The great thing about nice gestures and acts of kindness is that they come in many forms and sizes, but in the end they all serve the same purpose—helping someone in need. So, if anyone needs some cheering up or motivation to lend a hand, check out these stories people posted on Reddit about the nicest thing someone has eve done for them.
1. Good Samaritan
I was hit by a car, and a stranger sat with me until the EMTs arrived. I never got his name. He left before the police got there. I looked for his face in crowds, but never saw him again. He kept me calm. I didn’t feel alone.
2. Small Gestures Can Go a Long Way
When my grandmother died, my friend would FaceTime me when I couldn’t sleep and tell me bedtime stories. Our safe-word was “pineapple.” If she said that and I didn’t answer, she knew I was sleeping and she could hang up. It might have been a little thing for her, but it made a huge difference for me.
3. Stranger Service
I had just started driving, and maybe had my license for a week. Went to go fill up gas for the first time. Realized I never learned how to fill up a car. A guy saw me struggling for about 10 minutes and he walked over, pulled out his credit card, and showed me what to do. Ended up paying for my gas and teaching me a lesson.
Never got his name or anything.
4. Room Is Already Paid for
We were on our honeymoon and didn’t have a lot of money, but we managed to afford to stay at our favorite inn in our favorite coastal town. Someone found out we were newlyweds and anonymously paid for our stay. I plan on paying it forward at that same place one day.
5. Ride and Share
I was walking home one day last winter, super cold out, and some lady I’ve never seen before stopped to pick me up. She was really nice and drove way out of her way to drop me off at my house. She even gave me a winter hat and a piece of chicken—she was on her way home from KFC. I said thank you, and she told me to pay it forward.
6. It’s the Thought That Counts
When I was in college, my nine-year-old brother gave me a $5 bill for emergencies.
7. Unexpected Trip
After a really hard year, my two closest friends and my mom said they were taking me to London for my birthday. Bizarrely, they wanted to fly, and since I only lived in Liverpool, that seemed odd. It wasn’t until the airport when I heard a security guard read the ticket as Liverpool to Barcelona that it clicked. They took me to the opera, the magic fountains, and Las Ramblas.
There’s like a million pictures of me constantly crying in happiness from that trip. It was just so kind to go to so much trouble, just to cheer me up.
8. Making up for Lost Time
Growing up, my birthdays were kind of trash. We weren’t poor, but my parents would say things like, “we’re going to Hawaii for your birthday…” I was so excited, until: “Oh sorry, not you, just your stepfather and I.” Cue 12-year-old disappointment. Since my beautiful wife found this out, she has gone out of her way to make my birthdays amazing.
From a surprise trip to San Diego—from Northern Canada—to eat sushi at Nobu, to a surprise party with my friends, even though we all live and work in different cities, she’s totally gone the extra mile. Because of her, my last seven birthdays have been more than enough to make up for any disappointment that I might have felt as a kid.
9. Christmas Miracle
When I was about five, my mom was single and in nursing school. She had very little money, and we lived in this tiny one bedroom apartment. This elderly Greek man who lived in our apartment complex dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve and brought me presents. I can still remember him saying, “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” in that wonderful Greek accent.
That was one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.
10. A Child’s Love
I got ready to go to work one day and wasn’t feeling super stoked about things. On my way out the door, my 5-year-old daughter handed me a simple note that she had written on the front of an envelope. It said, “You are the hero of my life dad.” Nobody will ever top that compliment, and I hope I live up to it.
11. Going to Bat for Someone
My mother’s boyfriend at the time gave me a referral to the company he works for. I get a “Thanks, but we don’t have any blah blah blah” letter from the company. Oh well. No big. My resume was hilariously lacking in things they want in an employee. He then pulls some strings and gets them to give the resume a second look. Another “no thank you” letter.
He talks to them again, and convinces them to give me an interview. He’s confident that if they interview me, and give me the aptitude test they give everyone in the tech side of the company, they’ll hire me. So, they interview me and give me the test. They call me in for a second interview. I’m hired less than a week later. I’ve been there for just over 12 years.
