Pay It Forward To America

, , , , , , | | Hopeless | May 21, 2018

Several years ago, when I was studying abroad in South Africa, two of my friends and I decided to do a road trip along the Garden Route. Our first stop was in Addo, where there is an elephant reserve. I booked all the accommodations and scheduled the whole trip.

We were already renting an 1970s Mercedes Benz and, despite warnings, we took it with us. We underestimated the time it would take to get to Addo from Cape Town and ended up arriving very late to our first hostel. Much to our dismay, the owners weren’t there. A family staying said the owners were out of town but to call a number, get the information, and leave our money. We tried the number several times and got no answer. Since we had seen signs for other hostels on our way in, we decided to take our chances and find another place.

We ended up driving to several with no luck. Despite the car being an automatic, it stalled out like crazy. While I was driving us around trying to find a new hostel, it stalled out again. While I was trying to restart it, someone knocked on our window. All three of us screamed at the top of our lungs. We were in an extremely rural area, late at night, surrounded by almost nothing. After composing myself, I slowly rolled down the window. The older man asked us if we were okay. We explained our situation. He pointed to the only hotel in the area, a high-end place surrounded by a giant wall. We said it was too expensive for us. He said it was late and we should give it a shot, then told us good luck and went on his way.

After driving to more than five other hostels, we gave up and decided to try the hotel. If it was really expensive, we’d ask our parents to wire us more money. The woman who checked us in was quite kind and later, after we’d settled in, she and her husband sat with us while we had dinner in their dining room. They gave us great advice for the rest of our trip.

The next morning, after sleeping in one of the nicest little cottages I’ve ever seen, we went to check out. The woman at the desk was older than woman from the night before. She insisted we have breakfast, even though we’d already had the cereal we brought with us. She was so insistent, we ended up eating at their massive buffet.

And that’s when it happened. As we were eating, she came by and told us that not only was our breakfast free, she was comping our meals from the night before and giving us a discount on our room. We were shocked. It turns out that the woman from the night before was her daughter. It was a family-run joint. She said she knew we came in late and were slightly desperate for a place to stay, and she couldn’t make us pay full price in that condition.

But there’s more. While we were still processing this woman’s kindness, the older man from the night before walked into the dining room. When he saw us, he came over and said, “She give you a good discount?” It was her husband. He’d been out for a nightly walk when he came upon us, sitting in a stalled car, looking terrified. He told his wife to go easy on us if we showed up.

We thanked him profusely for his kindness. He said, “My son went to live in the States. I’m only doing what I hope one of your fellow Americans would do for him if he got in trouble.”

It’s been ten years, and it remains one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. Believe me, we reviewed that place on every site we could after our trip was over.

Adding Value To Humanity

, , , | | Hopeless | May 19, 2018

(My friends and I have stopped at the grocery store, because we are going to a movie and want some candy and other assortments for a cheaper price.)

Employee: “Hi! How’re you doing?”

Me: “Good.”

Employee: *checking out* “Do you have a value card?”

Friend & Me: “Our parents do, but we don’t know how to use them.”

Lady: *behind us in line* “I’ve got one. Can we try that?”

(The employee checks the card, and our price goes down by $5.)

Friend & Me: *in shock, says* “Wow! Thanks a ton!”

Lady: “Don’t worry about it; I’m always happy to help!” *smiles*

(These are the people in the world we need most!)

Adopting A Helpful Attitude

, , , , | | Hopeless | May 18, 2018

(I’m on my final errand with my three-month-old when I notice that they are having a pet adoption next door. I realize that my daughter has never seen a dog, and I want to see how she’ll react, as I do plan on getting her one once our current issue of having too many cats is resolved. I go in and stand in the back with my daughter, pointing out the puppies, which are blocked by people.)

Random Person: “They are cute, aren’t they?”

Me: “Yes, but we can’t get one because we have too many cats. I just wanted to see how she’d react. Oh, look, a little kitten!”

(My daughter is looking curiously at all the people, and doesn’t seem to notice the dogs at all.)

Me: “I’m not planning on getting rid of the cats; it’s just we do have a senior cat household, so I’m hoping to get a puppy once the number reduces.”

Random Person: “I can get a smaller one and bring it to you.”

Me: *realizing she’s one of the people running the adoption* “Oh, thank you!”

