Angels In The Outback

, , , , , , , | Working | March 17, 2020

(I’m on holiday when the town I live in is evacuated due to bushfires that have claimed three lives and damaged or destroyed over 200 homes. My husband, our three kids, and I have been staying in a motel for a week when the owner knocks on our door just after the evacuation orders are given. We are due to check out the next morning.)

Owner: “You guys are from [Town], right? I just heard that it’s been evacuated.”

Husband: “Yes, we’ve just heard. We might need to extend our stay if that’s possible.”

Owner: “You should be able to get housing through [Government Service]. I have a contact there; I’ll see what I can do. If not, we’ll work something out. Don’t worry about checking out tomorrow; just come to the office around 9:00.”

Me: “Thank you so much.”

(The next morning, he calls his contact, but due to us not being in our home they can’t help us.)

Owner: “Look, don’t worry about paying for the room. It’s yours as long as you need it; you guys have enough to worry about.”

Me: *crying* “Wow, thank you so much. This is our first holiday since before [Oldest Child] was born. I don’t know what we’d do, otherwise.”

Owner: “If you need anything, let me or [Owner’s Wife] know.”

(Thank you to these angels who have given us a little bit of hope when we don’t know if we could lose everything as there are catastrophic fire conditions throughout New South Wales and Queensland today. Please keep the people living in these areas in your thoughts and prayers.)

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Share A Taxi, Share Some Kindness

, , , , , | Friendly | March 17, 2020

When I was fifteen, I went on a trip to my cousin, who lived in Vienna, Austria. I’m from The Netherlands, so I had to take four different trains to get there, and for two of them I had to make a reservation. I was at the station on time, but the first train had a delay of half an hour, which meant that I would miss the next train that would take me through Germany and for which I had made a reservation. I started panicking on the first train and called my parents on my old Nokia, but of course, they couldn’t do anything, either.

When I got to the station, I was almost in tears. Wi-Fi wasn’t a thing and I didn’t know what to do or who to call. But then, a man came up to me, and asked me where I was heading and if I wanted to share a taxi. It’s not usual in The Netherlands to take a taxi, as the public transport is very good, plus it’s way too expensive for a fifteen-year-old, so I didn’t think of it myself. I heard my mom’s voice in my head, saying that I shouldn’t go to a different country in a strange car with a man I didn’t know, but I really didn’t have a choice.

So, we went to the taxis and found a guy who would take us to the town the train was supposed to go. He charged 90 euros, and the man and I agreed that he would pay 70, and I would pay 20, as I didn’t have that much money.

During the ride, the man turned out to be really nice. He was from Brazil, living in Germany, so we spoke to each other in a mix of German and English. Even though I didn’t always understand what he was saying, he still managed to calm me down.

When we got to the station, even though he had to travel a bit further to get to his home, he got out of the car to help me get my bags. I took my wallet to get him the 20 euros I owed him, but he pushed my hand away and said, “No, no, it’s okay. I’ll pay it. Enjoy your stay at your cousin’s.”

This happened seven years ago and I still think of it. It probably didn’t mean a lot to him, but it sure did mean a lot to me. He made me realise that day what being kind and giving what you can miss — 20 euros weren’t a lot to him, but to me, at fifteen, it was — can mean to someone else. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I made the train.

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A Regular Nice Guy

, , , , , | Friendly | March 15, 2020

I was enjoying breakfast at a small, locally-owned diner, sitting at the counter. I was chatting with the owner — also a waitress — when a regular walked in, strolled up to the counter, and sat down two seats away.

The owner said, “Good morning, [Customer].” He never ordered his meal; it just showed up — a definite regular. I began chatting with the man, who seemed to be in his seventies.

I mentioned that my wife and I were considering moving to the area from about 70 miles away. It would be a significant commute for me for work, but the area is gorgeous. He told me about a place down the road from his apple orchard. It turned out to be more acreage than we were interested in and about double the price we were looking for.

