His Crowning Stupidity

, , , , | Legal | January 28, 2019

(I work for a small business that does horse trails through an area of public forest that is technically “Crown Land” — i.e. belongs to the Queen by default — and has some conservation rules. We have been having difficulty with a man owning a neighbouring property who wants to use the crown land as his own. He has gone as far as shooting at our rides from a distance, and police have been involved several times at this stage. After a long day of work, in which we dismantled some obstacles he left on the land, he pulls up at our worksite to yell out of his car. It is just me, a teenage girl, and my boss, a short, middle-aged lady.)

Neighbour: “You cut my fences!”

Boss: “No, we haven’t. We don’t go on your property.”

Neighbour: “You cut the fence by the river!”

Boss: “The river isn’t on your land. It’s crown land. It’s illegal to fence off public land for your own use.”

Neighbour: *now shouting* “I own up to the river edge—“

Boss: “No, you don’t. Your property line is 30m from the river.”

Neighbour: “I have permission from the owner to use it!”

Boss: “No, you don’t. Crown land has no owner.”

Me: *mostly to myself* “Well, it does have an owner.”

Boss: “What?”

Me: “The Queen?”

Boss: “Oh, my God.” *to the neighbour* “Are you trying to say the Queen was like, ‘Oh, sure, no problem’? How dumb are you?” *loudly, to me* “Hang on while I call the police.”

(The neighbour left immediately. We continued to destroy every fence he built illegally to block our rides.)

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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.

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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.)

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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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Teenagers Aren’t As Oblivious As We May Think

, , , , , | Hopeless | November 22, 2018

When I was around 24, everything in my life seemed to come crashing down at once. Through a long series of unfortunate events that included losing my job, I ended up homeless with no-one really around that I could turn to.

Whilst trying to get a new job, I spent a lot of time sleeping rough around on the streets as I knew I didn’t have enough saved up to afford a hotel every night for the foreseeable future.

It was a Monday, around the time kids would be heading into school, and I was in my usual place. A group of teenage girls walked past, barely even glancing at me whilst laughing and mucking about on their phones. I didn’t think much of it and went back to filling out the job applications I had collected.

However, a few moments later something was dropped in front of me. I looked up just in time to see one of the girls from earlier scamper off back to her friends. Looking back at what she had left, I found a plastic bag containing what could only have been her own lunch. I was stunned, and tried to call after her to say thank you, but the group had already left.

That was the only act of kindness someone showed me during my brief period of living on the streets.

Three years on, I’m in a much better place, but I can’t help but think back on the girl who did more to help a stranger than any adult cared to do. It may have been a small gesture, but it meant the world to me. Whoever she was, I hope she’s having a great life now. She deserves it.

 

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