Category: Transportation


A Mechanical Heart

| Canada | Kind Strangers, Transportation

(I’m a university student changing tires on my truck for the first time. It is minus-20-ish degrees outside and I mess up and break my jack. I am outside for a couple hours, freezing, and am about to give up. Then this guy shows up.)

Guy: “Hey, your truck looks bad; is it all right?”

Me: “I was trying to change a busted tire, broke the jack, and now my whole axle is on the floor.”

Guy: “I just finished delivering pizza to your landlord. I can help you out. Move over.” *he then takes everything from me* “Go warm up. I’ll be done soon.”

Me: “How do you know so much?”

Guy: “I was a truck mechanic for [Company] for 20 years. You’re doing it completely wrong. You could have broken something, eh?”

Me: “Oh, man, you just saved me 100 bucks from bringing it into a shop!”

Guy: “Just trying to help.”

Me: “Okay, I think I got it. Thanks!” *I felt bad and somewhat embarrassed*

Guy: “No, I can’t just leave. You could be killed. How would you feel if you left and someone died?”

Me: *speechless*

(After he was done in a flash, I paid him 15 dollars for his help. Love being a Canadian!)


Patience Is Its Own Reward, But I Won’t Say No To Coffee!

| Geneva, Switzerland | At The Checkout, Food & Drink, Transportation

(I’m waiting in line for my coffee in my usual coffee shop. There are two ladies in front of me. The one just before me is a very chic-dressed, unsmiling lady on the phone. She keeps getting out of the queue while talking on her phone, coming back in in front of me, looking at the display case, then out again. It gets unclear whether she’s still queuing or not. When my turn comes, she’s been gone a while. I start to order but she barges back in, without a “sorry” and orders her own food. Since she WAS there before me, I have better things to do than argue, but the barista and I exchange a look. She orders and leaves. She never let go of her phone.)

Barista: “Good afternoon! Sorry about that, and thanks for your patience.”

Me: “It’s okay. She was like those cars that don’t have their blinkers on, but you KNOW they’re going to switch lanes!”

(He agreed with me and gave me a free drink for being always smiling and pleasant! It was worth being patient for!)


Convention-al Kindness

| Finland | Awesome, Kind Strangers, Transportation

(I’m at a comic convention where I have been hanging out with both good friends and casual acquaintances. I bought the train tickets back home beforehand but pretty much everyone I know begins to leave over an hour before my train does. I’m tired after the three convention days and since during this time I am still living in a small village, these events were pretty much the only time I got social. I’m talking with this guy who I’ve met only a few times, always at conventions, so we don’t know each other that well. He and his girlfriend have just talked about leaving themselves.)

Me: “You guys are leaving, too?”

Guy: “Yep. Better do it just before the con ends so that you don’t get stuck in the human mass.”

Me: “That seems to be the tactic for everyone I know here. I’ve still got an hour and a half before my train leaves and I have no idea what to do with that time. And I’ve got a train switch that’s over half an hour.”

Guy: “Where do you need to switch?”

Me: “[City].”

Guy: “Hey, that’s where [Girlfriend]’s parents live! Right next to the train station, too. We’re actually going to drive to their place straight from here and there’s room in the car. Just hop in and come with us. We’ll keep you company until your train leaves.”

(I was so stunned that someone who, at the time, was a casual friend I saw maybe twice a year would not only offer me a ride, but also invite me to hang out with him, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s parents, just so I wouldn’t need to be lonely. It’s been several years now and today he’s one of my closest friends.)

Kind Strangers Kindness

Kindness Is In The (Metro)Cards

| New York City, NY, USA | Kind Strangers, Transportation

On my way into work my automatic-refill MetroCard simply will not function (“Please swipe again… Please swipe again….”). I miss a train because of this.

