Category Archives: Comedy

Who is in the Trunk of the Toyota?


By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

A business leader taught me that there are two main ways to influence people: motivation and manipulation. Motivation is getting someone to do something for their benefit. Manipulation is getting someone to do something for your benefit. The leader said that motivation comes with a blessing, and manipulation comes with a curse. I tend to stay on the motivation side of influence, but it hasn’t always been this way. Especially when it comes to getting people to do questionable activities, such as riding the the trunk of a Toyota.

When I was in junior high, my brother and I would occasionally take trips to a mall called Northwest Plaza. It was a nice mall, but it had a bad reputation because of gang violence. However, we loved Northwest Plaza because it had an awesome arcade named Tilt, and Tilt had all of the latest games.

James was my best friend and he loved video games as much as I did. The problem was that James’s mom would never let him go to Northwest Plaza, because she was scared that something would happen to him. James was a couple of shades lighter than me, and he rarely traveled to the more ethnic parts of St. Louis.

After weeks of convincing, James’s mom let him go to Northwest Plaza with us. My brother, our friend Caesar, myself, and my homeboy James went. Three Nubians and a Caucasian.

My brother drove us to the mall. During the drive, Caeser told us about the time in which he had ridden in his friend’s car’s trunk and was scared for his life.

I thought this was hilarious, and began scheming of ways to get someone to get into the trunk of my brother’s car.

Someone like James.

We had a good time playing games at Tilt, but throughout the evening I thought about how I could get James into the trunk of the car. I continually suggested it to him, and he continually told me to go to hell.

Tip from Terence: Your friends do not always have your best interests at heart. Even if they like you, you’d be surprised at how many of them are open to watching you do stupid things. Be wise enough to discern what is going on in your relationships. If you have friends who truly do not have your best interests at heart, confront them about it, or consider changing your friends. Either they need a heart change, or you need new people to spend time with.

We left Tilt and walked back to my brother’s car. After the fifth time I had suggested that James get in the truck, I realized that he wasn’t going to do it without an incentive. We had gone all evening without eating and I decided to appeal to his sense of hunger:

Me: “If you get in the trunk, I’ll buy you dinner.”

James: “Go to hel… What are you offering?”

I looked around and saw a McDonald’s. I told him that I’d buy him burgers for dinner if he’d get in the truck. He agreed. Having heard this, my brother immediately performed a U-turn and drove to the restaurant. I bought my friend two double cheeseburgers and said:

Me: “Get in the trunk.”

Even though we were only 13 at the time, James was a big guy. He climbed in the trunk, but he couldn’t fully fit. Rather than let a lack of truck space defeat my plan, we decided to let down half of the back seat and snake James’s back so that his head was sticking into the rear of the car.

The fit in the trunk of the Toyota was snug. Really snug.

The first thing that my brother did after driving away from the McDonald’s was roll over a speed bump.


James: “Arrggh!”

My brother leaned back and said:

JJ: “Are you okay?”

James: “Yes.”

JJ: “Good.”

Then my brother put the car in reverse and ran over the speed bump again.


James: “Arrggh!”

We began to drive home. My brother, Caesar, and I were having a wonderful time hearing James wail in the back seat. Apparently, being shoved in the trunk of a car is just as comfortable as you’d think that it would be.

(Not very comfortable.)

We accidentally exited the highway early, and began driving through a park. After a few minutes we came upon a lit basketball court filled with Caucasians.

We are not racist people, but we are racially paranoid.

When there are three brothers rolling in a car with a white guy in the trunk, they don’t end up on shows like Cops. They end up on shows like Unsolved Mysteries. We immediately turned around and got back on the highway.

About twenty minutes later, we arrived at an intersection five minutes from our house. My brother then had a brilliant idea. He yelled:

JJ: “Hey James, do you feel a draft?”

And he popped the truck of the car.

Have you ever heard a guy scream like a schoolgirl because his legs were dangling in front of a Chevy?

I have.

Looking back, we did just about everything wrong during that trip. Please, be excellent to your friends. If you have somebody who loves and trusts you, then honor that love and trust. Use your influence to motivate them to do things to improve their lives, not manipulate them into doing things for your amusement. I’m thankful that nothing bad happened that night. But seriously. Don’t try this at home!


