Breakfast Breaking Through

, , , , | Hopeless | November 29, 2016

Since I got my current job a little over a year ago, I’ve gone through a particular fast food restaurant’s drive-thru to pick up breakfast every week or two. I love this particular store because they are very friendly, so much so that even though I’m not there all that often they all know my name and my regular order. In the same period of time, I have been rear ended twice on the freeway I have to use to commute to work. In the worst accident my car was totaled and I suffered injuries that, while not life threatening, have had a permanent effect on my quality of life. As a result, I find commuting in bad traffic very stressful.

This particular morning, it is raining hard and there are a number of accidents along the way which makes the commute particularly bad. I decide to stop and get a hot breakfast to try and help myself relax. The woman working the drive-thru recognizes me as I give her my order. I drive to the pick-up window and start to hand her my payment as usual, but she shakes her head and hands me my food. To my shock, she told me that she was sure the morning commute had been particularly stressful for me with all the accidents, and my breakfast was on her this morning!

Her kind gesture literally brought tears to my eyes. The fact that she had noticed my stress and cared enough to try and turn the day around really made me feel terrific!

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Starting With A Clean Sheet

, | Romantic | November 28, 2016

My boyfriend has an incredible habit of messing up our bedding to an astounding degree, though he will never admit to it.

We both work nights, but one day I have a midday interview, so I leave him to sleep through it. The covers were relatively in order when I departed.

By the time I get home, our duvet is upside down on top of him, and when I try to flip it over I find that the insert is now balled up in the center of the cover.

And just to add insult to injury, while I was sorting out the duvet, he balled up the sheets, too, and hugged them to his chest in his sleep where I couldn’t get at them!

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A Driver As Pure As The Driven Snow

, , , | Hopeless | November 27, 2016

My family and I are in Yellowstone National Park for a December cross-country ski trip. While driving, our rather large pickup truck slides off the road and gets stuck in a ditch filled with two feet of snow. My dad and I try to shovel the truck out, but to no avail.

Soon, another pickup truck stops and a pair of men, easily in their late 60s or early 70s, jump out to help us shovel. Our truck refuses to budge, and even starts sinking deeper into the ditch.

Then, a woman in a small, beat-up old truck with Montana plates and a tow cable on her front grill drives up. Without a word, she leaps out of her truck, attaches the tow cable, and throws her truck into reverse. After a moment of her sliding on the ice, our truck springs free. Once again, without a word, she unhooks her tow cable and drives off.

Given the Montana plates and how efficiently she freed our much larger vehicle, we can guess that she has done this for many more people.

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A Driver As Pure As The Driven Snow

, , , | Hopeless | November 27, 2016

My family and I are in Yellowstone National Park for a December cross-country ski trip. While driving, our rather large pickup truck slides off the road and gets stuck in a ditch filled with two feet of snow. My dad and I try to shovel the truck out, but to no avail.

Soon, another pickup truck stops and a pair of men, easily in their late 60s or early 70s, jump out to help us shovel. Our truck refuses to budge, and even starts sinking deeper into the ditch.

Then, a woman in a small, beat-up old truck with Montana plates and a tow cable on her front grill drives up. Without a word, she leaps out of her truck, attaches the tow cable, and throws her truck into reverse. After a moment of her sliding on the ice, our truck springs free. Once again, without a word, she unhooks her tow cable and drives off.

Given the Montana plates and how efficiently she freed our much larger vehicle, we can guess that she has done this for many more people.

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The Future Wave Of Humanity

, , | Working | November 25, 2016

This is just a little something that happened to me when I was deployed to Afghanistan with the British Army in 2012. It’s not much, but I like to tell it.

I was working out of our base in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand Province. On ops, every soldier (and Marine, sailor, and airman) on the base had to stand sentry (‘stag’ in the British forces) in one of the many sangars dotted around the base perimeter at some point. With the amount of people on the camp it usually meant that you went on stag maybe once every two or three days.

Lash was fairly quiet at that point, not much going on in the city, and so stag rotations usually ended up being relatively boring, although being in the city proper meant that we got to see some interesting sights from inside our sangars, or whenever we went outside on patrol…

In this particular instance I was on stag mid-morning. It was hot for October, and most crucially, it was one of the days of Eid al-Adha, which in the Muslim calendar is the end of Ramadan, and a time of feasting, celebration and giving — think a combination of Christmas and Easter.

Now, usually the streets of Lash were fairly busy, but fairly drab, too — a lot of black and grey and white and brown clothing. Not during Eid al-Adha. It seemed to me, up in my perch, that everyone was out in their best clothes and off to visit friends and family. While there was plenty of security in place, everyone seemed happy and high spirited.

I’d had a busy morning (up before 0400), and I would go on to have a busy day (head down at 0200-ish, if I remember rightly) but for those precious hours I was doing a simple job with minimal distractions.

You watch everything on stag; you try and cram everything into your tired eyes so as not to miss anything, but one moment stood out for me as I was watching that day. A group of girls came walking down the side of the road that passed the front of my sangar, all decked out in lime greens and yellow and bright blues. I think they must have been anywhere between 10 and 20 years of age (as you may have guessed, I couldn’t see their faces beyond the eyes).

As they came past my sangar, they stopped and looked in. They wouldn’t have seen much of me, in the shade as I was – perhaps the shape of my body-armoured and helmeted form behind the GPMG in the sangar window, and even that through the slats of the RPG cage. But they stopped and I could see them looking directly at me.

And then they waved.

Me, a foreign soldier, not even distinct, not really visible. Just another man in a uniform in their country.

They waved at me, one of them called up to me and said ‘Hello’ in Pashto; whatever else they said I didn’t catch.

I said ‘Hello!’ back, waved back, and then they walked on and were gone.

Thinking on it, I suppose for them it wasn’t much of a thing to do. They were just taking advantage of the freedom of the Eid al-Adha celebration to doing something a little daring: waving at the foreigners. For me, used to the usual endless procession of almost uniformly dressed (and 95% male) people in front of my sangar, it was a beautiful bright spot of humanity in my nearly-seven months in Afghanistan — that those girls had chosen to make a small connection with me on such an important day. It is a memory I will cherish, and it pains me that I will never know who those girls were, or what became of them, but their simple act replenished my faith in human kindness somewhat, and that’s something precious.

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