If it wasn’t for everything that guy did to just help me get my foot in the door, I’d probably still be managing retail and not happy about it, and not at an awesome company doing something I generally enjoy.
12. Proud Bookworm
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of the ones I wanted to get, and then decided after I’d gone through them all. One day, an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read.
I told her I did, and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked. She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me and said, “Promise me that you’ll keep reading.” I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away, and I went back to my piles, able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.
It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me, having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was probably about 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.
13. Brother From Another Mother
Fresh out of a relationship that left me with almost nothing, my college roommate offered me a place to stay. When I showed up without any furniture, he immediately went and found a bed, sheets, etc., and set me up basically with a makeshift bedroom. I swallowed my young man pride and hugged him. I remember telling him I’d never ask for help again.
He simply said “Anything for a brother.” He probably doesn’t remember that night, but I’ll never forget it. I’ve helped four people with places to stay to get back on their feet over the years, and it honestly humbles me anytime I help a friend in need because of him.
14. More Where That Came From
I talked to this dude whom I barely knew after class one day during my first year in college. I told him that I live alone and have been eating cereal for the last two days, in a joking manner, because I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping due to the exams. He brought me two plates of delicious butter chicken with rice the next morning.
He said his parents run an Indian restaurant, so he brought some for me. He told me I can ask for more whenever. That was the first time anyone outside of my family has gone out of their way to do a nice thing for me. It really touched my heart. Unfortunately, he dropped out a few weeks later, but I will remember him forever.
15. Lovely Distraction
She consoled me in an airport bathroom when I was crying my eyes out at having to leave my husband behind in another country for who knew how long. She was a cleaner who just saw that I was crying, and without a word grabbed a giant wad of paper towels and handed them to me. She then guided me to a little seating nook and just sat with me until I got myself under control.
She talked about the latest movies and how she hated all the new pop songs, and just kept talking until I stopped crying. She saved me that day.
16. Roadside Assistance
My significant other and I were traveling through the countryside in Vietnam. I had just twisted my ankle and we were heading back to our hotel when our motorcycle got a flat tire. We had no cell reception and didn’t know what to do, as there weren’t many people around and anyone who we saw only really spoke Vietnamese.
A wonderful elderly couple selling water on the side of the road pulled us to the side, gave us chairs to sit on, and gestured that we wait there. They gave us water, and about 10 minutes later someone appears with the tools to fix the motorcycle. When we tried to give them money, they didn’t want to accept it! We gave them big hugs and left some money on the chair, as we felt uncomfortable just leaving.
After this experience, Vietnam became one of my favorite places.
17. Anonymous Donation
When I was a senior in high school, my band was going on a trip out of state to go skiing. I had moved a lot as a kid, and aside from going to that high school at two different periods of time, it held the longest amount of my education. I hadn’t been able to go on any of the band trips, though, and I had to work to pay my own way.
I had problems with my mom and stepdad, and hadn’t yet fully forgiven my dad. I had my own bills that I was responsible for. In short, I could never afford to go on one of the band trips. All of a sudden, about a week and a half away from the trip, my band director pulls me aside. He asks me if I want to go on the ski trip.
I responded something to the effect of not being able to afford it. He cut me off, saying that’s not what he asked. Obviously, I told him I wanted to go. Turns out, some benefactor saw some of what was going on behind the curtains in my life. They were—and still are to this day—anonymous to me, but they footed the bill for my charter ticket, food money, and ski gear money.
I cried. I just started crying right there in the band director’s office. It was great for me, but my best friend ended up getting altitude sickness.
18. Not Her First Rodeo
I was six months pregnant with my first child, and was flying across the country alone. The woman sitting next to me was also pregnant, but with her fourth baby. We made small talk for a few minutes at the beginning of the flight, but that was it. About two-thirds into the flight, we hit turbulence and no one was allowed to get up.
Between the motion and pregnancy, I was feeling it, so I ended up puking into the air-sickness bag. The whole time I was sick, the woman next to me held my hair, rubbed my back, even patted water on the back of my neck. She was an angel. I wish I’d gotten her name.
