In a perfect world, our jobs would be fun all the time. Customers would be pleasant, co-workers peachy, and our bosses our best friends. Alas, some of us—especially those in emergency services—tend to have more rotten days than rosy. We have heard the horror stories from friends and family in the workforce; from unreasonable and belligerent clients, to psycho-vindictive bosses. When things are at their worst in the workplace, it is good to reflect on the positive moments—the little things that make hard work worth doing. Take a break from the monotonous, and feel some warm fuzzies with these stories of people’s best days at work.
1. Redeeming Revival
Paramedic here. My best ever day was on a hot summer’s day in Australia, we were called to an 11-year-old boy that had drowned in his family pool. I was halfway through a foot-long meatball sub when it happened, and I darn near had a heart attack We were about five minutes away, and when we arrived the boy’s mother was providing CPR while his eight-year-old twin sisters watched on, horrified.
I check the carotid pulse (non-existent) and started to take over on compressions. My partner started to unpack the defib pads while our student toweled the kid off. The defibrillator comes back showing Ventricular Tachycardia (one of the only two shockable rhythms), so we hit him with the lightning and he instantly went back into a normal heart rhythm.
The kid then began to splutter, so we rolled in him into the recovery position to help him get the water out of his lungs. In such a high-octane situation, it honestly felt so good to be able to successfully revive somebody. I still think about that job any time that I wonder why I’m in this profession.
2. Holiday Heart Scare
I’m an ICU nurse in training. I did my cardiac care internship—just a couple of weeks—and I distinctly remember this one English couple that went through our hospital. They were on holiday when the wife collapsed due to a heart infarction and was successfully resuscitated by her own 15-year-old son and the paramedics. She was in the ICU only for a couple of days and was then transferred to the CCU.
She was getting better each day, and each and every day her husband profusely thanked us. He went as far to bring stuff like donuts, cookies, chocolate etc. to the nurses on the CCU. After a while, she went to the normal ward, and the next day she was cleared to fly back to England again by our doctors. The husband came up to me (with another box of donuts) and was so thankful for the staff helping his wife, tears and all. How happy they were they could go back home and see the children again.
That’s what keeps me going—to see we made a huge difference. It makes me proud of what we do.
3. Salvage Solution
I worked at a bicycle shop doing the basics: sales, bike builds, repairs. One day this homeless man comes in asking if we could help him out with his bike, but he didn’t have a way to pay for any service. The store owner was out for a bit and we were unsure how he would feel about us doing free work. My co-workers and I were hesitant to get too involved or really even look at it, but it’s hard to turn down a person in obvious need.
We figured we could just turn a quick wrench or make a minor adjustment and get him back on the road. It turns out that his rear cassette was busted (I don’t remember what was wrong with it specifically) and needed to be completely replaced—bummer, not a quick fix. It turns out that we would often find abandoned bicycles leaning against our rear exterior wall. I ran out back to see if we’d get lucky and scavenge a used cassette. No luck that day.
However, we were right next to a popular donation station that had drop offs all the time. As luck would have it, a man was unloading a bunch of items out of his truck, including a couple of bicycles. I ran over to him before he pulled the bicycles out and asked him if I could have one for parts. He was giving them away anyway and didn’t particularly care where they went, so he gladly gave me one.
I wheeled it past an unapproving donation station worker, but since the donation hadn’t happened yet, he had no recourse. My co-workers and I teamed up on the swap and got the man on his way as quickly as possible. Once the man left with his now functional bicycle, we all took a second to smile at each other, feeling like we did something awesome for a fellow human being. It’s amazing what a difference five minutes can make.
4. Put a Ring on it
I worked at Kay Jewelers and we had a young man who had put a ring on layaway when I had first started. He diligently came in every two weeks to pay off the ring for almost eight months. On his final payment, he brought his girlfriend in to “ring shop” and she picked the exact ring he’d placed on hold so long ago. He said, “Let’s buy it!” She got so red and said, “There’s no way we can afford that.”
He went to the counter leaving her with me to look at other stuff. He came back and proposed to her right there in the store and she cried and said yes. It was so adorable and they came back about a year later to pick out a band for the wedding. The best part was the two of them had been working hard and got promoted at their jobs, and he bought the new ring outright.
5. Homeward Bound
I work physical rehab in a skilled nursing facility. I had a young, early-40s patient with a hereditary degenerative condition who had been in different hospitals and facilities for months. In addition to genuine pain and disability, she was being very self-limiting and unwilling to do pretty much anything in fear of it increasing her pain levels.
It was a long journey, but it was so worth it. Bit by bit, a coworker and I convinced her to first roll over, then sit, then stand, then spend longer and longer periods out of bed. Finally, we got to the point where we were able to do a home visit, and you could see her remembering what it was like to be in her own space. That light of desire to go home was in her eyes and she worked harder from that point on, and two weeks later she was discharged. Helping her into the car and waving it out of the parking lot was the best feeling I’ve had so far in my career.
6. No Hitter
Medic here. I have to say that my best day on the job was my “no hitter.” It was a 14-hour shift, and we didn’t get a single call. What a glorious day that was.
