Martina Donna Ramone and David Bruce: I Want to Die (Free Fiction)

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Chapter 1: The Beginning

Martina visited a bad section of the city, where she noticed a lot of family-owned stores, many of them owned by whites and by Asian-Americans. She also noticed a lot of hostility and tension between the workers in the stores and their customers, many of whom were black. In some stores, the Asian-Americans would even follow any blacks who entered the store. That way, the Asian-Americans could make sure that the blacks did not shoplift anything.

She entered a store to make a small purchase. In this store, the elderly storekeeper was shorthanded and so stayed by the cash register and did not follow around the three black teenagers who entered the store behind Martina. However, Martina noticed that his eyes followed the three black teenagers when they were within his line of sight, as they often were. The storekeeper also kept his eyes on the mirrors that extended his line of sight.

Martina quickly learned that the three black teenagers knew where the mirrors were located. They stole stuff when they knew that the elderly storekeeper could not see them. When they had stolen enough, they went to the cash register area and one teenager paid for some inexpensive items. Martina estimated that the three black teenagers had stolen items that were worth four or five times the amount that the one black teenager had actually paid.

Martina picked up a few small items, went to the cash register area, and opened her large purse to get some money — and to allow the elderly storekeeper a chance to glance inside her purse and see that she was not stealing anything.

The elderly storekeeper also looked over Martina’s body with a quick glance — not in a lecherous way, but simply to see if her clothing had any telltale bumps that indicated the presence of shoplifted items. The only bumps she had were all natural — the gifts of God.

“Did you see those three teenagers?” he asked her. “I know that they stole from me just now, but I can’t do anything about it because I did not see them steal anything. They’re stealing me poor. Soon I am going to have to close this store because of a lack of profit. That actually will hurt this neighborhood because less competition means higher prices. Those teenagers don’t realize that by stealing from me they are hurting themselves and their families.”

“That’s a shame,” Martina said. “Someone ought to do something.”

That night, Martina had an idea that she put into effect the following day. Each day, she would go to a store, buy the kinds of items that the teenagers were stealing, put them in her purse, and then go to the store of the elderly storekeeper. There she would pick up a few items, but she would also wait until she was in an area that the elderly storekeeper could not see, and she would unload her purse, placing on the shelves the items that she had previously purchased at another store. Then she would pay for the items she had picked up, always opening her purse wide so that the elderly storekeeper could see that she was not stealing anything. Often she saw the black teenagers in the store. Often they would steal things that she would quickly replace with the items that she had smuggled into the store.

The first time Martina did this, she thought, Shopstuffing. It’s a nice change from shoplifting.

When the elderly storekeeper took inventory at the end of the month, he was pleasantly surprised. He had losses from shoplifting, but the losses were not close to being as significant as they had been in previous months. He also wondered if he was wrong about the three black teenagers. Maybe they weren’t shoplifters, after all.

The day after the elderly storekeeper took inventory, the three black teenagers entered the store, and the elderly storekeeper greeted them and said a few pleasant words to them. They did their normal shoplifting — and later Martina did her normal shopstuffing. By this time, Martina and the elderly shopkeeper were old friends, and although Martina always opened her big purse wide, the shopkeeper felt no need to glance into it. Instead, they simply talked for a few minutes as and after she had paid for her purchases.

And each day the elderly storekeeper and the three black teenagers talked, and soon the three black teenagers were shoplifting less and a little later the three teenagers were not shoplifting at all — at that particular store. And a little later than that they were telling their friends not to shoplift at that particular store.

At the end of the month, the elderly shopkeeper took inventory, and this time he was greatly surprised because the inventory showed that he had more items than he should have had. Normally, when he bought 100 chocolate bars and sold 80 items, he would have 10 chocolate bars left — 10 having been stolen by shoplifters. But this time, when he bought 100 chocolate bars and sold 80 chocolate bars, he had 25 chocolate bars left.

In the modern world, miracles don’t happen, unless you count the miracle of existence. A rational reason must exist for the excessive number of items on his store shelves. So the next time the three black teenagers entered ]the store, he asked them if they been bringing items into the store and putting them on his shelves.

They were surprised by the question, and one of them, whose name was Bill, asked, “Why would we do that?”

The elderly shopkeeper, whose name was Max, replied, “You’re going to think this is funny, but I used to think that you three guys were shoplifting.”

“No!” the three black teenagers said.

“Yes, I did,” Max said. “And I thought that maybe you were feeling guilty about shoplifting so you were putting items on the shelves to replace the items that you used to steal.”

“Nope. Wasn’t us,” Bill said. And his two friends agreed that they would never do such a thing as shoplift or return items that they had stole.

So they said, but Max didn’t believe them. He still believed that the three black teenagers had been smuggling items into his store and putting them on the shelves when they were out of his line of sight.

