Fluent In Python And Kindness

, , , , | Friendly | February 12, 2021

I’m a programmer from France, and at the beginning of this story I am living in the UK. One day, my mom, who works in the town hall of a little village in France, tells me about a man who posted an announcement for a “web admin who can use [Technology].” My grandparents and mother know him; he is in charge of the local movie association. The village is too little to have his own movie theater, so this man decided to display movies in the church once or twice a week. He is in his fifties or something and lost his son to cancer last year.

I’ve never used [Technology], but I think I could give it a try, and I call the man.

Man: “Hi, thanks for helping me. You know, it’s my son that created the website, but now, I need to add something to it, and obviously, I can’t do it on my own.”

He gives me the technical details, and I work on it over the weekend. It’s not really hard to do, but I’ve never worked with this and I’m picking up work from someone else. The son did leave some documentation on the website. Yes, programmer folks, he left documentation for his side project.

I manage to do it and call the man back. He thanks me profusely.

Man: “You know, this website, that’s kind of the last thing I got from my son. I would have been so sad to let it go and not update it. Thanks again. We’re going to open a bottle of champagne with my wife!”

It’s clear that he has tears in his eyes, and I have some, too, of course. 

Me: “Yes, it was not a big deal, really. I was happy to help!”

Two days later, my mom sends me a picture of a 100€ bill.

Mom: “He came by the town hall this morning and left that for you. I told him it was too much but he insisted.”

I was not expecting any payment at all, so that was really nice of him!

Fast forward six months. I come back to France, and the man asks for my help another time, which I gladly accept. I invite him to come to my grandparents’ house so we can finally meet in person. Before coming, he sends me a text.

Man: “Hi! Sorry if it seems inappropriate, but what is your birth year?”

I answered, and he and his wife arrived at our home a few hours later with a bottle of wine dated from my birth year! We talked, I helped him, and it was really nice to meet them both.

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You Are NOT Cleared For Landing!

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 11, 2021

Babies on aeroplanes tend to have ear pain during changes in altitude due to pressure changes. Pediatricians suggest feeding them during takeoff and landing as swallowing equalizes the pressure in their ears and stops the pain. I should also note that my son is exclusively breastfed which, while not particularly unusual, is still not the norm in the time when this story takes place.

In the 1990s, I have to fly long distance with my three-month-old son. He dealt with the first long flight with no problem but fussed on takeoff and landing. Our connecting flight is only thirty-five minutes long, so pretty much the entire flight would be changing altitude. I decide to let him nurse for the whole flight to save him any discomfort. 

We get in our seat, with him on my lap with a “baby belt,” and an elderly Southern gentleman sat next to me. As we taxi to the runway, I discreetly lift my shirt and settle my son to feed. We get in the air, and the man strikes up a typical traveler’s conversation about where we are going, luggage problems, our families, etc. It is all fine until we start to descend.

Man: “I hate this; it always makes my ears pop. Do yours?”

Me: “Yes, I have to keep swallowing. It’s not very nice.”

Man: “Your baby is so good; he’s slept through everything.”

Me: “Mmm.”

The man reaches over and gently strokes my son’s head with one finger.

Man: “He reminds me of [His Great-Grandson] with all that hair. He’s precious.”

Me: “Uh, yes…”

I shift my arm to block his hand.

Man: “I can’t believe his ears don’t hurt. I’d have thought it would wake him up.”

Me: “He’s feeding. It helps stop the pain.”

Man: “Oh, do you need to feed him? I can hold him while you get his bottle if you like.”

He reaches over and cups his hand round my son’s head like you would if you were about to hold a baby.

Me: “I am feeding him. Right now.”

Man: “Uh?”

His hand is literally one inch from my nipple.

Me: “I’m breastfeeding him. Right now.”

The poor man snatched his hand back so fast! He was blushing bright red, staring anywhere except at me, and stammering apologies. He was SO embarrassed. I did feel kind of bad, but I thought it was pretty obvious, especially as I’d switched my son from one breast to the other partway through the flight — while discussing flight delays with the man!

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Not Ringing Any Bells

, , , , | Friendly | February 10, 2021

I live on the ground floor of an apartment building. It’s around midnight and I’m in bed. Suddenly, my doorbell rings. Not expecting anyone or anything, especially not at this time, I figure whoever is ringing wants someone else in the building — maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend working late or something — and just missed the right bell. 

But then my bell rings again. I roll out of bed and pad over to the intercom.

Me: “Yes?”

Guy: “Yeah, sorry, I rang the wrong bell.”

Me: “What, twice in a row?”

Guy: “Yeah, sorry. Can you let me in, though?”

Me: *Pauses* “No? Because I have no clue who you are?!”

Guy: “All right, then.”

Bewildered, I went back to bed. A few moments later, I heard the front door open and someone going upstairs. Seems like the third time was the charm.

