When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home because I was pissed off at my parents for a reason I can’t remember. I didn’t have much money, so I decided to hop onto the skytrain(public transport train in British Columbia) and ride it as far as it would go. I reached the end of the line in less then an hour, and decided I wanted to ride it all the way back again, while trying to formulate some kind of plan of how I wanted to live the rest of my life without my parents or anyone. At the last stop, or the first stop depending on your perspective of it, a girl came on and sat in the row right behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to her at first, as I was busy writing my life plan on a napkin. It was a few minutes later that she got up and came sat next to me, curious as to what I was writing. I told her the story, and after a few laughs, we began talking about everything and anything. Her name was Amanda, 17 years old, and absolutely wonderful. She told me she was getting off at the last stop, which was also the first stop, depending on how you look at it. It was also the stop I had gotten on originally, and I told her we would ride to it together. The train ride took less then an hour, and what a wonderful hour indeed.
When the last stop did come, we both knew we probably wouldn’t see each other ever again(this was before the days of cellphones, and I was a shy little kid afraid to make moves). As we got to the end of the sidewalk which split in two different directions, she went right and I went left. Before saying goodbye she turned to me and asked me a question that has become a wonderful part of my life; she asked me, “Tell me something you have done, or want to do, that you think I should do? It can be anything, as challenging as you want it to be, or as easy. As long as you give me the rest of my life to complete it, I promise I will do it..” I was confused as to why, but I thought about it, and told her, “Sing a song acapella in a room full of strangers.” She said perfect and asked me if I would like a challenge as well. I told her I did, and she told me, “read, from start to finish, “Ulysses” by James Joyce.” I had never heard of it at the time, but I agreed, and we said our goodbyes.
I have a awful memory, and can’t remember most conversations I have with most people. But I remember all of that clearly. You know why? Because of the challenge she gave me. In the 12 years that have past since, I have tried to read that book in over 150 different sittings. Everytime I open my copy of the 780 page monster of a book, I always think of her, and I always think of that day. Ive never been sure if it was her intent or not, but she left her lasting memory on me with that challenge. I soon after learned what she did, was a completely wonderful and amazing thing for me. So I decided to keep it going. I’ve met a lot of strangers in my life; some that have become friends, and some, due to living in different time zones and whatnot, did not. I dont want to just have experiences and then let them go. I want to remember these meetings, and embrace the fact that they happened. So whenever I leave someone who has left an amazing impact of my life, I always make sure to add them to my Ulysses Bucket List. I ask them to give me a challenge, as difficult or as easy as they want it to be, and regardless of the fact that they have done it or not; simply something their heart has had wanted to do.
Some have been easy and fun; I met a man in India 9 years ago who told me to, for a week or a month, cook/buy twice as much food as I intend on eating, and give the other half to a stranger in need. I completed that mission 8 years ago, and thought about that man and the time we had all the way through. I met a girl on a cruise 6 years ago, who told me to jump into a body of water on a slightly cold day, without touching or feeling the temperature of the water first. I did that the very same year. I met a couple at an outdoor music festival a few years ago that told me to wear the most bizarre outfit imaginable and walk through a public place, completely oblivious to the fact that you aren’t looking normal. I did that task the very next day, at the same festival. Some have been difficult, to say the least: three guys I met in Amsterdam and smoked all night with, told me to go to a mall and give 10 strangers 10 presents. That one took a lot of courage, but I did it a year or so after I met them. It was nerve racking, but at the same time exhilarating leaving my comfort zone. A girl I met on a plane told me to skydive; Im still in the process of getting that done. A couple I met in Cali on the beach told me to tell the 5 people I hated the most, that I love them and respect them. That one was very difficult because of my stubbornness, but i’ve come close to completing that list many a times(still in the process, 2 more people to go).
And some things, have had an everlasting impact on my daily life. I met a girl at burning man, who told me that whenever I get mad at someone, walk away, sing my happy song in my head for 5 minutes, go back to the person i’m mad at with a calm heart and mind, and work things out. Ive made this my way of life. I once met a man at a gym in a hotel I was staying at, that told me “whenever your body and brain tells you that you are exhausted and done…use your heart instead and push out 2 more reps.” Ive made this my motto when working out or working on any kind of extenuating exercise in which my body demands me to quit. I also use it while working on anything, and while studying. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.
