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Sometimes The Least You Can Do Is The Best Thing You Can Do

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | May 6, 2022

When I was fifteen, I caught the same bus every Saturday to get to my flute lesson. I usually left early so I had some time to spare. One such Saturday morning, I left even earlier than usual. It was fairly cold and there was a light rain, so I was wearing an long, red coat and had a decent-looking umbrella. I’ve been told before that this outfit made me look around eighteen, so maybe that’s why the things that happened the way they did.

I made it to my bus stop and sat down to wait. The only other person there was a girl in her twenties. She was crying and clutching a single piece of paper. I also noticed that she wasn’t wearing anything warm, despite the weather. I felt really bad for her.

Me: “Are you all right?”

She looked at me, swallowed, and said:

Girl: “I just got some bad news.

Me: *Concerned* “Do you want to talk about it?”

That seemed to be the tipping point, and she broke down in front of me. She explained through tears that she’d gone to her doctor to check a lump on her neck and that she’d just gotten the results back. It was a tumour. She didn’t know if it was malignant, but her doctor wanted her back immediately for more testing.

I sat with her for about ten minutes. She told me that her friend was picking her up to take her to the appointment, but she didn’t know how long they would be. I didn’t really know what to do, but I just wanted to make sure she was all right. Then, my bus came. The girl waved me away, trying to smile, saying that she would be fine. Feeling guilty, I got on. I was the only person on board. The bus driver looked equally worried.

I didn’t even make it a single stop before I felt bad about leaving her in the rain by herself. I asked the driver to stop early. Since I was the only person there, he let me off, telling me to make sure the girl was all right. I ran the whole way back. Luckily, the girl was still sitting there waiting. She looked shocked that I’d come back but a little glad, too.

Me: “I really don’t think you should be alone right now.”

I sat with her for another ten minutes, talking with her and trying to distract her until her friend came. When her friend’s car finally appeared, she started thanking me profusely. Her friend pulled up and leaned over from the driver’s seat, asking what was going on.

Girl’s Friend: “Thank you so much for staying with her. [Girl] called me and I came as fast as I could, but the traffic was terrible. Do you want a lift since you missed your bus?”

Me: “No, it’s all right. I was early anyway. I just hope everything turns out all right.”

Girl: *Through tears* “Thank you. It really means a lot that you did that. I’m sorry to have just dumped it all on you. Thank you so much.”

Me: “It’s fine. That’s just something you shouldn’t have to sit alone with. I only did what I thought was best.”

Girl’s Friend: “Are you sure you don’t want a lift?”

I shook my head, wished [Girl] good luck, and waved them off. They thanked me again multiple times and then slowly drove away. Even though I ended up being a few minutes late for my lesson, I’ll never forget the way [Girl] thanked me for simply sitting with her and listening. [Girl], if you’re out there, I really do hope you’re okay and that everything turned out all right in the end.

Third Time’s The Charm For This Specimen

, , , , | Legal | May 3, 2022

I work as a specimen receptionist in a pathology laboratory that is connected to a public hospital setting. I do data entry for bloodwork so it can get tested. The area I work in has seven workstations. Each workstation has a phone. I am by myself for whatever reason and the phone rings.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from pathology. How can I help you?”

Scammer: “Hello, I was just wanting to talk to you about your overdue power bill. We can help you set up a payment plan today.”

Me: “Um, just so you know, you have reached a hospital.”

Scammer: “Oh.” *Hangs up*

I chuckle slightly and go back to work.

The next phone along rings. I transfer it to my phone.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from pathology. How can I help you?”

Scammer: “Hello, I was just wanting to talk to you—”

Me: “Hi. Hospital again.”

The scammer sighs and hangs up. Even more amused, I go back to work again.

The NEXT phone rings. I transfer it to my phone. By this stage, I am suspicious.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from pathology. How can I help you?”

Scammer: “Oh, for God’s sake.” *Hangs up*

I laughed openly and then stared expectantly at the next phone. Disappointingly, it did not ring.

Don’t Get All Agitato, My Guy

, , , , , , , | Friendly | April 26, 2022

I’m sitting in the library working on my summary notes for a music extension class, preparing for a viva voce — a kind of oral exam — tomorrow. My best friend comes up behind me and starts reading over my shoulder.

Best Friend: “Why are half your notes in Italian?”

Me: “…I’m actually secretly multilingual and never told you.”

Best Friend: “O… kay… Not gonna lie, I’m a little hurt.”

Me: “My guy, it’s music stuff.”

Best Friend: “OH!”

What A Hero! Sort Of!

, , , , , | Legal | April 23, 2022

I work in a convenience store. Today has been normal in every way. We’re in a low-income housing area, and it’s after payday, so we have our regulars trooping through doing their fortnight grocery and cigarette runs, and everything is going well. We have no one out sick, the industrial oven is running without throwing (too big of) a fit, and our orders for the week are arriving on time. Perfect.

