Grunts, Love, And Coffee

, , , , , , , , | Romantic | September 6, 2019

(It’s 1997. I’m 20 years old and have recently moved back to my home city after a horrible breakup. I take a job selling electronics at a local mall retailer. During my first week, I keep hearing about this one guy who’s going to handle the bulk of my training. It’s silly, but it’s like I’m hearing bells whenever someone says his name — I just have a feeling about him. I find myself hoping he’s around my age and that he has blue eyes. We’re finally scheduled together on Saturday. I eagerly wait by the register for him to come in. Eventually, an unkempt man who looks like he’s in his 40s walks in. He’s balding and badly dressed, and he is sporting a very wimpy mustache that does nothing for him. My heart sinks when I see his nametag and realize it is the guy I’ve been so looking forward to meeting. So much for romance; he is way too old for me! But hey, I’ve still got to work with this guy, and by all accounts, he is really nice.)

Me: *brightly* “Good morning!”

Guy: *wordless grunt*

(He walks past where I’m standing without even a glance in my direction and turns the TV in our department on to Saturday morning cartoons, ignoring me.)

Me: “…”

(A commercial break eventually comes on and he walks over to me. I’m thinking we’ll finally exchange pleasantries.)

Guy: *in a harsh voice, and without preamble* “Did you count out that register?!” 

Me: “I… didn’t know I was supposed to.”

Guy: “Well, it’s a good thing I closed last night, so I know exactly how much is in there.”  

Me: *stunned at his rude tone* “Um… okay. Do you want me to count it out now?” 

Guy: “No. I’m going for a cup of coffee.” 

(He about-faced and stalked off. A teeny part of me hoped that maybe he’d bring me back a cup, as a sort of apology for his jerky attitude. He did not, and stood around the department drinking it in front of me, glowering. Later that day, he made me laugh so hard that soda shot out of my nose. I realized then that even if my instincts were wrong and this wasn’t the man of my dreams, he was still a good candidate for a work friend. I eventually learned that he was only 26 years old, and the main reason for his haggard and disheveled appearance was that his father, a single parent, had died the year before, and every penny he made went to paying the mortgage on the family house while he also went to college full-time. He was smart, very funny, and kind, and we had a lot of interests in common. And his eyes were, in fact, an amazing shade of hazel that changed from blue to green to brown depending on the light and his mood. He grew back the goatee that he’d recently been told to shave off, which he preferred and which suited him much better than the wimpy mustache by itself, de-aging his appearance quite a bit. We became really good friends and then fell in love. We married five years later and are still blissfully happy. According to him, he’d had a feeling about me, as well, and was really looking forward to our meeting, but finally seeing me caused something to disconnect between his brain and his mouth, so all that fell out was rudeness. All these years later, he still makes a point of going out to buy me a cup of coffee on the anniversary of that day and serving it to me with a grunt.)

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The Only Thing Cuter Than A Puppy Is a Meet-Cute

, , , , , , , | Related | August 31, 2019

(I am watching my niece for the afternoon. I work from home, so on days when her parents can’t get someone to watch her, they ask if she can play in my living room while I work. She’s very good about not disturbing me without asking, “Can Uncle can go on break?” so it works out. After I get off early for the day because of working too long the day before, I decide to take her to the park for how good she’s been. While there, we run into a neighbor with a service dog.)

Niece: “PUPPY!” *runs to pet it*

Me: “[Niece]! Stop right there!”

(She freezes.)

Me: “Sweetie, do you see how that dog has a vest on it?”

Niece: “Uh-huh! It’s cute!”

Me: “Sweetie, dogs with vests on them are special. They’re working dogs. That means that the dog is working right now.”

Niece: “Oh. So, I shouldn’t bother it while it’s working?”

Me: “Right! Not unless it’s on break. Just like Uncle [My Name].”

Niece: “Okay!” *walks slowly up to my neighbor* “Excuse me, boss lady. Is it okay for the puppy to go on break so I can pet it?”

Neighbor: “Oh, my! What a little cutie! Yes, sweetie, and call me Miss [Neighbor]. The dog is [Dog]! [Dog], you are now on break! Sit!”

(The dog sits down and looks at my niece.)

Niece: “Yay!” *pets the dog and gives him a hug* “Okay, [Dog]! Time to go back to work! Thank you, Miss [Neighbor]!”

Neighbor: “Oh, no, sweetie. He needs a longer break than that. You keep on playing with him. [My Name], who is this little sweetheart? And why haven’t you introduced us before?”

Me: *explains the situation* “And I just happened to get off early today, so we came to the park. It’s about time for us to head back so her parents can get her, though. [Niece], are you ready to go home?”

Niece: “Okay! Can I walk next to [Dog] and watch him work?”

Neighbor: “Of course, you can! [Dog]! Time to go home!”

(As we walk back, I get a call from her parents who let me know that they are running late, and ask me to give my niece dinner if I can.)

Me: “[Niece], sweetie. Mommy and Daddy are running late so you’re having dinner with me tonight. What would you like for dinner?”