There are many others that each brought joy to my life. There are still many tasks I have yet to accomplish, and everytime I think of these tasks, I think of the people that gave them to me. It amazes me how well I remember all these people, while I can’t remember so many aspects of even yesterday. These experiences, not only do I take from them a “mission” or a “challenge”, I also take from them a memory of them that never fails to appear inside of my mind. I opened my Ulysses book for probably the 300th time yesterday, and read a few pages, which prompted me to share this story with you today. Im in the final 30 pages of the book, also known as the most dreaded of the read(in the last 40 pages or so, James Joyce doesn’t use a single punctuation mark; no periods, no commas, no nothing; a straight 50 page run-on sentence).
I never saw Amanda after that day, nor do I know if she ever did get a chance to sing a song to a room full of strangers. But what I do know, is that she gave me a gift that has never once stopped giving. So wherever you may be, thank you for giving me the Ulysses Bucket List. And I swear I’ll finish it one day. My life advice? Simple: Create your own Ulysses bucket list.
At my local video rental shop, there is a gumball machine with maybe five or six different coloured gumball types. Sticky-taped to the delicious glass gumball globe is a sign that reads: GUESS THE COLOUR THAT COMES OUT OF THE GUMBALL MACHINE AND WIN A FREE WEEKLY RENTAL VOUCHER! 20c. With those odds, they were just asking to be exploited.
So, 12 year old me devised a devious plan. I went to some of the shops across the road and traded 15 dollars for a colossal fuckton of 20c coins. (just did the math, about 75 twenty cent pieces) When the employee lady saw me scuffling into the store with my shirt stomach filled with silver coins, MAN was she pissed. This may have been because she now had to spot my 75 guesses. I have no idea why she didn’t just kick me out then and there.
In short, the next 20 minutes consisted of the shop lady watching me individually slot each coin into the machine. She had a pile of vouchers in hand, dishing one out onto the rapidly growing pile every few guesses. I wasn’t a dick about it, I paused my gumball endeavour if another customer was there, but she breathed a sigh of relief when I put the 75th gumball in my backpack. In total, I pocketed 18 vouchers ($126 total value) for 15 dollars.
I took my fat stack of vouchers, shoved them in my pocket, and with my candy-filled backpack, I ran home. I’ll never forget the sound of 75 gumballs shaking around on my back, it was the sound of an afternoon of accomplishment.
TL;DR: When I was 12, I single-handedly took down video rental stores
I was in middle school in the early 1990s, around when Sam’s Clubs and the like started opening up. None of us could drive yet (obviously; we were like 14) and few of our parents had club memberships, so it was rare that anyone could go there and buy stuff. And none of us had jobs or anything anyway, so you’re looking at about $5 in allowance here and there as your budget.
One kid had a great idea and bought some of those HUGE bags of Blow Pops for $5. Let’s say he walked away with 100 Blow Pops — 5c a piece. He came to school and sold them for a quarter and was out of stock within a few days. He did this for probably three weeks before others got in on the game. (There were a bunch of arguments over whether the others had to go into a different line of candy, or if Blow Pops were fair game. The first wave decided that everyone needed their own kind of candy, creating a little cartel. Kind of funny in retrospect.)
About a month or so later, a new kid starts selling, and he has everything. Must have spent $50, maybe $100. But he quickly ran into a problem. The school started cracking down on student-run candy sales in the cafeteria, so lunch time — where the money was — became a really dangerous time to sell. Most of the kids who were selling just stopped, cashing out while they could. But this one kid had way too much candy to do that.
There were only four classes after lunch and you really weren’t selling candy during the first two periods, so that left five or six reasonably good times to find customers. The bad news was that typically, you had the same kids (give or take) in all of your classes by now, because we were broken up into levels. (The exception, things like gym and band, were really bad times to sell candy.) The good news was that homeroom was between second and third period, and that was homogenous. So you got to see kids you’d otherwise not see — and, more importantly, they’d see kids you’d otherwise not see.