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Do You Know What is Wrong With You? (YouTube video)

Have you ever had someone who you didn’t know tell you EXACTLY what was wrong with you? I have! Sometimes you can’t avoid The Law of the Garbage Truck.


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Do You Know What is Wrong With You?

Do You Know What is Wrong With You?

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to watch the video of this story on YouTube

Have you ever had someone who you didn’t know tell you EXACTLY what was wrong with you?

I have!

It was a Sunday morning in January, and Tonya and I were enjoying the beautiful Auckland weather. It was 70 degrees, a cool breeze was blowing, and I was with a gorgeous lady.

Life was good!

After about 40 minutes of leisurely walking around, we decided to return home to eat breakfast. The sun was shining and birds were chirping…

And then I met Papa New Guinea Guy.

As we were walking, we passed a rough looking gentleman who was waiting at a bus stop. He looked at us and waved us over. Wanting to be friendly, we walked to him and had this conversation:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Where are you from?”

Me: “America.”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Ah, America.”

Tonya: “Are you from Papa New Guinea?”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Yes.”

Tip from Terence: Tonya assumed he was from Papa New Guinea because of his look. Many of the people from that country have a very unique look, and she made an educated guess. Not all forms of profiling have to be negative.

At this point, I’m expecting to have a pleasant conversation. PNG Guy, however, had another idea:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Do you know what’s wrong with the black man in America?”

Me: “Uhhhhhh…”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “The black man in America is not clever!”

I had to admit, if I weren’t so offended, I might have been impressed! To have my gender, race, and nationality insulted within 10 seconds of meeting you… That takes skill!

He continued:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “We see you on TV being killed by the police. In my country, if that happens, we chop ’em up and put ’em in the toilet. You are not clever!”

What do you say to someone who tells you what is wrong with YOU?

Yes, the United States is not perfect, and there are very unfair things happening. But when did this guy become an expert on international affairs?

He went on for about 30 more seconds, and then Tonya said:

Tonya: “Okay, we have to go. Bye!”

And she walked off.

Why didn’t I think of that?

As we were walking away, the man continued to talk as if he didn’t care whether or not we were part of the conversation.

We went back to the apartment. I wasn’t exactly upset, but I wasn’t happy either. I did a forgiveness exercise, got the negative energy off of my spirit, and we sat down to eat breakfast and discuss what happened.

It turns out that Tonya had seen this guy a number of times. My guess is that he wanted to say something to her before, but that he didn’t think it was appropriate for him to talk to an American female who was alone.

However, with me there, all bets were off!

This guy had been waiting for a perfect opportunity to let someone know his opinions on the United States, and he could not wait to unload.

After discussing the situation with Tonya, I was reminded of a philosophy that Joel Osteen described called The Law of the Garbage Truck.

The Law of the Garbage Truck basically says that some people are like garbage trucks and go around all day collecting trash. Eventually, they will want to dump their trash, and they just might dump it on you!

Can you prevent everyone from dumping their trash on you? Probably not.

But you can keep your lid on tight!

PNG guy had his big bag of trash and was waiting for a United States trash can to walk by.

And I happened to be that guy!

After I had forgiven him, I had to laugh at the reverse of the situation. What if I had done the same to him?

Me: “Excuse me, sir? Are you from Papa New Guinea?”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Yes.”

Me: “Great! Do you know what’s wrong with your country?!”

I can’t think of a better way to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

You don’t have to engage in any conversation in which you are being abused. Sometime it is better to just walk away quickly.

Incidentally, a couple of weeks later we were at a gas station and a Kiwi taxi driver pulled up to us and introduced himself. He knew we were American and was clearly happy to see us. We discussed some of his travels in the United States, and we ended the conversation by exchanging websites. He even encouraged me to give him a call if I ever wanted to play tennis.

After we parted ways, I told Tonya that interacting with this guy was the exact opposite of the Papa New Guinea guy.

You never know who you’ll meet while traveling. But, no matter what happens, keep your lid on tight!


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The Four Kinds of Dates (YouTube video)

There are four kinds of dates that you can go on this Valentine’s Day, but only one of them has a chance of succeeding. Watch and save yourself time, money, and heartache!


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Images in video courtesy of Stuart Miles, Serge Bertasius Photography, David Castillo Dominici, and stockimages at

The Four Kinds of Dates

Dates with couple

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to watch the video of this story on YouTube

Years ago, like many single people, I was swimming in the dating pool. Well, swimming may not be the best way to describe it. Like many singles, I was trying not to drown in the dating pool!

