The Sleeping Dragon Can Stop To Give Directions

, , , , | Hopeless | October 13, 2018

(My brother and I are around 20 years old, and we go on a holiday in China together. Due to our parents’ concern about our lack of language skills, we book a guided tour, but on our very first evening in Beijing, we have time to explore the city by ourselves. We take a tram to the city center and have a nice evening, and everything goes well until we get back to the station near our hotel. Then, we get lost. Keep in mind that it is already around 10:30 pm when this all happens. The station is quite large and has several exits on different streets, and even though we have a map, we can’t figure out in which direction our hotel is. Luckily, we spot a police station on the other side of the street and go there to ask for directions.)

Me: “Excuse me, we got lost. This—” *points on map* “—is our hotel. Which direction is it?”

(The two policemen shrug and answer something in Chinese. I figure they don’t speak English, so I try to explain our problem through gestures and with some more pointing. They study the map for some time, talk among themselves and ask us some things, to which I always have to answer, “Sorry, I don’t understand.” This goes on for some minutes, and then one of the policemen goes outside. The other one shows us to some seats and offers us cookies. Then, the policeman outside starts shouting something. At least twenty passers-by from the — not very crowded — street start gathering around him and he leads them inside. A young man starts talking to me in English.)

Young Man #1: “Hey! How can we help you?”

Me: “Hi! We need to get to our hotel, but we got lost!”

Young Man #1: “Which hotel is it? Do you have an address?”

Me: *taking out the map again* “It’s right here—” *points* “—and this is the tram station out there—” *points* “—but we can’t read the street signs and don’t know which direction it is.”

(The young man starts talking to the group in Chinese again. Some people leave.)

Young Man #2: “Don’t worry; we’ll figure this out. We’re trying to find the best solution to get you to your hotel.”

(After some more minutes:)

Young Man #1: “So, this guy—” *he points at an elderly Chinese man with a hat* “—knows the way, but it’s a bit complicated from here. We don’t want you to get lost again, so he’ll walk you there. He can’t speak English; just follow him. Have a good time in China!”

(With that, the rest of the crowd dissipated, everyone smiling and waving at us, except for the man with the hat. He gestured at us to follow him, which we did. What followed was an at least fifteen-minute walk through Beijing, until we could see our hotel at the next crossroads. The man pointed at it and waved at us. We waved, too, took some bows, and thanked him in English. He smiled and started leaving. To this day, I am still amazed by how many people went out of their way to help some lost tourists and the kindness they showed us. Now, whenever I travel abroad, I make sure to at least be able to say “thank you” in the respective country’s language.)

 

Acts Of Kindness Can Be A Piece Of Pancake

, , , | Hopeless | October 11, 2018

(I go to Turkey on holiday, and the hotel has a breakfast buffet that is the same every day, apart from one item that they cook while you wait. It is always the same elderly, smiley guy cooking. A few days in, he is frying up some amazing-looking pancakes, so I figure I’ll give it a shot. They are delicious. They are so good, in fact, that we go back for seconds, and he is very happy about it. The next day, he is cooking eggs. I’m not really a huge fan, so I don’t go and take any. The day after, there’s another egg dish, so, this happens:)

Me: *after grabbing some eggs for my dad* “Excuse me. You wouldn’t happen to be cooking pancakes again this week?”

Chef: “Yes, pancakes in two days! You like them?”

Me: “Yes, they’re amazing!”

Chef: “Thank you! You come and get in two days.”

(Two days later, pancakes! When I go back for seconds, he asks how long I am staying and where I am from. I say I am leaving for my home in Sweden the day after, and I think that is that. This happens the next day when I am getting food from the buffet.)

Chef: *sees me and motions me over* “Good! You wait here.”

Me: “Okay?”

(I watch him cook up eggs for a couple in front of me, and then he takes out a bowl of batter from under the counter.)

Chef: “You need good last day! Long travel, yes? I make pancakes just for you.”

Me: “Oh, my God! Thank you so much!”

(My dad, who is queuing behind me for an omelette, speaks up:)

Dad: “That is very kind of you; those look delicious.”

Chef: *smiles at me, but then points at my dad* “Pancakes are only for her; you like eggs.”

(My dad and I both thought this was so sweet of him. I have Asperger’s, and food was a huge worry for me for this trip, since I have trouble with a lot of textures. This man made a good week into an amazing one. My dad went back about a year later, and I asked him to say hi and thank you to that man if he saw him cooking again. He did, and the chef said I reminded him of his granddaughter, and he was happy I remembered him.)

