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A Good Attitude Makes The Oatmeal Go Down Easier

, , , , , , | Working | September 18, 2023

I’m an undergrad, living in the university dorm. We are required to pay far too much for dining hall food, so I’m there a lot to get my money’s worth. The dining hall is terrible — chronically understaffed, spoiled food, etc. I could go on, but that’s not the point of this story.

A young lady was working the brunch rush on her own, and I hadn’t seen her before. She was being more diligent than most, maybe because she wasn’t yet resigned to the futility of effort in a place that sets you up to fail.

I looked at the overly dry, crusty, congealed oatmeal. (Yes, I’m the person who relies on oatmeal. I’m autistic, so the lack of texture and the sameness allow me to eat.) My wrist hurt due to a chronic disease, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to scoop it.

I’ll call the student worker Angel here.

Me: “Excuse me. Would you be able to mix some hot water into this?”

Angel: “Oh, sorry, could you repeat that? What about hot water?”

Me: “Oh, actually, you’re too busy… Would you mind scooping some oatmeal in my bowl? My wrists hurt.”

Angel: “Sure!” *Does so* “What was the hot water for?”

Me: “The oatmeal dries out, so they mix in hot water. But I’m adding oat milk, so this is perfect.”

Angel: “Okay. Let me know if you need anything else!”

I returned a few minutes later, and she was still the only worker in sight.

Me: “Excuse me, um, are there any other workers around? You are really busy, but I want to ask someone to make coffee.”

She looked around helplessly and told me she’d try to find someone. I sat down to eat. Sometime later, to my surprise, she came to find me in the dining room.

Angel: “Did you still need help with coffee? What kind did you want? I’ll go get it if you tell me how you take it.”

Me: “Oh, I can get it myself. It’s just that it was empty. Well, I think only the regular was empty.”

Angel: “OH! Oh, we are out of coffee. Okay.”

The consideration to help me without prying as to what my medical condition was, and going above and beyond to try and take my coffee order while she single-handedly ran a cafeteria at, like, eighteen blew me away. 

I went to go ask her name and ask what she liked from the student store so I could get her something. She expected me to complain about the wait for coffee and was totally thrown off.

She was so flattered and pleased that I appreciated her, and she told me my words were more than enough. Her whole body language changed, which was very rewarding to see. Now I know her name, though, and can say hi when I see her!

Who Peed In Her Uncooked Oats?

Making A Garbage Job A Bit Less Garbage

, , , , , , , , , | Friendly | September 18, 2023

In my very late teens, I was asked to pet-sit for my minister and his family while they were away to visit relatives. As their cat was easily stressed out, they wanted to keep him — and therefore their other pets — at home and have someone stop by for a few hours each day to take care of them. It sounded like an easy gig for a teenager on summer holidays.

Two days before they were set to go away, his wife met with me after the church service to provide me with a list of things they’d want me to do. All of it was reasonable, except for one item on the list that read: “Juice boxes for Andy and Phil on Thursday”.

It turned out that when their son was a toddler, he loved trucks. Therefore, he loved to see the garbage truck come by every week, and in the summer, he was very worried that the garbage men would get too hot in their truck.

In the spirit of encouraging kindness and generosity, his mother allowed him to go and give the garbage men juice boxes when they came by so that they’d have something to drink.

And then they just kept doing it, giving their local garbage crew juice every week without fail. It was now a tradition that multiple garbage crews had lived through and passed onto the next. 

Yes, Andy and Phil got their juice boxes. After fifteen years, I wasn’t going to be the one to break their streak!

We Are So Here For Women Supporting Women, Part 2

, , , , , , , | Friendly | September 13, 2023

A movie just came out about a popular girl’s doll. As such, I wanted to see the movie wearing pink, as many other men, women, and children were doing. I wore a pink tee shirt, a pair of black pumps (I didn’t have any pink shoes), and the highlight of the outfit, I thought, a pink tulle skirt with a slip underneath that went down to the top of my knees. There were at least three layers of tulle on the skirt, which made it puff out a lot — think of a ballgown skirt, but only to the knees.

As I started walking into the crowded lobby of the movie theater, I got a lot of stares in my direction, most of them toward my skirt, which spiked my social anxiety. I’m a bigger girl, and the skirt was only showing it off that much more with my calves, my knees, and a little bit of my thighs exposed. Maybe I should have just worn jeans? Once my friend showed up, we quickly made our way into the theater so I could hide the tulle under me as we sat.

