Kindness Doesn’t Take Half-Days

, , , , , , | Hopeless | November 3, 2018

When I was seven, my family moved to a new house, which was the first house of a new development. By the time school started, a few other families had moved into other houses, but we hadn’t gotten the chance to meet them yet.

One day our school had a half-day, and we were all sent home early. The school bus dropped me off and I happily skipped home, ready to enjoy my extra time off. When I reached my house, I suddenly realized no one was home to greet me. I was always losing things, so my parents never gave me a key. I was scared and cold, and had no way of getting inside, so I did the only thing I could think of: I hid behind a bush in the garden and cried.

I don’t know how long I was there, but it was long enough that I couldn’t cry anymore and my hands were numb. That’s when a strange man approached me. He started asking me questions. “What’s your name?” “Where are your parents?” “Do you need help?” I didn’t answer any of his questions; I just kept shaking my head no, since I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers. He walked away, and I started to cry again. I was even more scared because I thought someone was going to take me.

A while later the man came back, and I was scared stiff. I thought for sure he was going to take me away. Instead, he silently and slowly handed me a cell phone; cells weren’t too common back then. When I answered the phone, I heard my dad’s voice on the other side. We exchanged our “secret passcode,” and he told me the man was our neighbor. He was a good person, and was going to take me to a demo house where I could wait until my dad could get me.

Once I hung up and handed the phone back, my neighbor smiled at me and took me over to his house. We spent a few minutes there as he warmed me up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a few cookies. Once I was warm and happy, he took me to the demo house where a woman greeted me. She sat with me for an hour and taught me how to use a Rubik’s cube until my dad finally came and picked me up.

Years later, I found out everything that happened. The school had never informed the parents that there was a half-day, and they were sued for neglect. My neighbor, who was on his way to work, happened to notice my little pink coat poking out from behind the bush. When he talked to me and I denied his help, he was planning on letting it go and leaving for work, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave me. He called up the Homeowner’s Association and let them know what was going on, and they’re the ones who called my dad. My dad told them I’d never leave to answer the phone, so the neighbor drove over, picked up the cell phone, and brought it to me to answer. He ended up being an hour late to work that day. The nice lady who stayed with me kept the house open two hours later than she was supposed to so she could be sure I was safe and warm while I waited for my parents.

Those people are still a part of my life to this day, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such wonderful and kind people as my neighbors. I honestly don’t know what would have happened that day without them.

No More Narrow Escapes

, , , , , | Legal | October 26, 2018

I live on a narrow one-way street. Emphasis on “narrow” and “one-way.” One day I’m driving home. It’s been a long day; it’s summertime and hot.

I’m very tired and just want to go to bed. Coming round the corner of my street, I have to slam on my brakes because a car is coming towards me.

So, there we stand. The driver in the other car, a young girl, starts shooing and gesturing that I have to back up. We all know her; she has a habit of driving down our street the wrong way because it saves her 500 meters on her ride home. There have been several complaints filed against her, but the police say, “We have to catch her in the act if we want anything to happen.”

I’ve had it for today. I turn off the engine, pull on the handbrake, get out, and lock my car. I take pictures of my car, the other driver, and the license plate on her car with my phone.

She rolls her window down and starts shouting. I just say, “You always knowingly neglect the traffic signs. So now, you back up and get the h*** out of here because I’m calling the police.” And I walk the 50 meters home, meanwhile calling the police.

There’s a lot of yelling and honking behind me; I don’t care. A lot of my neighbours come to watch what all this honking was about.

While I’m sitting inside, I hear a car reversing through our street. At least, I hear a car driving backwards and forwards and backwards again to avoid scratching the parked cars — I did tell you this was a narrow street.

The next day a neighbour tells me it took her 30 minutes to get out of our street. I guess that all the neighbours laughing and making fun of her wasn’t helping her driving skills, either. Best thing was that the police just happened to arrive in time to witness her reversing down our street. She did get several fines.

No one has ever seen her drive through our street again.

It’s Immoral To Be Different From Me!

, , , , , , | Legal | October 24, 2018

(I work nights, Sunday night to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday nights off. I leave for work around nine pm due to the length of my commute. About four pm one Sunday afternoon, I’m roused from a rather peaceful sleep by a series of knocking on the door… rather loud, insistent knocking. Dragging myself to the door, I open it to find a police officer and one of my neighbors standing on my porch.)

Me: *bleary-eyed and yawning* “Whasthisbout?”

Officer: “There have been some calls about your activities, and we felt the need to check on you.”