I’ve been with a woman who is a good match for me for a while. However, there were definitely dating struggles before meeting her. I thought about dating the other day, and I realized that there are four kinds of dates that a person can go on: “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy,” “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy,” “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl,” and “Boy and Girl couldn’t care less about each other.” Try and think of the past dates that you’ve had. I guarantee that they fall into one of these four categories.

Only “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” dates even remotely have a chance for long-term success. You cannot make somebody like you, somebody cannot make you like him or her, and you sure as heck aren’t going to be with someone for long whom you could take or leave. I’m not saying that you can’t have a relationship with someone when there isn’t chemistry on both sides, but there will be serious drawbacks. Drawbacks like cheating, stalking, and restraining orders.

Tip from Terence: In college, one of my roommates gave me a piece of brilliant advice. He told me that he only dates girls he would consider marrying. If I had actually taken his advice at the time he gave it, then I would have saved close to $10,000. Let that sink in, because I certainly have.

Let’s take a closer look at the four kinds of dates.

Right now I am going out on dates that fall into the category of “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy.” My lady is very attractive and I always have a good time with her. How do I know that this relationship is not one-sided? Because when I call her she is available. What is availability? Availability is accepting a date without hesitation:

Terence: “Do you want to go out this weekend?”

Tonya: “Sure!”

Note that she didn’t say, “What kind of car do you drive?”, “Will your cute friend be there?”, or “I can order steak and lobster, right?” She accepted without hesitation. She knows that details can be nailed down later. It is just important for her to be with me.

When you are in a “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” relationship, you’ll agree to things that you wouldn’t normally agree to, just to make that person happy. For a year, I cooked weekly spaghetti dinners for my lady, before she told me that she has bad reactions to flour. Tonya ate what I cooked because she knew I enjoyed it and wanted to make me happy. What’s something that I’ve done to make her happy? Move to other countries. I enjoy travel, but it took her being beside me to do it for years at a time. When you love someone, you’ll sacrifice for happiness.

The next type of date is a “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy” date. These dates suck. If you are head-over-heels for a girl, then your intelligence drops like a stone, and there is almost nothing that you won’t do in order to be with her.

My senior year in high school I met a German girl named Eileen. When I first laid eyes on her I could barely breathe. She was exotic, stylish, and pretty. After she opened her mouth I was smitten because of her European accent. The trouble with being smitten is that you become stupid:

Eileen: “Hi, my name is Eileen. You know. Like the song.”

Terence: “Yeah, I love the Beatles!”

Right after I said that I turned around and mouthed the words, “What the —-?” The Beatles? Almost anything would have been better than saying that! She smiled at me and thankfully chose to let my comment slide. We then talked for a while:

Eileen: “I run track. Do you run at all, Terry?”

Terence: “A little.” (This is a lie)

Eileen: “We should get together and run sometime.”

Terence: “That would be great!” (This is also a lie)

If you are on a “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy” date, you will compromise almost everything just to be with her. Even if she makes it abundantly clear that she is into someone else! Eileen was interested in a guy named Jake. I knew that she wanted to be with Jake, because she told me that she did. And I listened to her talk about Jake while on dates with her that I was paying for! I went after her for six months, until one day I realized that I’d never be able to have her. She wanted me as a friend-boy, not a boyfriend. Please, if you are going on these kinds of dates, then stop immediately!

The next type of date is a “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl” date. This is exactly like “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy,” except in reverse. In this situation, the guy isn’t going to compromise hardly anything for the girl, because he knows that he doesn’t have to. If he acts like a gentleman, she’ll love him. If he acts normal, she’ll like him. Even if he acts like a jerk she’ll still tolerate him, because she wants to be with him so badly. The trouble for a guy in this situation is the conflict of “Nobility vs. Ribaldry.” Nobility says, “I wonder if I should?” Ribaldry says, “I wonder if she would?”

Years ago, I knew a girl named Joanne. Joanne and I were friends and she became interested in me, but my attention was elsewhere. There was a turnaround dance (a dance in which the girls ask the boys) at my school. Joanne wanted to ask a guy from another school to the dance. However, before she asked him, she asked me if the first guy did not accept would I go with her? I told her yes. The first guy was not able to go and she ended up asking me. I later thought about it and my ego refused to allow me to be the “backup guy.”