Martina quit shopstuffing soon afterward. The elderly shopkeeper never had a surplus in his inventory again, but his losses from shoplifting, although irritating, were livable. And whenever he looked at the three black teenagers, he saw three honest black teenagers although previously they had always looked like shoplifters to him. And whenever the three black teenagers looked at Max, they saw a nice elderly gentleman — someone who should not suffer from shoplifters.

 

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William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 1, Scene 4

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— 1.4 —

Isabella, Claudio’s sister, spoke to the nun Francisca in a nunnery of Saint Clare, the religious order that Isabella wished to join.

“Do you nuns have any farther privileges?” Isabella asked.

“Aren’t these privileges enough?” Francisca replied.

“Yes, they are,” Isabella said. “I don’t wish for more privileges; instead, I wish for fewer privileges. I wish that the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare, were under stricter restraints.”

Lucio called from outside the nunnery, “Hello! May peace be in this place!”

Isabella asked, “Who’s that person who is calling?”

“It is a man’s voice,” Francisca said. “Gentle Isabella, turn the key and open the door, and find out from him what he wants. You may talk to him; I may not. You are not yet a member of our religious order.

“When you have taken the vows, you must not speak with men except in the presence of the prioress. If you speak, you must not show your face. Or, if you show your face, you must not speak.”

Lucio shouted again.

Francisca said, “He calls again; please, talk to him.”

Francisca moved a short distance away.

Isabella opened the door and said, “Peace and prosperity to you! Who is it who is calling?”

Lucio entered the room and said, “Hail, virgin, if you are a virgin, as those cheek-roses of yours proclaim that you are no less! Can you help me by allowing me to see Isabella, who is a novice of this place and the fair sister of her unhappy brother Claudio?”

“Why is Claudio ‘her unhappy brother’?” Isabella replied. “Let me ask, and let me let you know that I am Isabella, Claudio’s sister.”

“Gentle and fair Isabella, your brother kindly greets you,” Lucio said. “To come straight to the point, he’s in prison.”

“That is bad news!” Isabella said. “Why is he in prison?”

“For something that, if I were his judge, his punishment ought to be thanks rather than something bad. He has gotten his lover pregnant.”

“Sir, don’t joke about such things,” Isabella said.

“It is true,” Lucio replied. “Although it is my familiar sin when I speak with maidens to make jokes and to act like the deceiving lapwing, a bird that deceives people and animals in order to lead them away from its nestlings, and to make my tongue say things that are not in my heart, I would not do such things to all virgins. You are a novice in a nunnery. I regard you as a virgin who is Heavenly and saintly. By renouncing the world, you have acquired a spirit that will be immortal in Heaven. Because of who you are, I must talk to you with complete sincerity, as if I were talking to a saint.”

“When you mock me by giving me good characteristics I do not deserve, you are blaspheming the truly good,” Isabella said.

“Do not believe it,” Lucio said. “You deserve the respect that I am giving to you.

“In few and truthful words, this is what has happened. Your brother and his lover have embraced. Just like those who eat grow full, just like blossoming time turns seeds in fallow ground to a bountiful harvest, even so her plenteous womb expresses your brother’s full tilling and husbandry. Your brother has planted his seed in her, and that seed is growing.”

“My brother has gotten someone pregnant? Is she my cousin Juliet?”

“Is she really your cousin?”

“Not literally,” Isabella said. “We are close friends — so close that we might as well be biologically related. We are like schoolgirls who call each other affectionate names — such things are silly but appropriate for schoolgirls.”

“She is the woman whom your brother made pregnant.”

“Then he should marry her.”

“This is the point,” Lucio said. “Duke Vincentio has very strangely gone from Vienna. He led many gentlemen, myself being one of them, to expect that there would soon be military action, but we have learned from those in the know that Duke Vincentio’s public utterances were an infinite distance away from what he really means to do.

“In his place, and with all of his power and authority, he allows Lord Angelo to govern Vienna. Lord Angelo is a man whose blood is composed only of snow-broth: melted snow. Lord Angelo is a man who never feels the wanton stings and urges of sexual desire. He reduces and blunts his natural keenness of sexual desire with two things that improve the mind: studying and fasting.

“Lord Angelo wants people to fear to use the liberty that we have had recently — liberty that has ignored the hideous law, much the way that a mouse ignores a nearby lion. To do that, he has picked out a law and decided to strictly enforce it. Your brother broke that law, the punishment for which is forfeiture of his life. Lord Angelo had your brother arrested for breaking that law, and now Lord Angelo will punish your brother; that way, your brother will serve as an example to others.

“All hope is gone, unless you have the grace by your fair appeal to soften Angelo and have him reduce the punishment. That is the essence of the errand that I have run between your brother and you.”

“Is Angelo really seeking to end my brother’s life?”