The kid with all the candy ended up repackaging it into ziplocks of five pieces and sold it them to kids for $1/each. That happened for a few days until one of the kids in his homeroom asked to buy five, explaining that he was reselling the candy for 25c a piece and effectively getting a free piece of candy each day, and there were a few kids in his next period class who wanted to do the same. He offered $4 because he wanted to make a profit off his friends. The kid with all the candy agreed, and not only sold out by the end of the week, but ended up buying another $50 or so worth of candy to do it the next week, too.
A few other kids in the homeroom caught wind of this and wanted in. Candy kid ended up selling 5 bags at a time to about five or ten kids in his homeroom, each seeing the opportunity to make a free dollar a day just by being middlemen. It was an easy sale — you’d tell your friends how you bought the candy and sold it quickly and flashed them the wad of singles you had.
It worked for two days, maybe three.
Basically, the entire grade got flooded with candy sellers, and the candy being sold wasn’t scarce any more because the supply wasn’t controlled by one person or a cartel. It was a commodity now. Prices crashed to like 10c per piece and the MLM-style distribution structure couldn’t support that price. The whole supply dried up pretty quickly thereafter, and with teachers starting to crack down, no one reentered the market for months.
About 15 years ago, a friend and I drove down to Nuevo Laredo from Austin. We were going to Boystown for a night of sinful fun. My buddy hadn’t been there before. We get there and he happily went into the first room and had himself a good time with a $10 hooker. He came out smiling and we walked around a little bit.
We came to another street where a little hottie was on the corner. I was going in for the kill on this one when my buddy stopped me. He said, “Dude you come down here all the time, let me have this one too.” I gave in on one condition. He had to let me in the room to watch. He obliged because he really wanted this.
We’re in the room and this hooker is giving him a blowjob and he’s really into it. She let’s him know only 10 more minutes are left. He says, “Let’s fuck.” She tells him she can’t. When he asks why, she tells him she’s a dude. Holy shit! Neither of us believe her. We tell her to prove it. As she starts unzipping her jeans he says, “Oh, this is gonna suck!” She whips out a dong bigger than his! He hopped off the bed grasping at his pants and screaming. I’m doubled over in the corner laughing my ass off. So we bolted and left the compound. On the way back home he says to me, “Never speak of this ever!” So, I tell this story a lot.
I was walking down the street once, a backpack on my shoulder to go to school, and I had work after school that day, so naturally I had some extra clothes in my backpack, plus the two sticks of deodorant that I keep on me at all times. I had a good $300.00 in my wallet, and was only $150.00 away from getting that new flat screen TV.
That’s when I see him. A homeless guy, looking down on his luck, sitting next to a really sick looking dog. No sign, no money cup, just a man and his dog. Now I’ve seen this before, as I live in the city, and it may sound stupid, but this one was different. I kinda walk up to him, and ask him “what’s wrong?” “I don’t have enough money to get help for my dog.” he says. “I tried to sell a necklace that I had, but they only gave me $50.00 for it.” So after about a minute of talking to the guy and thinking about it, I tell him, “I believe you, man, what’s your name?” he tells me his name, I tell him mine. “Well, Rob, I like you. I’m going to give you $250.00, a stick of deodorant, and some help. My friend works at the gas station just down the street, you know, the Marathon? He’s got a guest room, and can probably get you a job, You down?” So I call my aforementioned buddy, Derek, and ask him if he’s got room in his place for someone to get back on their feet and if there are any job openings at the station.
Sure enough, the answers are yes, and possibly. So I explain to Derek the situation and he approves, even tells me that he can talk his boss into getting him a job interview. So I give the money to Rob, so he can get help for his dog, I give him my phone number, and I tell him that my friend is taking off work to come pick him up soon. I tell him, “Use the money to fix your dog, and whatever else is left is yours to do with what you please, but, I’m trusting you to use this money wisely. My friend is going to get you a job, and give you a room in his house, but only until you can afford an apartment or something.” Next thing I know, this man is hugging me, crying, saying things like “thank you, thank you, I promise, I’ll do good by you” and other things along that line. A few days after that, Derek and I took Rob shopping for some new clothes for his job interview. He’s all settled into his space in Derek’s house, and everything is going well. His dog’s in the vet for a digestive/gastrointestinal problem from eating some odd trash.