Because she had asked me second, I decided to let her know that was unacceptable:

Terence: “I’ll go with you to the dance, but you’ll have to ask me again.”

Joanne: “What do you mean?”

Terence: “I don’t know, but I didn’t like how you did it the first time.”

Sounds like I was a jerk, right? That’s because I was. If a guy doesn’t care, he makes it known by doing things that show that he doesn’t care. Things like telling a girl what she’s doing isn’t good enough for him. Now, if a girl likes him, she will ignore most of what he does and go along with his crap. Joanne brought me a bag with stuffed animals and candy the next day and “re-asked” me to the dance. I accepted the second time. Not only did she pay for the dance and the dinner, but she bought gifts because she wanted to appease me. “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl” dates do not work out at all, because somebody is going to get the short end of the stick.

The last kind of date is the “Boy and Girl couldn’t care less about each other” date. Why would a guy go out with a girl he doesn’t care about? And why would she accept if she’s not interested in him? A guy may ask out a girl he doesn’t care about if he’s bored, lonely, randy, or his friends are out with their girlfriends. A girl may accept a night out from a guy she doesn’t care about if she’s bored, lonely, randy, or her friends are out with their boyfriends. The problem is that these dates are completely useless.

I asked out a girl I really didn’t care about named Amy. Amy was cute, smart, and driven; none of this mattered because I wasn’t interested in her and I knew that she wasn’t interested in me. I remember right before our second date I felt like backing out of it. We ended up going out to dinner anyway, but she was so close to receiving this call:

Terence: “Yeah, Amy. I’m gonna have to cancel.”

Amy: “Why? Did something come up?”

Terence: “Nope. I just don’t care.”

If you are in the dating pool, please remember that only the “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” dates matter. It may be temping to try out one of the other kinds, but in the end you will just be inviting heartache or wasting money. Dating can be fun and exciting, but really is only worth it if you are with the right person. Keep these four kinds of dates in mind and try not to drown in the dating pool!


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When Traveling, Don’t Take This Taxi

Foreign Taxi

Image courtesy of Tyrone Acres at

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

If you are traveling internationally, one of the first things that you’ll want to do when you arrive at your destination is relax. Traveling can take a lot out of you, and this is especially true when going to another country. However, before you get to your destination, you’ll have to leave the airport.

Nothing beats having someone who already knows the area meet you at the airport. Even if someone can’t meet you there, you should have a number of transportation options to choose from. Bus, train, subway, taxi, or renting a car being the most common (rickshaw being less common). However, before you choose a transportation method, you should ask someone else the best way to get to where you are going. The person you ask could be a friend, staff that works at the hotel in which you will be staying, or someone working at the information desk in the airport. The key is to ask someone who doesn’t have a hidden agenda, and who wants you to have as pleasant of an experience as possible.

Before I first arrived in Korea, I had booked a hotel that was near the airport that had free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. I booked the hotel before I left the United States. I was informed that all I had to do was have someone from one of the airport information desks call the hotel, tell the hotel staff that I needed to be picked up, and the hotel would send a shuttle for me. After arriving at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, I got my bags, went through customs, and left the baggage claim area. I found an information kiosk, had one of the airport staff call the hotel that I had booked, and was picked up by the hotel’s shuttle bus.

Tip from Terence: I am not a fan of going places and booking hotels when I get there. I have been burned by this before, and it is definitely not my preferred method of travel. Of course, there are times in which this is not possible, so you may have to travel on a wing and a prayer and just show up to a city and see what is available. Some people like doing this and think it is adventurous! I salute those brave souls. But as for me and my lady? We don’t do that.

I arrived in Korea a few hours before my girlfriend. Before leaving the United States, I had told her that I would meet her at the airport so we could go back to the hotel together. After showering at the hotel and resting for a couple of hours, I returned to the airport to pick up my girlfriend, Tonya. After I met her outside of the baggage claim, we set about getting transportation to the hotel.

This is where the taxi trouble started.

A guy was walking around the terminal, approached us, and asked us in English if we needed a taxi. I told him, “No thanks,” and continued to walk to the kiosk where we could call our hotel’s shuttle from. However, my girlfriend stopped to talk to the man.