“He has already condemned your brother, and I have heard that the Provost has the order to execute your brother.”

“This is dreadful,” Isabella said. “Whatever abilities and talents I have are poor and unlikely to do my brother any good.”

“Gather together all the resources that are in you,” Lucio said.

“My resources? I doubt —”

“Our doubts are traitors, and they make us lose the good we often might win by making us afraid to make any attempt to do what good we can,” Lucio said. “Go to Lord Angelo, and let him learn that when maidens plead, men act like gods who have the power to grant them what they want — and let him learn that when maidens also weep and kneel as they plead, men give the maidens whatever they want and exactly the way the maidens want it. Maidens can be much more persuasive than you think when it comes to men.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Good, but do it quickly.”

“I will get started right away,” Isabella said. “I will stay here no longer than it takes to give the Mother Superior notice of this affair. I humbly thank you. Commend me to my brother. Early this evening, I will send him news about the outcome of my pleading.”

“Farewell,” Lucio said. “I take my leave of you.”

“Good sir, adieu.”

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The Kindest People Who Go Good Deeds: Volume 7

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“I Will Go with You Into the Grave”

Frugal and Generous

In Taiwan, Chen Shu-Chu works hard selling vegetables, getting up at 3 a.m. and staying in her stall until 7 or 8 at night. She is the first to arrive at and the last to leave the market. She is frugal and over the years has donated to charities NT$10 million (New Taiwan dollars), which is $321,550 in American money. A Buddhist, Chen says, “Money is only worthy if given to those in need.” Chen, who is unmarried, is humble, saying, “I have done nothing extraordinary and everyone who wants to can do it. There are many other charitable people; we just don’t know about them.” Chen adds, “I do not place great importance on money. When I donate to help others, I feel at peace and happy, and I can sleep well at night.” One of Chen’s largest donations was for a school library at her alma mater, Ren-ai Primary School. Making plans for the school library, which Li Guorong, a teacher, estimated would cost between NT$4 million and NT$5 million, Li asked Chen if she would be willing to donate NT$50,000. Instead, she donated all the money that was needed for the library: NT$4.5 million. The library is named “Chen Shu-Chu Library” in her honor. She has also donated NT$1 million to Ren-ai Primary School to help poor children financially. How can Chen afford to donate such sums of money? She says, “Spend only what you need, and you’ll be able to save up a lot of money!” Since 1996 she has sponsored three children in the Kids-alive International organization, donating NT$36,000 ($1,150), which is the money that she got from putting her loose change into three cardboard boxes each night. She says, “This is a simple act that can be done by anyone, isn’t it?” She adds, “My philosophy in life is simple: If doing something makes you worried, then it must be a wrong thing. If it makes you happy, then you must have done the right thing. What others say is not important.”[i]

Blisters and Missing Toenails

In 2009, British comedian Eddie Izzard ran approximately 1,100 miles across Great Britain to raise £200,000 for the charity Sport Relief, which brings together people from the sport and the entertainment worlds to raise money to help vulnerable people. Despite blisters and missing toenails, Mr. Izzard ran the equivalent of 43 marathons in 51 days at a pace of more than 27 miles a day, six days a week. After finishing the fundraiser at the National Gallery in London, an exhausted Mr. Izzard said, “I feel dead. Being here [with everyone] is very nice. When I left here seven-and-a-half weeks ago, there was nobody here and it was just another cold morning. And now there is a lot of people here—even in the rain. I think the worst part of the experience was the last three minutes sprinting down The Mall, which was really tough. I don’t think what I did was amazing. Anyone can do it.” Mr. Izzard trained for only five weeks before beginning his epic run. At first, he completed his daily distance in around ten hours, but as he got in shape, he completed it in a little over five hours. Mr. Izzard said about the running, “It’s changed my body.” One change that Mr. Izzard needed to stop after ending his intensive running was his food intake. He said, “I’ve been stuffing food [5,000 to 6,000 calories per day] in my mouth morning, noon, and night, and now I have to stop
doing that. I’m completely exhausted, and I can’t sleep properly. The first three weeks were
the toughest, when it started raining, but I’m a relentless idiot. I’m supposed to have
an ice bath now. Then I am going to have a party somewhere dry, and then I am going to sleep for a week.” Mr. Izzard had help during his run: the services of a tour manager, a sports therapist, and an ice-cream van, which also gave away free ice cream to Mr. Izzard’s supporters. Mr. Izzard said that his feet did take a beating: “I had about five or six blisters
at the top, and it’s now down to two on the outer toes. They look like aliens. And I lost my toenails on my outer toes as well. I don’t think I’ve lost weight because it turns into muscle, so you probably put on weight. I’ve
probably leaned up.” Mr. Izzard may actually have temporarily lost a bit of height from the massive amount of running. John Brewer, a professor in sport at Bedfordshire University, said about Mr. Izzard, “He might actually be a little bit shorter. Studies have shown that marathon runners tend to lose between one and two centimeters in height because the spine constricts slightly. That is a short-term effect, and the height will come back up again.” A few people temporarily joined Mr. Izzard on his run. He once stopped at a fast-food place for a burger, and a group of girls ran with him for a while. Another time, a group of boys ran five miles with him.[ii]

