Put Down That Kind Of Thinking

, , , , , | Friendly | January 12, 2019

(I am a volunteer for an organisation that raises and trains guide dogs for the blind. I am what they call a puppy foster parent; I raise a puppy from eight weeks until it goes to school at approximately fourteen months, which also involves some basic training. I am walking with the most adorable and sweet black Labrador, seven months old, who is wearing a vest that is clearly labeled with the text, “Guide Dog in Training,” and the name and logo of the organisation. A woman angrily approaches me.)

Woman: “They should instantly put down all pit bulls!”

Me: “Eh… Okay… And you’re telling me this because…?”

Woman: “So you know what kind of an anti-social b*****d you are!”

(The woman stomped off. Usually, I’m pretty good at smart and snappy comebacks, but this was way, way too far out there for me!)

Crossing The Road Paved With Good Intentions

, , , , | Hopeless | December 28, 2018

Having grown up in a well-developed country, crossing the road is probably the least of our worries due to the abundance of traffic lights, zebra crossings, and pedestrian bridges. Recently, my family went for a vacation to Bangkok, Thailand as a group of eight people. Being a dense city area, the traffic is pretty nightmarish there. Around our hotel, to get to the other side of the main road will require you to either jaywalk or to walk a long distance to the overhead transit system and cross its bridge.

We saw what appeared to be a traffic light for pedestrians, and crossed the first half normally. The main road was quite wide and crossing it would require us to pass through two traffic lights, with each stopping cars flowing from a certain direction. Reaching the other half, we realized that the traffic light was either broken or disused, as it remained red — or didn’t even turn on at all; I can’t remember the details. So, we were stuck in the middle of the road, and it was difficult for us to cross as a large group and with all the cars moving at a pretty fast speed. I recalled us getting stuck there for at least a solid two minutes.

A motorcyclist saw eight of us, looking like lost tourists wanting to cross the road, and stopped for us in the middle lane — it was a three-lane road — and motioned for the cars to stop, as well. Surprisingly, the cars at the other lanes stopped, and he gestured for us to cross, which we did quickly and gratefully.

While this might seem like a small gesture, the kindness of the Thais did impress me significantly. While I had seen roads in other countries which were as “messy” as this one, this is definitely the first time I had seen someone stopping just to allow us jaywalkers to cross, even though they did not have to.

Hopeless, Not Homeless

, , , , , , , | Related | December 22, 2018

(There is a guy that stands near my local supermarket every day, asking people for money. I don’t really carry cash on me; I just use my card. Whenever he asks me, I just say, “No, sorry,” which is usually fine, except on this day.)

Guy: “Any change. Any spare change, ma’am?”

Me: “No, sorry.”

(As I’m walking away just loud enough for me to hear, he says…)

Guy: “F****** stuck-up b****.”

(This pisses me off. If I ever have spare change, I’d much rather give it to a busker, who’s actually doing something for their money, rather than someone who just harasses people.)

Me: *turning back to him* “Excuse me! What the h*** did you just call me?”

Guy: “You heard me. Look at you, driving a fancy car, wearing expensive clothes, but you can’t help out someone that’s struggling with a few dollars.”

Me: “Can I ask you something? How much do you make a day?”

Guy: *condescendingly* “I don’t go home without making at least $50.”

Me: “Okay. I’m guessing that you get [government pension] and you live in [government housing]?”

(He nods slowly, trying to work out where I’m going with this.)

Me: “So, you get about $900 a fortnight from [pension], and then if you make $50 a day, that’s $700 a fortnight, which totals around $1600 a fortnight. So, you’re doing better than I am. And that’s before you take into account the fact you get incredibly cheap rent, pay next to nothing for medications, and don’t pay taxes. So, even though I work, you actually make more money than I do and pay cheaper rent. So, how about helping someone struggling with a few dollars?”

(By now there are a few other shoppers, homeless people, and the security guard from the supermarket watching and listening, and people start laughing at the shocked look on his face. Someone says, “S***, I’ve been giving him money for months when he’s better off than me!”)

Guy: “What? This is bulls***! You’re nothing but a stuck-up s***. You think you’re smarter and better than me.”

Me: “Well, you’re obviously pretty smart in one way: for months, if not years, you’ve been harassing people out of their money, while doing nothing for it. But you’re right; I do think I’m better than you, simply for the fact that I work for everything I have and don’t expect people to just give me money every day.”

(I walked away and got in my car with the guy yelling obscenities at me. For the next few days, I avoided that supermarket. When I did go back, the guy was nowhere to be seen, but the security guard came up to me to tell me that after I’d left the guy had started shouting at the gathered crowd and then took a swing at the guard. He was charged with assault and threats to kill, and given a trespass order for the whole street. While I know it’s not easy not being able to work and living on a pension, it doesn’t mean you have a right to abuse people when they won’t give you money for nothing.)

See You Later, Alligator

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 21, 2018

(I’m walking down International Drive when I pass a gator exhibit with a man holding a small alligator, offering it to tourists.)

Man: “Would you like to pet an alligator?”

Me: “Yes!”

(I’ve held an alligator before; however, this time I hesitate as I reach out towards it. When I do, the man thrusts the alligator towards my face, in a way that is sudden and intrusive yet does not disturb the alligator.)

Man: “Yah!”

Me: “Ack!”

(I’m very easy to startle, and I cry out and jump back. The man laughs.)

Man: “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

Me: “You saw weakness and you zeroed in on it. I should have seen it coming.”

(I then proceeded to pet the alligator to my heart’s content.)

Helping Out All Two And A Half Of You

, , , , | Hopeless | November 30, 2018

(This happened years ago, way before ATMs had cardless cash. When I am five-and-a-half-months pregnant with our first child, my husband is transferred through work to a different state, away from all our friends and family. I’m not coping very well with the move. The Friday before he starts at the office, he takes me to the city sightseeing, to try to cheer me up. Before heading home, we go to an ATM to get money out. The ATM takes my husband’s card before showing an “out of order” message. I start to cry, knowing that we have little petrol in the car and not a lot of food at home, and that the bank will not be open until the Monday.)

Husband: *hugging me* “Hey, it’s okay. We have enough petrol to get home and me to work. There’s a [Bank] near the office; I’ll go there on my lunch, then get petrol. We have enough canned food until then; it won’t be gourmet, but it’s food. We’ll be okay!”

Me: *still crying* “I know, sorry. It’s these stupid hormones.”

(A gentleman in a suit, who has been waiting for a bus nearby, interrupts us.)

Gentleman: “Excuse me. I don’t mean to be rude, but I just saw what happened and overheard your conversation. Please take this.” *hands my husband $50*

Husband: “Thank you, anyway, sir, but we can’t accept this. We’ll be okay.”

Gentleman: “Please take it. Call it my good deed for the day. I can see your wife is pregnant, and the last thing she needs to be doing is worrying about running out of petrol or not eating properly. Pass it on to someone in need when you can.”

Me: “Thank you so much. We’ve moved from [City] for his work and don’t have anyone here. You don’t understand how much this means to me.”

Gentleman: “Glad I could help. Keep your chin up. Things will get better.”

Husband: “Thank you so much. Do you have a business card? I’d like to repay you.”

Gentleman: “Don’t worry about it; just pay it forward when you can. If you ever get into trouble again, go to [Church in the city] and ask for [Pastor]. He’ll help you.”

(The gentleman’s bus came at that point. He shook both our hands before leaving. His generosity meant we had good, healthy food and enough petrol for the weekend. We never did have to go to the church for help, and we never saw him again. Years later, I still tear up at his kindness.)

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