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Positive, feel-good stories

The Real Party Starts When You Get To Learn About Dinosaurs

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 20, 2021

I was attending a Fourth of July party at a friend’s house years ago. Since I’m a gigantic man-child that loves kids, due to their being closer to my maturity level, I was relegated to watching the kids in the playroom while the proper adults did adulty things. I didn’t know most of the kids there, as they were the family of my friend’s new wife. I’m surprisingly terrible at guessing kids’ ages given how much I hang out with them, but I’d say the kid in this story was probably around six or seven.

Me: “Yeah, I like dinosaurs. They’re awesome. In fact, I was listening to a few of them this morning.”

Kid: “You were? On TV?”

Me: “No, outside, while I was walking to my car to drive here I was watching and listening to some of them.”

Kid: “There are no dinosaurs outside.”

Me: “Sure, there are. They just look a bit different than you’re thinking of.”

Kid: “You’re joking?”

Me: “Nope. The dinosaurs ended up evolving into birds, so whenever you look at a bird, you’re really looking at a flying dinosaur in disguise!”

Kid: “Oh, so you mean they de-evolved?”

Me: “There is no such thing as de-evolving, except in really bad TV shows.”

Kid: “Huh?”

Me: “You think evolving means getting bigger and stronger, right?”

Kid: “Yeah.”

Me: “But that’s not what it means. Evolving means getting better at surviving and having kids. Sometimes the best way to do that is to be bigger and stronger, but sometimes the best way is to get smaller and weaker. But that’s not de-evolving; it’s evolving to be weaker because that’s the best way to survive.”

Kid: “Why would you get weaker?”

Me: “Because then you don’t have to find enough food to feed your big strong body. All the big dinosaurs probably froze or starved to death after a meteor hit the earth, but some of the small ones were able to find ways to survive and find enough food. So being small and not needing as much food was better than being big and strong and starving.”

Kid: “But couldn’t they evolve to not eat as much without getting weaker?”

Me: “Everything costs something. Sometimes animals find ways to evolve to be more efficient, to be better at something without giving anything else up, but usually, animals need to give up something to get better at something else. And usually, being stronger means eating more or taking longer to grow up, but that can be a problem for other reasons.”

Kid: “So they became birds when the meteor hit so they wouldn’t starve?”

Me: “Kind of. There were already dinosaurs that looked a lot like birds today when the others died out. In fact, part of the reason the dinosaur birds survived may have been because they had a beak that was better at getting and eating the kind of food that was left after the meteor. But those dinosaurs continued to change for millions of years before they became the sort of birds you’re used to.”

Kid: “Millions of years?!”

Me: “Yep, I think it was around sixty million years or so, but I’m not really sure.”

Kid: “That’s a long time!”

Me: “Yes, it is, but all that really matters is that those dinosaurs turned into birds. So, now, whenever you hear a bird singing, you should tell your friends you just heard a dinosaur!”

Later that day, once the rest of the guests arrived and the pool party moved out to the pool, I heard the kid talking to his parents.

Kid: “Hey, Dad, did you know birds are dinosaurs?!”

I’ve since attended many parties hosted by this friend; his new wife is very sociable and their mini-mansion with a pool makes a good party location. I’ve run into this same kid many times, and every time since our first conversation he always ends up asking me some sort of question about animals or evolution. I had only meant to mess with the kids a little, but I’m happy to have instead sparked a real interest in learning about evolution and science in a child.

Now I just need to get around figuring out how exactly he’s related to my friend, or perhaps what his name is?

If Only All Customer Service Interactions Could Be So Encouraging!

, , , | Right | CREDIT: k_immer | December 19, 2021

I am a very emotional and expressive person, and most of the time I find it easy to connect with customers during support tickets. It is a great weapon to defuse angry or anxious customers.

We handle chat support where you are talking in real-time with a customer instead of having them wait for a couple of hours to get an answer from a “normal” ticket.

The lady that I got connected with had issues uploading files to our storage service. She mentioned that she was not-so-tech, so I tried to keep it a high-level conversation as much as possible. After the first troubleshooting steps didn’t work, I offered a video call and we jumped in. She was very polite and had this nice puppy picture as her profile photo — a very charming woman.

I asked her to share her screen with me, and it turns out that she gave the permissions to the wrong account. We went through the documentation together: I read the steps (using that non-tech language), she performed them, and I double-checked the actions with our internal tools. We had to repeat some steps because she forgot to click on “Save,” but she was cooperative and very willing to learn.