Niece: “I want Miss [Neighbor] to have dinner with us!”

Me: “I.. bu… wha… I guess if she wants to? But we still need to figure out what to eat. Do you want spaghetti?”

Niece: “Okay!”

Neighbor: “Oh, that sounds lovely! Can I bring some wine over?”

Me: “Only if you’re okay with cracking it after she leaves.”

(And that is the story of how my niece chose who was going to be her aunt.)

 

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Fist Bump Away The Grump

, , , , | Hopeless | August 29, 2019

As I was walking along the shop floor at work, I saw a bloke in a wheelchair being pushed along by someone else. All of a sudden, he offered a person nearby a fist bump.

His companion protested, saying no one wanted to fist bump him. As she said this, the other person, a complete stranger, returned the gesture. The bloke’s face lit right up.

He offered his fist up to the next person they passed, which was me. I couldn’t refuse, not when it would make him so happy.

As they turned down the next aisle I heard the companion say, “Okay, it’s a fist bump day,” so I’m guessing he kept going.

Thank you, random gentleman. It may have cheered you up, but your happiness was infectious and now I’m walking around with a smile, too.

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Excuse Me While I Play The World’s Most Expensive Violin

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 27, 2019

I took a trip to visit New York with my dad after graduating from high school. One of the places on his list for us to visit was a “rare violin shop,” since I played violin all four years and participated in the honor orchestra, as well. We made our way down the crowded streets and eventually stopped in front of a ritzy-looking, tall building. 

This sleek-looking building was not what I had pictured when I heard “rare violin shop.” I’d been imagining some street-level shop, open to the public, with some interesting and older violins on display, maybe with a luthier in the back. As we walked inside, took the elevator to the sixth floor, and stood in front of what appeared to be a private condo, I knew something felt off. I voiced my concerns to my dad as he rang the doorbell but was ignored. My dad had never been great at interpreting social standards. 

We were greeted by a receptionist who asked if we had an appointment, since they were by appointment only. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole and I was instantly hyper-aware of the sweaty, summer tourist outfits we had on. My dad eagerly told them that no, we didn’t but, gee, my daughter plays the violin with her high school orchestra and isn’t that great? And we would love to just pop inside and browse! Don’t mind us!

The receptionist gave him an odd look but took it in stride and excused herself to talk to someone behind a door. She came back with the owner, a well-dressed man, who told us that since he had no other appointments right now, he would love to give us a tour!

The starting price for a violin here, we found out, was 10k. He showed us around a very private-feeling and swanky-looking condo, pointed out a room where he casually mentioned he would chat with Joshua Bell when he came by, and opened the most interesting two-person safe I’ve ever seen to show me several multi-million-dollar violins. My jaw was on the floor the entire time. He dutifully and cheerfully answered every question my dad or I asked, and asked me questions in return about my orchestra and what pieces I liked to play, as well.

At the end, the man picked up a — lower-end, but still worth at least a million dollars! — Stradivarius and asked me to pizz a string while he held it. I very gingerly plucked a string and he triumphantly said, “There. Now you’ve played a Stradivarius.”

I don’t remember his name at this point, but to that man, I’m so glad that you ignored my dad’s bad manners and lack of social awareness and decided to take the time out of your day to show a no-appointment, non-customer around. You helped inspire me to continue loving and pursuing my instrument after high school! I still play to this day, and I’ve picked up some other instruments along the way, too!

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Grand Gesture To Get To Grand Rapids

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 25, 2019

(I’m on a bus going back home from Columbus, Ohio to my small hometown in northern Michigan. Since it’s a small town, the bus stop is the lobby of a small motel. Just as I’m getting off, the passenger in front of me holds up his phone, and I can see that he is trying to communicate with me with a translator app.)

Passenger: *through the app* “How much longer until we get to Grand Rapids?”

(I overheard him speaking in Spanish earlier, and being fluent enough in the language, I explain:)

Me: *in Spanish* “You needed to transfer to another bus back in Flint, but don’t worry; I’ll help you.”

(I walk up to the driver, who has gotten off the bus for a smoke break.)

Me: “This man was headed to Grand Rapids but missed his transfer in Flint. Is there something you can do to help? Also, he doesn’t speak English so I’ll have to translate.”

(The driver agrees and gets on her phone, and then goes in to talk to the motel’s clerk. A few minutes later, she turns to me:)

Driver: “Okay, we’ve got him a room here for the night, and the next bus to Flint leaves here at noon tomorrow. He doesn’t have to buy another ticket.”

(I relayed this information to the passenger in Spanish, and he thanked me for his help. The next day, he texted me and let me know that he’d gotten on the bus. A little while later, he texted me because he wasn’t sure if he was headed in the right direction, but from his description, I could tell he was headed to Flint as intended. Later on, he informed me that he made it to Flint and got on the right bus to Grand Rapids. I had a lot of Spanish-speaking friends and classmates when I took high school Spanish, which I think was helpful in making the language stick. It’s good to see that all these years later, I’m still fluent enough to do a good deed with it!)

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