Everyone Is As Bright As A Button

, , , , , , | Hopeless | March 14, 2018

(I’ve had the same type of purse since high school: a canvas shoulder bag completely covered in about forty or fifty picture buttons. I switch them out every six months or so. I like them because they’re bright and colorful and they start conversations. At least once a week someone on the train will comment on a button featuring a book or a movie they recognize, and I’ve even had complete strangers give me buttons to add to my collection. Two encounters really stand out, though. The first is on a bus. Sitting across the aisle from me is a mom with two toddlers who will not settle down, no matter what she pulls out to distract them. One of them finally manages to squirm away, hops off the seat, and then stops dead when she sees my bag covered in shiny, colorful buttons.)

Toddler: “Your bag’s pretty! What’s that one?”

Me: “Oh, that one is a picture of the pyramids, because someday I want to go to Egypt.”

Toddler: “Cool! What’s that one?”

Me: “That one’s a picture of a story I like, about a girl who gets turned into an owl.”

(After a minute, her brother wanders over to join her looking at my bag, and they spend the next twenty minutes calmly asking me about each and every button on my bag. Almost as soon as they finish with the last button, their mom announces they are getting off at the next stop, and the two kids run back to their mom. As they are getting off, she mouths a fervent, “Thank you!” at me. I have to smile. The second encounter takes place at a train station at nearly 1:00 am, when I am heading back from a friend’s. I’m a very short woman, and I am the only one on the platform, so I am a little nervous when a man comes onto the platform and heads right to me, not least because he has facial tattoos tying him to a particularly brutal and violent local gang. I am trying to discreetly reach for my pepper spray when…)

Man: “Dude, your purse is awesome. I saw the buttons from clear across the station. Where are they from?”

Me: “Oh! They’re, uh, they’re from all over. Some I found, some I bought, and some I made.”

Man: “This one, is this from Amsterdam?”

Me: “No, Venice. I’ve never been, but one of my friends brought it back for me.”

Man: “Makes sense. I figured it had to be either Venice or Amsterdam, with the canals. Either way, it’s pretty cool. I love the idea of a city built on the water.”

(We chat a few more minutes, and then he asks…)

Man: “By the way, you looked kind of nervous when I walked up. Was it the tattoos?”

Me: “I, uh… Yeah. Yeah, it was.”

Man: “I figured it was. Joining that gang was the worst mistake I ever made. I managed to quit and I’ve been working at [Local Factory] for the last eight months. First, I’m saving up to get the tats lasered off, then I’m saving up to visit Europe. I want to see Delft and Amsterdam and Venice… and if I like it, then I’m saving up to move there!”

Me: “In that case, here. Until you can get there yourself!”

(He grinned, and pinned the Venice button to his jacket. Unfortunately, my train pulled up, so we didn’t get to talk anymore, but it was a conversation that stuck with me. I’m usually pretty shy, and I’ve had a couple of friends comment that it’s odd that I carry a purse that attracts so much attention, but I like seeing people smile when they recognize something on one of my buttons.)

Absent-Mindedly Kidnapped

, , , | Learning | March 12, 2018

(I am a student at an adult learning centre, which is basically high school for adults. Unlike traditional high school, this school’s attendance policy is very strict, and one of my teachers is explaining this to the class.)

Teacher: “Here at [School], you are only allowed up to three absences without notice. If you miss more than three days without prior notice, you will be automatically withdrawn from my class. If you know you will be missing a class on a test day, you need to arrange an alternate test day with me.”

Me: “What if there are extenuating circumstances where I have to miss more than three days, including test dates, but I’m unable to give you any prior notice?”

Teacher: “In what circumstance could that ever be possible?”

Me: “Well, what if I got kidnapped? Even if my abductor gives me a phone call, I don’t think I would use it on school.”

Teacher: “Oh, that won’t be a problem. I’ll probably see you on the news, and I will accept that as notice.”

(It was foolish of me to challenge her wit. Many teachers handle bratty kids just fine, so a smart-mouthed adult is probably nothing in comparison.)

Some Superheroes You See Outside The Movies

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 12, 2018

(Waiting for my bus in the pouring rain after having a terrible day at work, I see a little boy across the road, dragging his mum down the street, shouting excitedly.)

Little Boy: “Hurry up, Mum! I want to see the superheroes and tell them what I did today.”

Mum: “I’m going as fast as I can. Which one’s your favourite?”

Little Boy: “I love them all. They’re my bestest friends in the ever!”

Mum: “Okay, we’re nearly there, sweetie.”

(The little boy and his mum stopped in front of the war memorial. The little lad was jumping up and down shouting, “Hello!” His mum started reading the names off, and the little boy kept repeating them telling them that he went to school for the first time that day. I cried.)

Nerfed That Meeting

, , , , , , | Working | March 9, 2018

(The programs department at our library likes to have us employees “test” new activities before they put them in place for the general public. One morning before we open, they hand out Nerf guns and declare that we’ll be having a “Nerf War.” Soon, every employee is running around, hiding behind bookshelves, and cackling like mad as they fire foam projectiles at each other. In the midst of all this, the phone rings, and I hold up a sheet of white copy paper as a “flag of truce” while I run to the phone and pick it up.)

Me: “Community Library. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Speaker: “Hi, this is [Administrator]’s husband. Can I talk to her?”

Me: “Of course.” *winces as someone shrieks in the background* “Can you hold, please?”

(I run back out under my makeshift “flag of truce,” and tell the administrator her husband is on the phone. She shifts her Nerf gun to one hand and grabs the phone with the other.)

Administrator: “Hello? Hey, hun… No, I haven’t had a chance; I’ve been in meetings all morning. Okay, talk to you later. Bye.” *hangs up*

Me: *eyes her Nerf gun* “Meetings all morning, huh?”

Administrator: “Yup. *runs out to re-join the Nerf war*

(Whoever said librarians are a boring lot has never actually worked with them.)

Introducing A Wonderful Situation

, , , , | Hopeless | March 4, 2018

I was working at an independent non-profit animal shelter. We’d gotten a few new adult dogs in that day. A man came in to visit and found a dog that he liked. He filled out the application and said he’d be back later in the day so his wife could meet the dog. This is common and usually goes fine, so mentally I figured that dog would be going home that day.

When the wife came in, they visited with the dog, but then the wife asked to visit with another dog. So, the husband was in one room with the first dog, and the wife was in another room with a different dog. They went back and forth between the two rooms. I thought that the wife must have changed his mind, and they’d be taking home the other one instead. Not a big deal, though I was starting to feel kind of sorry for the first dog. But then the couple came up to a coworker and me and asked, “Could we introduce these two dogs? We’d kind of like to take them both home.” We said we’d be happy to do it, but it was a busy dinner shift, so they’d have to wait a little bit. The couple was very patient, and spent their time visiting with the two dogs individually.

After a little while, my coworker and I were able to take the dogs to a play area and introduce them. They were immediately friendly and playful! They started running around the play area. They got along great, and the couple took two dogs home that day.

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