Time To Say Bye Bye Baby

| Vienna, Austria | Friendly | February 3, 2016

(I’m in an elevator leaving a subway station. Entering with me are an old man and a young woman, the latter with a baby stroller filled with shopping bags.)

Old Man: *leaning above the stroller* “Hey, sweet baby, look at me!”

Young Woman: *with suppressed laughter* “There is no baby.”

Old Man: *still face to face with nothing but plastic bags* “Why won’t he talk to me? He’s so quiet!”

Young Woman: *no longer amused* “That’s my shopping.”

(We exit the elevator, the old man still doesn’t want to let go of the imaginary baby and sets out to follow her. I start walking into the other direction until his tone changes and my conscience kicks in.)

Old Man: *angrily* “Did I scare him? Why doesn’t he answer when I talk to him?”

Me: *calling back towards them* “Hey, [Some Random Female Name], where are you going? Come on, hurry, our exit is over there.”

(She was very relieved to take the long way to the original destination.)

No Stopping Him Now

| Boston, MA, USA | Friendly | June 11, 2015

(A young boy is misbehaving on the subway train. To try to calm him, his mother is reading him the list of stops.)

Mother: “So we have Haymarket, then we have State, then Downtown Crossing, then Chinatown—”

(At the mention of this last stop, the boy’s eyes go wide.)

Boy: *excitedly* “You mean this train goes all the way to CHINA?”

Bus Stop Flop

| Stockholm, Sweden | Working | May 11, 2015

(I’m a tourist in Stockholm, and have purchased a blue chipcard that lets me ride the subway for three days. After the third day, I need to get to my ferry, so I decide to buy one more single ticket. I’m in the little underground shop that sells single tickets.)

Me: “Hello, can I have a single ticket, please?”

Cashier: “Sure.” *rings me up*

Me: “You need my blue card?”

Cashier: “No.”

Me: “Are you sure? The ticket needs to be on the card, right?”

Cashier: “No. Here’s your receipt.”

Me: “But how do I go through…?”

Cashier: “Just go. The clerk will open the gate for you.”

Me: “But I…” *sigh*

(I go up to the clerk at the gates, and show him my receipt.)

Me: “Can you put my ticket on my card?”

Clerk: “Here you go.” *opens gate*

Me: “That’s not what I needed…”

Clerk: “GO!”

(Confused, I proceed through the gate, no longer able to speak to him. I go on the subway and at my final stop, I get out. I approach the clerk at the subway gates.)

Me: “Hi! I have my card, and this ticket. Can you transfer the ticket to my card?”

Clerk: “Uh, no. Your receipt is your ticket.”

Me: “I need to go on a bus from here. Can you please transfer it?”

Clerk: “No. You can use the ticket on the bus.”

Me: “All right. Where are the buses?”

Clerk: “Go down to the subway platform and at the end are the bus stops.”

(I followed his directions and found another exit at the far end of the platform. There was a stairway going down to a bus stop, but my number wasn’t listed, so I assumed it was somewhere else. I hesitated to go out because at that exit, there was no clerk on duty at the gate. Eventually, I went out, but there was no other bus stop. I ended up walking the last mile in the rain, along the roadside, with a heavy backpack on my back.)

The World Smiles With You

| Toronto, ON, Canada | Friendly | September 14, 2014

(I am walking up the steps from the subway station to catch a bus home from university, and notice a man busking at the top of the stairs. No one is paying attention to him, and I feel bad, but I don’t have any cash on me, so I make sure to smile at him as I walk past.)

Performer: “Hey. Wait!”

Me: “Sorry, me?”

Performer: “Yeah, you! You smiled at me. God bless you!”

Me: “Oh, you’re welcome!”

(He seemed absolutely delighted, and it made me happy as well to get a reminder of how easy it is to make someone’s day a bit better.)

Steel Yourself For Some Stealing

| Paris, France | Friendly | July 21, 2014

(In the subway, some people sneak a free ride by jumping after you in the gate. I HATE it when they do it to me without asking me first. However, when people ask me politely if they can sneak in behind me, I always give them one of my tickets, hoping it will inspire them to be generous toward other people, too. Most of the time, they take my ticket, smile, and say ‘thank you.’ Today I’m about to enter and an elderly lady comes to me.)

Lady: “Hello. May I sneak in with you, please?”

Me: “No, take this!”

(I give her a ticket and I enter. I’m waiting for my train when she comes to me, probably after sneaking in with someone else, and shows me the unused ticket I gave her.)

Lady: “Excuse me. I cannot steal this from you.”

Me: “You’re not stealing anything from me. This is a gift.”

Lady: “I don’t want to take your ticket. I’m a Christian. I don’t want to steal from other people!”

Me: “Accepting a gift is not stealing and anyway, it cost me hardly more than one euro. I just want to be nice to you. Please.”

Lady: “No, I cannot do that!”

Me: “Please, take it and help a complete stranger in turn. Then suggest to him or her to help another stranger. And so on!”

Lady: “No, I don’t want to do that! I’m a good Christian. I don’t steal from other people. Just take your ticket back!”

Me: “You’re a Christian and you don’t want me to make a good deed?”

Lady: “I don’t want to STEAL!”

Me: “Actually, sneaking in IS stealing from the transportation control, you know? I don’t want to be accessory to stealing. Please, just take it. It’s just a ticket.”

Lady: “No! It would be WRONG!”

(She left the ticket on a bench instead of accepting it. The thing is, there are often controls in that subway and the fines are huge. Not only was she uncaring and rude, she was also stupid not to accept my gift.)

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