7. A Good Heart
I’m a policeman in small town. I got a call to try and locate a woman who was on the heart transplant list. She wasn’t answering her phone or pager. It was the early 90s, so she didn’t have a cell phone. It was in the middle of the night and cold, in February. I knocked on the door of every neighbor on her street without success.
The last house on street told me she’d gone to a relative’s out of town. I was able to get her number and contact her. She got a new heart that night. I’m retired now and still see her on occasion. She always makes a big deal and hugs me. She’d forgotten her pager and didn’t go back to get it thinking, “What are the chances they’ll call tonight…”
8. A Drink With a View
I used to work as a janitor in a high-school. There were three of us in the school, and during the summer break we were normally given a list of jobs to do, but we were mainly just expected to show up and be on hand if we were needed. This one year, we finished all our work super early into the break, so we had practically nothing to do.
One day, I was sitting in a classroom watching movies on my phone, when my friend radioed me and asked me to come to the roof. Bear in mind, we were the only people on staff authorized to access the roof. I went up and walked outside, it was a beautiful, sunny day. My friend had set up some chairs from a classroom and had a bucket of ice with some brews floating in it. We spent the whole day up on the roof sunbathing and drinking.
It was a magic time.
I’m a doctor. I was on duty in the emergency unit in a rural hospital in a third world country when two women arrived with 60% total body surface area burns, after the gas canister in the school kitchen where they volunteered exploded. Both women were fully conscious when they were brought in. I treated them aggressively—morphine, fluids, burn dressings, intubated both to protect their airways—and made arrangements for transfer to a hospital equipped to treat them further, but this has an extremely poor prognosis due to ongoing damage and associated complications.
I was sad but not surprised to hear that the one woman passed on within hours. At that stage, I worked in a very fragmented system and since I did not hear anything about the second woman, I assumed she passed as well. For some weeks I had trouble adjusting to the idea that the last thing in their lives those two women heard was me saying, “Hi, I’m Dr So-and-So, you got very badly burnt, I gave you some strong pain stuff but I’m worried about damage to your face, so I’m going to give you something to make you sleep and then put a tube in your lungs to protect them, ok?” (paraphrased slightly)
A little over six months later I get a call from the sister on duty at the emergency unit. She told me, “There is someone here that you absolutely want to see.” It was the second woman from that fire. She had been through it all—skin grafts, rehabilitation, depression—but against the odds, she had survived. She also immediately recognized me as the one who said “I’m going to give you something to make you sleep,” but she remembered it more favorably than I did.
It was easily the happiest day of my entire career so far, and I’ve been practicing for 11 years now.
10. Someone to Talk to
I’m an EMT, and I would say one of my best days at work involved a call we got for a young girl who was feeling suicidal. I have to admit, I’m not sure that she needed an ambulance, but I spent a lot of time in the back with her, talking, and she seemed a lot better and happier by the time that we got to the hospital.
It struck me because it was the first call where I felt like I had truly helped someone with their mental health problems. I still think about her sometimes, and I hope she’s doing better.
11. Kindness Over Fear
Nurse here. I was a student on a cardiac unit and there was a lady there waiting for surgery. She and her husband spoke little English, although their friend was there sometimes to help translate. The night before her surgery her husband and friend left, and I helped her take a sanitizing shower to prep for the next day. My preceptor told me her surgery was extremely risky and carried only a 20% chance of success. Neither of us were sure if she understood this fully, but she knew it was necessary and she was scared.
I kept thinking it might be her last night on earth and she was here all alone. Through broken communication her last words to me that night were her thanks, because she said we were so sweet and caring in a time when she was so afraid. I didn’t care whether I was allowed or not, but I gave her a strong hug before I left that night. On the eve of surgery, she was all alone and had a regular hospital meal, with little ability to communicate. I was left with a terrible sadness—but the next week, everything turned around.
I passed by a room and she called out for me. She’d survived the surgery. She demanded more hugs, and asked why I wasn’t her nurse again. There are days we see someone for the last time, and sometimes we never find out. Then there are days when things go well and people remember the kindness they received instead of their fear.
12. The Anti-Grinch
My wife saved Christmas! She works as a Support Coordinator for families with kids with developmental disabilities. One of her families is a single father, who we’ll call Super Dad, who has three kids ranging through 10 to 20, all with moderate to high needs, and all with different specific requirements. At the time he was also caring for his terminally ill mother who was living with him, and had been on hospice for I think a year or more.
Super Dad is a fantastic parent who sometimes presents as flaky or non-committal, because trying to manage all of that is a lot, and things fall through the cracks. Super Dad’s ex is, from everything I’ve heard, a piece of garbage, but dad continues to try and give her opportunities to be involved in her kid’s life (or did), because he’s forgiving and wants his kids to have a mom!
So Super Dad saved up a little money, like $100 or $150, to do a Christmas shopping experience for the kids, and he invited the kids’ mom to come along. He even took the precaution of hiding the money, just in case. So, mom shows up, they socialize with kids for a while, and then Dad goes to the bathroom or is otherwise indisposed for a few minutes.