So, I try my backup MetroCard. It is 10 cents short of a full fare so I go to refill it. The machine says that it can’t refill my card AND won’t exchange it for a new one like it normally would do, so now I have two defunct cards and really don’t want to spend $1 to get a brand new card to fill up. (The fee is encourage people to use their cards until their expiration date; you get a new one for free if yours is expired.)

Now I’ve missed two trains. Luckily there is an actual human being stationed at the booth on the far end of the station — very rare in recent years — but he tells me that both cards are damaged and that the only way to get my money and a replacement card is to mail them in. So now I’m looking at missing a third train because I have to walk back to the machines AND I have to waste a dollar getting a new card. I know it’s just a dollar, but it’s the principle of the thing!

Then he says, “You’re on your way to work, right? Why don’t you just go through the gate and try to deal with this over your lunch hour?” And he lets me in for free! So now I’m late to work, but not as late as I would have been if I’d missed yet another train. Thank you, understanding MTA worker!!!

That night, I have to stay past nine pm at work and am finally heading home. Of course, I had no time over lunch to get a new card BUT I did find yet another backup MetroCard stashed away. Hooray! When I get to the subway station I see that the area before you get to the platform is packed and reeks of pot — I am very sensitive to smells so this is giving me a headache. A train comes in and a surprisingly huge number of people are trying to get through the turnstiles at once. When I finally get to swipe my card after being buffeted around by people going in all directions (I’m under 5′ tall; most people very much are not!), I find… that this backup one doesn’t work either.

Fighting my way back through the people I have now held up, and missing a train, of course, I go to the MetroCard vending machine and miraculously it works correctly and lets me exchange my apparently expired card for a new one AND to add money to it! I check it at the separate “check your card here” machine juuuust to be sure, just as another train comes in.

All is well so I again get in line to go through the turnstiles and behind me is the source of the pot smell: a somewhat disheveled young man. Now my eyes are stinging from the reek and I am decidedly grumpy. Eventually it’s my turn but I know all is well because the machines both told me it is. Then I see that the reason the lines are so long is that all the turnstiles are giving people trouble more often than not (“Please swipe again… Please swipe again… Go!… Please swipe again at this turnstile… Please swipe again…”).

Of course, mine is not one of the lucky ones. But then pot-guy says, from behind me with a friendly smile, “Here, use mine. I have a swipe!” I don’t want to take his money so I thank him and assure him of what the machines told me, that my new card does in fact work, and slide into another turnstile’s lane and try there… No luck. Pot guy says, “No, really, use mine!” still with a big smile on his face. We’ve already missed the second train but I cannot bear to fight backward through the crowd again so I accept gratefully and it works immediately. His card is the lucky charm!

I hand it back and… he gets “Please swipe again.” I feel terrible and told him so but without a care and with a smile and a wave he says, “No problem, man!” and slips back through the crowd toward the machines to see if he can improve his luck.

Thank you, mysterious pot-guy! You gave me a headache in one way but REALLY eased and even worse headache and let me finally get home.


On A Mission For Parking

| Las Vegas, NV, USA | Family & Kids, Religion, Transportation

My wife and I are visiting Las Vegas for the weekend. It’s Sunday morning and we are trying to go to Mass, but are unable to drive very far downtown because of a marathon race being run on the Strip and other streets. What would normally be a 10- or 15-minute drive became an hour and a half. I’m having considerable trouble finding a place to park and both of us are in a grumpy, not-very-Christian mood.

The homily is given by a visiting missionary priest. He talks about how in Central America his order was trying to get more children in their schools so they might have a chance at getting out of poverty. They’d even feed the kids twice a day.

This was news to the poor villager parents who would put their kids to work for twelve hours a day, as soon as they were 8 years old, picking through garbage dumps for anything recyclable so they could make a couple dollars. The priest mentions, one boy who found something that still looked edible… and had to fight off vultures for it.

We looked at each other in amazement. We’re getting stressed about Las Vegas traffic, while elsewhere, eight-year-old kids are picking through garbage. What a reality check! We decided to give rather generously to the collection for the priest’s mission.

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