Everyone Is Winning

, , , | Hopeless | July 2, 2017

(The hotel I work at is located a block away from the local arena and has both a pool and a games room. Since none of the other hotels in the area have either, we are very popular with sports teams, specifically children’s hockey teams. I’m working the front desk one night when we’ve checked in two competing hockey teams, all children around nine and ten years old who all seem to know each other. While the parents are all hanging out in the lounge, most of the kids are either in the games room or the pool. I happen to notice on the security feed that there is a group of about eight boys playing on the second floor in the hallway, passing around little rubbers balls with mini plastic hockey sticks. I head upstairs to let them know we can’t have this.)

Me: “Hey, boys, I hate to ruin your fun but I can’t have you playing up here. Other people are getting ready for bed and it might disturb them. How about you join your friends in the games room?”

(All the boys immediately stop playing and hang their heads, beginning a chorus of “I’m sorry.” One little boy comes to the front of the group.)

Boy #1: “Excuse me, ma’am? Can we play this game in the games room? Or is there another place we can go play?”

Me: “Well, I do have an empty conference room on the first floor next to where your parents are. If you promise to behave you can play in there.”

(They all thank me and follow me downstairs. There are tables in the room and they ask if they can move them aside and I say yes. I come to check on them a few minutes later and they have folded the tables up and have arranged the room into a mini hockey rink and are playing nicely so I smile and let them be. A few minutes later, a small boy of about seven or eight comes up to the front desk.)

Boy #2: “Excuse me, ma’am, are there some kids in that room?” *he points to the conference room*

Me: “Yes, there are some boys playing in there.”

Boy #2: “Okay, thanks!”

(He runs to the room and comes back a few seconds later.)

Boy #2: “Excuse me, can you please call up to room 212 and tell my mom that [Brother] and I are playing downstairs and we’ll be back at 9.30?”

Me: “Absolutely!”

(He runs back happily and I call his room and talk to his mom. She laughs and thanks me but asks me to remind the boys that their curfew is 9:00. I go tell the boys and they shout a thank you and give me a big smile. Over the next hour or so several parents come by to check on the kids and ask if they are behaving themselves. I tell them the story of how I found them upstairs and how well behaved and polite they have been. Meanwhile many other kids from the games room and pool are coming by and politely asking for change for the vending machines, directions to the restrooms, extra pillows, etc. and always saying excuse me, please, and thank you. Several other kids go in to join the boys playing in the conference room. Finally the door to the conference room opens and all these little boys come parading past the front desk holding their hockey sticks and rubber balls.)

Boy #1: “Excuse me, ma’am, we just wanted to say thank you and let you know we cleaned up the room. Have a good night!”

(They each say “thank you” and “good night” as they walk by and I thank them each. I then go to the conference room to clean it and find they did in fact clean the room and put the tables and chairs back almost exactly as it had been and even picked up their candy wrappers and drinks and put them in the garbage and neatly tied up the bag. As I’m straightening up the last few details a few of the parents come up to me.)

Parent #1: “Hey, I hope they boys weren’t too much trouble. I know they were a bit noisy.”

Parent #2: “We’ll pay for any damage they caused.”

Me: “Actually, I have to say that these have been the sweetest, most well behaved bunch of kids I have ever had in here. I have been working here for years and have seen probably hundreds of teams and these are by far my favorite bunch. I have had full grown adults who gave me more trouble than they did. I really hope you all become regulars. We would love to see you back!”

Parent #1: “Well, thank you so much! They can be pretty rowdy, don’t let them fool ya, but I’m so happy to hear they’ve been good.”

Parent #3: “I am so proud of our boys right now, our MEN, I guess I should say!”

(A few days after they checked, our my manager received an email from the group leader, telling her how much the boys enjoyed their stay and how nice the lady at the front desk had been to them all. They thanked us profusely for everything, told us they had each left a glowing review of our hotel online, and promised to make this their regular spot each year that they came back. I personally look forward to having them. They made my night!)

Repairing Your Faith In Humanity

, , , | Hopeless | July 1, 2017

(A couple comes into the car repair shop where I work, with their rather run down car. It needs quite a few fixes, but they can’t afford most bigger ones like some body work and a new clutch. They keep stressing about it during the entire time as they are obviously tight with money but they need the car to get to work. We manage to get the costs down as much as possible and set them up with a payment plan, but it’s still quite a bill to handle. They can’t afford to rent a car as a replacement from my shop so they leave on their feet, looking rather down. Soon after, a guy comes in with a very nice car for an oil change. While we’re going trough the details and payment he notices the young couple’s car on the shop floor.)