A Kind Father

Don Rickles’ father taught him everything he ever needed to know about making car repairs: Pay someone else to make them. His father was a very kind man. He sold life insurance, and when his customers could not afford to pay the premiums, often he would pay the premiums for them. When his father died, his customers showed their respect for him by paying back what they owed him.[iii]

Kind People

When Daddy Thomas was just getting started as an entertainer, he hitchhiked back and forth from Toledo and Detroit. He told a trucker he hitchhiked with about his desire to be an entertainer, and the trucker gave him free transportation. Each morning, the trucker picked him up at the Toledo truck terminal and gave him a ride to Detroit. Each evening, Danny waited for him at the Detroit truck terminal, and the trucker gave him a ride to Toledo. Danny repaid the trucker by telling him his funniest stories. Danny says, “The trucker was a good audience.” By the way, for decades, Janet Roth was Mr. Thomas’ secretary. As such, she did many duties, including taking care of the Thomas children whenever Mrs. Thomas visited Danny when he was on the road performing in nightclubs. Mr. Thomas and Ms. Roth had an agreement that was mutually satisfying to both of them: Mr. Thomas was not allowed to fire her, and Ms. Roth was not allowed to quit.[iv]

Healing Those Who Fight, and Helping a Healer

Marlo Thomas once asked her father, the comedian Danny Thomas, if he had ever been in the army. He replied that for a year he had served as an entertainer in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific with Marlene Dietrich. Marlo said, “Oh, so you weren’t a real soldier.” Her father replied, “No, we didn’t carry the guns, but we helped heal the boys who did. You know, Mugs [Marlo’s nickname], right after the Red Cross comes the U.S.O.” Danny was a kind person. When Marlo was in college, she dated a man named Jimmy Pugh, who was studying to be a dentist. Even after Marlo stopped dating him in order to go to New York to become an actress, Danny stayed close to Jimmy, who often came to Danny’s house for conversation. One day, Danny walked with Jimmy to Jimmy’s car after their visit was over. Jimmy had parked his car in the back because it was a “heap.” When Danny saw the wreck of a car, he said, “You’re going to be a dentist! You can’t let anything happen to your hands. You’ll beak every bone in your body in this wreck!” Danny happened to have a new pickup truck—the result of doing a favor for a company. He gave the truck to Jimmy, saying, “Here, take this. I’ll never drive it.” Danny kept the gift quiet—Marlo learned about it in a letter that Jimmy sent her after Danny died.[v]

100 Pennies

Al Shean was a popular comedian during the very early part of the 20th century. He endeared himself to children whenever he visited his young nephews who later became the famous Marx Brothers. Not only did he give his young nephews money, but also he would toss 100 pennies (back when a penny was actually valuable) into the street and let the neighborhood children scramble for the money.[vi]

“Not Afraid of Anyone”

Chico Marx of the famous Marx Brothers married a woman named Betty, who traveled with the comedy troupe to be with her husband during their vaudeville days. One day, the usually mild-tempered Gummo Marx (who left entertainment to go into business before the Marx Brothers started making movies) got into an argument with a train brakeman, and the brakeman got so angry that he lifted a wrench and was going to hit Gummo with it. Although Betty was seven months pregnant, she grabbed the brakeman’s hand and held on long enough for Gummo’s brothers to come to the rescue. Chico proudly claimed afterward that Betty was not afraid of anyone.[vii]

“Our New Olympic Hero is Bjornar Haakensmoen”

