I see the daughter teaching her own children how to use chopsticks.

Big Mac Attack

, , , | Hopeless | July 12, 2017

(I babysit three children every weekday. Once a week, I make dinner as well. Sometimes their parents join us, sometimes they don’t. The parents are health food nuts, so the kids have never set foot in a fast food place. Fortunately, the family keeps a very well-stocked pantry, they’re not vegetarians, and no one has any food allergies, so my options are pretty much unlimited. One day, when I am going to be making dinner and the parents will not be with us, I have this discussion with the kids several hours before dinnertime.)

Kid #1: *trying to be casual* “I wonder what a Big Mac is like…”

Me: “You’ve had burgers before. You know what meat tastes like.”

Kid #1: “Yeah, but Big Macs are fancy. They’ve got special sauce and stuff.”

Me: “Fast food isn’t very good. The ingredients come from questionable sources, safety procedures leave something to be desired, and they’ve got so much sodium that wildlife could use them as salt licks. Plus the flavors are so mixed together that you can’t taste anything particular, and the texture’s usually pretty wonky.”

Kid #2: “Just once won’t kill us. Mom and Dad aren’t gonna be home tonight. We could check it out tonight. Just once, please? We won’t tell. Promise!”

(I instantly decide on my course of action and pull up the McDonald’s menu on my phone.)

Me: “You guys tend to take a long time making decisions at restaurants. I don’t want to stand in line for an hour, so make your decisions now.”

(They do indeed take about an hour picking and choosing their meals. I take careful notes, including who wants pickles, cheese, etc. Eventually, dinnertime arrives.)

Me: “Okay, kids, dinner’s ready.”

Kid #3: “But I thought we were going to McDonald’s.”

Me: “We are.”

(They looked at each other, confused, but obediently trooped into the kitchen. Laid out at each place were the exact meals they had requested, freshly hand made. I had even Googled a recipe for Big Mac sauce. The meal was a big hit with the kids, and the parents cracked up when I told them. We have since done the same thing with other fast food places with equal success. Recently, Kid #1 confessed that he had gotten a friend to smuggle him a real Big Mac, and that after my fresh home cooking, he had found the real thing massively disappointing.)

Ferreting Around For Some Good Parenting

, , , , | Hopeless | July 6, 2017

(I often take my very tame, very friendly female ferret out on her lead to get some fresh air. I mostly get a lot of strange looks but for some reason people with small children act like ferrets are awful, vicious creatures that carry all kinds of disease. On my walk one day a young woman is walking along with a little girl, about three years old. I brace myself for the worst.)

Girl: “Mummy! Mummy, what’s that animal?!”

Girl’s Mother: *laughing* “That’s a ferret, sweetie!”

Girl: “Awwww, so cute!”

(I pause for a moment a few steps away from them, mostly out of shock, and a little bit because I’m used to people wanting to skirt me and my ferret in the street.)

Girl: “Can I pat it, mummy? So cuuuuuute!”

Girl’s Mother: “Remember we don’t touch other people’s pets without asking; they might get scared, or they might not like kids.”

Me: *still slightly stunned* “This one does. She plays with my nephews all the time. She can pat her if she wants to.”

Girl’s Mother: “Oh, thank you!”

(The mother kneels down and keeps telling her daughter, “Now, gentle! Don’t scare her; nice and soft,” and stopping her daughter from touching my ferrets face. The little girl is over the moon and incredibly sweet and gentle, giggling like crazy as my loveable lump of a ferret sniffs her and revels in the attention.)

Girl’s Mother: “Thank you so much. She LOVES animals.”

Me: “It’s no problem at all. Most parents yank their kids away like my ferret might set them on fire.”

Girl’s Mother: *screws up face* “How stupid! Our guinea pig has probably bitten more people than this little guy.”

(After a quick chat I learned they’d just moved in up the street from me and they were walking to the park down the block. Almost every afternoon for the next several months we met up along the same patch of sidewalk and the little girl would pat my ferret, and the mum and I would chat for a bit. When my ferret finally passed away last month of old age, they met up with me the next day with a card and a box of chocolates, and an adorable drawing of my ferret done by my tiny toddler friend. All it took was one person realising my ferret was not a danger to her kid for me to gain two wonderful friends.)

Scoring All Over The Awesome Spectrum

, , , , | Hopeless | July 4, 2017

(I have both ADHD and Asperger’s. Thankfully, both are relatively mild. I’m attending my friend’s son’s sixth birthday party. My friend has previously mentioned that he is worried his son might have ADHD and is planning on getting him tested. So as we’re watching the children play, I ask him if there’s been any reply yet. It turns out that his son does have ADHD, but is also on the autism spectrum. I ask him how they’re coping, and he responds with this:)

Friend: “The big thing is that I have to adjust what I picture for him. My mental image of the man he’d grow up to was, to be honest, a younger version of me. That’s not really in the cards now, and I have to accept that. So we started thinking of what we wanted for him, and we thought of you.”

Me: “Um, wow. Thanks.”

Friend: “You’ve got this stuff to deal with, but you never let it control you. You’re smart. You’re creative. So, yeah.”

(I’m not sure he even realized that he’d just given me the greatest compliment in my life!)

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