The waitress pulled off my food ticket and set it down in front of [Customer]. I thought she had made a mistake. I then saw [Customer] grab his ticket and mine off the counter. I sat there with my mouth agape, looking at her, then at the tickets [Customer] took, and back at her.

She said, “He does that now and then for people.”

I said, “That’s not fair. That’s not right.”

He didn’t say anything. He just paid both bills. I left a large tip even though he’d left a tip, too. I profusely thanked him and left. I don’t know if he reads this site, but if so, I’ll see you during apple season because I am going certainly be at your orchard to buy some apples.

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Signing Yourself Up For Friendship

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 8, 2020

(My two preschool-aged children and I are taking the bus home. Both have speech issues, so we use some sign language as well as their gradually-improving English to communicate. The speech therapist says that signing is a great way to help them out; rather than not communicating at all, they just have trouble talking, which is resolved a few years after this story happens. I’m signing to them when two young men catch my eye and start signing to me. The following conversation takes place in American Sign Language. In ASL, it’s common to have name signs to avoid spelling out a person’s name every time you need to reference it.)

Young Man #1: “You three sign? Is one of you deaf?”

Me: “No, we’re hearing, but the kids are still learning to speak, so we sign in the meantime. I learned to sign in school, so at least this way they can tell me what they need!”

Young Man #2: “Oh, I see. Good thing you sign. It’s nice to meet you; we almost never see people signing!”

(Both young men spell their names and show their name signs.)

Me: “Nice to meet you, too!”

(I introduce both of my children by spelling their names and giving their name signs, and I introduce myself by spelling my name.)

Young Man #2: “Do you have a name sign?”

Me: “Huh. No, they just call me ‘Mom.’ I haven’t needed a name sign!”

(We didn’t come up with one for me and I still don’t have a name sign, but the young men and I got a good laugh out of my neglecting to think of one.)

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Kindness Needs No Interpretation

, , , , | Friendly | February 21, 2020

(I’ve been going through a rough time lately. There’s been so much going on with my work that I’ve been struggling with a lot of things outside of work. My long-term boyfriend decided to take me out shopping to take my mind off of things. We are looking at new aftershaves for him and are talking and laughing when I notice a group of three Asian men talking amongst themselves nearby. I notice that they are talking to each other using British Sign Language. Both my parents are deaf so I’m proficient myself and am currently studying my NVQs in it in my spare time. I keep glancing over and they notice me. I don’t want to seem rude or make them uncomfortable so I turn my attention back to what my boyfriend is doing. After a while, I notice that the men are trying to talk to the sales assistant but they aren’t getting anywhere. Knowing how difficult communication can be for my parents, I decide to help out.)

Me: *in sign language* “Hey, sorry, I noticed you were having some difficulty. Can I help?”

(They stare at me in shock before [Man #1] reacts.)

Man #1: “Yeah, I wanted to buy this fragrance. Can you tell her?”

(I relay the message and the lady tells me it is out of stock.)

Me: “It looks like they’re out of stock of this one. One second.”

(I turn back to the lady and ask if it would be possible to order it instore as most can. She tells me they can’t do that but they can go online to do it. I tell the men that.)

Man #2: “How do you know sign language?”

Me: “My parents are deaf and they taught me as I was growing up. That’s why I was looking at you earlier; I hope you don’t think I was being rude!”

Man #1: “No, you weren’t. Thank you for the help. We’ll order this online.”

Man #3: *to [Man #1]* “Maybe you should buy her a meal to say thank you.”

(We all laughed and I waved them off.)

Me: “My mum has difficulty sometimes and I’ve always been there to help her; it was no trouble.”

(They thanked me again and left smiling. I was smiling, too, when I turned back to my boyfriend, who was smiling at me with pride in his eyes. I told my mum later that day and she was proud, too. To those men, I know that there are not a lot of Asian men or women in the deaf community and it can be difficult but I’ll always do my best to help. You owe me nothing because you helped me decide for certain that I want to be a British sign language interpreter one day. I’ll get there, so thank you!)

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