Customer: “Hey, mind if I take a look at that car for a moment?”

Me: “Oh, it’s not for sale; it’s a customer’s car that—”

Customer: “Oh, I know. I know. I just want to check something.”

(He walks over to the car and checks the license plate, some of the damage to the body, the tires, and finally looks inside through the window.)

Customer: “HA! Can you tell me what’s being done to it?”

(I list of the repairs we have agreed upon.)

Customer: “What? Wait, what about the front end?”

Me: “Actually, the people who own it can’t afford anything more, so we’re just doing what needs to be done to keep it running a bit longer.”

Customer: “Really?”

Me: “Yeah, they need it fast so we don’t have the time for any longer repairs, in addition to them not being able to afford it.”

Customer: “Hmm… Can I cover the costs of the repair? I mean, is that fine with the shop?”

Me: “Yes, you can! That’s awesome! Can I just add them to your bill?”

Customer: “Sure, but before you do, a couple of things. You’re going to fix that front end. It’s pushing the fluid container against the exhaust pipes, so it’ll melt if left alone. Actually, it’s probably damaged already so replace the container, too. Then you’re going to fix the horn and windshield cleaner spray-thingy; that’s been shot for years! And when we’re on with the things that haven’t been done for years — all new filters for oil and air. The doors also need new stoppers. Exhaust needs to be tightened down; it starts vibrating at about 2500 revs. New belts. New tires…”

(I’m amazed as customer has listed a lot of things we noticed wrong with the car by just looking at it.)

Me: “That’s going to raise the bill quite a bit, sir. It’s now actually up to—”

Customer: “Couldn’t give a f***! And a new gear selector! They still have that 0.50€ cloth top cover on it so I assume it hasn’t been replaced.”

Me: “Okay, sir. Sorry for asking, do you know the couple that owns it?”

Customer: “Never met them. Oh, and a new clutch, yes! I’m pretty sure I’ve shot that while drifting around corners with the bloody thing. And before you ask — yes, only 60 HP under the hood, but you can get him to slide if you know what you’re doing! Don’t recommend trying it, though.”

Me: “The price for the clutch is a rather high one, sir, as it’s an old model, so—”

Customer: “C’mon, mate.”

Me: “May I ask why, sir?”

Customer: “Oh, see, that piece of s*** was my first car; I loved it! Much fun was had in it! All the damage on to it has been done personally by me, I’m afraid… When I finished college and got a decent job I could actually afford something a bit better than a matchbox on wheels so I didn’t even bother fixing it up. I just drove it over to the first mechanic I found and gave the thing to him for free to use for parts. My guess is the f***er decided to get the better of some kid and sold him that!”

Me: “Maybe it was cheap?”

Customer: “Oh, come on. You’ve seen the monstrosity! A kick in the balls and some spit in the face would be too much to give for it in that state! The thing is, it’s actually quite a decent little thing once you fix a couple of issues that are plaguing it. Small, easy to drive, spends almost no fuel… The engine should still have less than 100k km on it, and I never had an actual issue with it. Transmission works like a charm, too. Oh, is the suspension fine on it?”

Me: “Yes, the suspension is actually in great shape.”

Customer: “Wow, really? I wouldn’t have thought, but I’ll trust the expert. I guess the problem was me going into turns too fast. Anything else that needs to be done to it?”

Me: “The stuff you listed is everything, sir. I guess you know it pretty well!”

Customer: “I drove the thing everywhere! Anyway, could you also get them a rental? It’s going to be quite a while and you told me they needed a car. Full insurance on it. And deliver it to them! It’s hot outside. I don’t want them coming here on foot.”

Me: “Of course, sir! Would you like me to let them know your name or a contact if they wish to thank you?”

Customer: “Not a chance. My car should be done already so please just wait until I’m gone before you give them a call. Actually, II would like to leave a note, if possible.”

Me: “Sure, I can type it in here and they’ll get it with their bill. Feel free to give it to me.”

Customer: “Please just write something along the lines of: ‘I hope you enjoy the car. I know I did when it was mine! I’m better off than when I owned it so I can finally repair it now. All the stuff should be fixed up. Sorry about that. Make sure you don’t upshift on a hill; it will stall. And if you get the chance, someday, pay it forward!””

Me: “All done! Your bill is now [significantly higher that just an oil change] and your car is ready to go.”

Customer: “Thank you. I’ll be seeing you for my next oil change! And make sure to give me a call if you find something else that needs fixing on the car.”