When he comes back, his heart sinks. Mom is nowhere to be found. He asks his kids where she is, and they indicate she went into the kitchen. He goes in, and finds the place has been rolled, and the money he’d hid is gone, and mom is nowhere to be found. She had taken her own kids’ Christmas money. So, Dad calls law enforcement, they put out a notice to pick her up, and actually they find her pretty quickly.
Wouldn’t you know it—she has the missing amount of money, less some cigarettes and snacks. They call dad to let him know, but explain that, due to the investigative process and whatever all other regulations, the money is evidence, and he won’t get it back immediately. He calls my wife at 2:00 on the last business day before Christmas and explains what happened. She gets off work at 4, for reference, and since it’s the end of a pay period, she can’t go over her allotted time.
My wife basically puts out an APB to her coworkers (half of whom are already gone), and starts calling up all of the various gift charity organizations. Problem is, most of them have already sent things out, or are about to. They don’t have anything spare, if they have anything available at all, and most of them she can’t even get a hold of a live person.
Finally, at 3:50, she gets a call back from a place that runs a system where basically the kids get to walk through a warehouse and pick a certain number of things as gifts for them to have. They have everything sorted and ready to go, and all their anticipated slots are full, but as she explains Super Dad’s situation, the lady at the charity basically says, “Screw procedure, usually we have at least a few families that don’t make it anyway, give them my number. If they can call me tonight, I’ll make sure they get in tomorrow before we officially open.”
And with five minutes overtime, Super Dad gets to tell his kids that the next day they get to go pick out Christmas gifts.
13. Three Lives In 20 Hours
Veterinarian technician here. We are a small, lower-cost clinic, and tend to see some very gruesome things because some people aren’t able to afford vet care until it is either too late or almost too late. There are definitely a lot of cases that pass through our doors that are extremely emotionally difficult to handle. I have hundreds of those kinds of stories, but there are also plenty of good ones too. There is one day, however, that always comes to mind!
It was almost time for the clinic to close…I’m talking 10 minutes left until we lock the doors at 6pm. Our phone rings and it’s a lady who had never been to our clinic before, and our receptionist said was sobbing on the phone and difficult to understand. Her young cat had swallowed a foreign object and had an intestinal blockage. The few clinics she had taken her cat to had given her an estimate for surgery for $3,000+ and she was told by a few of them that they needed half of the money before the surgery was done.
She was also told the cat was extremely sick and will pass on within days if not operated on—this was very true. Our doctor told her to bring the cat in ASAP and we would do surgery that night. A few minutes goes by and we get a call from one of our clients that had her husky in for a spay procedure earlier that day. Apparently, the dog had managed to slip out of her e-collar and tore open her stitches. The family was frantic so our doctor told them to come in as well.
The cat and dog both arrived around the same time. The cat was very frail and obviously sick. The dog had definitely pulled all of her stitches out and had internal organs practically hanging out of the incision. There was so much blood leading from the exam room to the surgery room. Not a pretty sight. The doctor did an exploratory on the cat and he had to go back in on the dog spay, but they both survived.
He found over 20 hair ties and part of a shoelace in the cat. It was getting close to 10pm at this point…almost 15 hours of being there. We are cleaning up and getting ready to leave when we hear someone banging on the front door. It was an older gentleman and he had a kitten. He found the kitten outside and had said that the tail and one of the rear legs looked wounded. The doctor takes a look, and sure enough it was frostbite.
We did some X-rays and other testing to figure out how severe it was. Found out that the kitten needed a partial tail amputation and the right rear leg had to be fully amputated as well. The doctor was fully booked on surgery for the next week so we prepped for the amputation that night. About 2-3 hours later, finally done with surgery and the little kitty survived.
It was somewhere around 1-2 AM and we were all insanely tired. Almost 20 hours of being there and going through a roller coaster of emotions. We kept the cat overnight and the next morning the older gentleman came back and decided he was going to keep him. He named him Tiny Tim! The family of the cat exploratory and dog spay also stopped in to thank us and bought us lunch and goodies. We received heartfelt and heartwarming cards thanking us for our help.
Yes, it was very long shift and we were all exhausted, but it was such an amazing feeling to know that we saved three lives that night. Anyone who works in the veterinarian field knows that this job is extremely stressful, but these are the moments that make us realize the difference we are making for our clients and patients.
14. Muddy Mis-dial
I was called to a home for a drowning. I was told it was a two-year-old patient. Drownings suck, because they nearly always end badly. I prepared for the worst—but when I got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We arrive on scene, and there is a mother holding a three-year-old and another two-year-old child is soaking wet, playing on the ground getting muddy.
Long story short, these people didn’t even have a pool. Their 3-year-old was messing around on the phone and accidentally called 9-1-1. While on the line, he kept telling the dispatcher that his brother was in the water. So, the call came to us. The mom gave us cupcakes and we played with them in the mud for a little bit. What a great day!
