This heart warming story was on the news so I thought I’d share it with you.
An elderly resident living in an apartment block recently had stomach surgery. Alone, hungry, in pain and unable to walk to the nearby market to get her meal, she turned to the only person within calling distance: the cleaner, Mr Kalam.
Mr Kalam, a foreign national, had worked as a cleaner in the neighbourhood for ten years and was a familiar face to many of the residents. While washing the common corridor outside of the lady’s unit, he heard her call out to him. She told him she had no food; could he buy some for her?
Mr Kalam did one better. He hurried to where he’d kept his belongings – a good ten minute walk away – and fetched his own homecooked lunch of curry and rice. Wanting to hurry back to the lady, he borrowed an e-scooter from another resident.
And was stopped by passing policemen.
Because cleaning crew are not allowed to use e-scooters, for their own and the residents’ safety, Mr Kalam had some explaining to do. Fortunately, the policemen were understanding and sent him on his way.
The elderly lady got her lunch and the police featured Mr Kalam on their Facebook page. Mr Kalam, whose supervisor credits him as one of the kindest men he’s ever met, received a letter of commendation from the Member of Parliament for that neighbourhood.
Years ago, when I was still at primary school, the family was scrambling around getting breakfast and packed lunches ready one morning. Amid the usual chaos of looking for items that only ever go missing at that hour, came the banging on the front door.
It was Sally, who lived six houses away, and she was frantic.
“Have you seen my mother?”
None of us had. Apparently, Aunt Lannie (everybody called her that) had been left alone at breakfast for mere minutes while her caregiver fetched more coffee or whatever it was she’d asked for. Those minutes were all it took for Aunt Lannie to disappear. Her family had looked everywhere at home and were in the process of expanding the search area, leading them to us.
I remember my annoyance that the school bus arrived at this critical point of developments, and we kids were herded up the bus. We would learn the rest of the story after school.
While waiting for the police to arrive, the menfolk had decided to spread out on foot, out of the neighbourhood and towards the city centre. My father took the path that would lead to the sports centre: an open track with a soccer pitch in the middle, spectator stands at one end and exercise stations at the other. This centre was a 15-minute drive from our home, making it unlikely that Aunt Lannie would have ended up there.
Yet, there she was. My father recalls his shock at seeing her sitting in the sand pit used for long jumps. How she got there in her nightclothes and one slipper, no one ever knew. My father’s problem then was how to get her home. He had no mobile phone, no coins for the payphone and, other than carry Aunt Lannie home, the solution was to flag down a charitable passing motorist.
At this point, I should explain that Aunt Lannie was 75 years old and had Alzeimer’s. She required round-the-clock supervision, hence the caregiver. On a good day, she might engage a neighbour in a lucid, normal conversation, but on a bad day, she would yell at whoever was passing to “take me home”. We could only assume she intended to head “home” when she went missing.
My father managed to stop a passing cab. He admits to some relief that he could honestly assure Aunt Lannie repeatedly he really was taking her home, particularly when she started fussing about being in the unfamiliar vehicle with two strange men. He also admits to panic when Aunt Lannie relieved herself fully in the cab.
Anyway, by the time I returned from school, Aunt Lannie had been lovingly bathed and seen to by her doctors. My father, the driver and some neighbours had cleaned out the cab, and I learnt that my father had actually taken every side road and back lane on his way to the sports centre.
I still remember that strange feeling that wrapped around everyone that evening when returning neighbours were told about the incident or spoke about their roles in it. There were no recriminations about how Aunt Lannie managed to sneak away, no “should haves” or “why didn’t yous”. There was only quiet gratitude that everything turned out well. And that strange feeling? I’m going to call it the spirit of a community that came together when a neighbour was in need.
April is the month of my father’s birthday, so I’ve decided to post one or two stories about him. I can’t verify any of these, but folks still talk about his exploits. He, on the other hand, pretends they never happened.
Years ago, when he was considerably younger, my father cycled to work. On this particular evening, he was cycling home when he heard an almighty crash behind him, and felt a warmish whoosh. He remembers panicking because he had no idea what had happened. He thought if he moved, whatever it was might happen to him too.
It was the scream and the thud that made him alight and turn around.
In the uncovered drain that still runs alongside the road, lay a young girl who had been hit by a car. The car, which had been travelling in the opposite direction, had been hit by a bus (the crash my father heard). The impact sent it across three lanes to hit the girl, who had been walking on the pavement, just steps behind my father. The car was upside down several metres away.
My father has never said much about what happened next, only that others checked on the driver and the passengers in the bus. The terrified girl (let’s call her Anne) kept crying and asking him to call her mum, so he got the number and went knocking on the doors of nearby houses (cell phones were a rarity then). He’s referred to this as the hardest call he’s ever made because he didn’t know how to soften the news, and he felt the mum’s anguish down the phone.
The emergency vehicles arrived and the casualties were attended to. Because Anne’s mum had yet to arrive, my father rode in the ambulance with Anne, after ensuring that the police officers would update her mum. I remember my father calling home from the hospital, then being really late for dinner. He was also missing his bicycle which, to this day, no one knows where it went.
I remember coming home from school about three weeks later and finding a family of five in the living room. It was Anne, her parents and siblings. She had a cast and healing bruises but was recovering well.
Turns out, the family had returned to the accident site to talk to the homeowners in order to locate my father because all they had was his name. Eventually someone told them where they thought he lived.
