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Once A Marine, Always A Marine

, , , , , , | Friendly | November 11, 2009

(I am a bookseller working toward a teaching credential. While I am not exactly poor, my pay is not stellar, and it is occasionally a stretch for me to manage loans and bills. While walking home from work, I see a middle-aged man asking for money on the corner. He appears to be a veteran. I scrounge around in my purse for change and only find a penny, but I walk up to him, anyway.)

Me: “Hey. I’m one of those jerks who doesn’t carry a lot of cash. So, this is all I have. I hope it helps.”

(I press the penny into the palm of the veteran’s hand. He looks at me. When he speaks, I can tell that he’s not all there, but he sounds genuine.)

Veteran: “You know what? If that’s all you have, then take this.”

(To my amazement, he presses a one-dollar bill into my palm. I shake my head and try to give it back to him.)

Me: “No. You need it more than I do.”

Veteran: “You know what? Take it. I was in the Marines. And my job was to protect this country. And help poor people.”

(Overcome with emotion, I impulsively salute at the veteran. He immediately snaps into a military salute in response. I thank him and start walking again, and he calls after me.)

Veteran: “Hey! Don’t you be spending that on alcohol, now!”

Me: “I won’t, sir!”

(True to my word, I converted the dollar into quarters for laundry, which I desperately needed to do. It really goes to show how some people, even in their greatest hours of need, will still go out of their way to help others out. Wherever you are now, sir, thank you – and to everyone else, please remember to support your troops, since many of them, after the fight, will need all the love they can get.)


This story is part of our Veteran’s Day roundup!

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The Dark Chocolate Knight

, , , , , , | Right | October 12, 2009

(I work in a coffee shop. I am on break in the lobby when a couple walks in. Directly behind them is a cute little boy in a Batman costume.)

Me: “Oh, my God! It’s BATMAN!”

(The boy stops, strikes a pose, and starts looking around menacingly. After a few seconds, he approaches the counter.)

Mother: “Jeff, would you like a chocolate milk?”

Boy: “I am not Jeff. I am The Batman.”

Mother: “The Batman, would you like a chocolate milk?”

Boy: “Yes. Yes, The Batman would.”

(The couple pays while the boy sits down with his chocolate milk. He keeps a stern look on his face as he sips the drink.)

Boy: *sips* “Gotham is safe.”


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Hell Hath No Fury Like A Pregnant Woman Scorned

, , , , | Right | September 10, 2009

(A man comes to my register with a mint chocolate candy bar.)

Me: “Anything else?”

Customer: “Can you break a $100 bill?”

Me: “Actually, I can’t. We just opened and I haven’t gone to the bank today.”

Customer: “Oh, no! Do you know anywhere I can get change? I need this candy right away!”

(At this point I notice his panicked look. Coupled with the fact that he’s buying the most unappetizing candy in the store, I jump to a conclusion.)

Me: “Sir, these aren’t for you, are they?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Did your pregnant wife send you out at eight in the morning to buy this candy?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “For the love of God, man! Get these home to her before you’re in even more trouble! You can come back and pay me later!”

(The customer bolted out the door. He later came back, visibly calmer, and paid.)


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That Is ‘Pretty’ Awesome

, , , , , , , , , | Healthy Related Right | August 15, 2009

(I am a photographer running a studio in the inner city. We are well known for our children’s portraits, and we range from high-end portraits for modelling jobs to fun sibling photos and birth announcements. We do a bit of everything; as such, we are extremely busy, and it states on our website that we do not accept walk-ins. We are usually booked up six months in advance. One day, ten minutes before closing, a mum walks in with a young girl around six or seven behind her. I internally groan.)

Mother: “Hello. I know you’re closing soon, but I have a special favour to ask.”

(At this point the little girl peeks around her mother’s legs and I’m lost for words. Under her thick winter coat and hat, she is skeletally thin with huge dark circles under her eyes. From what I can tell, she has no hair, and a tube taped to her cheek that feeds into her nose. It is immediately clear this kid is very, very sick.)

Mother: *near tears* “My daughter saw one of your photos taped to the wall at the hospital. She REALLY loves unicorns and the photo had a girl photo-shopped onto a horse. I know you’re booked up, and it’s months before the next appointment, but…”

(At this point she actually starts crying. I realise that our next available appointment is probably way too far away for this particular kid. The little girl squeezes her mother’s hand. I am a very big dude, covered in tattoos and a beard, but I’m not ashamed to say I needed a minute before I spoke.)

Me: “Aww, that’s just for regular customers! I’ve been waiting all day to take a photo of someone as beautiful as you! What’s your name, sweetheart?”

(I lock the front door and spend the next three hours taking photos of this kid in every princess costume I have in my closet. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved kid I have ever worked with. Once we’re done, she curls up on the couch in my office and falls asleep while I load up the photos for her mum to see and choose the ones she likes best and ask her what kind of retouching she’d like done. She’s adamant that I leave her daughter as is — apparently, the little girl has been worried for the past month that she is no longer “pretty.”)

Me: “All right, so we’ve settled on these. I can have them edited and all finished in two days. If you give me your email I can send you the link to the website and the password to download them when they’re ready.”

(The mother thanks me over and over and comes up front, carrying her sleeping daughter, and holds out her credit card.)

Me: “Nope. No way.”

Mother: “Please, I insist. You stayed open so late and your shoots are listed for [amount] online. Please at least charge me that.

Me: “Absolutely not. I am not taking money for this. No way in h***.”

(A few days later I send the link through and hear nothing. I see she’s downloaded the photos and I think nothing of it, hoping my sweet little friend loved her photos. Almost six months later I’m once again closing up when a very familiar face pops up at my window, grinning and waving frantically.)

Me: *throwing open the door* “Hey, you!”

Little Girl: “Hi! I’m better! Look, I’m better!”

(Sure enough, she’d put on some weight, was flushed and pink, and had a fine fuzz of hair over her head. Her mother was a few steps behind her, grinning. She once again tried to force an envelope full of money into my hand, and again I refused. She got frustrated and eventually in her exasperation said, “at least let us take you to dinner!” which I happily accepted. Seven years later that photo of a sick little girl astride a giant pink unicorn is in a frame in my lounge room. My now-step-daughter groans every time I point it out to the friends she brings home!)


This story is part of the Photography roundup! This is the last story in the roundup, but we have plenty of others you might enjoy!

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A Heady Proposition

, , , , , | Romantic | September 20, 2008

Customer: “I have a big problem. You cut off my head!”

Me: “I’m sorry? How did I cut off your head?”

(The customer shows me an obviously self-taken picture, with the top of his head removed.)

Me: “Sir, it looks like it was taken that way.”

Customer: “No, it wasn’t! My whole head was there when I took it. I’m sure!”

Me: “Okay, let me see your memory card…”

(The customer hands it to me, and I go in the lab and pull it up on the computer. Sure enough, he chopped his own head off in the picture.)

Me: “Sir, that is the whole image, and the top of your head isn’t in it.”

Customer: “But it’s DIGITAL! Can’t you fix it?”

Me: “You can’t create something from nothing.”

Customer: “But… but… but… I need a photo for a dating website!”

Me: “Give me the camera and go stand over there.”

Customer: *excited* “Hot d***! You can be my best man!”

Me: “A thank you card will be enough.”

(Skip ahead nine months…)

Female customer: “Is your name [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes, can I help you?”

Female customer: “My husband wanted you to have this.” *hands me an envelope*

(I opened the envelope, and sure enough, there was a thank you card with a picture of him and his wife. He actually got married and sent her in with the card!)