After finishing the process, she tried to upload a file and it worked!

Customer: “Thank you. I read these things tons of times and I felt really stupid because I couldn’t uplo—”

I interrupted her.

Me: “Never say that. You are not stupid. Don’t let anyone call you that. You did a great job today and it was nice to work with you.”

I could hear her voice breaking, trying to speak. She took that breath people take when they’re holding their tears, and she could just say, “Th-thanks.” I gave her a minute before asking if additional assistance was required but got no answer. I just heard her breathing, trying to recover. After a few moments, she returned to her normal, charming voice, said she was fine, and thanked me again. We said goodbye and the call ended.

No One Is A-Loan

, , , , , , | Right | December 18, 2021

I was working at the register, talking to a lady who worked for a loan company about how to get a loan for Christmas shopping. She gave me some information and then left. I checked out a few other people and then got back to doing some neatening up around the register.

A woman approached my register and handed me $100. She had overheard my conversation with the loan lady, so she withdrew the money for me. I made sure with my manager that I could accept the money and he said yes. It was a real shock, and I was thankful for the generosity.

Raise A Glass To Dolores And Her Devoted Friend

, , , , , | Friendly | December 14, 2021

My mom once told me that when she and my dad had just married and gotten their first telephone, she’d get calls from an elderly lady who wanted to speak to Dolores. She was very friendly, and even when my mom repeatedly told her there was no Dolores, she still insisted my mom was Dolores.

My mom got used to it after a while. At least once or twice a week this old lady would call to talk to Dolores. Every call started with, “Hello, Dolores! How are you?” And she ignored every attempt to explain to her that she had the wrong number. So, eventually, my mom didn’t even try anymore. She even grew quite fond of the lady and indulged her.

She never found out who that lady really was, as she only stated her first name, and she never told anything that’d helped to pinpoint where she called from. She talked about her daily routines, her cat, the garden, and other random stuff. Often she’d reminisce about past experiences she had shared with Dolores. She also sounded very old and a little shaky and could only talk for about ten or fifteen minutes tops before she got too tired to go on.

She also only called on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, always at the same time — around eight pm. After a while, my mom had grown so fond of her that she insisted on being home at that time just so she wouldn’t miss a call.

The whole thing lasted for about a year, and then the calls eventually stopped. My mom thinks the old woman was lonely, and from the things she told my mom, it seemed that Dolores was a childhood friend of hers. We think she either went to a retirement home or died and that’s why the calls stopped.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dolores had also died long before the old woman started to call. Maybe that woman had dementia and really believed my mom was Dolores, or maybe she knew that there was no Dolores but since my mom was so friendly she’d decided to call anyway just to have someone to talk to.

My mom felt really sad when no more calls came. She still thinks of that lady now and then and wonders who she was and what happened to her. As for me, I’m really happy that I have a mom who’s so compassionate and friendly, even to strangers. I try to be like her.

This Kid Took Their Task Very Seriously

, , , , , , , | Learning | December 7, 2021

I worked as a substitute teacher for many years. It became a running joke with my spouse, who was a principal, that I always had to work on my birthday because if he didn’t need me to sub at his school, one of the other schools would call. I even agreed to substitute in the dorms at a residential school when my birthday was on the weekend.

It wasn’t a big deal, as we usually celebrated by going out for dinner on a night near my birthday and my spouse and children would either buy or make a cake. And the school staff benefited because it was a tradition to bring donuts to school on your birthday. 

For my fortieth birthday, I agreed to volunteer at our children’s school’s field day, so we joked that I wasn’t working on my birthday, even though I was going to be at school all day.

At one point during the day, my oldest child saw me heading toward the building.

Oldest Child: “Where are you going?”

I thought that was strange.

Me: “I need to use the bathroom.”

My child took off running ahead of me into the building. Again, that struck me as strange.

Near the end of the day, when all the students and staff and volunteers were gathered in one place, my oldest child came out carrying forty black balloons! My spouse had let the principal know it was my fortieth birthday so the teachers had gotten together and ordered the balloons!

[Oldest Child] was tasked with hiding the balloons until it was time to bring them out, and the balloons were hidden in the gym where I was headed to go to the bathroom. [Oldest Child] had to run ahead to hide the balloons in another room before I got to the gym!