The Nervous Adventures Of Observant And Oblivious

, , | Friendly | August 7, 2019

(I am stopping by a cash point on the way home one evening. It is after dark, but the cash point is next to a well-lit entrance to a small supermarket so it usually feels safe. However, as I approach, I notice a group of young men smoking and with cans of lager in their hands right outside the entrance to the supermarket. They are being a bit rowdy. I slow down as I risk-assess how far they are from the cashpoint and whether I would be able to duck into either the supermarket or the restaurant on the other side of the cashpoint if I needed to. I am just trying to decide this as I get quite close to the cashpoint and wondering if I should just go into the supermarket instead and get cash back when one of the lads starts moving away and gesturing to the others. I will call him “Observant” and his friend who starts arguing “Oblivious.”)

Observant: “Yo, over here.”

Oblivious: “What? Why we moving?”

Observant: “We can go down here.”

Oblivious: “We’re fine here. Why we moving?”

Observant: “‘Cause we’re right next to the cashpoint and we’re making people nervous.”

Oblivious: “Ooh… Yeah, we can go sit on that wall.”

(And then with a wave at me, Observant led the group off to go sit on the suggested wall. Thank you, observant young man, for having an awareness of the impact of your behaviour on others and making my evening a little easier.)

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Down The Trail Of Madness

, , , | Legal | August 5, 2019

(I work in the national forest through a program that employs high school kids with no work experience and pays them minimum wage for five weeks Monday through Thursday. It is hard manual labor, but honestly, no one minds because it is often the only job available to them. We work in teams of six or seven people under a team leader and often will go into the forest with a park ranger to tell us what to do. Our team leader for the week is a barely-five-foot woman who looks fairly frail, but she is loud and can do more work than two of us combined. We are working on blocking off unauthorized ATV and motorbike trails. The forest service is very serious on blocking off unauthorized trails permanently. This trail has seen a lot of use and it is damaging to the forest. We dig four- to eight-foot-deep holes and stick twelve-inch cedar fence posts in them across the trail. The posts block the trail off all the way to the trees on the other side. We have just finished putting the posts in and cementing them down, and everyone else has left for their lunch break, but I am not hungry yet. I am still working on piling rocks around the blockade. We all are required to wear long-sleeve shirts, safety glasses, high-vis vests, and hard hats. The hard hats have the program’s logo clearly emblazoned on them. A guy comes roaring up to me on a very loud ATV, nearly hits me, drifts, and sprays mud all over my face. He is probably 6’2” and at least 250 pounds; I am 5’ 9” and maybe 140.)

Me: *unhappy, wiping mud off my glasses* “You almost hit me! What the f*** are you doing?”

ATV Guy: “You’re the one in the way! What are you even doing, anyway?!”

Me: “Blocking off unsanctioned trails.”

ATV Guy: “But why? There’s nothing wrong with them!”

Me: “Yes, there is. They destroy the ecosystem, and they are damaging a part of the forest that is trying to regrow.”

ATV Guy: “So what? People enjoy that trail.”

Me: “That’s not the point.”

ATV Guy: “Unblock it! I want to ride there!”

Me: “I am afraid I can’t do that, sir. If you have a problem with it I can lead you to my manager; she is on lunch break right now but you should only have to wait a little while.”

ATV Guy: “Fine! Where is she?!”

(I lead him to her and explain the problem. Then, I go get my lunch and start eating. In no less than two minutes, she is screaming at him at full volume and poking a finger in his chest with more ferocity than a disappointed southern grandma. He is shrinking back and she is chewing him for being an idiot and yelling at a fifteen-year-old kid.)

Manager: “WHAT EVEN IS YOUR PROBLEM, YELLING AT SOMEONE LIKE THAT, ALMOST HITTING THEM, AND ACTING LIKE THEY DID SOMETHING WRONG WHEN YOU ARE BEING THE IDIOT? HOW CAN YOU EVEN LIVE WITH YOURSELF, YOU COMPLETE IMBECILE? NOT TO MENTION ASKING HIM TO UPROOT SEVERAL POSTS SET FOUR FEET DEEP IN CONCRETE AND COVERED IN ROCKS AND BRUSH SO YOU CAN CONTINUE TO DESTROY THE ECOSYSTEM WE AND THE FOREST SERVICE ARE WORKING SO HARD TO PRESERVE! DISGRACEFUL AND DISGUSTING! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT AND LEAVE MY WORKERS ALONE!”

ATV Guy: “I–”

Manager: “NO, JUST GET OUT AND LEAVE!”

(He leaves. The park ranger working with us comes over asking what all the commotion was about. My manager answers with a full account and the park ranger just says we hope he leaves and we don’t have to deal with him again. We all go back to work and find him crashed into our blockade, with ATV tracks leading a few hundred feet perpendicular to the trail. Obviously, he’d tried to get a running start to crash through the barrier, which at that point was about five feet tall because we still wanted brush in front of it even when it decomposed and dried and flattened down. His ATV is totaled and he is, if possible, even more pissed. The park ranger tells us all to leave and we do. She gathers us up about an hour later.)

Ranger: “[ATV Guy] is in custody and is on his way to jail.” *pointing to my manager and me* “I need a detailed report from you, and then I need the rest of you to corroborate their accounts.”

(I filled out about four pages of forms, as did my manager, and my coworkers all signed as witnesses. As far as I can tell, the guy was arrested for the following charges: assault, destruction of private property — he ran over some poor guy’s tent; thankfully it was unoccupied — destruction of public property — denting the posts for the blockade — and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a previous crime that none of us were told about.)

