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Kindness Has No Baggage Allowance Limit

, , , , , | Right | November 30, 2023

I was at the airport with a friend. We were Account majors, and we were traveling to another city to attend a six-month review class for our board exam.

I was already pretty broke, having paid a large amount for the rent deposit plus the plane ticket fare, so when I went to check in and was told that I was about 8 kgs (about 18 lbs) over with my luggage, I panicked. I mentally did the calculations in my head. I could afford to pay for the extra baggage, but it would really put a large dent in my allowance for food, books, travel, etc. I was already feeling a bit anxious being away from family and the pressure to do well in the exam, so I was thinking this was already off to a bad start.

I must have been at the check-in counter for a while when a guy in his late thirties — who was checking in as well at the counter next to me — approached me .

Random Guy: “Miss, you can have my baggage allowance. I have no use for it anyway; I just have my backpack with me.”

He then proceeded to give me the tags for the baggage allowance and informed the woman at the counter while I was just staring dumbfounded. I hastily gave him my sincere gratitude after recovering, which he just casually waved off. Then, he walked away after wishing me well.

Now, having passed the exam, I work as an auditor. I can never forget the act of selflessness the stranger did that truly helped me be where I am today.

The Need For A Playground Is Not Grounded

, , , , , , , , | Right | November 29, 2023

In my time working as a waiter, both as a room server and as management, in a restaurant in the centre of Rome, there have been a lot of baffling complaints, sometimes about food, sometimes about the service, and sometimes about even the decorations’ arrangement. So, I kind of have seen them all, and I used to think I was prepared for pretty much everything.

Then, one day, during an off-season day, I see a family of four composed of two adults, one preschooler girl, and a boy who is clearly older than the girl. Beyond noticing them as they enter, I don’t pay much attention to them and let a waitress seat them, but then, after a little while, the same waitress seeks me out.

Waitress: “[My Name], the mom at table seventeen wants you to come over and talk to them. They’re foreigners, so be aware.”

And off I go. I see that the dad is saying something in his native language to the daughter fussing on the chair, and the mom is looking at me with a scowl on her face.

Me: *In English* “Good day. Have you asked for me?”

Mother: *Speaking slowly* “Yes! I asked your waitress if you had a playground here, but she said she did not understand.”

Me: *Blinking* “A playground? Inside here, you mean?”

Mother: “Yes, inside. You do have it, no?”

Me: “No, madam, we do not have a playground in this restaurant.”

Mother: *Gesticulating furiously to mimic the concept* “Again? I mean a place with small sliding things and climbing bars, not trees and sand.”

Me: “I got what you meant the first time; this restaurant doesn’t have either one.”

Mother: “Don’t be strict with words. I clearly mean a place where children can play away from the table.”

Me: *Resisting the urge to roll my eyes* “Madam, I know what you meant. In this restaurant, there is no playground, but you can have your children go around the table if they don’t disturb other patrons and the servers.”

The mother scoffs and says something in her language. I shrug and go back to my other duties until I get called again… for the same table.

Waiter: “[My Name], sir, come quick. Table seventeen is getting antsy.”

I am expecting a complaint about the prices. I am expecting a complaint about the lack of that d***ed playground.

I am not expecting to see the waitress from earlier having an incoherent shouting match with the mother, drawing the attention of nearby tables, while the girl is all red-faced and being restrained by the father, and the boy is looking at me pleadingly as I arrive. I rush to separate the two.

Me: “Wait, wait, wait! You all calm down this instant! What’s the problem here?”

Before anyone else can speak…

Boy: *In English* “Mom angry you have no play place. She ask me to pull sister skirt and do thing.

He mimes the gesture of pulling on a skirt and then pantomimes something unclear

Boy: “But I no wish to; is dirty and bad.”

The mother barks something at the boy while the waitress turns to me.

Waitress: “He’s trying to say he was refusing to change the sister’s diaper in the middle of the room. I intervened just as this lady tried to start changing the girl herself.”

Me: *In Italian* “Ah, so that’s how it is, huh? I’ll get to it.” *In English, to the family* “You pay up for what you consumed and get out.”

Mother: “No! You don’t give us access to a playground, I leave you a present. That’s my family’s way!”

At this point, the girl, well out of breath, is angrily seething on a chair, so the father is finally in condition to intervene and say something to his wife, which is enough to make her stop angrily gibbering. Instead, she leaves the bill on the table and then gets up to leave, taking the children with her. I leave to get the tab and present it to the man.

Father: *In English* “Sorry for my wife. We’re Czech, and she’s here just to take the usual pictures. She’s close-minded, and it was a fight to take her here instead of to McDonald’s.”

Me: “I could see that. But why the playground?”

Father: “A lot of Czech restaurants have one; she was convinced it worked like that everywhere. Again, I’m sorry for her behaviour.” 

And with that, he paid, tipped the customary 10%, and left in a hurry.

We Imagine He Took That REALLY Well

, , , , , , , , | Right | November 28, 2023

I was in charge of Public Relations for a large IT company, and as a result, I had to handle an American executive as we did press interviews in six different European countries in five days. The main problem was that I was with an American who hated Europe. He was grumpy because there was no jogging track around the Eiffel Tower and because no UK journalists wanted to meet him for breakfast meetings at 6:00 am. In Paris, he insisted we eat dinner at an Angus Steak House.

At the departure lounge in the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, he went into total meltdown.

Client: “I can’t stand all these French people smoking. Make them stop.”

Me: “Yeah, good one.”

Client: “I’m serious. Go over there and tell them to stop smoking. Now.”

I walked over to the group of French students who were chain-smoking Gitanes and asked them if they knew the time. I went back to the client and told him they had said, “Go forth and multiply.”

That Translation Doesn’t Cut The Mustard

, , , , | Right | November 25, 2023

I was a tourist visiting Spain with a large tour group from the US. One morning at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, one of my fellow tourists started yelling at a staff member.

Tourist: “Mustardo!”

The staff member looked very confused. Annoyed about the delay and about someone in my group making us look bad, I spoke to him in English.

Me: “What do you want?”

Tourist: “Mustard. I’m trying to make a sandwich.”

Me: “That’s not the word for mustard in their language. Or any language. Ugh, you’re making us all look bad.”

I pulled out my phone and opened the Google Translate app.

Me: “It’s mostaza.”

It turns out they did not have mustard at this hotel, anyway.

Not Paying? Well, That’s Just Not Cricket

, , , , , , , , , | Right | November 24, 2023

I am on vacation in England. I order a crepe from a street vendor, and we chat amicably for a few minutes while he makes the crepe. I’m an American, and he’s from Bangladesh, and we both laugh that, as an American, I’m the only guy I know who likes cricket.

He hands the crepe over, I thank him, and I go on my way. It takes me a few moments before a panic comes over me. I quickly double back and arrive back at the crepe stand.

Me: “I forgot to pay you!”

Vendor: “You paid me with conversation and a shared love of cricket.”

He didn’t accept my money, but I did go back there every day for the rest of my trip and continued our conversation while I enjoyed every flavor of crepe he offered.

And yes, every time after that, I did pay!