Then, I have my mid-shift break. The store is too small for a staff room or even an internal bathroom. The office is a tight squeeze without anyone in it, and if you aren’t a manager you don’t have authorisation to be in there alone. So, we all take our breaks out in the delivery bay/stockroom. I pull up a milk crate, take out my phone, and surf the web in peace for five of my ten minutes.

Suddenly, a lady appears, rushing through the employee-only doorway into the stockroom. Her eyes are wild with fear, she is breathing heavily, and she looks like a rabbit trying to desperately shake off a pursuing fox. In short, she looked terrified. I jump up and call out to her.

Me: “Hey, are you all right? What’s going on?”

Lady: “Oh, God, no, I… My boyfriend, he’s after me. Please, I think he’s going to hurt me!”

Me: “Quick, over here behind the boxes.”

She runs over and I usher her into the corner of the room behind a towering pile of boxes just delivered this morning.

Me: “Stay there. I’m going to grab help.”

My plan is to run to the front doors, bolt them, and then bell for the manager on duty to get the police on the line and essentially barricade the store. I don’t make it to the doorway before I hear the sound of hurried boots clomping on tile. Whoever this lady’s boyfriend is, it sounds like he is already in the store and closing in fast. Plan B.

I grab the nearest thing to me — a cheap folding chair we never use because the milk crates are safer to sit on — and heft it up onto one shoulder. I plant my feet, take a firm two-handed grip on the chair, and wait for the man to round the corner. I figure the b*****d won’t know what hit him and the bang of contact should alert my manager to come running.

I’m so glad I’m not fast enough to swing the dang thing, though. Through the ceiling-to-floor lengths of dividing plastic flaps emerges a gun — an honest-to-goodness g**d***ed gun, in Australian suburbia!

I barely manage to register the gravity of the situation of bringing a folding chair to a literal gunfight when the man holding the gun also slides through the dividers. It is a cop.

Oh… s***.

He immediately spots me and the gun is now firmly fixed on me. Neither of us moves a muscle for a moment. The folding chair is still over my shoulder in a death grip, and I’m very much aware of how hostile my body language still is when he speaks.

Cop: “What are you doing?”

In probably the dumbest dim-lightbulb moment of my existence, I respond in a shaking voice:

Me: “Uh, well that depends… sir.”

Cop: “On what?”

Me: “Are you looking for your girlfriend?”

Please, for the love of God, say no!

The cop lowers the gun by a fraction and gives me a VERY confused look.

Cop: “No?!”

I then drop the folding chair with a clatter, hands still up above my shoulder, turn my palms out facing him, and side-step so the pathway from him to the woman is clear. This could only be one other kind of situation, then.

Me: “If you’re looking for a woman, she’s over there.”

The cop rushes past me to the now violently screeching harpy the terrified lady from earlier has morphed into. She is screaming how all cops are *bleep, bleep* this and *bleep, bleep* that and I’m just a *bleeping* whats-it and a traitor to women for dobbing her in. The cop gets her on her feet, the gun is holstered, and the handcuffs are pulled out. The woman is then led past me, kicking and screaming the whole way, knocking over stock in all directions. As soon as they disappear through the dividers, my manager comes bursting in.

Manager: “What the f*** was that?! What’s going on?!”

In a calmer voice than I feel by a gigantic margin, I smile weakly at her and reply:

Me: “What’s happening is I’m taking an extra ten-minute break, that’s what.”

It turned out that the woman was resisting arrest following theft and assault. She had run quite a distance to our little cluster of shops and darted into our store hoping to evade the cop on her tail. 

I’ve not had a gun pulled on me again to date, touch wood, but it still surprises me that it was a police officer who did and not an armed robbery scenario.

Well, She Made ONE Good Decision

, , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2022

I am a taxi driver picking up my first fare of the day. I pick up a lady in her forties going to the local tafe — think community college for those Americans. She seems a little off but polite enough.

Halfway through the job:

Lady: “Actually, can we stop at [Bottleshop]?”

Me: “Sure, I can stop there, but it’s the other way from [Tafe].”

Lady: “Yeah, that’s fine. I really need a bottle of [Cheap Wine].”

I stop. She gets out and staggers inside, while I contemplate this lady already drunk at 10:00 am and buying more alcohol to drink at [Tafe]. She returns after a few minutes. She opens the bottle, takes a big gulp of it, and then gets back in the taxi.

Lady: “It’s okay, I know not to drink in the cab. Now to [Tafe].”

We get almost to the tafe.

Lady: “You know what? I don’t think I should go.”

Me: “Oh, okay. It’s up to you.”

Lady: “Yeah, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m drunk.”

Me: “Fair enough. So, where to now?”

Lady: “[Pickup address], please.”

I drive her home. All in all, it cost her $60 for a $13 bottle of wine. And she leaves me with this:

Lady: “Yeah, I think it’s a good idea to stay home. Wouldn’t want the students getting the wrong idea now.”

She staggered inside and I was a little dumbfounded.