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Just Wait For The Reunion, Buddy

, , , , | Friendly | February 6, 2021

A friend calls me one day to say he has someone who wants to talk to me. He puts this other guy on the phone.

Me: “Um… hello?”

Guy: “Hey, this is [My Name], right?”

Me: “Who is this?”

Guy: “I’m [Guy].”

Me: *Still confused* “Okay…”

Guy: “We went to high school together.”

Me: “Oh. Okay. Uh, when did you graduate?”

Guy: “2003. You were a couple of years behind me.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess.”

Guy: “Don’t you remember me?”

Me: “I don’t; I’m sorry.”

Guy: “I was on the football team.”

Me: “Yeah, I didn’t really—”

Guy: “You were in the band, right?”

I’m getting pretty uncomfortable.

Me: “Um, was there something I could do for you?”

Guy: *Crestfallen* “You don’t remember me? I was friends with your neighbor, [Neighbor]. We used to go hunting together.”

Me: “Yeah, I don’t hunt. I don’t know who you are, so if that’s all you wanted—”

Guy: “You’re a f****** liar. You were a weirdo and nobody liked you.”

Me: “Well, I have no idea who you are, but apparently, you know all this stuff about me. Who’s the real weirdo here?”

He hung up. I called my friend later and told him to never give that guy my contact info. My friend apologized, saying he thought I knew him since he knew so much about me. I looked through my old yearbooks to see this superstar football guy. I still have no idea who he is.

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Racing To Make Accusations

, , , , | Friendly | February 5, 2021

I race dirt oval stock cars a few nights a week. I’m in a mid-level class — not the rookie divisions, but not the top-dollar, fastest cars, either. Mostly, it’s a class for drivers to have fun and compete without needing to spend multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars every summer. As such, as competitive as we are on the track, all of us drivers and our pit crews are also great friends who go to great lengths to loan each other spare parts or extra hands during emergency repairs. We want to race each other, and racing is no fun when all the other guys are broken down in the pits.

On opening night one season, a bunch of us have gotten to the pits early and are hanging out shooting the breeze, waiting for the racing to start. At the last minute, a massive enclosed trailer shows up at the pit entrance. This thing is easily fancier than any other trailer in the pit area — even the top-level classes — and looks like something that should be on pit lane at a NASCAR race, not just a weekend dirt track show.

The pit area at the track is generally divided by car class, and to everybody’s surprise, this fancy trailer heads over to the class that I race in. They park and start unloading the car, and all the pit crew guys are wearing matching uniforms — compared to everyone else in grubby jeans and T-shirts. Nobody from the trailer makes an effort to introduce themselves to anyone else, and they’re giving off an arrogant vibe, so we all comply and stay away from them.

We get through hot laps and move into the heat races. I’m in the same heat as the new car from the fancy trailer. The green flag drops and we all take off racing.

A few laps into the race, another driver and I make contact, and I get knocked off course — and straight into the new car. I end up hitting him hard and damaging both our cars badly enough that we can’t finish the race. We get towed back to the pit area, and before the new car is even off the hook, the driver is out of his car and storming over to me.

Before I can get out of my car, he starts yelling.

Driver: “I’m going to sue you for damaging my racecar! You ruined my easy win against all you amateur fools!”

Blah, blah, blah. I stay in my car because I don’t want to risk getting suspended from the track for fighting on opening night, and the other driver eventually gives up trying to fight, turns on his heel, and stomps back to his own trailer.

I climb out of my car and some of the drivers and pit crews from my class and other classes gather around to make sure everything is okay. I explain what happened, and after my adrenaline wears off, I walk over to the fancy trailer to try and explain what happened and offer to lend a hand to their repair efforts. 

Pit Crew Member: “Get lost!”

So, I headed back to my own trailer while they loaded up the car and left the track.

Meanwhile, the other drivers, knowing that sometimes bad stuff happens in racing, helped me bodge together a quick repair job on my car, and we managed to get the car running in time for the feature race later that night. I didn’t finish the race — some of the bodge jobs just weren’t permanent enough to stand up — but at least I started, unlike the guy with the fancy trailer that I assume was filled with all sorts of professional-quality tools and spare parts.

The team with the fancy trailer continued to show up every weekend and continued to give off the same arrogant vibe. I don’t know if they ever actually tried to sue me or not. I can’t imagine they found a lawyer who agreed to take on a case where a RACE CAR got damaged during a CAR RACE. But even if they had found a lawyer, all drivers at the track have to sign a waiver agreeing that they accept the risks and that they can’t sue the track or other drivers for car damage or injury unless it is blatantly intentional, so I would have been covered anyway.

I managed to win a handful of races that season. The “professional” team with the fancy trailer won absolutely nothing.

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