Me: “Activities? What do you mean, ‘activities’?”

Officer: “Do you mind stepping outside?”

Me: “Considering you just woke me up from a deep sleep? Yeah. What’s this all about?”

Neighbor: “I’ll tell you what it’s about, mister! No one ever sees you during the day, and we all see you wandering off to God-knows-where late at night, only to return in the early morning! That’s not right. We know you’re up to something, and we’re not putting up with your immoral lifestyle any longer!”

Me: “Immoral lifestyle?”

Neighbor: *to the officer* “It’s just not right. He’s probably selling drugs or something. I don’t feel safe with him around here!”

Officer: *to her* “I’ll handle it, ma’am. Sir, we’ve had several calls, and it’s starting to become a problem. Drugs are an issue in this area, so it’d be easier on everyone if you just cooperated and told us what you are doing. Mind stepping out here so we can talk?”

Me: “I’m heading to work.”

Neighbor: “See?! He admits it!”

Officer: “And where do you work, sir? Do you have a number we can confirm that with?”

Me: “I do.” *rattles off work phone number*

Officer: *not really paying attention as he writes* “And what do you do there, sir?”

Me: “I’m the night duty watch sergeant.”

Officer: *still not paying attention* “Uh-huh. And where is this?”

Me: “[Local Prison].”

(At this point the officer blinks and then looks up. He looks back to the notes and then says slowly.)

Officer: “You work at [Prison]?”

Me: “Yep. I’m the night watch sergeant over B block.”

(The neighbor’s smug face has started to sour at this point as she looks to the officer. He, however, turns on her.)

Officer: “So, let me get this straight. You see him leaving late at night, and then coming back early in the morning… and it never dawned on you that maybe he works nights?”

Neighbor: “But… it’s immoral! He should be at home at night, and he never shows up to church; we’ve not seen him there once! This is America. It’s a law; he has to go to church on Sunday!”

Officer: “No, lady, it’s not a law. There’s no such law.”

(Turning back to me, he nodded, apologized for waking me up, and then told the lady that he was done. As I was closing my door, I heard her shrill voice screaming, “But it’s the LAW! This is a Christian nation; he HAS to go to church!” The next day, after I got off work, I stopped by the local church and had a word with the pastor there. He’s something of an old family friend. I related what the lady had said, and that she’d called the police on me. He said that he wasn’t at all surprised, and noted that she’d come to him with it first, only to leave in a huff when he explained that he wasn’t going to do anything about it and advised her that it was best left alone. I lived there another six months with the biddy glowering at me every day as I came home from work, before I rented another house closer to work.)

Some Neighbors Like To Drone On

, , , , | Friendly | October 24, 2018

(I wake up one morning to hear shouting outside, and I lean out of my window just in time to hear this gem from my neighbor.)

Neighbor: “Yeah, I just waved my hand and grew a tree, just to spite you.”

(When I talked to him later, it turns out that some idiot was buzzing around over people’s backyards with a drone, and had ended up crashing his drone into my neighbor’s tree. He then tried to get my neighbor to pay for replacing the drone, claiming that he’d “deliberately placed” the tree to block people from freely flying their drones around.)

Changing The World, One Change Tin At A Time

, , , , | Hopeless | October 20, 2018

I locked myself out of the house before work one evening, so the next morning I had to call the letting agency to get the spare keys to let myself in. They said I could have the spares, but I’d have to collect them from the office myself, and bring them back the same day.

It was 9:30 in the morning. I’d been out of the house since 5:00 pm, and in that time I’d walked two miles to the train station to catch the train to work, worked an 11-hour shift in a supermarket, and then done the same journey in reverse. The letting agency is a 2.5-mile walk from my house, and I’d have to make the journey four times in total. It was just a few days before payday, and I didn’t have enough in my bank to be able to withdraw any cash for bus fare. I’d had to get my office to buy my train tickets for me just to get to work, and borrowed money from my mum to feed myself.

My neighbour came into her garden while I was on the phone, to see why her dogs were going frantic at the back door. She was sympathetic, having managed to lock herself out of her house before, and didn’t like the idea of me having to do all that walking when I was already so tired. She told me to wait a few seconds before heading off, and went back inside. She came out with the contents of her change tin, which was more than enough to get an all-day bus ticket. She also offered to keep a hold of my backpack, containing a heavy pair of work boots among other things, until I got back.

Thanks to my neighbour, I managed to get to and from the letting agency safely. When I tried to give her the leftover change back, she refused it and told me to use it to start refilling my own change tin.