15. A Strong Wind
I was a dispatcher for a residential alarm company similar to ADT. I would call people when their alarm was tripped and ask them if they were okay. One day, I received a signal from a residence from a glass break sensor on a window in the bathroom. When I called, the lady was laughing so hard she could barely give me her safety password.
It turns out that she was cleaning her bathroom when she bent over and farted so hard and loud that it set off the sensor on the bathroom window.
16. Unconditional Aid
I was a case manager for mentally ill adults. I knew things were tough for this lady, we’ll call her Z. She and I were both in our mid-20s. When I showed up for our meeting, she had a clear hand-shaped bruise on her face. And bruises around her neck. She cried when she saw my face reacting to the marks. Neighbors had called the police. They made him leave, but said it was “he said, she said.” She needed a clearer report to get to a shelter on an emergency basis.
She was scared, but we went down to the precinct to make a report. On the way, I wanted to buy her breakfast. Z started crying again, because it was hard for her to decide what she wanted because she wasn’t used to making even that small choice. Oh, and she told me that her husband had hit her once he came back after law enforcement let him go later that night…
The desk officer initially said that he couldn’t do anything, because the report said that it was purely verbal. I am an angry crier, so I then burst into tears and angrily tell him to LOOK at the freaking HANDPRINT on her face and the bruises on her neck. I tell him more quietly that there is more… He gets a domestic violence specialist, and a chief from the county happened to be there.
We got the right report, and I take Z off to a hospital. I call work to tell them what’s going on and ask them to cancel the rest of my day. My supervisor has the nerve to tell me not to get too invested because I know that it’s likely she’ll just go back. I hung up on her. I had no idea, but a co-worker overheard this and went to our director about it.
I sat in the ER with Z and made plans for her future. What she wanted for dinner, what color blanket she would want for her new room, and what her dream vacation would be. Throughout the day I had been calling and working with a DV shelter. They picked her up from the hospital and promised me they had clothes and bedding for her. I went home and cried and cried.
The next day I was ready to escalate to my director, but found she already knew. She had flowers and apologies for me. My supervisor gave me a full apology as well. But that’s not the best part. Z never went back. I ran into her, and her very nice husband and adorable son about 10 years after. She had gotten her GED. She was working on her BA. She was safe.
On my very bad no good days when I am just destroyed, I remember that day. I was young and it was so hard and she was so hurt and broken. We kept going, together. It mattered.
I’d been designing this machine alongside a mechanical engineer. I’d designed the controls for it and was reasonably sure it would be ok, maybe a few bugs to work out, but the code seemed stout enough. We powered the unit up, went through the setup cycle and went through the manual cycle. It worked perfectly. The engineer said, “Let’s try Auto.” It worked without a single hiccup.
That afternoon, a project I’d spent almost two months straight on ran its first product. The cool thing: the place I worked had a “development clause” for engineering. When you came up with an expansion or engineering plan, it was more or less written in stone. If you went over the date, you were shuffled down the project list. But if you finished before the date, they had a cool little feature.
Every profit from that machine from the date it ran production until your scheduled end date was split up between the people who worked on it, since the company figured that money was a bonus anyway. We’d started production almost a month before our scheduled finish.I paid off a car and bought a motorcycle.
18. Watching the Snow Fall
I work as a law enforcement officer in a fairly busy city. At the end of a normal night, it’s not uncommon to have 12 calls in my history. Sometimes as many as 15-18. Last year in January it snowed. I sat under an overpass and did not have to move from the time I signed on, until sign off. Not a single call. Glorious.
19. Birthday Boss
On my boss’ birthday, people decided to have a cake for him—kind of a surprise party. When he got into the room where the surprise was, he started laughing and blushing, then all of my co-workers started chatting and joking about stuff. The cake itself was pretty delicious. That day had a really good vibe, and that kind of situation is one of the reasons why I like my job.
20. Free Show
It was my first shift as a driver for a catering company. We had a food stand at a concert venue, and my only duty was to drive there and drive back. I wasn’t sure what to do during the show, so I just hung out on a bench for a while until my boss told me to go enjoy the show. I got paid with a free lunch to watch Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, and Neil Young.
21. Animal Rescue
I’m a volunteer firefighter. We had an apartment fire, not too bad, but thick smoke to the floor. My partner and I did a search of the living room, with me leading. I was on the wall under a window when I found a large cage with a small, furry ball in a corner. I called to my partner, “Matt! FERRET!” We finished the search, grabbed the whole cage, and hauled it outside. The poor thing wasn’t moving, was covered in soot, and had blood on its muzzle. Sorry, buddy.
We went back in, mopped up a hot spot, and helped with overhaul. When we came back out, someone said, “Hey, that critter was moving!” I pulled the ferret out of the cage, and hustled to the ambulance. My dad, an EMT, hooked up a nasal cannula to the oxygen, and we got the tubes lined up with the ferret’s nostrils. A few seconds later, it perked up, wiggled a bit, and opened its eyes.
After a trip to the vet and a bath, he was good as new. He lived for five more years. In 17 years of firefighting, he was my only live rescue.