Once the movie was over and my friend and I made our way out, the stares started again, reminding me of a particular scene in the movie where everyone was staring at the main character and she felt self-conscious. I started to feel the same way. I tried to hide it by talking to my friend about the movie, but inside, everything was telling me to run away and burn the skirt as soon as possible. It probably showed in my walking pace; my friend was walking a little bit faster to keep up with me.

As we were walking, I felt a small tap on my shoulder, and I turned around to see an older teenager or young adult woman, easily a decade younger than me (from a younger generation usually seen as rude in society).

Woman #1: “I saw you leaving the theater and I wanted to compliment you on your outfit!”

Me: *Starting to smile* “Thank you!”

Then, another woman called out to me.

Woman #2: “I love your skirt!”

The compliments from other women nearby started pouring in about my outfit. One of my favorites from one woman was that she saw my outfit and immediately thought of the doll featured in the movie.

Instead of running away, I waited to take a picture in the promotional box for the movie, complimenting others’ outfits as they complimented mine.

Typing this out now, I find myself tearing up at the memories. I hadn’t felt this pretty about myself in a long time. Thank you, director/co-writer, for making this movie for girls like me and even featuring one of the doll characters in the movie as a bigger girl.


We Are So Here For Women Supporting Women

THAT’S The Thing You Should Try In A Small Town

, , , , , | Friendly | August 26, 2023

I work at a community center in the same small town where I grew up. The community center has a lot of activities and classes for people of all ages. In this part of the world, people tend to be very friendly with each other, even if we don’t know each other at all.

My girlfriend grew up in a very different culture, where people generally mind their own business and don’t do things like make small talk with anyone except close friends or family. She has moved to my hometown with me but is still struggling to adapt to the overall friendliness.

She comes to the community center to pick me up for lunch. We end up walking out with an older gentleman I’ve seen a few times going into and out of a “Technology For Seniors” class but never actually talked to.

Gentleman: “Ah, what a beautiful day out!”

Me: “Yeah, it is! Good day to be working outside instead of stuck in the office.”

Gentleman: “Good thing, too — these old bones like the weather, even just for the walk out to the car.”

Me: “I hear you. If you need a hand, we’re heading out to the parking lot ourselves.”

Gentleman: “Ah, I’ll make it. Sucks to be getting old, but that’s life. I guess I can’t complain too much.”

Me: “You’re on the right side of the grass. That’s a plus on its own.”

Gentleman: “Very true!” *Gesturing to the car we’re now walking past* “This is me. You two take care now!”

Me: “You, too! Enjoy your day, and see you around next time!”

He gets in his car, and my girlfriend and I continue on to her car. After we get in, my girlfriend turns to me.

Girlfriend: “Who was that man?”

Me: “I think he’s taking a class, or maybe he’s the instructor or something.”

Girlfriend: “You mean you don’t know him?”

Me: “Not really, I guess. Why?”

Girlfriend: “You make that look so natural, talking to somebody you don’t even know.”

Me: *Laughing* “Welcome to [Town]!”

She’s getting better at the general friendliness around here, but things like small talk with random strangers are still a bit of a struggle.

You Don’t Have To Be An Employee To Share The Load

, , , , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: Chizukeki | August 14, 2023

Several years ago, I was with my mother and children at a home improvement chain. I was driving around looking for a close parking space for my mother.

I noticed an elderly couple trying to get the tailgate open on their truck, and I could see that they were really struggling, so I parked in a spot and told my family to sit tight and I’d be right back.

Me: *To the couple* “Do you two need some help?”

Man: “The tailgate is not in great shape.”

I tried to get it down, but I couldn’t do it, either. Instead, I just grabbed the boxes of tiles they had purchased and gently set them down in the truck bed.

Man: “Those are heavy! Be careful not to hurt yourself.”

They were about fifty pounds each, and I was pretty small — 5’2” and 110 pounds.

Woman: “I’m sure she’s used to it since she works here.”

Me: *Smiling* “Oh, I don’t work here. I just saw that you needed help.”

She had this incredibly bewildered look on her face. She was speechless and just stared at me. Her husband thanked me, and I told them to have a great day and I went back to my car.