Something that makes you smile

Let’s hear about something that makes you smile. My last topic was about bad developers so let’s make this topic a little more positive 😆

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Alban Duro
January 17, 2022 2:51 pm

Here’s a story about a time I had some money stolen. Sometimes all it takes is a good experience following the bad one to renew your faith in the world. I thought about this today and it made me smile.

One afternoon I was having lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant. I was looking for work at the time and I got a call from a company I had applied to. As you would guess, my concentration was directed fully at the call. I needed a job and the company was calling me for an impromptu phone interview. Thieves probably saw me and decided to take advantage. This was back when we actually carried money in our wallets. I had about $40 in there. A guy I didn’t know approached to my left and asked me questions. I frantically waved at him, trying to explain to him I was busy on the phone while simultaneously trying to answer my interviewer. The guy stayed for about 10 seconds and then left. What a tool. Couldn’t he see I was busy!?

Then 5 minutes later, he came back! Again, I was busy concentrating on my interview and again signalled to the guy that I was occupied with something. I was really annoyed but I couldn’t cuss him out in the middle of an interview. Once the interview was done, I got back to my food, which was now cold. I found it strange that some random dude tried to interrupt me twice when it was clear I was busy, but I didn’t think much of it.

Later in the day I was paying for something, I can’t remember what, and I saw I had no money in my wallet. I was sure I had some money in there. Yes, that’s right. I had $40. Where did it go? I tried to recall my payments and it didn’t add up. The $40 had disappeared. McDonalds! I had been hustled.

I later came to the conclusion that the guy who was interrupting me was deliberately doing it so a partner of his could take my wallet while I was distracted. There’s no way I would notice someone taking my wallet during an interview and some guy interrupting me in the middle of it. The second time he came round, his partner must have put the wallet back on my table after having taken the money out.

I was furious that I got hustled so easily. I didn’t want to let them get away with it. The next day I went down to the McDonalds restaurant and told the manager what happened. I asked him if I could have access to yesterday’s camera recordings. He waved me away, totally unconcerned about my stolen money, and gave me an unconvincing explanation about the cameras not working. I was annoyed I got hustled. I was annoyed that staff didn’t care about the victim of theft in their restaurant. And the worst part? I didn’t get the job!

At this time of my life I had a really bleak view of the world. I was losing trust in people. To be honest, the theft bothered me but not as much as the way he McDonald’s manager shooed me away. It made me believe that if people did something wrong, they could get away with it and no one would care. 

Later that year I traveled to Tokyo, Japan. My Japanese is basic. I can say a few words. Enough to get by. But I can’t really hold a proper conversation. One time I was enquiring about the cost of a monthly pass for the Tokyo Metro. A staff member approached me and spoke in rapid Japanese. Using some form of sign language, I indicated that I didn’t understand a thing. We were at a stalemate. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Japanese. 

By chance, a young lady was walking nearby and saw the communication barrier between us. She kindly intervened and translated what the Japanese staff member was saying into English. It was very kind of her and I thanked her for her gesture. The part that I remember vividly is that I didn’t have enough money to pay for the metro pass, and the lady asked if I needed any money to buy the ticket. She was going to offer a complete stranger money to buy a rail pass! I told her that I had a credit card and I would get money out from an ATM, but again thanked her profusely for such a kind gesture.

It was a small but generous gesture. She probably doesn’t know it but it really helped change my outlook. Sure we have bad experiences but there are also people who aren’t just looking out for themselves. It helped renew my optimism and see the world in a different light. I thought about that today and I smiled 🙂

Last edited 3 months ago by Alban Duro
Niharika Khatri
January 19, 2022 12:38 pm

Although there is so much to be sad about in this world, something that makes me smile are the millions of people and organisations fighting for justice and fixing the world’s problems. Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, TATA Trusts, UNHCR, Save The Children. The list is very long and it puts a smile on my face that so many of us come together to fight the world’s injustices.

Think of countries like Zimbabwe, Haiti, Afghanistan. They make news headlines suffering from one economic, military and natural disaster after another. I wrote about the tragic example of an Afghan teenager who held onto a military plane as it took off from Kabul Airport. Put yourself in that situation. What must have been going through his mind? The desperation and feeling of being trapped would have been overwhelming. So much so that he held onto a plane as it powered down a runway and flew off! How many of us can imagine doing such a thing?

You cannot control the country you are born in. You have no choice in the matter. You cannot decide if the system works for you instead of against you. Some places beat down enthusiasm and initiative until you feel helpless… or you escape. A North Korean defector comes to mind.