Tip from Terence: If there is a guy standing outside of the arrival gates asking if you need a taxi, this is the exact guy you need to avoid. In fact, out of all of the options you have for getting where you want to go, this is the last one you want to take!

I pulled my lady aside:

Me: “Let’s go get the hotel shuttle.”

Tonya: “I’m tired. Let’s just go with this guy who is right here.”

Me: “The hotel shuttle will be quick. And it is free!”

Tonya: “But this guy is right here. And I am tired!”

For some reason Tonya thought that having this random dude take us to our hotel would be a good idea! I told her that we should have the hotel shuttle pick us up, but she insisted that she wanted to take the taxi, because she thought it would be quicker. I didn’t want to argue, so I reluctantly agreed.

We told the taxi driver that we’d let him take us to our hotel. He then happily helped us load Tonya’s bags into his taxi, confirmed our hotel’s address, and we began driving to our hotel.

The taxi driver was pleasant, but something didn’t seem right. He kept mentioning “airport fees” and I started to get nervous. It reminded me of being with a mechanic who keeps talking about all the things that need to be done to my car. The longer he talks, the higher the bill is going to be. Either the taxi meter started with too high a fare, or it was the driver’s continual mentioning of various “fees,” but I got the feeling that the driver thought the letters S-U-C-K-E-R-S were printed on our foreheads.

Because I had chosen a hotel near the airport, the drive was not very long. When we arrived at the hotel, the taxi driver stopped the car and said we owed 50,000 won, which was about $50 USD.

$50?! He had to be joking!

We were in the taxi for 15 minutes at best, and there was no way that our ride should have cost that much money. The taxi driver and I began to argue about the fare. My girlfriend and I owed him something, but there was no way I was going to pay $50 for a 15 minute cab ride!

After a minute of arguing in English, I told the man to hold on. I left my girlfriend in the taxi and I went into the hotel to get the concierge. I explained that I needed help with my taxi driver, and he came out to talk to the driver. The concierge was also surprised at the price of the ride, and began to negotiate in Korean on my behalf.

Tip from Terence: One of the downsides of foreign travel is that sometimes people will attempt to take advantage of you because you are a foreigner. However, there are almost always people who will help you. If you feel like someone is trying to take advantage of you, airport and hotel staff are good people to ask for assistance.

After negotiating, the hotel concierge was able to get the fare reduced by 30%. While I wasn’t happy with the outcome, it was better than paying the full gouging price that was first suggested. I paid the driver, and Tonya and I went into the hotel.

Before traveling, do as much research about where you are going as you can. When it comes to transportation, it is especially useful if you can find out the best ways to go places before you get to your destination. This will help you avoid people who want to prey on your wallet.

If you do find yourself being taken advantage of, and you can’t speak the local language enough to argue, get someone who can to help you. But whatever you do, if someone walks up to you in the airport and says, “Need a taxi?” just say, “No!”

SPECIAL NOTE: If you like the artwork in this post, then check out Tyrone Acres’s website. His art is amazing!


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You Mean I Can’t Flush That?

Original image courtesy of Keerati at

Original image courtesy of Keerati at

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

There are so many things that you don’t know when you move to a foreign country. For instance, did you know that you can’t flush Kleenex wet wipes down the toilet in Korea? I wish I had known this. And I’m pretty sure that my landlord also wishes I had known this!

One morning, I was getting ready to go to work, when the intercom for my building came on. I had gotten into the habit of recording the voice messages from the intercom, and having one of my co-teachers interpret them for me. I recorded the message, then headed off to school. My Korean wasn’t very good at the time, but I could tell that the message was concerning something about my building.

When I went outside, construction was taking place in front of my building. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but the owner of the apartment looked upset while he spoke to the foremen of the construction crew. I greeted the apartment owner, and then went to work like usual.

At our first break, I remembered that I needed one of my co-teachers to interpret the message from the intercom. I had a wonderful co-teacher named Ms. Rose, who not only spoke English very well, but also was an angel to my family and I. She was my unofficial Emo “이모” (auntie in Korea).

I handed Ms. Rose my iPod and asked her to interpret what she heard. She listened to the message for a few minutes, and then we had the following conversation:

Ms. Rose: “They are having a problem with the sewer pipes at your apartment. Something like cloth seems to have been flushed down the pipes, and it has plugged up the entire apartment complex.”