During the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, the Canadian women’s cross-skiing team ran into trouble when one of Sara Renner’s ski poles broke during the sprint relay final. Bjørnar Håkensmoen, head coach for Norway’s cross-country skiers, was on the scene. He exhibited incredibly good sportsmanship by giving Ms. Renner one of his own ski poles. The Canadian team of Ms. Renner and Beckie Scott won the silver medal while the Norwegian team finished fourth. Mr. Håkensmoen insisted that he was merely following the Norwegian tradition of fair play. He pointed out, “We talked about it at our team meeting the night before. We are a country which believes in fair play.” Of course, the media gave his good sportsmanship immense coverage, and he became a hero in Canada. In its story about his good deed, Québec’s Le Journal de Montréal published on its first page a huge “TAKK” (which is Norwegian for “thank you”). Many Canadians wrote grateful letters to the English Web Desk of the large Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. George Araujo of Port Dover, Ontario, wrote, “Our new Olympic Hero is Bjornar Haakensmoen.” He called Mr. Håkensmoen “a living testament to the true meaning of sport.” Bruce Norgren of Waterloo, Ontario, wrote, “There can be no better example of the Olympic ideal of sportsmanship than was demonstrated by Norwegian coach Bjornar Haakensmoen.” Mark Rice of Toronto wrote, “In a world gone mad … with even the simplest of misunderstandings leading to violence the world over, it’s heartening to see that we can still be human. The selfless act of Bjornar Hakensmoen, the Norwegian cross-country ski boss, in handing a new ski pole to Canadian Sara Renner, during the heat of competition, without thought as to how the outcome might have affected his own team, stands alone in my mind as one of the brightest moments I can recall in this, or any other Olympics.” And Geoff Snow of Waterford, Ontario, wrote, “In the eyes of Canadians, we took a silver medal, but Norway has won gold for sportsmanship.” The Canadians found a unique way to thank Mr. Håkensmoen for his good sportsmanship. Canada is renowned for its maple syrup, and the Canadians started Project Maple Syrup—a drive to collect maple syrup to give to Mr. Håkensmoen. The drive was very successful: The Canadians collected 7,400 cans of maple syrup (over five tons) and sent it to Mr. Håkensmoen in Oslo, Norway—many of the cans had messages of admiration attached to them. Both the Norwegian and Canadian governments waived import duties for the maple syrup. Mr. Håkensmoen said, “When you get this kind of response, it is, well, just enormous.” So does Mr. Håkensmoen like maple syrup? After trying it for the first time, he said, “It’s sweet, and a little unusual. We might have it from time to time, but not five times a day.” Of course, Mr. Håkensmoen did not keep all that maple syrup. He gave it to Chess Communications of Norway, which in turn donated 150,000 Norwegian Krone to the Norwegian Cancer Society. (In April 2011, 150,000 Norwegian Krone were worth $28,250 in American dollars.)[viii]

Triathlon Hero

On April 30, 2011, Teresa McCoy, 37, saved a life. She was competing in the bike portion of the Meek and Mighty Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida, when she saw runner No. 100, a man with whom she had spoken before the triathlon began, lying on the ground with two police officers by him. Ms. McCoy, who is a nurse at Tampa General Hospital’s cardiac lab, checked his pulse. He had no pulse, so she began to perform CPR on him and yelled for a defibrillator. A police officer brought her one, and she used it. She said, “As soon as we shocked him, he came to.” He was expected to recover from his heart attack. Ms. McCoy said, “I’m so glad he’s alive. I know that God put me where I was supposed to be today. It’s like I was his angel today.” By the way, after paramedics and an ambulance took the man away, Ms. McCoy finished the triathlon.[ix]

“You Don’t Do Things Right Once in a While; You Do Them Right All the Time”

Lots of football players who played for the Green Bay Packers under Coach Vince Lombardi did not retire rich from football. However, many of them have gone on to become rich in part because of lessons that they learned from Coach Lombardi. Willie Davis earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago while he was playing for the Packers. At one point, he grew discouraged and wanted to quit. Many coaches today are likely to welcome such a decision, hoping that the player would then concentrate solely on football and not be distracted by academics; however, Coach Lombardi talked to Mr. Davis and said that he had never seen Mr. Davis quit and that he did not want him to quit now. After retiring from football, Mr. Davis made millions from radio. Max McGee founded Chi-Chi’s, the chain of Mexican restaurants, and grew rich. Many other Packers did not retire rich but are rich now. Jerry Kramer believes that all of Mr. Lombardi’s players learned from the coach. One thing that Mr. Kramer learned from Coach Lombardi was this: “You don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.” Mr. Kramer says, “Some of today’s players would probably scoff at this as a cliché, but any time I think of taking a shortcut, of just going through the motions, I hear Lombardi’s raspy voice, I see his shiny eyes, and I just can’t do it.”[x]

[i] Source: Esther Liang, “The Generous Vegetable Seller.” Reader’s Digest. <www.rdasia.com/the-generous-vegetable-seller>. Accessed on 8 February 2011.

[ii] Source: Liz Thomas and Jo Clements, “Eddie Izzard triumphantly finishes 1,100 mile marathon around Britain in Trafalgar Square.” Daily Mail. 16 September 2009 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1213682/Eddie-Izzard-completes-mega-seven-week-marathon-blisters-blisters.html>.

[iii] Source: Don Rickles, Rickles’ Book, pp. 7-9.

[iv] Source: Danny Thomas, Make Room for Danny, pp. 59, 293.

[v] Source: Marlo Thomas, Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny, pp. 19, 173-174.

[vi] Source: Darryl Lyman, The Jewish Comedy Catalog, p. 213.

[vii] Source: Maxine Marx, Growing Up with Chico, p. 24.