19. A Footlong Favor
About 10 years ago, I stopped at Subway to grab dinner after a very long 14-hour shift. When the employee swiped my debit card, it declined. I was already tired and I knew I had at least $2,000 in the bank—I lived with a roomie for cheap and had a decent telecom job. I felt the tears immediately start to fall down my face as I timidly asked to try it again.
Declined. I just slumped over and eked out, “thank you for trying” and started to walk away, shaking because I didn’t know what happened to my money. I was very tired and all I wanted was a crappy Italian sub. Then the lady behind me says, “wait! I’ll get it for you!” I thanked her and asked for her info so I could pay her back, but she said not to worry about it, and as cliché as it sounds, to “pass it on.”
Got home, checked my account, and was relieved to see all my money was there. Called the bank, and they told me my old card was expired and they had sent a new one out several weeks ago. My bank still had my parents’ address, so I was able to get it. Since then, I have made it a point to help when I see someone’s card declined.
I’ve picked up the tab for about a dozen people since then, from a cup of coffee for an elderly man at a gas station to a couple of cans of baby formula for a very frazzled-looking mom at the grocery store. We’re all just out here trying to make it.
20. After Hours
Some friends and I were road-tripping through Nevada when my car broke down in Barstow on a Sunday evening. The mechanic shop we took it to eventually narrowed it down to a bad alternator, but by then it was closing time. By all accounts, Barstow was not a place you want to be stranded, especially at night, and we weren’t happy.
But the mechanic shop was closing, and it’s actually illegal there to get work done on your car anywhere but at a mechanic shop. We were stuck. One of the guys at the shop pulled me aside and told me to meet him at the auto parts store up the road. We got a jump and limped the half mile or so to the store, which just so happened to have our alternator in stock!
The friendly mechanic got to work tearing out the guts of my poor broken car. As if that weren’t enough, the folks in the store were sympathetic and let us “test”—read: use—whatever tools we needed, in addition to bringing out some chairs and free sodas for us! The manager hung out with us, telling stories of her life in Barstow until she had to lock up and leave.
She asked us to just put the tools and flashlights in an unlocked car in the lot when we were done. In the end, it took the guy about three hours to fix the car. He refused payment, in cash or in the nice bottle of whiskey we had. I finally convinced him to let me buy him a tool he picked out, to the tune of maybe $15.
I don’t remember their names, but the mechanic and the lady running the store really teamed up to show us how it’s done. It was a real “today you, tomorrow me” event that I still think about a lot.
21. What Friends Are For
Last year for my 24th birthday, four of my best friends and I rented a cabin up in the mountains to celebrate for the whole weekend. Just having them set aside time and money for my birthday trip meant so much to me, but they went beyond that. Two of them managed to get me out of the cabin for a few hours while the other two stayed behind, just to cook our dinner, I thought.
I came back to a fully decorated cabin with balloons and confetti everywhere, my favorite cake, champagne, and Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” playing as I walked in. I felt so, so loved.
22. Above and Beyond
I’m lucky enough that a lot of people have done a lot of nice things for me in my life, but a recent thing that happened this last winter touched me very deeply. My wife and I had celebrated 20 years together by dumping the kids on their grandparents and getting a hotel room for a night for a change of scenery and a night on the town.
It was very snowy outside—this is relevant—and the day after when we were leaving and I was scraping all the snow from the car in the hotel parking lot, my wedding ring slipped off my finger into the snow. I didn’t even notice it was missing until later. After going back and searching the parking lot by myself and not finding the ring, I had an idea.
One of my friends has a metal detector, as he likes to go and search for old coins and such. I called him up and asked him if he would be willing to come down and help me look for my lost wedding ring. “Sure, no problem man,” he replied. So, he came 20 minutes later with his metal detector, and we scoured the parking lot for like an hour and a half before finally giving up, as it was freezing cold.