I know someone who got divorced, sold her house and traveled around the world. She told me about one instance when she was ordering food at an isolated airport restaurant. She was struck by the sense of resignation in the staff’s demeanor. I asked her if it was just some unmotivated employees, the kind of thing you see in any country. She said this was different. She hadn’t seen this level of resignation before. While she couldn’t say with certainty what the problem was, it was as if they were trapped. Trapped by a system that doesn’t promote individual initiative and meritocracy. No matter how hard you try or what ideas you suggest, your mobility and opportunities are bleak.

Added to a system working against you in some countries, you then have threats against your security, property and family because of your beliefs, political affiliation or race. It makes me smile that millions of people find this unacceptable and are fighting to right these wrongs.

Here is a pamphlet my friend sent to me as she was walking to the post office.

Amnesty International.jpg
Josh Wright
January 18, 2022 8:51 am

Something that makes me smile is the recovery of travel ✈😁

In’s Travel Predictions 2022 report, 72% of the 24,000 travellers surveyed across 31 countries agreed they would say YES to travel plans in 2022. One time I was in the waiting room of a GP’s surgery and started a conversation with another patient. She was very candid about her problems and steered the conversation to anxiety. In London she was prescribed anxiety medication to deal with the pressure and stress she felt in the city. But when she went to the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, she felt so much better. In fact her condition improved so much that she could stop taking her medication.

We have known for centuries that travel can be a healer and soother. In the 1800s and probably for centuries before, going abroad was a recommendation given by doctors. In Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, when Kitty is taken unwell, the family doctor suggests a trip abroad; “But in favor of foreign travel I would urge the change of habits, the removal from conditions calling up reminiscences.” We don’t hear that these days.

Maybe it should be recommended more. In the Travel Predictions 2022 report, 79% of travellers agreed that travel helped their mental and emotional wellbeing more than other forms of self-care!

Amin Rashad
January 21, 2022 9:53 am

The setting? University. The situation? A group with a difficult team member. Do I smile when I remember what happens? 100%. Whenever I conjure up this memory, I lol pretty hard.

In university I took a class in Digital Marketing. We were split into groups and regularly given essay and presentation assignments. Our final grade factored in our group assignments, so it was important that we worked well together. Fortunately I had a good team. We all contributed and put in the work. Other than disagreements about marketing strategy, we got along fairly well. Another group had the opposite experience.

In that group there was one member who did no work. Whenever he was asked by his team to do something, be it research or his section of an essay, he would have some excuse. When the group agreed to catch up to go over their assignments, he would rarely turn up. It got so bad that the group complained to the university administration. The response wasn’t what they were hoping for. The administration said a difficult team member was a part of working life. It was up to them to resolve their problems.

For one assignment we were given a tight deadline. We had to submit a comprehensive country competitiveness report within 2 weeks. In my group, we quickly convened and divvied out who would do which section. Surprisingly the group with the difficult member did the same. The surprise was that he actually turned up to their group meeting and agreed to do a section of the report.

Smooth sailing after that, right? Of course not.😄 As the deadline loomed the group hadn’t heard anything from him. He wasn’t attending classes and the group was calling and messaging him frantically to get an update. The report was due for submission on a Tuesday afternoon. After a weekend of hard work by other team members to complete their sections, they still hadn’t heard anything and were getting restless. On Monday morning he replied to the group. He apologized for his radio silence, explaining that his aunt was ill and he had spent the weekend at the hospital.

The group expressed their understanding to him. They told him not to worry about his part of the report and to come back to them whenever he was ready. This left the group with a problem. The report was due the next day and there was still a big chunk missing. They resolved to do an all-nighter and get it done. After a sleepless night in the 24-hour library and lots of coffee later, the group submitted the report on Tuesday afternoon. They had just made the deadline with minutes to spare and were all exhausted. After submitting the report, one of the team casually logged onto Facebook. What she saw almost made her eyes pop.

The group member who said he was in the hospital looking after his aunt wasn’t in a hospital at all. During the weekend, when the rest of the team was working hard on the report, he had traveled to another city and had posted photos in a nightclub. He wasn’t in a hospital. He had been partying all weekend! When the group saw this, they absolutely lost their sh*t! This guy was partying while they had to pull an all-nighter to get his part of the report done. Afterward they called a meeting they demanded he attend and completely tore him a new one. To pay for what he had done, for the next group assignment they made him do all of it by himself. 😂