[viii] Source: Nina Berglund, “Canadians hail Norwegian coach’s sportsmanship.” Aftenposten. 20 February 2006 <http://www.aftenposten.no/english/sports/article1225796.ece>. Also: “Norwegian rewarded for Olympic sportsmanship.” CBC Sports. 6 April 2006 <http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2006/04/05/syrup-skicoach060405.html>. Also: “Project Maple Syrup lives on—7400 Cans of maple syrup distributed to Norway with the Coastal Express.” Canadian Norwegian Business Association. 31 May 2006 <ttp://www.cnba.no/page?id=6&key=18743>.

[ix] Source: Kameel Stanley, “Tampa woman saves man’s life, then finishes triathlon.” St. Petersburg Times. 1 May 2011 <http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/tampa-woman-saves-mans-life-then-finishes-triathlon/1167114&gt;.

[x] Source: Jerry Kramer, “Winning Wasn’t Everything.” New York Times. Op-Ed Classic 1997. Posted 5 February 2011 <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/opinion/06opclassic.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&gt;.

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“What’s One of the Nicest Things a Female Stranger has Done for You?”

Here are some answers:

1) allYELLOWerrythang wrote these stories:

  • “One night in college I was out getting hammered with my best friend, but my best friend got wwwwwwaay too drunk to even function. She threw up on the sidewalk and passed out (literally in the middle of the sidewalk while we were attempting to walk), and I was way too drunk to get the both of us all the way back to my apartment. So I was just sitting on the sidewalk near some bushes with my friend, wondering wtf [what the f**k] to do when this glorious angel of a woman walks up to me, asks if we are okay, and despite my dumb drunk [*]ss saying we are okay, she offered to give me and my passed-out friend a ride home. We really didn’t have many options, it was take the ride or sleep in the bush, so I accepted her offer. I don’t remember her name, what she looked like, walking to her car, but we made it home safely that night because of her and I will always be so thankful for that. 
  • “I was at a popular bar in college and was walking out of the bathroom with a long trail of toilet paper stuck to my shoe & she stepped on it while I was walking away and prevented me from looking like an [*]sshat. I’m assuming she didn’t want to embarrass me by mentioning it to me, because she didn’t say anything, just stepped on the toilet paper trail and saved the day. The only reason I knew was because my husband saw and told me about how she saved me. I turned around and said thanks and she gave me a thumb’s-up. It’s such a stupid thing, but I love that girl wherever she is today!”

2) Cassele85 wrote, “I rode my bike 50 minutes to work and then 50 minutes back home everyday for five years. In my second year of doing this, a car pulls over and parks 100 yards ahead of me and this middle-aged woman gets out with one of those neon vests you see construction workers/nighttime runners and walkers wearing for higher visibility. She told me she saw me riding my bike everyday to work and worried about my safety as I rode in the dark and had reflectors only on my bike. She gives me the vest, and I put it on and thank her. I wore it every day on my ride to and from work until I moved to the city and it was stolen along with my saddlebags.”

3) Kemokiro wrote, “I was in a mall, hands full of bags and this dude kept impeding my progress while hitting on me. This teeny, tiny lady caught my look of distress, marched over, started yelling at me asking who the dude was and asking if I was cheating on her son. She started cussing me out in Spanish and his creepy [*]ss left. We cracked up after he walked away. I thanked her and she said, ‘No problem. That was fun!’”

4) B[*]tt-Factory wrote, “I was walking home from work at night when I was attacked from behind on the street. The guy tackled me to the ground and started trying to take my pants off. I was so shocked that I couldn’t scream. I wrestled with him for a bit, and then I heard a woman screaming bloody murder from across the street. She successfully scared the guy off, called the police, and even went down to the station at 3am to identify him. Because he attacked me from behind, I couldn’t see his face. She really saved my [*]ss.”

5) boooops1234 wrote these stories:

  • “Moved states and went to a new high school. My first day at lunch I sat at a random empty table and a group of four girls who sat there everyday came up. I was so nervous. They ended up being so nice and welcoming to me. Eight years later, we all live together and they are my best friends. It had a huge impact on me and I think about it all the time lol [laughing out loud]. 
  • “I live in a city where the ‘no one is nice’ stereotype is relatively true. I was walking to work and it started pouring rain out of nowhere. A woman who was walking in the same direction as me for a few blocks whipped out her umbrella and invited me under. It was so random and kind, and I’ll never forget it. 

6) palacesofparagraphs wrote, “In high school, my friends and I made it a mission to take care of anyone who looked lost or alone. On the first day of 10th grade, we spotted a new student looking awkward in the corner and swarmed him to insist he come talk to us and sit with us. He became one of my best friends, but I do think we scared him a little bit that first day.”