(The lady went right to the cage with the puppy I’d been eyeing and brought her to us. My daughter gave a great big smile and even tried to giggle. To the worker: thank you for taking the time to show us the puppy even though you knew that we weren’t going to adopt. I plan on finding out what your organization is so that I can adopt from you when we do have less cats. I went home and told my husband that the baby wanted a puppy, but he still said no.)

Hope For Humanity Is The Best Medicine

, , , , | | Hopeless | May 17, 2018

We were at a big box store with a pharmacy to get my best friend’s stepmother’s long-acting insulin shot refilled, because she was completely out. She’s a type-1 brittle diabetic, so it’s a definite necessity for her on top of mealtime shots. We found out we didn’t have enough funds for the long-acting insulin, so the stepmother became very upset — with reason, since it was more than it should have been. So, after she calmed down and decided to risk it, the stepmother and I went looking for our few staple foods we needed to complete that night’s dinner, while my best friend’s dad went to try to overdraft to pay for the prescription.

About ten minutes later, we saw him walking towards us, teary-eyed, and we asked what happened. He told us that the kind pharmacist saw that his card was declined, and handed a pharmacy tech his debit card to pay for the prescription. He offered to pay the pharmacist back in two weeks, and the pharmacist refused. My friend’s stepmother and I immediately teared up. I asked if she wanted to go and thank him personally. We went and thanked him, and offered again to pay him back. He adamantly refused again, stating that it was no problem.

Sometimes, you find good people still exist out there, even in very unlikely places. I’ll never forget what he did, and I hope one day to pay it forward for somebody else.

Have A Kindness Sandwich

, , , , , | Hopeless | May 16, 2018

(Due to a long winded tale of bad luck and worse decisions, I am unemployed, pregnant at 18 out of wedlock, and woefully unprepared for my first real winter, all in a province where I don’t know anyone except my fiancé, who, to his eternal credit, dropped everything to focus on being a husband, father, and provider when I told him the test was positive. We’re still together and he is as devoted now as he was then.  Unfortunately, at the time he’s in roughly the same boat as me, right down to having to scramble to find a coat we can afford that even partially keeps out the Edmonton weather, after growing up in balmy Victoria. As for “smalls,” we wear the hats, gloves, and scarves we find in the alleys — after washing them, obviously — since the smalls we can afford are next to useless. We always have some food, but getting a nutritious, balanced diet of the recommended calorie level is a constant balancing act. Luckily, the local grocery store is very liberal with handing out free samples. All you have to do is cruise from station to station and pretend to be interested in buying extra stuff and you can scrape up half a meal for free. So now, imagine you’re the worker at one of these stations and that’s what you see approaching: a scruffily dressed and very young couple, the girl heavily pregnant, with mismatched gloves and scant groceries in their basket, who are REALLY INTERESTED in the sandwich samples you’ve got.)

Worker: *warm smile and standard spiel*

The Mister & Me: “Sure, we’ll try some.” *scarfs down a sample each*

Worker: *casually* “So, when are you due?”

Me: “May 14.”

Worker: *correctly* “Ah, so, any day except May 14.”

The Mister & Me: *laughs*

Worker: “Your first one?”

Me: “Yup.”

Worker: “I remember my first. It’ll be a major change, but you can handle it.”

The Mister & Me: “Thanks.”

Worker: *fidgets* “Tell you what… I’m about to go off-shift. The rules say I have to throw out all my samples—”

The Mister & Me: “What? That’s so wasteful!”

Worker: “It’s to avoid them going bad.”

Mister: “Fair enough, usually, but your tray is nearly full. You must have just made those.”

Worker: *shakes head* “I still have to throw them out.”

Me: “Can’t you eat them yourself? Or share them with your coworkers?”

Worker: *shakes head* “Customers only, I’m afraid… so I was wondering if you’d mind finishing these off for me, so I don’t have to waste them.”

(Well, you don’t have to tell us twice! We stop long enough for manners, then scarf down what amounts to half a meal each at that station alone. After, beaming, we chirp:)

The Mister & Me: “Thanks!”

Worker: *smiling wistfully* “Oh, thank you. Good luck with the baby. You’ll do fine.”

The Mister & Me: “Aww, thanks.”

(We went about the rest of our shopping, such as it was… and as we headed for the registers, what did we see but the same worker, still at that station, with a fresh platter of sandwich samples? It’s been fourteen years, and I’m crying as I type this. Unlike food, kindness is never wasted.)

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