At first I thought to myself, “Well, that puts me in the clear. I certainly haven’t done anything like that!”

But then I though to myself, “Aren’t the wipes that I use kind of cloth-like?” I looked in my bag and brought them out. Before then, I never really thought to double check and see if flushing them was okay, but figured that now might be a good time to find out:

Me: “Ms. Rose, are these okay to flush down the toilet?”

Ms. Rose: “Not at all! You see this little picture on the back of the pack with a toilet with an X through it?”

Me: “I do now.”

Ms. Rose: “That means that you shouldn’t flush them. Kleenex makes wipes that can be flushed, but these aren’t that kind.”

All of the English teachers in the building worked in a shared office, so everyone could hear our conversation. An American English teacher named Crystal then added:

Crystal: “Yeah, but even if someone did flush those wipes, they would have to flush a ridiculous amount to stop up a sewer system!”

The problem was that I did flush a ridiculous amount of those wipes. In fact, I was using so many of them, that I had started buying them in bulk packages!

I wanted to hold it inside, but my spirit urged me to tell the truth. I’ve learned over the years that when your spirit is unsettled, it will remain unsettled until you do what you know you should do:

Me: “Ms. Rose, I think I broke the sewer pipes of my apartment.”

I then explained to her that I had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to flush those wipes, and that it was truly an accident. I’d thought to myself, “How can something from Kleenex possibly be bad for toilets!”

I asked her to call my landlord and tell him what happened.

Ms. Rose then told me that it would be better if I didn’t say anything, because I might be liable for the damages to the sewer. I knew that she meant well, but I also knew that my spirit wouldn’t be settled until I had fessed up. I told her that I understood that I might have to pay, but that I wanted to be upfront with the owner.

Shortly thereafter, I headed home for lunch. While walking, it dawned on me that there was no way that Ms. Rose was going to tell my landlord anything! By nature she is a mild-mannered person who does not like to bring up sensitive topics. Talking to a landlord about how the resident foreign teacher broke his apartment’s pipes with Kleenex, is not a conversation that she had any intention of having. The only way this conversation was taking place, was if I made it happen.

I dropped my things off at my apartment, and went to the office of the building administrator. My apartment’s administrator was a middle aged lady who was very nice and helpful. She also didn’t speak any English, so on my way to the office I practiced what I was going to say in my bootleg Korean.

When she saw me, she ushered me into her office with a smile and asked how she could help. We then had approximately the following conversation in Korean:

Apartment Lady: “How can I help you, Terence?”

Me: “There is a problem with the bathrooms of my apartment. Yes?”

Apartment Lady: “Yes, there is a problem with the sewer pipes.”

Me: “Maybe that problem was from me.”

I then showed her the wipes that I had been flushing down the toilet.

Apartment Lady: “NOOOOO!!! Terence, how could you!!!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I not know. I’m very sorry.”

Apartment Lady: “Okay, okay. The apartment is being fixed. Don’t use these anymore, okay?”

Me: “Yes. I not use them from now on.”

Apartment Lady: “Good. Also, do not tell the apartment owner. Okay?”

Me: “Okay.”

To be honest, since the entire conversation took place in Korean, I couldn’t be 100% sure that she told me not to talk to the owner of my apartment. However, I seem to remember her holding one finger to her lips in a, “Shhhhhh. Don’t tell anyone,” kind of way.

I walked back to my apartment and was thankful that I had confessed. Even though it would have been nice to try and slide by and not tell anyone what I had done, I realized that wasn’t the right thing to do. My spirit tends to guide me on things, and whenever I choose to ignore it, things go poorly. My spirit told me to fess up, so I went ahead and did it.

As I walked back into my apartment, I saw a wooden plank beside its entrance. What looked to be a pile of dirty rags sat top of the plank, and the entire mess was positioned next to an open sewer hole. I was pretty sure that those “rags” were actually a mountain of non-flushable Kleenex, that I had been flushing down the toilet for weeks.

Tip from Terence: One thing that Westerners may find surprising about many Asian countries, is that you are not supposed to flush paper products down the toilet. This could be because their sewer systems aren’t designed for this kind of waste, or it could just be a way to prevent sewers from clogging. Most restrooms will have a special waste bin dedicated to used paper products, and you are supposed to throw all used paper waste into this bin. I should have realized that this was why I should not have been flushing paper ANYTHING down the toilet, but old habits die hard. I lived in South Korea for three years, and I can count on one hand how many times I put used paper in that bin. Whoops!

