They’re Not Going To Throw You Under The Bus

, , , , | Hopeless | December 15, 2018

I’m a fairly young-looking girl. I’ve recently started working a fairly horrible shift — three am to eleven am — sorting parcels to make some extra money for Christmas, around three miles from my home. I don’t drive, so I bought a bike to make life easier, as there’s no one I know that can give me a lift at those sort of times.

This morning I set off from home as usual. It was pretty icy out, and I blamed that for the slight veering and wobbling along the way. About ten minutes in, I realised that my handlebars had misaligned, and were getting looser and looser. Thinking that by the time I got home to take it back I’d be late for work, I decided to just push the d*** thing to work and deal with just being a few minutes late… completely forgetting that the route I take is cycle-based into an industrial area outside of town, and most of the rest of the way is pitch-black and without pavement or a sidewalk. But at least I had my visibility vest from work, and nothing happened apart from being rained on.

I finally finished work at 11, realised that I was exhausted, and I couldn’t risk veering all over the road when there was actual traffic, but at least I could catch a bus halfway and just push my bike the rest. I saw an off-duty bus driver pull up at the parcel depot I was leaving to collect a parcel, and thinking that I’d never tried to take a bike on a bus I should probably ask before detouring to the bus stop. He told me that unless it’s a long journey route, there’s no bike racks or space, and none the city buses in this area allow them. And at that point, I realised how much I’d been counting on the idea of not having to walk the whole hour in the rain. I was exhausted. I managed to hold back the tears that started to form and thanked him for telling me. I began slowly pushing the dang bike in the general direction of home, trying to map a walking route on my nearly-dead phone.

About five minutes later, the same guy pulled over next to me in his not-in-service bus and told me that it wasn’t ideal, but the route to the depot to drop his bus off went quite close to town, and he wouldn’t mind dropping me off.

I almost began to see the world as if I were in some anime, and a shining white Knight was offering to help. My eyes widened and glistened as I could only croak the word, “Really?”

My house was actually nearer the depot than the town centre, and this wonderful person dropped me off less than two minutes from my house, for free. He spent the journey asking questions and taking my mind off how awful I’d been feeling since starting these horrible shifts, and telling me how things will get better.

I know it’s a stupid and small thing in the grand scheme of things, but at that moment it felt like the single nicest thing anyone had ever done for someone. And I’m not one for fuzzy feelings or faith in humanity. But today, at least for a little while, faith in humanity seems like a viable concept.

No Need To Pardon This French

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 6, 2018

(My father and I are coming back home from church. We are speaking English because we attend an American church and just didn’t bother going back to speaking French. We’re both fluent and speak English with no accent at all. We take seats in the underground and go on with our conversation for a few minutes until I notice that the lady in the seat next to mine is glaring at us. Keep in mind that we’re in Paris, one of the cities with the most tourists in the world.)

Lady: *in French, to her friend, obviously thinking my father and I don’t understand* “These foreigners are way too loud! Why are they here? If they want to speak English, they should go back to their country. They should make an effort to speak French.”

(She keeps going on like that for quite some time. I tell my father, who was politely going to tell her to shut up that it’s not worth it, but her rant is starting to annoy me. At that point she’s speaking very loudly, and the other people around are looking at us.)

Lady: “Ils croivent qu’ils peuvent venir ici et nous envahir avec leur culture!” *They think they can come here and invade us with their culture!*

(There is an enormous grammar mistake in that sentence. Our stop is next, and my father is fuming by that time. I stand up and start towards the doors, but I can’t resist turning around to face her.)

Me: *in French* “Ma’am, you have been incredibly rude, and you’ve been disturbing the other passengers. If you don’t want to see foreigners, don’t live in Paris. Oh, and by the way, ‘croivent’ is not correct French, so maybe you should think twice before telling people to speak French, given that you are obviously unable to speak it correctly yourself.”

(She turned red, and some of the other passengers started laughing, including her own friend. I got off the underground with a huge grin on my face. My dad was laughing his a** off and ended up buying me a cookie on our way back.)

Ikke Altid Håbløs

, , , , | Hopeless | December 3, 2018

(While riding the Metro — Washington DC’s subway — one day, my dad and I notice two teenage girls with hiking backpacks looking extremely worried as they stare at a map. Between the few words we can hear and the flags on their bags, we realize they must be Danish. Dad, an army officer in uniform, gets up and goes over to talk to them.)