(After the customer drove away, I called up the young couple to let them know the good news. They were ecstatic! When they came in to pick up their car, which was now in more than decent shape, they let me know that they’ve been struggling financially for a bit and they had to purchase the cheapest car they found. The boyfriend worked two jobs and he absolutely needed the car to get from one to the other so getting a rental while their car was fixed saved them and the free complete fix on their car helped them make a couple of payments on their loans. I couldn’t have given them the information for the customer, but I have attached a note to his account on their request in which they thanked him and promised to pay it forward ASAP. During the repairs, we found out that the brakes were rusted, and the customer covered replacement of those, too. The final total bill for the repair was in the thousands of Euros.)

Helping Is Its Own Reward – But Cake Doesn’t Hurt

, , | Hopeless | June 30, 2017

I am 62 years old. This happened when I was 5 and I remember it like it was yesterday.

My mom and I are in the checkout line at a grocery store. I had asked my mom earlier if I could have some snack cakes. She told me no as she only had so much money for the groceries.

This older, rather grumpy-looking man has an armful of snack cakes in his hands along with a walking cane. He has such a scowl on his face that I find him a bit scary.

He is juggling the snack cakes and his cane while trying to get his wallet out of his pocket. The inevitable happens and he drops the snack cakes and his cane. Thankfully, he does not fall, but he does wobble a bit. I am the closest to him so I am able to steady him until my mom can hand him his cane. While she sees to him, I pick up the snack cakes and hold them for him until he can get to the register.

As we were leaving, he thanked us for our help. With tears in his eyes, he told my mom that she was doing a fine job of “raising her (me) right” and, with her permission, he would love to give me one of the snack cakes. My mom looked at me with pride and said yes. I ate one of the snack cakes and gave the other to my sister. That was the best tasting snack cake I ever had. I have often thought of that old man many time over the years. Even now, it still brings a tear to my eyes.

Dancing Until You Cry

, , , , , , | Hopeless | June 29, 2017

(There is a great local band here that is hired by a couple of outdoor venues several times a year. They play 50s, 60s, and 70s rock and have a very large following. At their concerts, the audience ranges from 2 to 95 and a huge percentage of the audience will get on the dance floor at some point. My daughter has some cognitive disabilities but absolutely loves rock music and dancing. She will recruit random strangers to dance if a song begins that she particularly likes. At one concert, we are sitting in the middle instead of up front. A good song comes on, my daughter hops up and grabs the hand of the elderly man sitting beside her. I try to pull her back at first but the woman sitting on the other side of the man waves me away with a smile. The gentleman obliges and they both begin to dance in the aisle. The woman scoots over to me.)

Woman: “I’ve been trying to get dad to dance all evening. Your daughter has quite a touch.”

Me: “She’s hard to say no to. He doesn’t have to dance to the whole song. I can rescue him in a minute.”

Woman: “That’s fine. He is slipping away from us. He’s always loved music so we came out tonight. He’s been enjoying himself. He’s smiling more tonight than I’ve seen in long time.”

(The song ends and the woman and I get up to collect our dancers. The man put up his hand.)

Man: “Wait. One more.”

(He took my daughter’s hand and they danced to the next song, too, both smiling ear to ear. I looked over at the woman and she was wiping away tears. That made me tear up.)

Me: “Look what you’ve started!”

Woman: “Your daughter is an angel! I can’t tell you what it means to me to see dad not only smiling but dancing.”

(Our dancers finally sat down but they held hands for most of the rest of the concert. My daughter gave her partner a hug at the end of the night and his daughter hugged me so tightly I thought I’d lose my breath. I haven’t seen them at a concert since but I always look. My daughter still grabs strangers to dance with. People hardly ever say no.)

Are You Sure Is A Sure Fire Way

, , , | Hopeless | June 28, 2017

While I am in college, I do some occasional tutoring. One thing I do, as did people who taught me when I was younger, is ask “are you sure?” when I am shown an answer that I know is incorrect. On occasion, I do the same with a right answer and the student will go back and check the work.

I have one girl as a student who is failing algebra and her parents agree to hire me. She makes some steady progress in school, but still struggles. I play that little are-you-sure game with her from time to time. One day, I give her a problem, she works it, and gives me the result. I ask her “are you sure?” Without the slightest hesitation or move to check her work she said “yes!” Something in her clicked and she had the confidence to know she had it right. Bam! From that point forward, she is getting straight A’s on homework and tests. Seeing someone excel like that is a thrill I never forgot. As I concluded writing this, I searched for her name on Google and found her on LinkedIn. She completed her bachelor’s degree and is a successful businesswoman.

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