Differences Are Celebrated

, , , | IL, USA | Hopeless | April 17, 2017

(I grew up in a fairly small town, and all through high school, I worked at a local farm, selling produce at farmer’s markets and roadside stands. It’s only a few days before I leave for college in a much larger city, and I’m worrying about how much it’ll cost to live there, when one of my favorite customers comes up. I suspect he has some sort of developmental delay or had an accident or something, since his speech patterns tend to be very halting and he has trouble focusing his eyes, but he’s always polite and lovely and a pleasure to talk to, so I don’t think much of it. We’re chatting as he chooses what he wants, about $10 worth of produce, and he hands me a twenty-dollar bill.)

Customer: “Do you have singles?”

Me: “Unfortunately, no; it was a busy day today. Are two fives okay?”

Customer: *grinning* “Two fives are fine.”

(I give him his change, and he immediately hands one of the fives back to me.)

Customer: “This is for you. You’re always so friendly and polite when I come here. You don’t make me feel bad, or try to hurry me through what I’m saying. I know you’re leaving soon, and this is my way of saying thank you.”

Me: “You really don’t have to. You’re always so nice; I enjoy it when you come by!”

Customer: “Please, take it. I love coming here; you never make me feel different, or bad. Have a great time at college, and thank you!”

(I’m almost in tears by this point, and I can hardly get out a ‘thank you’ as he collects his vegetables and gives me one last smile. I’ve only seen him a couple times since then, but his kindness made a stressful time so much better!)

Their Thoughtfulness Was No Accident

, | Seattle, WA, USA | Hopeless | April 12, 2017

I delivered pizza years ago while in college. One night, I am waiting at the entrance to an apartment building for the customer when I see a pedestrian get hit by a car. He is tossed in the air and lands on the pavement hard.

This was before cell phones are everywhere, so when the customer comes to the door I tell him to call 911. His reaction is to instead run to the curb to see the poor pedestrian lying in the street. Someone else says they have called for help.

I stay to give my name to the police in case they need to talk to me, and then go to deliver the other order I have in the car. When that customer comes to the door, he looks at me and asks what is wrong. I tell him what I had seen, and he has me come into his house to sit down and have a glass of water. Not one word about his order being late or cold at all.

Once I had my bearings, he sent me back to the restaurant. Where I learned that 1) the pedestrian had died, and 2) the second customer had called to report what happened, and tell my manager I needed the rest of the night off. So thanks to the second customer for helping make up for that first jerk.

Chocolate-Covered Anything Can Cure Everything

, , | FL, USA | Hopeless | April 11, 2017

(I’m swinging by the supermarket to pick up just one thing… a bottle of Midol. All I want to do is get home and relax. I’ve paid and am actually about to climb in my car when I hear someone shouting, and turn to see the cashier, a young girl, running after me.)

Cashier: “This is for you.” *she hands me a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels*

Me: “Oh… uh, I didn’t buy these. They must belong to someone else.”

Cashier: “No, I know. I got them for you. I always crave these on my period and they make me feel better, so I thought they might do the same for you.”

Me: *shocked* “Oh… wow! That’s so sweet of you! Thank you!”

Cashier: “You’re welcome. Feel better.” *smiles, turns, and trots off*

(It was a really minor thing, but it was such a sweet gesture for a complete stranger to try and make my day brighter when she saw I was hurting and it meant a lot. I wrote into the supermarket company office about what an amazing employee she is, and I hope she never loses that wonderful spark of thoughtfulness and kindness.)

Cancer Can Do A Real Job On You

, , , | MN, USA | Hopeless | April 9, 2017

(We have a 24-year-old who works basically as a receptionist for our box office. She answers the phones, directs workers, and handles little stuff for us so we don’t have to. It’s clearly her first office job after a string of terrible retail jobs, and she’s confessed she’s afraid she’ll mess up and have to go back to retail. Because part of her job is answering the phone, we ask that she not answer her personal phone if it rings. She usually just keeps it in her purse until break. One day I notice she has it sitting on her desk and keeps glancing at it.)

Me: “Everything okay?”

Worker: “Oh, yeah, sorry. I’ve got an important phone call due soon. Would it be okay if I answered it? Sorry, it’s really important.”

Me: “Sure, just let [Coworker] know so she can cover the phones while you do.”

Worker: *look of utter relief* “Thanks. It’s from my doctor and they were supposed to call yesterday.”

