Will Need Something Sweet After That Bitter Encounter

, , , , , | Working | July 16, 2019

(I’m at an amusement park with my parents. I am eleven years old. They let me loose for a minute, and I decide to hit the strip of stores outside the park. I spot a chocolate shop. I pick up a candy bar and head to the checkout.)

Me: “One chocolate caramel bar, please!”

Cashier: “Where are your parents?”

Me: “Oh, they aren’t here right now.”

Cashier: *cutting me off* “Oh, my God! It’s people like your parents that ruin this place, letting these heathens loose to run amok around the park! And you should know you need an adult to buy candy! Well, you would if you weren’t raised by idiots.”

(A woman walks over to me from the display next to the register.)

Woman: “Jimmy!” *not my name* “There you are! I’m so sorry we got separated in the crowd. Let me pay for that candy bar!”

(My “mom” paid for the candy bar and took me to the exit. I thanked her a bunch and gave her half of the bar. I had a wonderful rest of the day.)

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When Being Chatty Saves People

, , , , | Hopeless | July 15, 2019

(I’m walking to the library with my four-year-old. She’s skipping alongside me, chattering happily, waving frantically, and yelling, “HI!” at everyone we pass and every car that goes past. Nothing unusual. About a block from the library, she waves and says, “Hi!” into what I think is just an empty laneway, but as we step forward, I realise there’s an elderly man standing there in his pajamas, in the middle of the lane, with a small dog running in circles around his feet.)

Man: “Why, hello, young lady! Out for a walk, are we?”

Daughter: “Yep! We’re going to the library!”

(The old man looks confusedly at us for a moment. At first, I think it’s because my daughter’s speech impediment means she pronounces it as, “yiberry,” but as we pause, I realise that he has no shoes on and his pajama pants are covered in mud. I can also see that his feet are bleeding in a few places, like he’s been stepping on prickles. It’s INCREDIBLY cold today and I finally realise how cold he must be, and his dog isn’t on a lead but seems to be getting more and more worked up.)

Me: “Yep, off to the library. Where are you off to today, mate?”

Man: “Ah… I’m a bit late for work! I work down at the ice works but, well, bit embarrassing but I seem to have gotten turned around.”

(The ice works in our town is now a historical site. It hasn’t been operational in almost forty years at this point.)

Me: “Happens to the best of us, mate. I know the way, though; how about you come with us?”

(After a bit of convincing and my daughter excitedly yelling about her new friend coming along, I convince him to come out onto the footpath and stand on the grass instead of the asphalt. Trying to give him my jacket doesn’t work — he staunchly refuses to take “a young lass’s jacket on a cold day” — and he is getting more agitated but never angry or violent. I stand there wondering what the heck to do next when suddenly a car screeches to a stop at the kerb. A middle-aged man leaps out of the car and hurtles towards us.)

Younger Man: “DAD! Dad, Jesus Christ, I’ve been looking for you everywhere! What the h*** are you doing?”

(The guy honestly looks like he’s about to cry, as does his dad, who seems even more confused at this point.)

Older Man: “No time to play right now, [Younger Man]. I’m late for work, mate. I gotta go.”

(The younger guy tries for a few minutes to convince his dad to get in the car, to no avail, when my daughter pipes up from behind us.)

Daughter: “Excuse me! Maybe it’s warm in the car, and you can go home and get your shoes for work!” 

(The older man seemed to accept this, after checking his feet and realising he did, indeed, have no shoes on. After the older guy and his dog were safely stowed away, his son informed me that they live CLEAR across town, and the guy had been missing for FIVE HOURS in the freezing cold. His little dog had seen him take off and obviously decided that his human shouldn’t go alone, and they’d been at large for most of the day. The younger man thanked me profusely, even though I barely did anything, and I’ve never been so thankful that my daughter wants to talk to everyone she meets.)

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Will Never Tire Of These Stories

, , , , | Hopeless | July 11, 2019

I am driving my car and hit a curb. I get out, hoping my tire is okay, but I have a flat tire. Since it’s 8:00 am and my dad is asleep, I decide I can do it all by myself. I get everything out of my trunk and set up. I get it lifted when a car stops behind mine. 

It’s an older man, about fifty. He offers to help and really won’t take no for an answer. We get the tire changed without too many troubles. After we are done, he hands me a 100-dollar bill. I try to give it back but he insists. I couldn’t believe how a stranger could be so helpful to someone in need. 

I used the money to buy a new tire. It reminds me that there are some decent people left.

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Breaking Bread Daily

, , , , , , | Hopeless | July 9, 2019

I used to be bullied in junior high school by the “popular kids” back in my home country, so I have always tried to distance myself from those kinds of popular kids so as not to be bullied.

Fast forward to my university life. I do not have a job and am just living off of a piece of bread and a bowl of oats a day. I only have $20 to survive for the next two weeks. 

Out of nowhere, a classmate of mine — the popular kind of kid — whom I have never actually talked to invites me to come over to his place to cook together and have dinner with his housemates. Instinctively, I refuse, but after a bit of persuasion, I decide to come over. 

I go there and help with the cooking and they all like it! I used to cook at home, so I can actually cook pretty well. He then comes up with the idea to make this a daily routine where they all buy the ingredients and I’ll be the one doing the cooking. This really helps me a lot, since I can cut my expenses for food. 

Later on, it turns out that he actually realised that in the cafeteria, I mostly sat by myself and only had a piece of bread for lunch. Then, one day, he decided to ask me to come over for dinner. This really reminds me that there are actually good people out there, that really care about others.

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Entitlement: Why The World Can’t Have Nice Things

, , , , , , , | Friendly | July 5, 2019

I retired at age sixty, not rich, but comfortable. I lived alone in my house, as my wife had passed and my kids moved out long before. But instead of downsizing, as everyone tried to convince me to do, I decided to take a different path. I converted my basement into a small bachelor-style apartment. Very small. It had just a kitchenette, bathroom with shower, laundry room, and one living space. I got the basics that someone would need: microwave, towels, plates and bowls, and a few food items.

I then started visiting some local charities, a soup kitchen, and a homeless shelter. I volunteered a few times, but spent time getting to know a few people that were in need. After talking to one particular man, I decided to put my retirement scheme into action, and offer for him to stay in my basement apartment to get him back on his feet. He was obviously thrilled and grateful, and we wrote up a rental agreement: three months for free followed by three months at a very small price — about the cost of a single night in a decent hotel — if he hadn’t found something better by then. The only real limits I put in were that he was to be the only tenant, and I would enter to use the laundry once a week at an agreed time.

It started fantastically. My new tenant and I were becoming friends, and he was getting his life sorted out. He got a job within walking distance. He began to look healthier and happier. After three months, he said he would rather stay, which was fine by me, and he paid the agreed rent for month number four. Then, it started to fall apart.

He stopped talking to me when we crossed paths. He began to complain when I used the laundry, even though I never did it unannounced. When rent for month five came around, he complained that it should still be free and paid only part of the agreed price. As month six arrived, I found out he had no intention of leaving or paying. I’m not sure what changed, or why. I’m convinced there was no alcohol or drug use. But he became angry with me, saying that I should have done more if I really wanted to help him.

After seven months, and being paid rent for only one and a half of them, I had to evict him. It required the presence of police and the changing of locks, and afterward, he came by the house at random times for weeks. It was an indescribable nightmare.

I had originally intended to do the same thing for a different needy person every year, having the tenant during the cold Canadian months. But this was four years ago, and I haven’t had a tenant since.

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