22. Alive and Thriving
I’m a newly qualified nurse, with my first placement in the NICU. We had a very sick baby who I was told was most likely to pass on before she even reached the age of two. Her mum couldn’t understand why she was there, as she was a term baby. I’d been doing research, and I tried my best to explain to her mum exactly what was happening and be supportive. On my last day, her mum hugged me and said thank you. I was very close to tears.
I follow a photographer on Instagram who had taken pictures of this baby girl for her second birthday, and it turns out it was that same baby. It still makes me so proud that she defied all odds; she has cerebral palsy and global developmental delay, but she has surpassed everyone’s expectations and is able to eat herself. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing her thrive.
23. From Roommate to Mate
I work in a theater. It can be a very stressful environment, depending on the type of show and client. A youth group came in for a two-week show run a few years ago. Some of the kids act, some have technical roles and some help out back stage with scenery and props. This time around I was the lighting designer/operator.
One of the kids that got assigned to help with lights was an 11-year-old with cochlear implants. His implants worked great and he could have a regular conversation with anyone. The one thing that gave home trouble was the ClearCom headset (What the crew uses to talk to each other during the show). It was bulky and interfered with his implants, it also didn’t give him the best sound quality.
During the course of our conversations he mentioned that he could also take an AUX input into his sound processor, and showed me the mini stereo jack that allows him to do that. The gears in my brain immediately started spinning. That night I went home and looked up the schematics for the ClearCom system. The one we had was relatively simple.
Through some studying of the schematics I determined that I could make a cable that was 4-pin XLR on one end, and mini stereo at the other end. This would allow him to plug his processor into the system and hear what everyone is saying. I brought the cable in the next day and we tested it out. It worked! The kid was super stoked but more than that, his parents could not thank me enough for taking the time and care to do something like that for the son.
Best day of work ever. I also let him keep the cable I made so no matter which theater he went to, he could plug right in.
I’m a college student, but work as a nanny and an elementary school special education aide on my breaks. On my best day as an aide, all three kids I had were having multiple breakdowns (usually they had none) and it was my first year on the job. I hadn’t worked regularly by any means so I was totally overwhelmed and was just wondering what it was that I was doing wrong that was making these poor kiddos so miserable. But finally, and I don’t even remember how, I got all three of them to relax and start calmly coloring.
After things had calmed down a bit, we were leaving that classroom to go to the intervention room for the end of the day, when one of the kids grabbed onto my side and said, “Thank you, Ms. T, for never being mean to us.” Which lead to the other two to grabbing on as well and say similar things. And suddenly, the exhaustion and stress of the day just totally disappeared.
As tough as it had been, they knew that I loved them and that’s all that really matters to me. Because I know that most people get nervous around people on the autism spectrum because they don’t understand it, and so a lot of kids with ASD don’t get the love and respect they deserve. But I’m happy to know for sure now that people with ASD do feel comfortable around me and that’s just the best.
25. Big Hearts, Bigger Stomachs
We were on a natural disaster deployment (hurricane) and it was super last minute, so dining arrangements hadn’t been contracted out and no one even knew where they were going to eat. We get to the first location where we were going to bunker down for the night, and were told to go to the grocery store that was still open and get whatever supplies we could. Randomly, there was a Chinese restaurant still open throughout the hurricane.
We were authorized to order dinner there if we wanted, so long as no one got hurt. We had so many orders placed at the restaurant that night. They were happy, we were happy. The next morning our civil engineers rigged a coffee maker so everyone could have coffee before setting out to our next location. It was the worst tasting coffee I’ve ever had, but everyone was so grateful and it was a huge morale booster. We break up and head out to our next locations.
We’re at a place where everything is closed and destroyed. Still no dining contracts. So, we go to whatever convenience stores are still open (we went by the busload because we had to drive a while to get to them) and buy out whatever they have. Candy bars, chips, it was basically all junk food. After almost a week of eating garbage (all that junk food sounds great, but after a week my body felt terrible), a local restaurant re-opens to provide dinner for us.
I had a completely basic garden salad that tasted like heaven. We also came into the dining area to see a door was plastered with letters from the community thanking us for the help. Best week ever.
26. Cashing Out
The first time I ever got a full Christmas bonus at my current job. $6,000 was more money than I had ever had at one time. I almost cried.
27. A Winter Mirage
Volunteer EMT here. Somebody called 9-1-1 as they were driving when they saw two snowmobiles sitting in a field with two bodies lying next to them. Unwitnessed snowmobile collision in subzero temperatures? We’re probably going to end up dragging a pair of frozen bodies back to the truck. All we could do was hope that neither one of them was a child.
We had two ambulances, and God-knows-how-many law enforcement cars cruising up and down the highway searching for this scene. The caller was still on the line, but he had kept on driving and was nowhere near the crash site. He was also unsure of exactly where he saw it—first he’d said it was near a church south of a certain intersection, but the only church on that stretch of road was north of that intersection. Meanwhile our victims are out there, likely freezing.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity but was probably less than 30 minutes, somebody realized that a certain pile of debris about a quarter of a mile away from the road looked kind of like a couple of snowmobiles when viewed from a certain angle. Dispatch confirmed a few more details with the caller, and we were all relieved to find that the hopeless scene we were all dreading was actually just a pile of garbage some farmer left in his field months ago.