7) Sand­_Dargon wrote, “She saw me getting harassed by a guy at a bar when I was repeatedly telling him I was not interested (I was actually waiting on another friend of mine) and she came up, squealed delightedly, got between me and the guy and hugged me, then started a loud and animated conversation with me. Eventually, she dragged me back towards her table with her boyfriend and friends and the persistent [*]sshole got the idea that I was otherwise occupied and went to go bother someone else. I had never seen that girl before in my entire life.”

Source: satanspebble, “What’s one of the nicest things a female stranger has done for you?” Reddit. AskWomen. 29 April 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/kjh26gf>.

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“What was Something You Saw You were Definitely Not Supposed to See?”

Here are some answers:

1) superfly355 wrote, “While I was growing up with my little brother and single mom, we never had a lot, but she made sure we always had a safe and decent place to live and there was always food on the table. She never really ate much. I remember dinners of baked chicken, beef stew, salmon (it was a lot cheaper a million years ago)… good food, nothing terribly extravagant, but always nutritious, yet she barely ever ate. When I was 10, I saw her eating pb&j on crackers in her room after dinner. That’s when I realized there was never enough food for all 3 of us, she would cook what we had for my brother and me and she would eat the bare minimum, always out of sight, so that my brother and I wouldn’t worry about the actual level of poverty we were at. I never asked for another material thing from her after that night.”

2) Blipnoodle wrote, “After my little girl’s mum and I split up and I had her most of the time, being an apprentice with stupid amounts of bills I’d only normally cook dinner for my little girl (then two years old) and I’d eat what she didn’t. One night we had chicken bits, I think. And I had a few and after I’d finish mine, I looked at her eating hers and smiled at her, and she put some of hers onto my plate. I said, ‘No, you eat them,’ and she insisted. ‘You sure, little bug?’ (what I call her), and she said, ‘Yes! You are my daddy!’ I almost cried. Makes my heart melt.”

Source: MakeYourMarks, “What was something you saw you were definitely not supposed to see?” Reddit. 23 May 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/ma42zdq>.

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“What’s the Kindest Thing a Stranger has Ever Done for You?”

Here are some answers:

1) hebejebez wrote, “My kid tripped on an escalator once, and it sliced his finger open. I’m carrying this screaming ball of tears back to the car, he was refusing to even show me the finger and was just absolutely inconsolable, and a kind older lady came out of nowhere and started talking to him and he immediately calmed down (because he was on his best behavior for a stranger) and let us look at his finger and patch him up. Thank you, stranger lady.”

2) Sarahadeline wrote, “So this one time I was taking the bus home after work and I was crying. I hate crying in public, but this was unavoidable. There were just uncontrollable tears streaming down my face, no matter how hard I tried to stop. Anyways, so it’s time for me to get off the bus, and I stand by the back door waiting for it to open. Right as the doors open, this guy tapped my arm and said something like, ‘Here, looks like you could use this. I hope your night gets better.’ This guy handed me a bottle of wine. I didn’t really have time to react, so I took it, thanked him, and hopped off the bus. It might have been weird to assume I wanted to drink my sorrows away, but I honestly thought it sweet. It was totally unexpected and definitely unnecessary, but it made my night.”

3) skbloom wrote, “Young waitress living on my own. I had $60 total in my pocket and needed a new tire for my car. I could afford to pay only $50, so I’d have enough left for gas. I went to this place and told them what I needed and how much I could spend. This guy, probably the owner of the place, came out and looked at my tires and told me not to go anywhere and that he’d fix me up. Put four new tires on my car for $50. I’ve never forgotten his kindness. I cried. To this day, if I can help someone, I do.”

4) todayonbloopers wrote, “I had to use the WC [Water Closet, aka Bathroom] SO BAD in a shopping center. Every stall had spiders. I paced around the sink area whimpering and wondering what to do. A woman came in and I think she asked me something like, ‘Are you okay? What’s wrong?’ and I just choked out, ‘S-spiders…’ and she returned in English, ‘Spiders? Hah!’ and then she went into EACH stall and crushed every. single. one. I fell in love that day and she’ll never know ;)”

5) clekas wrote this:

“These probably aren’t necessarily the three nicest things strangers have ever done for me, but for some reason, they stick out in my mind:

  • “I was hung over one morning at a 7-11 and really wanted a fountain soda. I filled it up, grabbed a string cheese, and made my way to the cash register. Their credit card machine was down. Sadly, I did not have any cash on me. A lovely woman paid for my fountain soda and my string cheese. I offered to put the string cheese back, but she insisted.
  • “I was waiting for a bus when a man started to harass me. It started out pretty typically, but escalated and he put his hand on my thigh. I kind of froze. A few young teenage girls yelled at him and surrounded me to make sure he wouldn’t return. I am forever grateful for them.
  • “I was on swimming in a small swimming spot on vacation — it’s popular enough that a decent number of people know about it, but it’s not insanely crowded. The bottom of the sea in the area is covered in rocks. I kept trying to get out, but being short and having a weak upper body, I was having trouble pulling myself up. It didn’t help that my foot kept slipping on an algae-covered rock. Two teenage girls helped me out.