Anne revealed how he’d climbed into the drain to sit beside her after making that call, and kept her calm by telling stories about nothing in particular. It had meant the world to a frightened young girl, and the parents had wanted to thank him personally. His reply? Anne needed someone and she reminded him of me.
Today, our families still get together on festive occasions. There are grandkids now, and Anne’s mum still tells the story of how Anne first met the kind uncle.
I came across some posts describing the use of Tearable Puns a few weeks ago. Inspired by what these writers had done, I thought I’d try something similar at my workplace.
I typed out some puns I liked, printed them on coloured paper, cut them up and pasted them on contrasting coloured cards. I figured I would pin one pun each week.
On a Monday morning in early February, I pinned a punny card at the corner of my cubicle.
Don’t believe everything you hear about parasites, fleas and ticks – they’re all lice!
I waited. I had no idea if anyone would notice, much less react. In the meantime, there were emails to clear and reports to read.
Then footsteps slowed … stopped … silence … was that a snort? A head bobbed over the divider. “Aargh! That’s so … aargh! But good one!”
In the course of the week, colleagues stopped to giggle or groan. I was even presented with an eye roll by the boss – a considered honour. I knew I’d have to pin another pun the following Monday.
The same thing happened. Better yet: someone asked if I had more of where those came from. Sure I had; I put another one up the next Monday … and the next.
Fast forward to this week. A colleague stopped by to say: “You know, I was so fed up with the whole meeting! Then I saw your pun on my way to my desk and I just had to laugh. I tell you, my mood did a one-eighty. Keep putting those things up!”
Bakers share their secrets on a knead-to-know basis.
So there you go. An idea from bloggers is bringing some light hearted moments to a workplace in another part of the world.
To Laura Randazzo and Reading While Eating, thank you for the inspiration. To Through Open Lens, thank you for posting jokes with your pictures. A bunch of people now get a little sparkle of joy each week because of your kindness and generosity in sharing something witty.
This isn’t exactly a post about any particular act of kindness; more a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has dropped by to read, comment, like, follow and nominate – bless you! – me on my little journey. I’ve had so much fun sharing my experiences, and getting to know you and reading your posts!
Now, I know different folks enjoy different genres of music, so I’ve chosen ‘middle of the road’ songs that I feel reflect the kindness message to share with you all. I’ve included three songs for any little ones you may wish to play them to.
Anyway, please enjoy. Click on the italicised song title to link to the YouTube video (I’ve opted not to use the video screenshots here as eight rectangles at a go looked a bit much 😎).
Don’t get me wrong – I realise they are critical. Where else could we go if something’s gone wrong and we need to consult somebody?
But, really, do I have to tap this many numbers to establish my identity, my language preference, the type of service I require … after listening to lists of options where I’ve forgotten what Option 2 was because I’m trying to decide if Option 7 is more appropriate?
Then I hold, and listen to scratchy 80s music on a never-ending loop, interrupted by recorded messages announcing how the customer service officers are all busily engaged but I will be attended to shortly. I’m lucky if I get to speak to an actual person within 22 minutes, despite my call being of utmost importance.
So I dreaded this call to my library. You see, my phone died on me. Despite valiant resuscitation efforts, it became clear I needed a new phone. Fortunately, I’d backed up the old phone fairly recently so I was able to transfer data back from the computer, except for the ebooks I’d borrowed via the OverDrive app. Those books completely disappeared.
I reinstalled the app, logged back in, registered myself all over again … nothing. Now, I wouldn’t have minded if I’d lost my own ebooks. But these were library ebooks – would I now be liable for eternal e-fines because they would be forever overdue?
Life, as I’ve learnt, always has surprises.
A lady answered after five rings (yes, I counted). She was polite, cheerful and supremely apologetic that she was unable to help because she wasn’t familiar with OverDrive. If I would please hold, she’d transfer me to someone who could help.
Lionel Ritchie barely sang three bars before another lady answered. She patiently walked me through what I’d done, making encouraging noises along the way. Then she explained where I’d erred. I won’t bore anybody with the details but I understood her explanations, followed her subsequent instructions and – behold! – the ebooks were back in my new phone.
But she wasn’t done. She suggested I logged out and repeated the steps so I’d remember what to do “next time, just in case”. That done, she asked that I borrowed another book, just to check that the app was working fine. It was. She wished me well and said to call back if I had further problems.
It was the most pleasant conversation I’ve ever had with anyone from customer services. Cynics might interpret this as, ‘well, it’s a library, not the ABC Store with 250 call-ins a day’ but I don’t think it changes how pleasant and helpful the ladies were. The second lady, in particular, was unbelievably kind enough to go the extra mile: she could have hung up after my books were downloaded.
It was barely 9:00 am and it was already one of those mornings. The printer had a mysterious paper jam that nobody could find, the photocopier had run out of toner but nobody knew where the spare was and if there was one, the discussions were frustratingly unproductive … you know, those mornings.
Then the message came for us to head to the break room. Our automatic response was: what else had gone wrong now?
Turned out: nothing.
One of our colleagues had brought trays of muffins in various flavours and wanted us all to partake before they all got cold. And he (yes, he) had also refreshed the coffee makers so the first cups were on the way. The man had woken up early to bake because he felt it was ‘the right day’.
He was a tad late for work but nobody minded, not even the boss. He had completely turned the day around with one giving, gracious gesture. Thank you.