Later on that day, I received a knock on my apartment door. It was the owner of the building. He was an older Korean gentleman who used to work with the American army at one of the local bases, and he spoke English quite well. The owner never bothered to speak Korean with me, because he KNEW I would understand every word he said if he spoke in English:

Owner: “I knew it was you!”

So much for the owner not finding out about what I’d done.

Me: “I’m really sorry. I had no idea that I could not flush those wipes. I’ve stopped using them. Again, I’m really sorry.”

Owner: “How could you not realize this?”

Me: “I’m really sorry.”

Tip from Terence: In the words of the master of personal relations, Dale Carnegie, “If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” If you make a mistake, it is best to admit it as quickly as you can and not make excuses. Apologize sincerely and you will be given much more leniency than you might have received if you had tried to shift the blame elsewhere. Carnegie was an American, but his principles are timeless and work well around the world.

The owner’s face then softened, and he explained what happened because of the Kleenex. The reason the wipes caused so much trouble, was that one of the tree’s roots in front of the apartment had grown to the point of breaking through the apartment’s sewer pipes. My Kleenex wipes were caught in the roots of the tree, which is why the system had gotten backed up.

My mistake had illuminated a problem that the landlord didn’t realize that he had. In my mind, I was a hero for helping him realize his problem!

Of course, I didn’t actually say this to the landlord, but I did stop worrying about whether or not I’d be charged for the damage. The events turned out well (or at least not too badly) for everyone.

And yes, I did stop using the non-flushable wipes. I moved on to the actual flushable kind, because I still loved Kleenex wipes!


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Dodging Blows at Christmas

Countdown in Auckland New Zealand

Countdown in Auckland, New Zealand (image from Wikipedia)

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to watch the video of this story on YouTube

A couple of years ago I was in New Zealand for Christmas, and my girlfriend and I were shopping in a grocery store called Countdown. We had just checked out with our groceries, when we saw members of the Salvation Army singing. Like many others in the store, we stopped to enjoy the music.

Tip from Terence: Because New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, its seasons are the exact opposite of the United States. Even though I was there during the Christmas season, the weather was around 80 degrees! While people in the United States may think of snowflakes and Santa Claus for Christmas, New Zealanders think of beaches and barbecue.

A gentleman stood next to me. His clothing and demeanor looked rough, but he was smiling and enjoying the music along with the rest of the crowd. I looked at him and smiled. He looked at me and smiled… Then he PUNCHED me in the throat!


“Cough! Cough!”

Normally, I have good reflexes and should have been able to prevent this! However, not only was I holding two full bags of groceries, but who expects to be punched while listening to the Salvation Army sing at a grocery store?

All I could do was look at him and say, “Why did you do that?”

I then heard my girlfriend yell from the front of the store, “LET’S GO!!!!”

I walked away. About two minutes later the rage caught up with me and I was furious! What on earth just happened? Who assaults someone while listening to Christmas music?

While we were walking home my girlfriend was berating me. She told me that I should have known there was no way to reason with that man, because it clearly looked like something was wrong with him.

She was right, but my mind was racing too much to think about her words. All I could think about was what might have happened had I not walked away. I’ve had three years of Taekwondo training, and every scenario that went through my head ended up with me at a police station!

I got home and began to forgive the man. “Lord, please forgive this man for punching me in the throat! Forgive him, bless him, and release him!” Years ago I learned that forgiveness is a choice and that it should be done as quickly as possible. You don’t necessarily forgive someone for their benefit, but because it removes poisonous anger from your spirit. And because forgiveness is a choice, it can be done whether or not you are at fault. You can’t be sure of why everything happens to you in life, but you can respond in a way that does not keep you in bondage to bad experiences.

After fifteen or so minutes I was calm again.

Looking back, I’m glad that I walked away, because any other response would have been bad for everyone involved! I don’t know what was wrong with that man, but I hope he was able to get the help that he needed.

Remember, just because it looks like everyone is having a good time, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention. There are both good and “questionable” people all over this world. You just have to be able to discern who is who. Happy travels, and be sure to stay vigilant even if you are listening to the Nutcracker Suite!


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