Dad: *in Danish* “Excuse me, but could I help? It looks like you might be lost.”

Girl #1: “Du taler Dansk?!” *You speak Danish?!*

Dad: *in Danish* “Yes. I lived there for two years. Beautiful country!”

(The rest of the conversation continues in their language. They admit that they can’t make sense of the very bad map they have. My dad marks notations to help clarify things — including drawing on the Metro Lines so they can find which ones are closest to their destinations — and helping them locate major tourist attractions and their hostel. They chat about their other planned destinations, as well, and he gives them some advice, as he’s traveled to all of them. And, of course, they talk about Denmark; where they’re from, where he’d lived, things he misses most, etc. As we near their stop, Dad gets out his business card, writes his personal phone number and address on the back, and hands it to them.)

Dad: *in Danish* “Please call me if you have any more trouble. And if I don’t answer my office number–” *flips it to show them the back* “–please call my house. My wife only speaks a little Danish, but she’s home all day.”

Girls: “Thank you!”

Dad: “My pleasure! I do hope you enjoy the rest of your trip, and let me know if you need anything, even if you’ve already left town. I know folks in each of the cities you’re visiting, so don’t worry. You’ll never be far from a rescue if you get turned around again!”

(We didn’t hear from them again while they were on their trip, but several weeks later, a package arrived from Denmark. Inside was my dad’s favorite brand of chocolate — which he’d mentioned missing — and a thank-you note from the girls and their parents. Apparently, randomly running into a military officer who spoke their language the one time they got lost was the highlight of their trip, and their parents were very grateful he’d stepped in to help. My folks still exchange Christmas cards with them, and write notes about little things special to America, while they catch him up on the news from Denmark.)

Good Thing They’re Not Driving

, , , , , | Right | November 1, 2018

(I’m the customer in this one. Our local bus station has multiple routes that leave from the same stand. They often go in similar directions at first, but their ultimate destinations can be very different. The route number and destination are always clearly labelled on the front and side of the bus.)

Customer: “Excuse me, is this the 13 or the 14 bus?”

Driver: “Umm, it should say on the side; it’s the 14.”

Customer: “So, is it going to [Destination of the 13] or [Destination of the 14]?”

Driver: “…It’s going to [Destination of the 14].”

Customer: “Oh…”

(The customer gets off the bus. I’m next to get on.)

Me: *pretty loudly* “Remember when people were able to read?”

Driver: “Heh, yep.”

Next Customer: “Excuse me, is this the 13 or the 14 bus?”

Tricks Of The Tramway

, , , | Legal | October 27, 2018

(I am sitting in the tram, on my way home. A young man enters the tram.)

Young Man: “Excuse me, can I ask something? I lost my phone and I was sitting here before. Did you see something?”

Me: “No, I didn’t, but I could’ve missed it. Let me get up for you.”

Young Man: “No, no! That’s absolutely not needed!”

Me: “It’s okay; I need to get off soon, anyway.”

(The young man looks uneasy, as if he didn’t expect me to get up. I also notice he has a phone in his hand. Still, I step aside and the young man starts looking.)

Young Man: “Eh… I could’ve been sitting over there… Thanks, anyway.”

(The young man walked away and got off the next stop. At the next stop he apparently saw someone he knew, as the two nodded at each other. I decided to remain standing; I needed to get off the next stop, anyway. I then thought, “Wait, how does he even know this is the same tram? Wouldn’t you get on on the opposite direction, then?” At home I checked my things and everything was accounted for. Still, I decides to send a message to the tram company. They then informed me they would send my description through to security. It was most likely a trick to either pick my pockets or bag, or even try to scan my bank card — it has a chip so you don’t have to swipe it, but can hold it close to the machine, instead. He also could’ve asked me to use my phone to call his, to see if we could hear it, so he could snatch the phone from my hands, or follow me with his friend to ambush me and steal it. I am now very glad I stepped aside so he couldn’t reach my bag, that I always keep my bag closed, and that I have so much junk in there that scanning would be very difficult. Plus, I have a phone that doesn’t even have Internet.)


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