Me: “Doctors, man. They never call back when they say they will.”

(About an hour late, I hear buzzing, and then see Worker bolt down the hallway, phone in hand.)

Me: *to Coworker* “Any idea what’s going on? I’m getting worried.”

Coworker: “She wouldn’t say. I hope it’s nothing bad. I feel really bad for her sometimes, you know? She’s told literal horror stories of having to work at her other jobs while sick, or not being allowed to call off and she sometimes acts like the smallest mistake will make her lose this job. Yesterday she told me about how she had to miss a funeral because her last job wouldn’t let her have the day off.”

Me: *shuddering* “I do not miss retail. I have no problems letting her go home early if she needs it, you?”

Coworker: “Nope.”

(Worker comes back, kinda pale, and looks like she’s trying not to cry. She goes straight to her desk and sits down, pulling up her work and tapping half-heartedly at the keys. Coworker and I exchange glances.)

Coworker: “[Worker]?”

Worker: *sniffling* “Yeah? Sorry. Hang on; I have a tissue in my purse… Sorry, sorry, would it be okay if I went home? I know it’s sudden but I can come in early tomorrow or—”

Me: “No, it’s fine, it’s fine. Are you okay?”

Worker: “I… just found out I have cancer. Um, I’m probably going to need to put in my two weeks while I get treatment—”

Me: “What?! No, absolutely not! You go home and get everything situated. If you feel up to it, come in whenever you want tomorrow and we’ll get this sorted. I’m gonna drive you home, and don’t worry about your job. Worry about your health!”

(She wound up needing surgery and a few rounds of chemo, but our parent company had no problem holding her job for her in the meantime, and even took up donations to help her pay for everything. She’s currently in remission and I’m happy to say she still works for us. I shudder to think what would have happened if she’d been at her old job when that happened…)

Special Treatment Put To The Test

, , | USA | Learning | March 27, 2017

My mom is legally blind and has been so for over 20 years. This has prevented her from doing many things in life because she didn’t believe that she could. However, after hardships that include leaving a toxic marriage, she decides it was time to take charge of her life by going back to college, getting a very good job, and living the way she wants to live.

To participate in her classes, however, she has to carry around a heavy machine and computer that takes a while to set up so that she can read, write, and see what the professors put up on the board. She can see just enough to make out shapes and colors. To read, she has to pick apart each and every letter/word — and sometimes, for the sake of time, scan and guess.

Because of this it takes her twice as long as the average student to complete most of her work. This is barely a problem for the tests and exams that take a couple hours, although she is usually one of the last people to complete them.

Within the first month of her first semester, her foreign language professor strolls in and passes out a slip of paper, telling the class they have five minutes to complete the quiz.

My mom, barely able to even read the questions in such a short amount of time, struggles to set up her necessary equipment quickly only for the machine to not connect to her computer. She barely even gets to look at the quiz when time is up, and she asks if she can have more time or do the quiz after class.

The professor basically told her, “Too bad. If you can’t do the work in the time given then you don’t need to be here. I can’t stop the class just for you.”

My mom reported this to her counselor, who assured her that this kind of behavior wasn’t allowed and that it would be dealt with. During a meeting with the school board, the professor even tried to argue that my mom shouldn’t get “special treatment” for her disability and “just needed to do the work.”

My mom doesn’t want special treatment. She wants to learn and do the work and this professor was not letting her.

Luckily for her, her university has no patience for discrimination. “Tests and quizzes are supposed to help show what the students learned. Putting them on a timer teaches nothing.”

The professor, under threat of losing their job, and after attending many meetings with the disability counselors and the school board, fixes their attitude.

Time skip to my mom’s second semester. Different classes, different professors. But she still has to deal with the occasional “special treatment” type comments. It’s not often, and comes from classmates, but it’s still annoying.

Just last week my mom came home laughing and tells me that other than she and two students, her entire class of 20-30 students were FAILING for not turning in their work and begged for extensions on most, if not all, their assignments (which they had weeks to do and turn in). They offered loads of cryptic excuses that ranged from “I didn’t have enough time,” to “I’ve been busy.” The professor, at a loss, granted the extensions.

“Most of these kids are young twenty-something-year-olds bragging about all the parties and events they go to,” my mom says. “And yet they get extensions for work they’ve had weeks to turn in? I ‘get special treatment,’ my a**!”

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