Drive It Forward

, , | OK, USA | Hopeless | May 26, 2016

(Several years ago, my wife was on disability and I was unemployed, and finances were always tight. I had a contract job lined up that would pay $50, but I needed gas to get there and back. We went into a local store and started feeding all the loose change we could find into the self-checkout to load a gift card for gas.)

Person: “You know, there’s a change-trading machine over there.” *motions toward change-trading machine*

Me: “Yeah, I know, but they charge a fee, and I need every cent to go into the gas tank.”

Person: “Ah, I understand.”

(A moment or two later, she came over and pressed a $10 into my hand.)

Person: “Hope this helps!”

(I was so thankful, and I have never forgotten that. I do my best to pay it forward as much as I can.)

An Appetite To Do The Right Thing

, , , , , | Orlando, FL, USA | Hopeless | May 24, 2016

(I’ve just graduated high school and my family decides to eat at a nice restaurant after the ceremony. A lot of my extended family has made a considerable drive to be there. Since it is pretty late, we ask the hostess when they close and if we should try somewhere else but we found out they still had an hour to close. We order some appetizers and our meals, those of age order alcoholic beverages too. All in all eight people have meals consisting of $30-50 dollars. The appetizers never came out but we figured they were close to closing so it wasn’t important and we would rather just have them waived from our bill. Upon telling our waitress this, she fetches the manager.)

Manager: “I’m very sorry to hear that your appetizers never arrived. I’m going to comp you for them and still give them to you if you don’t mind waiting 5 or 10 minutes.”

Stepfather: “Sounds good to us. We are just talking and catching up.”

(The manager leaves to presumably oversee appetizers before coming back not three minutes later.)

Manager: “Okay, guys, I found out what happened to the appetizers. Apparently the fry cook decided he would call it a night early and shut off the fryer and refuse orders for the last hour of opening. He is currently restarting the fryer now.”

Stepfather: “Well, I know it was late when we came in; it really isn’t that big of a deal.”

(The manager goes to leave but stops and regards me for a second. I’m still dressed in my cap and gown from the ceremony.)

Manager: “Wait, did you just graduate?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Manager: “So that makes this your graduation dinner?”

Me: “Yes, sir…”

(He mutters under his breath and double times it to the kitchen where we can hear him yelling in the now quiet and closed restaurant. He returns shortly with our check.)

Manager: “I got to thinking about how you just graduated and this was supposed to be a special meal for you and my employees couldn’t even fulfill our basic menu items. It left a very bad taste in my mouth. So in addition to your appetizers, I’ve decided to comp your entire meal. I’m very sorry for the level of service.”

Stepfather: *dumbfounded while he stares at the bill that has been comped to the tune of over $200* “I…. we appreciate you being straightforward with us and we really appreciate the gesture of comping our bill!”

(The manager just wishes us a good night and returns to the back, presumably to continue reprimanding his kitchen. As I grew up and got jobs in retail, I never forgot how honest and dedicated to the customer that manager was. He could’ve given us the run around but he decided that the truth, even though it made him and the restaurant look incompetent, was more important. He was so ready to take the blame himself and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to write off a $200 bill.)

Low-Rent But High-Class

, , | Finland | Hopeless | May 18, 2016

(I’ve had an awful week altogether: a close relative’s battle with cancer is not going well, I sprained my ankle and it has been hurting for days, my tooth has been aching, I had to get a biopsy of a lump in my breast, my studies are not progressing as well as they should, due to our differing schedules I haven’t been able to talk to my best friend in few weeks… Pretty much nothing is going my way. Then I call my landlady.)

Me: “Hi! I just called to ask if it’s okay to lend the spare key to my friend? She has university’s entrance exams here in a few weeks, but I won’t be here during them because I’m going on a trip with another friend. She will just leave the keys here when she’s done.”

Landlady: “Oh, that’s fine. I’ll try not to visit then, so I won’t scare her. But how has it been going? We haven’t seen each other for a while.”

Me: “Well, I should be getting on with my studies, but I’m a bit behind the schedule. It’ll take me another year to graduate from [University].”

Landlady: “That’s not even slow. My daughter took ten years to graduate.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess six years is just fine. Well, in other news, I’ll be going home to work for the summer. I’ll still pay the rent for my room, though.”