Fast Food, Slow Reply, Worth The Wait

, , , | Hopeless | October 9, 2018

A friend of mine lives in the US. One day, he mentions going to a popular fast food chain that doesn’t exist in Germany. As I’m a curious person and always eager to try new foods, this makes me want to try said chain. I already know it doesn’t exist in Germany, so I do a bit of research; there are only two stores of this chain in all of Europe, and I feel it’s not worth it to travel all the way for some fast food.

I’m sure a lot of people will call this story fake because what I do next is flat-out absurd, but I decide to write to this company. This, however, proves difficult. Their webpage has a contact form, but you need a receipt from one of their stores, and a valid US address and phone number to use it, neither of which I can provide. Frustrated, I do a bit of research, and after a while, I come across the mailing address of this fast food chain’s parent company. Thus, I take a pen and a sheet of paper and start writing:

“Dear Sir/Madam!

Ever since hearing about [Fast Food Chain]’s food from a friend who lives in the USA, I’m eager to try it myself. Unfortunately, there are no [Fast Food Chain] stores in Germany. Could you please open a store here, preferably in [City I live in] or [Next City]?

Sincerely,

[My Name]”

I then find an old postcard with a floral design in my desk, put it in the envelope with the letter, and add:

“PS: In case you’re not the person in charge of this decision, could you please forward this letter for me?

PPS: I added a postcard because unfortunately, if I sent you real flowers, they’d probably die before this letter arrives.”

I then send this letter, not really expecting a reply. A few months go by without a response, and I nearly forget about the whole thing.

Then, a package arrives. It contains a lot of [Fast Food Chain] merchandise — a shirt, a tote bag, a water bottle, some plastic fast food toys, etc — and a notebook with a reply to my letter on its first page.

“Dear [My Name],

Thank you so much for your letter! It totally made our day. The postcard is now sitting on our desk. Unfortunately, we don’t know if or when we can open a [Fast Food Chain] store in Germany, but we forwarded the letter for you. In the meantime, please enjoy these gifts from [Fast Food Chain].

Your friends at [Parent Company],

[Employee #1] and [Employee #2].”

There’s still no store from this chain in Germany, but I’m now saving up money to visit them some day and try [Fast Food Chain] together with my friend.

From One Parent To Another

, , , , | Hopeless | October 6, 2018

My child has a health problem. Recently a lab has popped up in the US which has a very important diagnostic test offered as a cheek swab for 250 USD, whereas previously this was a very lengthy and invasive procedure costing thousands.

I contact the company to learn how I can get the cheek swab kit from them, and how I can ship it back, since I am in Europe. A friend from the US is coming over soon, so we decide that they should ship it to her. However, they are in Philadelphia and she is in Chicago… and the cheek swab needs to be delivered back to them a maximum of 24 hours after it is taken.

When I receive this bit of info via email, I start sputtering, “But… But!” to myself, and all my hopes drop. It’s simply impossible. But no, they have a solution; the person emailing with me says that he will personally drive to any closeby airport such as JFK or NJ, as long as I can find someone who will bring it with them, and take the sample from this person. This makes it possible, since my city has a direct flight to JFK, and I can surely find someone I know who will be going some time soon.

When I ask why they would do this, and say that I have never seen this level of service before, the man writes that he has a child, too. I cry my eyes out. He will be getting a nice gift with the sample, too.

Drawing To A Fine Conclusion

, , , , | Hopeless | October 4, 2018

(Our library is having a celebration to mark us finally paying off the cost of constructing our building. Among other things, we’re holding periodic drawings for prizes, including books, t-shirts, book-bags, and a grand prize of a Kindle and a basket of books. This drawing is advertised on our Facebook page, as well, and results in this rather adorable confusion.)

Boy: *comes up to the front desk* “You guys are doing the drawing today?”

Coworker: “Yes, we are! Did you want to enter?”

Boy: “Yeah.” *pulls out a notebook and starts flipping through the pages* “I have all these drawings I want to enter.”

Coworker: “Drawings…” *realization hits* “Oh, no, it’s not that kind of drawing! It’s where you enter your name on a ticket and we draw out tickets to win prizes. It’s not an art contest.”

Boy: “Oh.” *looks crestfallen and closes the notebook*

Coworker: “But you know what? I want to see your drawings. Show me and tell me about them!”

Boy: “Okay!” *brightens up and opens the notebook*

(My coworker spent several minutes looking at the boy’s drawings and listening to him talk about each one. He seemed perfectly happy to have someone show interest in his work. And even better, he entered the actual drawing and won a book! So, despite the misunderstanding, things worked out well for him.)

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