They Were All (Patrick) Stars That Day

, , , , | Hopeless | April 29, 2018

(One day when I’m in first grade, there’s a tornado warning for my school’s area. We go through the routine for tornadoes, something we’ve only ever done as a drill before. Basically, all the students line up in an interior hallway, kneel on the ground against the wall, and cover their necks with their hands. When the teachers get news that the tornado is heading straight for us, they decide stronger measures are needed. They start herding as many students as possible into windowless rooms. My teacher leads my class, still lined up alphabetically, to a storage closet, where we do the same kneeling-against-the-wall thing. It soon becomes clear that one person isn’t going to fit, and since my last name is at the end of the alphabet for my class, that person is going to be me. My teacher closes the closet and takes me to another one, where a second teacher has ushered a group of seventh grade boys. We all pack into the tiny room, and the teachers don’t stay with us. It’s pitch-black when they close the door, I’m with a group of much older boys who I don’t know, and there’s a tornado coming. I start to cry.)

Boy #1: *trying to comfort me* “Hey, it’s all right. We’re safe in here.”

Me: *still crying*

Boy #2: “Are you ready, kids?”

Half The Boys In The Room: “Aye, aye, captain!”

Boy #2: “I can’t hear you!”

Every Boy In The Room: “AYE, AYE, CAPTAIN!”

Boy #2:*singing* “Oooooooh, who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”

(Despite being at the age where little kid songs were seen as uncool, this group of seventh grade boys sang the entire “Spongebob Squarepants” theme song and every Disney song they could think of to keep me from being scared. I stopped crying soon after they started, and joined in with the singing. Luckily, the tornado didn’t hit us, and we were let out about an hour or so later.)

Paying It Back And Paying It Forward

, , , , | Hopeless | April 28, 2018

(It’s just before Christmas, and I am in a particularly bad spot. I can’t pay my bills, and every penny counts in trying to get by. As I am walking into work one day, a man calls across the street to me.)

Man: “Hey! Hey, miss! Do you have a second?”

Me: *looking around, confused* “Um, sure. What do you need?”

Man: “I’m going to be honest with you here. I just got out of jail, and I can’t find work. I have no money, and I just need a little something for gas if you can spare it.”

Me: “I’m really sorry, but I don’t even have cash for the tolls to get home right now. I can’t really help you out.”

(The man stares at me for a moment, and I am getting worried because I think he’ll be upset. Then, he smiles the most knowing smile I’ve ever seen and reaches into his jacket to pull out a couple singles.)

Man: “Here. You take this for the tolls to get home. Merry Christmas, and I hope things work out for you.”

(The entire way home that day I cry my eyes out, both overwhelmed by his kindness and upset at myself for not getting the chance to thank him. A few months later, I am doing much better, and I happen to see that same man walking down the street.)

Me: “Sir! Sir, do you have a second?”

Man: “Sure, young lady. What can I help you with?”

Me: “A while ago, you helped me out when I had absolutely nothing. I haven’t forgotten what you did for me, and I’ve kept some money in my purse in case I ever saw you again. Here. I want you to have this.”

Man: “I’m glad that I could help you when you needed it, but I can’t take that from you. I’ve managed to find a job, and I’m able to pay for my bills and my gas. I wouldn’t dream of taking what I don’t need. You go ahead and keep that in your purse for the next person you see who doesn’t have money for the tolls to get home.”

(Once again, he gave me the warmest smile I have ever seen, and he walked off. I still think about that man and the lessons he taught me. Even writing this now makes me tear up and be reminded that truly good people do exist in the world.)

It’s Getting Warmer In Here

, , , , | Hopeless | April 27, 2018

(My pet cat suddenly stops eating and develops jaundice. His mouth and ears are school-pencil-yellow. I take him to the vet once I realize how bad it is. I’m told he’s developed “fatty liver syndrome,” which is where a cat stops eating for whatever reason, so the liver tries to energize the body off fat reserves, can’t process it, and shuts down. I am told, even if we do everything, my cat has a very low chance of making it. I am a poor student. I’m scared out of my mind, as I just lost my dog of 14 years to cancer a few months ago, and now my cat — which I took from an abusive family situation — is on its deathbed. I tell the vet this, and that I lost one pet this year. I tell him if I had anything to say about it I wouldn’t let this one go, too, but that I am poor and can only do what I can from home. The vet proceeds to stock me up with saline fluid, needles, tubes, syringes, and antibiotics. He’s gambling that this was caused by an infection; if we get rid of that, hydrate him, and stimulate his appetite through meds, he might recover. He instructs me on how to do everything from home, including how to force-feed my cat, inject him with fluids, and take his temperature.)

Vet: “Do you have a thermometer?”

Me: “No, but I can get one.”

(He looks me in the eyes, pulls a thermometer out of a drawer, and slides it across the table.)

Vet: “Oops. I seem to have misplaced my thermometer.”

(Thanks to the understanding and support of this vet, his instruction, tools, and some hard-handed TLC, I can happily say that five years later my cat is doing just fine.)

Kind Workers Are Wonders Of The World

, , , , | Hopeless | April 26, 2018

We took a family vacation to see one of the “wonders of the world.” Beyond that, we didn’t have much of a plan. We happened across a park with a nice-looking restaurant in it, but it had a sign saying it was closed for a private event, so we figured we’d just come back another day. Later in the trip, we circled back and caught them open, but just barely. The sign was up, but someone told my husband we could dine at their outdoor tables. It was just the three of us, and a couple having dessert. There was one server who acted as the hostess as well. We had a very nice family meal with a fabulous view. I was a little embarrassed that we were the last to leave, but she assured us everything was fine. Toward the end of our meal, she asked if we wanted anything else or if she should send their pastry chef home. We told her we didn’t have room for dessert, but thanks.

When we left, we found out there was no private event. It turned out that they used that sign anytime they were closed. The head chef had seen us walk up, figured that our young daughter was probably hungry, and decided to keep the kitchen open for us. It was such a kind gesture and a highlight of our trip. If we ever have the opportunity to go back, I’m definitely stopping in there again. Besides all that, the food was fabulous.


There’s Customer Service, And Then There’s This

, , | Hopeless | April 25, 2018

(My mom comes home for the grocery store and suddenly I hear her swear. Among other things, she bought a bottle of all-purpose cleaner which happens to have a leak. The groceries in the bag are soaked in a soapy mess, but to our horror, so is her brand new smartphone. Needless to say, the phone is beyond saving. The next day she goes back to the store. She doesn’t want to make a fuss over it, but she mentions it to the cashier, thinking maybe the store can do something, like make sure their items aren’t broken.)

Cashier: “I’m am so sorry that happened! Phones are expensive as it is… You know what? I am going to check if our insurance covers things like these. Let me get a manager.”

(The manager comes over, and apologises again and again for the broken phone. My mom never makes a big deal out of stuff getting broken, so she’s not demanding any compensation or anything, but the manager still seems willing to go all the extra miles to get her compensated. Mom eventually comes home with a bouquet of flowers.)

Me: “Wow! Where did you get those?”

Mom: “The manager insisted on compensating me somehow, and suddenly he shoved this bouquet in my hands, as an apology. They even offered to repay my groceries! I said to them, ‘I only had to go back to replace the green beans, you are not going to repay me the 70 cents I paid for that!’ But maybe I can get money back from their insurance.”

(The cashier even called us later on to keep us updated, telling us that the claim was being sent to their insurance company. I understand there are stores that like to keep their customers happy, but flowers and an insurance claim over a broken phone caused by a leaking product? Not that I’m complaining, though.)

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