Landlady: “I was meaning to say something about that. You and [Roommate] have been really good tenants, so I was wondering what you’d say about not paying rent for June?”

Me: “Oh, that sounds really good, but that’s… too much. I can’t ask for that.”

Landlady: “Well, you’ve lived there for many years, always paid your rent on time, and I don’t have to worry about the apartment, so I’d really like to do this. I know you don’t make too much money over the summer anyway. Can you tell this to [Roommate], too?”

Me: “Of course! Thanks. This is amazing.”

(My landlady had always been an awesome lady, but this left me almost crying from happiness after the horrible week I had been going though.)

Make Sure You Book The Good Waitress

, , | Houston, TX, USA | Hopeless | May 13, 2016

(I am out to dinner with my mom. We have just come back from a high school football game my close friend played in. It is rush hour traffic on Friday and the restaurant is extremely crowded. We are just about done with our meal when this happens.)

Mom: “Hey!” *trying to get our waitress’ attention* “Can we get our bill, please? We don’t need to take any more time than we need to.”

Waitress: “Sure, I will be back in a couple of minutes.”

(My mom and I start talking about a book I am reading when the waitress comes back.)

Waitress: “Here is your bill; are you guys talking about [Book I am reading]?”

Me: “Yeah. Have you read it before?”

Waitress: *sad tone* “No, but I really want to. Between school, work, and family I don’t have much free time much less any extra money.”

Me: “Oh, well, it is a really good book about…” *add really badly-explained book theme here because I’m bad at explaining*

(The waitress is visibly stressed until we start talking about the book, at which she becomes significantly calmer.)

Mom: “We will be going in a couple of minutes. I have to get something from my bag.”

Waiter: “Okay, I will be back in a few minutes.”

Mom: *pulls out a $20 bill the split second after our waitress disappears from view along with our bill total with a note saying “go buy yourself a book : )”*

(My mom and I hurried out to our car after we set the note on the table. I popped back inside just in time for her to read the note. I will never forget that happy feeling I got looking at her read that note. If the waitress that we had ever reads this I hope you got a good book you liked!)

Getting Along Like A House On Fire

, , , | Bastrop, TX, USA | Hopeless | April 29, 2016

(This story takes place shortly after the Bastrop County Complex Fires started up on Labor Day, 2011. At the time of the story, I’m working in the grocery department of the store when I see a woman getting off of the phone and starting to cry, fearing the worst I stop stocking and approach her.)

Me: “Is something wrong, ma’am?”

Customer: “Yes, I just heard that the fire took our house.”

Me: Oh, no. That’s not good. Were you able to save anything before they evacuated you?”

(At this point, the customer starts to list of different things they were able to save before sobbing again, realizing all of the stuff they couldn’t get.)

Me: “It’s okay, ma’am. I realize that it may seem bad, but you know one very important thing you were able to save.”

Customer: *through tears* “No?”

Me: “You were able to get yourself and your family, right?”

Customer: “Y- yes.”

Me: “Well, as long as you were able to take care of that, everything else will eventually get back together. While you might not be able to recover everything you left, you still have you, your family, and your memories, right?”

Customer: *stopping her crying* “Yes, I suppose I do.”

(As she stopped crying, I decided to forgo general policies and even public normal by hugging her when she started to cry again.)

Customer: “You are right. I do have the really important things and know that He’ll help us out in the end. Thank you…”

(She let me go and started to walk off, getting on her phone again. From what I heard as I left she was talking to her family and/or friends. Fast forward about a year or two later and I’m a cashier in the express lane when the customer I’m checking out gasps. As she does, I look up and realize it is the same woman and smile. Without warning, she hugs me again and starts to cry with her husband behind her, smiling.)

Customer: “Oh, you were right! Everything did work out. Insurance pulled through, and we’ve got a new place, and we were able to recover some of the things were forgot.”

(She started to explain about what happened after the affected areas were deemed safe to return to for salvaging purposes. Eventually, they handed me a local magazine that contained a story of the fire and showed where she was interviewed, pointing out where she mentioned me in it then tried to give me some cash. However, I refused it stating they should keep it, but, as they left, I noticed they still had the money on the counter with the husband shaking his head as I tried to follow them.)

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