“As an aside, I’ve found teenage girls to be some of the nicest people when it comes to doing little things to help strangers, and I hate that they get a bad rap and are often presented as self-absorbed, etc.”

6) raine0227 wrote, “I was having a really rough week. I was helping a suicidal friend, dealing with my now partner breaking up with his girlfriend of five years, and trying to graduate college. I desperately needed some ice cream. So I go to the store, pick out my tub of delicious Ben and Jerry’s. and my card is denied. I was five cents short, so I apologize to the cashier and turn to put it away when he says, ‘No worries, I got you.’ That kind cashier working the late shift paid for my ice cream. On the way back home, I got a call from my suicidal friend that he needed someone so I took my ice cream to his town 45 minutes away in the completely unsafe area of St. Louis and stayed until he was feeling ok and made sure he was with people who cared. My now partner was stressed and ended up calling it quits with his girlfriend that night and showed up on my doorstep when I got home at 2am, not knowing what to do with himself. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that help you through the tough stuff, and that $3 pint of ice cream meant a lot to me.”

Source: manicpixiesadgirl, “What’s the Kindest Thing a Stranger has Ever Done for You?” Reddit. AskWomen. 24 May 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/k9g4bmd>.

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William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 1, Scene 3

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— 1.3 —

In a room in a Viennese monastery, Duke Vincentio and Friar Thomas talked.

“No, holy father; throw away that thought. Don’t believe that the dribbling dart of love — a weakly shot arrow from Cupid — can pierce a bosom completely protected by armor,” Duke Vincentio said.

Friar Thomas had been afraid that Duke Vincentio had come to the monastery to arrange to consummate a love affair there.

Duke Vincentio continued, “Why I want you to allow me to hide myself in a friar’s habit has a purpose more grave and wrinkled and serious than the aims and ends of sexually burning youth.”

“May your grace tell me that purpose?” Friar Thomas asked.

“My holy sir, none better knows than you how I have ever loved the life withdrawn from the world. I have always lightly valued haunting social gatherings where young people show off their witless and expensive clothing.

“I have given to Lord Angelo, who is a man of strict self-discipline and firm abstinence, my absolute power and position here in Vienna; he will rule Vienna until I take over again. Lord Angelo believes that I have travelled to Poland; that is a rumor that I have caused to be spread to the public, and that rumor is believed.

“Now, pious sir, do you want me to tell you why I have done this?”

“Gladly, my lord,” Friar Thomas said.

“In Vienna, we have strict statutes and very biting laws. These statutes and laws are the needed bits and curbs to headstrong weeds, aka people who do not contribute to society. For fourteen years we have not enforced these statutes and laws. They are like an old lion in a cave that has convinced other lions to bring food to it. These statutes and laws and the old lion no longer bite their legitimate prey.

“Now, like foolish fathers who bound together twigs of birch to make a whip, but who merely threaten their misbehaving children with it instead of actually whipping them, with the result that the misbehaving children laugh at rather than fear the whip, so our decrees might as well not exist because they are never employed. Now, liberty grabs justice by the nose, the baby beats the nanny, and good behavior is rejected in favor of bad behavior.”

“Your grace, you have always had the power to begin enforcing the laws whenever you pleased,” Friar Thomas said. “Your enforcement of the laws would be more feared than Lord Angelo’s enforcement because you are the Duke, not the Duke’s subordinate.”

“I fear that I would be too feared,” Duke Vincentio said. “It is my fault that the people ceased to fear the never-enforced laws. I gave the people the freedom to ignore the laws, and I would be tyrannous if I were to suddenly and strictly enforce the laws. When we do not enforce the laws and administer punishment for breaking them, we tacitly give our approval to the general public to break those laws.

“Therefore, indeed, my father, I have on Angelo imposed the duty of enforcing the laws. Angelo may use the authority that I have lent to him to strike to the heart of the matter and enforce the laws, all without reducing my popularity with the citizens of Vienna.

“I wish to witness what Angelo does, and to do that I need a disguise. If I am disguised as a brother of your order, I can visit both Angelo and the people of Vienna; therefore, I ask you to give me the habit of a friar and to instruct me in how I may bear myself so that I act like a friar.

“More reasons for this action I will give to you when I have more time, but I will tell you now one more reason. Lord Angelo is straitlaced and puritanical, he keeps up his guard against the doing of evil, and he scarcely confesses that his blood flows or that his appetite leans more to bread than stone. He is so puritanical that it is as if he will not admit that he has human impulses. I want to see what happens to him as a result of his having my power. Will power change him? Is Angelo really what he now seems to be?”

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