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This Guy Is Far Out

, , , , | Friendly | August 2, 2019

(People often come to Fort Lauderdale expecting to be right on the beach, despite the fact that the bus station is downtown.)

Lost Guy: “Where’s the beach?”

Me: “You have to take the city bus.”

Lost Guy: “Which one?”

Me: “The 10.”

Lost Guy: *sees a bus far down the street* “Which one is that?”

Me: *unable to see far enough to read* “I don’t know.”

Lost Guy: “You don’t know much, do you?”

Me: “I know where I am.”

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Unfiltered Story #159849

, , , | Unfiltered | August 1, 2019

(Backstory: A few years ago, about a mile from where this takes place but on the same road, I was nearly knocked off my bike by a Fedex driver who came onto the sidewalk. Half of my body was bruised, and in addition to scratching the paint, they had rolled over my front tire, bending the rim, which I had to replace myself, as I never thought to grab a license plate number. This took place in fall 2012, and the following takes place in spring 2015.)

(I am crossing the road to return to my dorm, after having picked up some items like cleaning supplies needed to move out of my dorm the next day. I am on foot, as it is faster than biking to this location. I see something and call my dad to tell him an idea I had; my cell phone has stopped working properly and I am fooling with it. I see the light has changed.)

Me: *Steps out into road*
(A screech is heard and I remember falling backwards. I do not go unconscious, but scramble up and collect my shopping, before hiding behind the light post on the opposite corner. I am autistic, and a panic attack ensues.)
(While there, many people stop, and an ambulance is called.)
Man: Are you okay? You stepped out in front of me!
College RA: [My nickname], what happened?? Did you get hit??
Other College RA: [College higher up] just called an ambulance. Are you sure you’re okay?
Me: I got hit! I got hit!
(Only the first RA is aware of my autism, and warns people to stay back. Police from campus arrive and she quickly answers their questions, as she was a witness and I am still recovering and am incoherent.)
(Shortly after, an RAA [RA supervisor] and the police question me. It turns out the man there asking me if I was okay was the one who had hit me.)
Me, to police: I was trying to call my dad, and I forgot the light was messed up. I walked in front of him.

(We eventually get it sorted out. I refuse to be taken to the hospital, as my only visible wounds are road rash, that have ceased bleeding before the ambulance arrived. I take full responsibility for the crash–I had not been paying to attention, and knew the light was messed up. I insist that the man is not at fault, since I know for sure I was the cause and cannot blame the driver. It turns out the man was a church pastor, and he invited me to his church this fall.)

Me, after the cupcake party at school and showing off my new “battle scars”: I should do this more often!
RAs, all at once: NO!!

(Because my arm is sore, I had to change my move-out inspection to the next day. Only hours later did I realize that the poor pastor was probably on his way to Wednesday chapel! I felt really horrid then!)

When Being Chatty Saves People

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 15, 2019

(I’m walking to the library with my four-year-old. She’s skipping alongside me, chattering happily, waving frantically, and yelling, “HI!” at everyone we pass and every car that goes past. Nothing unusual. About a block from the library, she waves and says, “Hi!” into what I think is just an empty laneway, but as we step forward, I realise there’s an elderly man standing there in his pajamas, in the middle of the lane, with a small dog running in circles around his feet.)

Man: “Why, hello, young lady! Out for a walk, are we?”

Daughter: “Yep! We’re going to the library!”

(The old man looks confusedly at us for a moment. At first, I think it’s because my daughter’s speech impediment means she pronounces it as, “yiberry,” but as we pause, I realise that he has no shoes on and his pajama pants are covered in mud. I can also see that his feet are bleeding in a few places, like he’s been stepping on prickles. It’s INCREDIBLY cold today and I finally realise how cold he must be, and his dog isn’t on a lead but seems to be getting more and more worked up.)

Me: “Yep, off to the library. Where are you off to today, mate?”

Man: “Ah… I’m a bit late for work! I work down at the ice works but, well, bit embarrassing but I seem to have gotten turned around.”

(The ice works in our town is now a historical site. It hasn’t been operational in almost forty years at this point.)

Me: “Happens to the best of us, mate. I know the way, though; how about you come with us?”

(After a bit of convincing and my daughter excitedly yelling about her new friend coming along, I convince him to come out onto the footpath and stand on the grass instead of the asphalt. Trying to give him my jacket doesn’t work — he staunchly refuses to take “a young lass’s jacket on a cold day” — and he is getting more agitated but never angry or violent. I stand there wondering what the heck to do next when suddenly a car screeches to a stop at the kerb. A middle-aged man leaps out of the car and hurtles towards us.)

Younger Man: “DAD! Dad, Jesus Christ, I’ve been looking for you everywhere! What the h*** are you doing?”

(The guy honestly looks like he’s about to cry, as does his dad, who seems even more confused at this point.)

Older Man: “No time to play right now, [Younger Man]. I’m late for work, mate. I gotta go.”

(The younger guy tries for a few minutes to convince his dad to get in the car, to no avail, when my daughter pipes up from behind us.)

Daughter: “Excuse me! Maybe it’s warm in the car, and you can go home and get your shoes for work!” 

(The older man seemed to accept this, after checking his feet and realising he did, indeed, have no shoes on. After the older guy and his dog were safely stowed away, his son informed me that they live CLEAR across town, and the guy had been missing for FIVE HOURS in the freezing cold. His little dog had seen him take off and obviously decided that his human shouldn’t go alone, and they’d been at large for most of the day. The younger man thanked me profusely, even though I barely did anything, and I’ve never been so thankful that my daughter wants to talk to everyone she meets.)

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