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Thanks, Rafiki!

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 4, 2021

When I was about five years old, my parents took my three siblings and me to the state fair. At some point, I slipped away from the group. My mom noticed almost immediately but couldn’t find me. Cue panicked yelling of my name, and my dad asking a vendor to get security immediately.

Earlier in the day, my mom had bought us Disney pennants with our names on them. A man heard the yelling, looked down, and spotted a hysterically crying child holding a pennant with the name being called.

He crouched down and asked me to lift my flag as high as I could. I did so, and he picked me up and lifted me over the crowd.

Man: “[My Name]’s mom! [My Name]’s dad!”

The crowd cleared the way to my parents, some of them joining the call. My parents spun around and saw me now half-giggling, half-crying, being held like Simba, and ran to me. My parents thanked the man profusely, and those pennants were packed anytime we went to an outdoor event.

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From Fire And Brimstone To Rainbows

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 3, 2021

Back in college, there was a very loud religious advocacy group that would visit campus, set up their speakers, and “preach” the gospel to the students passing by. Now, I say “preach” because it was less “Glory to God who loves you!” and more “You’re all going to Hell because of who you are! Change your minds or burn!”

One such day, they set up right outside our performance center. It was obviously intentional, as a majority of the performance majors were part of the LGBT community, and the theater majors were not happy about having their space taken over. I had a class in the building behind the performance center, so I walked by the crowd gathering.

One of the advocates had a mic in one hand and was holding hands with a young woman I have seen in a few theater productions. The advocate seemed to be praying while the young woman stood there, half-smiling and nearly crying.

Advocate: “Lord, help this girl see the error of her ways! Help her, God, to see that her homosexual fornications are not what you want for her, but that she is here to bear children with a man, to love his family, to—”

Young Woman: *With a very dramatic tone* “Lord! You died for me!”

Surprised, the advocate shook her arm almost violently.

Advocate: “Yes… Yes, He did! He did die for you! The Lord loves you, child! Spread the word!”

The advocate passed his mic to the young woman, who stepped forward proudly.

Young Woman: “Jesus died for the gays! He loves us!”

There was a cheer from the crowd. The advocate dropped her hand and glared at her. I don’t know what he was trying to say because he was drowned out by the screaming crowd. The young woman took a bow and walked away. I went on my way to class, but when I came back, the advocacy group had packed up and left campus. They came back a few more times over the years and the message never changed, but I don’t think they tried to openly save anyone after that.

You Just Gotta… Chill Out…

, , , , , , , , , | Friendly | December 1, 2021

This happened in the mid-2000s while cellphones were generally used for talking and people printed out directions from the Internet before going somewhere. My little sister had moved out to the state of New York for college, and I wanted to surprise her on her birthday by making a road trip up there and popping up at her door.

I made an incredibly boneheaded move of printing out instructions from the website Mapquest rather than buying a road atlas, and I quickly found myself lost in New York City with no idea where I was. I tried asking people for directions, but they would either rudely head me off — police included! — or give me a set of convoluted directions that would get me lost even further.

It began to grow dark and I seriously started to panic to the point where I was sweating gallons while gulping can after can of fruit punch. By then, I had at least a dozen different written directions in my car.

In desperation, I got out of my car and ducked into a tiny convenience store that was eerily lit with yellow lighting, and behind the counter, I saw a man staring vaguely into space. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed over, and I could tell he was definitely stoned.

Me: “Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get out of New York City? I’m trying to get to [City].”

The man was silent for about five seconds.

Man: “You want to get out of New York City… and go to [City]… Where exactly in [City]?”

Me: “[University].”

There was another five-second silence.

Man: “[University]…”

He spoke slowly, with a stoic and emotionless face, without blinking or moving.

Man: “So, you’ll want to leave and take a left… You will find a traffic light… Turn onto [highway]…”

There was yet another five-second silence.

He continued giving these complex directions — with all kinds of traffic lights, highway exits, turn left, turn right, go under the bridge steps included — in this eerily calm voice, pausing two to five seconds in between each one, as I frantically jotted them all down. When he finally finished:

Me: “Thank you so much!”

An awkward silence fell. I started heading for the door.

Man: “You’re welcome.”

I was extremely skeptical about these directions, but I was so desperate to get out of the New York City streets after dark that I would have taken directions from a seven-year-old.

Would you believe me if I told you the directions Mr. Stoner gave were 100% accurate, down to each stop sign, and led me STRAIGHT TO THE MONUMENT SIGN of the university?

Soothing The Limping Cat, The Barking Dog, And The Standoffish Horse

, , , , , , | Friendly | November 26, 2021

I’m the author of Soothing The Skittish Cat. The cat in that story passed away at eighteen years old, not nearly as skittish as she was when I met her. One day, our downstairs neighbor knocks on our door, and my wife answers.

Neighbor: “Hey, is your wife home?”

Wife: “Yeah, what’s up?”

Neighbor: “My cat’s limping and he won’t let me near him, so I think he’s hurt. He likes her. Do you think she’d come take a look?”

I go downstairs and the cat limps right up to me. I immediately notice what looks like a bite mark on his hind leg.

Me: “Ah, okay. You need to get him to the vet. It looks like something bit him and it’s infected.”

I scoop the cat up into my arms and deposit him into the carrier the neighbor has, the cat purring the entire time.

Neighbor: “Thank you. I knew you could get him to behave.”

Me: “You’re welcome but… why me? He is your cat. Sure, he likes me, but…”

Neighbor: “Oh, he only lets you pick him up. Sort of like how [Neighbor #2]’s dog only lets you walk up to her porch without barking his head off. I’ve lived here for ten years and he still barks at me. You moved in last year and he’ll walk right up to you.”

Wife: “And my mom’s dog will literally only listen to you. You literally trained her because she wouldn’t listen to Mom at first. And that horse we saw at the state fair that apparently doesn’t let people touch him but wouldn’t let you stop scratching him, then he put his head on your shoulder and went to sleep — even the owner was amazed.”

Neighbor: *To my wife* “I’m pretty sure your wife is a witch.”

Wife: “She has a lot of familiars. You should have seen [Skittish Cat] when she first moved in with me; she got right in [My Name]’s lap on day one.”

The cat was fine after a round of antibiotics but I had to coax him out of the carrier when the neighbor brought him home. Apparently, I’ve been designated the friendly neighborhood witch!

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Soothing The Skittish Cat

Putting Some Joy On The Table

, , , , | Right | November 25, 2021

I am at a fancy seafood bistro where you seat yourself and you order your food from a series of people in a line, but FANCY. Most people there are in business-casual clothes or suits.

Even though you seat yourself and collect your own food, it’s still kind of fancy, so I’m not sure if I am supposed to throw my own trash away; I haven’t seen a single trash can. I see a member of staff.

Me: “Excuse me. Do I clean my own table, or do you do it?”

The staff member looks like she is about to cry with joy.

Staff Member: “Thank you! Thank you for asking. Thank you! It’s my job to clean up after the customers.

At first, I wondered why she was so happy; I wasn’t creating any more work for her if I left my stuff there. Later, I realized that all I really did was treat her like a human being and assumed I would be cleaning up my own plate.

It was such a small thing. I was in no way making her job easier, but I had TRIED, which apparently is more than most people would ever do.