28. Hurricane Helper
I know it’s not something life-saving like an EMT or a nurse, but I used to be a debt collector for a very major financial institution. As horrible as it was for the victims involved, the hurricanes through Texas and Florida saved my mental health for a month or two. After a year of just being told to screw off by people who made unwise financial decisions, I could finally help those who deserve and need it.
People who acquired debt because of the hurricanes. I was able to waive fees, credit them back certain bills, give discounts, etc. I still ended up mutually resigning (forced quitting/firing so they don’t have to pay severance) but that period was nice to be there. To those with strong enough minds to be putting in so many years as a debt-collector; dealing all of the verbal attacks, I salute you.
I always try my hardest now to be nice and straight-forward to legitimate call center workers as to not waste their time and keep the day flowing positively.
29. Heartwarming Hand Holder
When I was in EMT school, my very first call I had ever gone on was a fall with a leg injury. I don’t remember much from it, but I still remember the patient just holding my hand while I was doing her vitals. The entire time she just complimented me, and it was honestly pretty heartwarming
30. Engaging Aztecs
During my time as a student teacher, I was reading a fairly boring article about Aztec people. To make it not so boring for the kids, I stopped every now and then and added in extra details, and compared things to examples of real life so they could have a better understanding of what was happening. All of the kids were absolutely silent the entire time, and were staring at me.
When I finished the article, a few of the kids started clapping like they had just seen a play or something. They stopped really quickly and looked a little embarrassed, but I don’t think I have ever felt so good. Every single student was asking questions and engaged and it just made me feel so good. I’ve never felt so great about something before.
31. Coffee and a Cookie
I was typing a report parked outside of a mall, when a little girl who was 3-5 years old walked in front of my cruiser wearing pink gumboots and a yellow raincoat. She began waving at me, so I waved back and even flashed the lights. She was super excited and turned to her dad to say something while smiling ear to ear and jumping around.
They disappeared into the mall and came out a minute later with a coffee and a cookie. The girl brought the food to my window and I thanked her for them, then asked if she wanted to sit in the driver seat. She was so excited and hopped in the car. I let her chirp the sirens, turn on the lights, and even use the load speaker to say hello to her dad.
The dad was almost tearful with how much his daughter was enjoying this experience, and told me that in the country that they came from you couldn’t trust law enforcement, and nothing like this interaction could ever happen. I can’t remember what country he said they immigrated from, but it was in the Middle East. He asked me to join them for a coffee. I had to decline due to being horrifically behind on paper already, but I thanked him for the coffee and cookie.
I think about this day a lot when I have bad ones, it is quite a cherished memory of mine.
32. No One Ever Asks
Before I start, a bit of preface. When I was four or so, my crawling infant brother somehow managed to trip me and I fell sideways and backward, and knocked the back of my head on a piece of solid metal close to floor height. Later that night, I threw up a lot. Of course, that’s a warning sign for potential brain trauma, so off I went to the ER and got admitted for three days of observation.
I distinctly remember hating the entire experience, none of the healthcare staff explained anything to me, or talked to me beyond giving me instructions. It all cumulated with breakfast on day three—I was watching cartoons and eating some toast. The nurse came in, talked to my dad, then grabbed my arm, and stuck a needle in it for blood tests, without so much as a word of warning to me. Having blood drawn as an adult is uncomfortable enough, but as a kid it was terrible. Many tears and choking on toast resulted.
Fast forward a bit, and I’m a med student. I did a rotation at a cardiac unit. I was asked by an attending in outpatient clinic to do a CVS examination on a three-year-old after he had done his own examination. The entire 5-10 minutes or so of watching the kid before my turn came, the kid was not engaged at all with anyone, not the toys, not the parents, not the doctor, not me; head down, no eye contact, just standing real still and quiet and letting the attending do his thing. Attending says it’s my turn, and he’ll watch me examine the kid.
Remembering my own hospital experience—and keeping in mind that this kid had a complex congenital heart defect requiring months of in-hospital stays, and multiple surgeries and a ton of follow up outpatient appointments—I got down on my knees to eye level, and asked the kid if I could have a quick listen to their heart.
His head came up just enough to meet my eyes, and the kid nodded really shyly and I managed to get him to help me lift his shirt up. Once I finished the examination, the kid lowered his own shirt and when I thanked the kid, he nodded again, then looked up at me. What he said broke my heart. He told me: “No one asks me.”
As in, throughout all the experiences with hospital staff, not a single medical staff had asked if they could, they just went ahead and did; because legally you really only need parental consent, not the kid’s. Something about that both made my heart hurt, but also, it felt good to know that I did something right by the patient.
Of course, later on, we were taught in lectures to never ask a child, just their parents, for consent because kids always say no. And maybe I was lucky, but I’d spent an entire pediatrics rotation asking children for their permission and after explaining it to the kids, all of them always said okay.
