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Didn’t Head Where Your Head Expected

, , , , | Hopeless | June 26, 2017

(I’m a 23-year-old female and have recently got the side of my head tattooed. I have other visible tattoos and piercings, but this is the most extreme. I’m shopping in a department store for something nice to wear to my sister’s wedding. Eventually I notice an elderly female employee watching me. I figure it’s because of the tattoo, but she’s being far from discreet, which makes me a little uncomfortable. I move around the store, browsing, hoping she’ll eventually leave me alone. She watches me like a hawk, which makes me a little annoyed.)

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am? I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not here to steal anything or whatever. I just need some nice clothes for a wedding. It’s making me a little uncomfortable that you’re hovering.”

(Her face goes white, and then she blushes furiously.)

Employee: “Oh, dear, I’m so sorry. I didn’t think you were stealing. I’ve just never seen a tattoo like that. Can I look?”

(I’m a little taken aback, but pleasantly surprised. I let her look at my tattoo, and she studies it for quite a long time.)

Employee: “It’s lovely. I wish I had had the courage to do something crazy in my youth.” *pats me on my hands* “Don’t change.”

(This was a lovely surprise. She even asked to take a picture to show her grandchildren. I make sure to go back to that department store whenever I need something, and always say hello.)

Computer Buddies For Life!

, , , , | Friendly | June 6, 2017

In high school, I sign up for a program called Computer Buddies, where anyone in the community with a question about their computer or the Internet can come in and a student will help them solve it.

It’s my first time doing it, and I’m a little nervous, when I get paired with an absolutely lovely, elderly, Vietnamese lady who came in with her laptop. One of her brothers is in Vietnam, one is in Hawaii, and her kids are scattered across most of the mainland US, so she wants to learn how to do things that will let her see her family — email, Skype, and booking plane tickets, especially. One of her sons gave her the laptop, but none of her kids have had time to teach her how to use it, so we get it plugged in, and I show her how to set up an email account. Before I know it, the hour’s gone, and we’ve barely covered half of what she wants to know… so we make arrangements to meet at the local library, and I’ll keep helping her out.

While she openly admits to being nervous, she’s clearly a bright woman, and despite her protests that she’s never touched a computer before, she picks it up pretty quickly. She’s also pretty fascinating; while in the US, she worked as a teacher and social worker, and before moving here, she lived in Vietnam, Cambodia, France, and Germany, and speaks at least half a dozen languages.

Ten years later, we still see each other every other month or so, but these days it’s mostly for coffee or lunch. She now has a smartphone and can email, Skype, and web-surf like a pro, and though she still occasionally asks for my help changing her security settings or troubleshooting a problem, she’s one tech-savvy grandma. She’s also just a genuinely lovely person.

I’ve met most of her family and she’s met most of mine; when we see each other, we often bring each other a small gift like a bar of scented soap or an interesting bit of jewelry or a plate of cookies. My boyfriend and my parents quite adore her, and when we go out to eat, we always end up happily arguing about who gets to treat the other! She’s become an adoptive aunt/grandma, and one of my favorite people.

I’m glad she swallowed her nerves and came into my high school ten years ago!

Voicing Her Thoughts At The Right Time

, , | Friendly Related | April 15, 2017

(I have not been having the greatest week. First my car starts throwing out warning lights, and then I get word from my mother that a close family friend, my brother’s godfather, has died unexpectedly.)

Me: “I should really go to the funeral, but I’m not sure I want to take my car out on the highway since it’s been acting up…”

Roommate: “Why don’t you take mine? I got it checked out before I drove home for my grandmother’s funeral a couple months ago, and I’m not going anywhere this weekend except for choir practice.”

Me: “Awesome. Thanks!”

(I get to the church where the funeral is being held and hug my brother’s godmother, who has always been “Aunt” to me and my siblings, although we’re not related. I’m sitting beside her while she looks at the program for the funeral, when all of a sudden she bursts out:)

Aunt: “I told them I didn’t want that hymn, but there it is! [Uncle] hated that hymn! I don’t want it sung at his funeral! What are we going to do now?”

(Suddenly I realize. I have my roommate’s car, which means I have her music books, jncluding the piece she sang for her grandmother’s funeral, which I helped her learn.)

Me: “I think I have something I could put in, [Aunt], If that would be okay with you?”

(It is okay with her, and with the organist, and with everyone at the funeral if I could judge by the number of people wiping their eyes. But the best compliment I got is what my aunt told me afterwards.)

Aunt: “You always loved to sing when you were a little girl, and your voice was okay, but it wasn’t anything terribly special. At least, that’s what I thought. Your uncle always used to tell me, ‘Wait and see. Wait until she grows up. It will be something really amazing then.’ And he was right.”

(That’s when I cried.)

You’d Be Demented Not To Help

, , , | Right | March 24, 2017

(I am a customer in this story, observing this. It’s about 95 degrees today, and an elderly woman comes in to the store wrapped in a coat over a sweater.)

Worker: “Hi, Mrs. [Customer]! How are you today? Did you walk all the way here bundled up like that?”

Elderly Woman: “Yes. I’m running away.”

Worker: *laughing* “Running away? Was there another fight at bingo today?”

Elderly Woman: “No, my mom was being mean to me and I got mad and ran away.”

(At this, the workers eyes go wide; she mouths an apology to me before paging for another cashier. She leads the elderly woman over to a chair and encourages her to take off her coat and gets her a bottle of water. I hear her telling the woman to stay there for a moment and walks away to make a phone call. Curious, I wander over to see if everything is okay and hear her asking someone if there are any drivers to pick the woman up.)

Me: “Is everything okay? I can call a cab for her if you need.”

Worker: “No, that’s quite all right, thank you. Just making sure she gets home okay.”

(She goes back to the woman, who remembers she has a daughter with gentle prodding but can’t remember the phone number and didn’t bring her address book. The worker waves me over as I’m still standing nearby and asks me to stay with the woman for a minute. She comes back a moment later with her purse.)

Worker: “All right, Mrs. [Customer], let’s get you home.”

(She proceeded to clock out and lead the woman outside to a shady spot to wait for the cab, then went with her. When I went back a few days later and asked about it the manager told me the woman had a really bad bout of dementia and that the worker had recognized that and wanted to make sure she got back to the living facility safely. The woman was moved to a secured floor. I can only hope that if something happens to my grandparents or me that we have a worker like that to help us.)

Good People Meet Good People

, , | Hopeless | November 3, 2016

(This had been a really bad week where most of our customers, even the regulars, were absolutely terrible. We have been yelled at numerous times and basically been treated like we aren’t good enough for basic human respect. One of our elderly regulars came in. My coworker of the day and I are the two youngest people at our store and we help her pick out some gifts.)

Me: “All right, your total is $[total].”

Customer: “Okay, and thank you so much. My grandkids will love these. They’re such good kids and you don’t always find that with young people. Just like you two. You’re both wonderful and I’m always glad to have your help.”

(We thanked her and her kind words helped us get through the rest of the day.)