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Just Another American Tourist In America

, , , , | Right | July 18, 2019

(In Hawai’i, you pronounce the words syllable by syllable, and apostrophes are consonants — they are called okina, or glottal stops. Most Ws are the V sound. For example, Hawai’i is pronounced “Ha-vy-ee,” but Waikiki is pronounced “Why-kee-kee.” I am ten, and I’ve just arrived, so I don’t know any of this. The taxi driver is taking us on the Like Like Highway.)

Me: “The Like Like Highway? So, you can only drive on here if you like-like someone?”

Driver: *laughs* “This is the Lee-keh Lee-keh Highway. But every tourist says that!”

(I’m so sorry.)

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Disabled People Have To Stall Their Need To Pee

, , , , , | Friendly | May 19, 2019

I’m at a center that celebrates Polynesian culture. Everything is awesome until I have to use the restroom. It’s a busy day and all eight stalls are full with a line out the door. It should be noted that I’m in a wheelchair and there is only one disabled stall.

Things are going pretty quickly and I’m almost at the front; only one person is ahead of me. The disabled stall opens up. The person in front takes it.

I sit there for five minutes, saying, while getting progressively louder, “You can go ahead of me. I can only use the disabled stall.” At least a dozen people skip me until finally — finally! — that lady emerges. She won’t look at me and just walks out of the bathroom without washing her hands.

It isn’t that I wanted to jump to the front of the line, but when you have seven other stalls and I only have one, can’t you please just take the next one?

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Your Strong Opinion Is Not Strong Enough

, , , , , , | Healthy | May 1, 2019

(My one-and-a-half-year-old needs a TB test — for the curious, it turns out negative. She’s always been very strong, and I know it’s going to be tricky to get her to hold still for the jab, so I offer to help the technician.)

Me: “She’s pretty strong; would you like me to help hold her?”

Tech: *eyes rolling and voice dripping with sarcasm* “I’m just sure she is. Every parent says that.”

Me: *stepping back* “Okay, have fun.”

(For the next few minutes, the tech finds himself unable to do the quick little jab because my daughter is able to fight him off. Finally, he admits defeat.)

Tech: “Could you hold her, please?”

Me: *sickly sweet* “I’d be happy to.”

(I wrapped my arms and legs around her tightly, and it was still a struggle, but the tech administered the test. If he’d just humored me instead of being condescending, it would have been much easier for him!)

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You Give Me Butterflies

, , , , | Working | April 27, 2019

(The hotel I work in is right next to the ocean, and we have beach chairs spread out along it.  One day while I’m monitoring the beach, I notice a girl, about 14, fast asleep on a chair. She looks pretty sickly, big bags under her eyes and all.  Her dad is sitting watching her, looking worried.)

Me: “Sir? Is… everything all right?”

Father: *distracted* “Yes, yes, fine. Thank you.”

Me: “Sir, I can’t help but notice that you look upset.  Is something wrong?”

Father: *quietly* “Actually… yes. My daughter. She… She’s a very smart girl, and a hard worker.  A little too hard working. She’s been quite busy lately. Very busy. She’s been pulling all-nighters to get all her work done, and if she does sleep, it’s about two or three hours. She bites off so much more than she can chew, but she gets it all done somehow. For some reason, she’s still crazy insecure. I… I found out recently that she’s been bullied at school recently, and she’s developed social anxiety, making her even more insecure. She passed out in the halls a week ago, and the doctors recommended that I try to get her away for a bit, so she can de-stress. I’m worried about her. I want this vacation to be nothing but fun for her, to relax. She can’t relax properly, though, and I don’t know how to help. Her mother’s gone, and I can’t ask. What makes a girl tick?”

Me: *pauses to think for a moment* “Sir? What room are you guys staying in?”

Father: “[Number], why?”

Me: “That’s one of my rooms. Tell you what. In my experience, chocolate always seems to help.  I hope she likes ice cream!”

(We chat a bit more, and then I leave. I come up to their room later with a small chocolate sundae. I’ve added little chocolate swirls and decorations and made it as fancy as I could. The girl answers the door, surprised.)

Me: “Hello. I believe you need a sundae?”

Customer: “Um… well… I’ll go grab some money.”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. This is on the house. You look like you could really use it.” *smiles and hands it to her*

Customer: “T-thanks… Thank you! Thank you so much!”

(She beams at me before closing the door.  A few days later, when they leave, I go into their rooms to clear up.  I find a note.)

Note: “Thank you so much for taking care of us, and especially for the sundae! I’ve had a somewhat stressful time at school, and it really made me feel better that somebody noticed and cared.  A little chocolate goes a long way! You are really the best staff member I could have hoped for. The butterflies are for you!”

(Next to the note, I find $15 in one dollar bills, each folded into a butterfly shape. It’s really nice to think that in the midst of her own troubles, she took the time and trouble to make my day special. To the girl, thank YOU!)

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Just Can’t Stomach The Thought

, , , , | Right | March 23, 2019

(I’m assisting an elderly lady who’s nice but very chatty. As I’m ringing her up, she suddenly asks:)

Customer: “So when is your baby due? Are you pregnant?”

Me: “Um… no, I’m not.”

(I am short and curvy, and wearing a wrap dress with an empire waist, which is a common maternity style; I figured that’s why she assumed that. The customer looks a little embarrassed, and I kindly change the topic. After she leaves, I go over to tell my two coworkers, and we all laugh about it.)

Me: “I hear this happens all the time to women in retail, but this is my first. Check that off the list! I’m kind of reconsidering this dress, though.”

Coworker #1: “Oh, gosh, I was helping this lady in my line, and she fumbled and her hand kind of smacked against my stomach. I was about to tell her it was fine, but she freaked out and started yelling ‘Oh, no, I bumped the baby! Is the baby okay?!'”

(For the record, [Coworker #1] has no curves at all, and is very skinny.)

Me: “Seriously?!”

Coworker #1: “I didn’t really know what to say! I kind of joked that maybe I needed to go running after my shift, but the people in line behind her all told me after ‘Oh, no, you’re fine. You don’t need to do that.'”

Coworker #2: “Maybe they all thought you were pregnant and didn’t want you to run with the baby.”

Coworker #1: “Oh, God… I didn’t even think of that!”

(Free advice: even if it seems obvious to you that someone is pregnant, it’s best not to assume or bring it up. It prevents a lot of awkwardness in the long run.)

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