33. Lucky Dog
I used to be a firefighter in my small town. One night, we were all hanging out at the station after dinner when this guy comes in with his two kids and their family dog. Apparently, the dog had somehow gotten into a thing of rat poison and ate the entire container. She was unconscious and having bouts of seizures. We don’t have any emergency vets near us (it was a rural county), and the ones that do require you to be a regular of theirs.
He was hoping there was something we could give her, at least until they made the 45-minute drive to the nearest vet. Luckily, we always kept a paramedic on duty, and he also happened to be a captain on the department. It was absolutely against both the rules of the department and possibly against the law for him to use our meds in that way, especially on a dog, but he gave her something through an IV to try and slow the poison.
I don’t know what it was, but a few weeks later they sent us a really nice card and said the vet told them she wouldn’t have made it without the medication our captain gave her. I still have that card (I think they sent each of us one). It’s got a really cute picture of her on it. You don’t get the opportunity to actually save lives that often as an EMT/firefighter, just the reality of the job (especially in a small rural community), so that one was really special.
34. Golden Tickets
I work in tech support. My department was essentially being outsourced, but our manager didn’t have the nerve to tell us. Instead, they had us doing lower-level work to “help the queues,” but it was basically preparation to demote us. One thing I’ll say about my company is that they never lay off anyone, they will always find a position within the company to move someone to if a department goes away.
It was October and I didn’t want to be out looking for a job right before the holidays. So, while everyone in my department essentially rebelled against this move, I put my head down, did the best I could and just remained thankful for having a job. I didn’t realize that my attitude was getting noticed by the higher-ups.
One of my managers was a total jerk, but the one right below him seemed to have some semblance of a soul left. She walked up to my desk one day and asked me to put my current call on hold. I truly thought I was being walked out (we didn’t yet realize they weren’t going to lay people off), but my manager set two concert tickets for my all-time favorite singer down on my desk.
She had gone to my previous supervisors and actually took time to find out what would be really meaningful to me because she said I was the only person in the department coming in and giving 100% despite crazy changes and upheavals. I started crying. It was the first time I felt like just showing up, doing my job & putting in a bit of effort mattered.
Just a couple of months after that, I was actually promoted and I’m still with the company today and doing what I really love within. I’ll never forget that day, I’ll never forget what it felt like to truly be recognized for my work ethic. I am a hard worker and hard work has gotten me up the ladder and procured a decent life for me. It was so nice to see a return on that state of mind.
35. Going Peacefully
I’ve been working for a hospice/palliative care chaplain for nine years now, and I work with only people living out their final days. All day, every day. The best days on the job are seeing someone have a “good death.” Seeing the patient surrounded by family and realizing how truly loved they are, and also giving their loved ones meaningful words and time together in return.
Seeing family reconciliations happen when there’s been an estrangement is beautiful. It’s also so meaningful when I can help patients create legacy work for their loved ones so they’ll have tangible items once the person has passed on. It’s great to see patients kept completely comfortable so they can pass on peacefully and asymptomatically. It’s also profoundly humbling to have a patient or loved one say that the emotional, spiritual, or psychological support I’ve given has helped with their comfort.
And during the quiet times in the staff area, making dark and perverted jokes with the nurses is all the levity needed to be uplifted with humor. I’m truly honored to have the best job in the world.
36. Ice Cream Magic
I had a summer job selling ice cream. We had a little boy with autism come in with his family, and later he freaked out because the different flavors touched so we gave him a scoop of strawberry ice cream free of charge. He later comes up to me and my friend (I was at the cash register) asking for an extra spoon. We always keep a few extra spoons in the pockets on our aprons, so I did some “magic” and made a spoon appear in my hand, he couldn’t see the lower half of me because of the wall, and when I gave him the spoon he had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. He ran away to his mom yelling, “She can do magic!” Over and over.
It melted me and my friend’s hearts. We had another kid come up to me while I was taking an order tugging on my apron to get my attention, so when I was done with the order I crouched down to see what she wanted, and she said: “I didn’t know your name but I wanted to give you this anyway.” She held out a drawing of a person at the cash register with the text “To someone, from Beth.” Such sweethearts. I love that place.
37. Locked In
We once saved a couple of kids stuck in a locked warehouse. It made my day seeing their faces after we had rescued them.
38. Happy Accident
I was a teacher in a low-income charter school, which you may recognize as a recipe for disaster. The school was poorly run, and we had to provide most supplies ourselves, and had unreasonable and unrealistic expectations placed on us. I was teaching first grade at the time. We had a rule that only one child could be out of the classroom at a time, no matter what. I had 30 kids.
Eventually, one of my kids had a bathroom accident. I have to say here, if I knew he had to go that bad, I would have let him go—but he never gave any indication that it was an emergency. He did his best, but first graders have small bladders. I got him a change of clothes and minimized his embarrassment as much as I could.
However, his mom was furious. She came in the next day and spent a solid 10 minutes screaming at me. A dean finally came and escorted her away and I thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t. She stayed at the school the entire day and just… watched. She saw what the teachers were going through and what we had to deal with. Then she came back to talk to me, and I was stunned at what she said.