I checked in on them periodically, but then I hear back a few months later from a phone number that I’ve never seen before, so I let it ring for a little bit. Then, It hits me: Rob! So I answer it as fast as I can, Fucking up and almost dropping my phone, and I hear his unmistakable voice. “Hey, Rob! how’s it going?” After a little bit of a phone conversation, I find out that he got the job, Bought a phone, and most importantly, is renting an apartment. I head on over, and it’s not a bad place at all! He said the next step is to quit smoking.
To this day, (only a few months after all this) I still talk to him on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
September 11th, 2001, I was in 7th grade, at I.S.89 middle school in lower manhattan, adjacent the hudson river, couple blocks away from the trade centers. My mother worked at WTC1 on the 40th floor, philanthropic department.
That morning, our homeroom class was supposed to go on a field trip to Bronx Zoo when I had realized I forgot to get my mom’s signature the night before for the trip. My stomach sank. I then asked my teacher if I could leave to call my mom. I went couple floors down to my school’s main office and called my mom to come over to sign the slip.
On her way over to my school, a plane roared right above her and plunged into her office building.
TLDR: I may have inadvertently saved my mom’s life on 9/11 because I forgot to get my permission slip signed.
7. Prom date
My friend who I’ll call Stan and I were driving around in what happened to be the same night as prom. He gets pulled over for speeding like, the third time that month so he’s pretty fucked if he gets a ticket. The cop gets to the car and asks for license, registration, and proof of insurance.
All Stan has is his license, and the glove box is full of firecrackers so if he even opens it to look we’re fucked. So he’s making up some bullshit to the cop about why he doesn’t have his registration when suddenly the cop halls asks him, “Are you headed to prom?”
Stan tells him that yes, of course we are.
The cop asks “Oh yeah, well then where’s your date?” At that point Stan reaches over, pats my thigh and says lovingly “This man right here’s my date.”
The officer gets this dreamy look in his eyes and says, “You know, I’m gonna let you boys go. You have a great night at prom. I never got to go to mine…” and walks back to his cruiser and drives away.
TL;DR And that’s the way my buddy got out of ticket by implying I was his gay lover.
I saw a guy ran up to a girl from her behind. The guy thought that was his girlfriend so he grab her butt and tried to kiss her. The girl was freaked out and pepper sprayed him. His real girlfriend was behind watching the whole thing from a distance and called him a dumbass.
I was on my way to class in NYC and this homeless guy approached me. He had a trench coat on and he started to reach for something in his coat.
I honestly thought he was going to flash me so I was freaking out but then of course, the unexpected… He pulled out a pigeon and tries handing it to me while yelling, “Merry Christmas!” (It was only October during this time.)
I did not know how to respond at the time so I just walked away. It didn’t hit me until hours later and I finally laughed so hard.
A couple of months ago, my boyfriend and I were buying groceries. He stopped to look at a glass bottle of something, and it ended up slipping from his hands, and he thought to stick out his leg so it could cushion the fall or something like that. I took a step back at this exact moment, not realizing he dropped anything.
We fucking caught the bottle between our legs and just stood there, mouths agape at one another. I don’t even think we could recreate that situation if we needed to.
11. What the hell
I work at a school underprivileged children. A students mom was in a custody battle with CPS and grandma and her. I had been aware the students mother was having her trial with the child services. One day she comes to visit class(which is allowed) she asks to hold her 5 yr old son. She scoops him up and rushes to the door. Turns out she lost her battle with the courts and tried to steal her son she just lost custody of . I abandon my class and rush after her. After hitting me and scratching I manage to remove her son, run inside, lock doors until cops arrive.
Saved the kid.
So, about a year ago(?), my friends and I went to go see the second Insidious. It was just us 4 guys and we took up the whole row, and since it was the opening night, the entire theater got filled. Climax of the movie, the lights go on and everyone groans. Usher comes down and grabs our rows and pulls us out. We were wondering why, we weren’t particularly loud. He explains, “We had a complaint that you, a boy with green hair,” points at me, “was fingering his girlfriend in the theater.” I look at my friends, “Uh, no?”
Turns out, the was ANOTHER boy with green hair. Fingering his girlfriend.