She totally apologized. She was my biggest supporter from then on and if I needed something, she had it for me. On the day I quit, she hugged me and told me that I was too good for that place and it was her son’s last day too. Obviously, I’ve had better days than that in my career, but that was a day that gave me hope and helped me not give up my career due to one bad school.
39. Defense of the Innocent
Very early in my career as a defense attorney, I had a black college student charged with a shooting. It was getting a lot of media statewide due to one of the people involved being a professional athlete. After investigating, I became convinced that he was innocent and the actual shooter was probably one of the state’s primary witnesses. I had only had a few jury trials at that point and they all were defendants that were guilty as heck but refused to plead out. I didn’t have a ton of faith in either a jury or my own ability to handle the case/consequences.
I worked my butt off in preparation. Once we started trial, I realized I was knocking down every piece of evidence that the state was presenting. I was pumped with adrenaline and growing confidence. I tore up their star witness, who I thought was probably the actual shooter. One of the jurors actually laughed at the guy in disbelief of some of the things he was testifying to.
Then, I gave a 30-minute closing argument without even looking at my notes with the jury nodding along to everything I was saying. They were out 20 minutes and came back with a not guilty verdict. Front page news article in the biggest papers in the state. Client’s mom is hugging me a crying with relief in one of the photos.
That guy still calls me up once a year to check in. He’s now married with kids and a solid white-collar job. I always think of that case when I start to have doubts about doing defense work.
40. Twin Therapy
I’m a psychologist, and I did my year-long internship at a university counseling center. While we normally only saw clients for 8-12 sessions, we were allowed to have one longer-term client to give us more experience. Mine ended up being this wonderful young woman who was deeply depressed. She was an identical twin. Sessions were slow going at first and there were a lot of tears. She worked through a lot and she was much better by the end of our 10 months working together. My supervisor and I talked about her frequently and she watched tapes of our sessions.
The next year I was on my post-doc and I got a call from my former supervisor who had just started seeing my client’s twin in private practice. The mother of the two twins, not knowing who my supervisor was, started talking to her about how her other daughter had gone to therapy and how her therapist had changed her life.
My supervisor called me to tell me this because we don’t get to hear that very often.
41. Long Lost Friend
I used to work at an animal shelter, and honestly had a lot of good days to pair with the bad ones. But nothing compared to this one day. A family came looking to adopt a cat. We had a cat that was having a tough time getting adopted, so he got to roam free in the shelter to schmooze with people. Well, this family encounters the cat and they don’t just fall in love—they let out a huge sigh of relief.
The shelter cat was their cat that had gone missing five years before. They instantly recognized him and immediately readopted him. It was a really neat twist of fate.
42. Power in Numbers
I’m a physician. Some years ago, I was a resident on obstetrics on my first day, and first hour of my shift, and I watched a pregnant woman almost die and give birth to a baby boy that ended up passing on shortly after, due to the complications of childbirth. The boy required extensive resuscitation—it was my first time seeing a “code” on a child, let alone a newborn. However, he ended up with severe brain damage and was eventually taken off life support in the NICU.
It was their third round of IVF, and the previous two rounds had failed. It was one of those very unfortunate stories where nothing could have been done—maybe if the woman had presented earlier, but unfortunately, despite emergency surgery, it was too late. Thankfully, the mother survived with no health consequences, but it was emotionally devastating for everyone involved.
Multiple nurses were agonizing whether they had done something wrong, my attending had told me to expect a lawsuit. Thankfully, it never materialized. But that was probably the worst day I’ve ever had on the job. And yet, half an hour later we had to move on and stitch up a tear on a woman who kept complaining about how she “had been waiting for three hours already!” but we couldn’t tell her just WHY she waited. So, we just apologized profusely for our troublesome tardiness and kept smiling.
Two years later, I was on pediatrics in the same hospital and I was examining a prematurely born infant that was a few months old. As the mom and I were fiddling with the baby, I noticed the mom had a tattoo of a boy’s name and a date below it on her wrist. I immediately had chills come over me. I looked at the date and realized it was the first day of my residency training. I debated for a minute whether it was inappropriate for me to ask that, but I went ahead and asked the mom, “Did you, by any chance, lose a baby boy at this hospital on X date?” She said, “Yes.” and I told her I was the resident who first examined her.
We talked about her traumatic experience, as she teared up and said that after that, she couldn’t fathom getting pregnant, or even setting foot on the maternity ward, ever again. Eventually, she said her and her husband came to the realization that they were ready to consider adoption and listed themselves in a North American registry.
Then she said one day she got a call saying there was a severely premature newborn available some 3,000 miles away. It was a baby that had been left at a fire station. She said they didn’t think twice and booked the flight to go and get the baby. They went through the adoption process and the baby was now thriving, several months old, developing well, and cared for by a loving family. She said she felt that her and this baby were meant to find each other after both traveling these extremely difficult paths.
It was probably the most heartwarming story I’ve ever come across and it was so relieving to hear that this woman (and the abandoned baby) all found their happy endings. So, I would say it was my best day on the job.