I was obviously super bummed about losing my wedding ring, but thanked him profusely for taking the time to come and help me. Ah, but that’s not the whole story. About a week later, I’m heading to work in the morning when he calls me up saying, “hey dude, are you driving to work?” I replied “yeah,” and he goes, “could you possibly come and pick me up and drive me home. I just finished my night shift”—he works shifts at a hospital and doesn’t drive.
I reply “yeah, sure man, no problem, where are you?” And he goes, “the hotel parking lot. I just found your ring by the way.” Turns out, without saying anything about it to me, he had been going every morning after his 12-hour night shift with his metal detector to the hotel parking lot in the freezing cold and snow to continue searching for my ring until he eventually found it.
Who does that?? I was so absurdly touched that I actually teared up when I was thanking him, and he looked at me like I was crazy. “You would have done the same for me, dude.” No, I wouldn’t have, I know myself well enough and am honest enough to admit that. I’m a nice enough guy, and I would have certainly helped him in the initial search and then felt really good about myself and stopped there.
Taking the extra time and spending the extra effort is the difference between sort-of “regular” decent people and the really golden ones.
23. Through Thick and Thin
In June of last year, I started dating my current girlfriend. Less than a month later, I found out I lost my job. The job that, less than a year earlier, I moved across the country to take. My field is rather small and specialized, so finding a new position would be an uphill battle. I was facing having to return home to Miami, a place I had worked so hard to leave, and to not have any job prospects in Miami, either.
My girlfriend, she believed in me when she had no reason to. After only a month of dating me, she believed in me enough to stick with me, and helped me—beyond measure—through nine difficult months of unemployment. She kept me going, kept giving me a reason to keep moving forward with my efforts, and to keep applying to jobs.
She drove with me up and down the California coast, interviewing again and again, only to hear that they had selected another candidate. She kept my spirits up, my crippling anxiety at bay, and—many times—my belly full. We are still together—I did find a job, eventually—and if I had a thousand years, and all the words in all the languages, I couldn’t begin to express how grateful I am for everything she’s done for me.
All because she believed in me when no one else did, including my parents. To say she is a tremendous person isn’t nearly enough. She is the sole reason I managed to stay on the West Coast, and for that, I am forever grateful. Life, as always, isn’t perfect, but the fact that she’s in my life at all makes me feel like I can take on anything.
24. Favorite Customers
I used to work in a coffee shop, and during my time there I got to know an elderly couple really well who came in daily. I became pretty ill due to ulcerative colitis, and over several months I got worse and worse. During this time, they were always very sympathetic with me and tried to make me feel better any way that they could.
Sadly, I had to go for emergency surgery, which meant I was to be off sick for about four months whilst I recovered. Only a couple of days after I came home, they had spoken to my partner to find out where I lived, and came to visit me, unbeknownst to me, just to cheer me up. Over the next few months, they came to the house, and eventually took me out when I felt up to it.
I only knew this couple from serving them coffee. I left a few years ago, but I still make the effort to pop my head in if I’m passing at their usual time.
25. Thanks for Noticing
I asked a colleague to be a reference for me for a new job. She wrote me a letter of recommendation that, 11 years later, remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. All of the little efforts that I’d been putting in and getting no real attention for, she noticed, and mentioned in a way that made me feel so seen.
Bless you, Nat. I don’t think anyone has made me feel so good about myself, ever.
26. Taking Care of Business
My mom was always very healthy and took care of herself, ate right, and exercised her entire life. But then she got cancer and was told she likely only had a couple weeks to live. This was over Christmas, so every place was at least slightly understaffed, and anyone working was not fully focused on work, but we suddenly had to find an experienced, reputable lawyer to update her will.
They also had to get a trust set up for her recently disabled daughter, make sure a scheming relative was definitively excluded from inheriting or even interfering, have an accountant review everything, etc. We’re dealing with the shock of everything and having doctors and medical staff constantly coming in and wanting to discuss things and have decisions made, and we were just incredibly overwhelmed.
We had all this stuff that needed to be done, yet all we wanted was more time together. In desperation, I called my friend Ellen. I’ve always admired Ellen’s ability to efficiently handle bureaucracy, and we really needed help. I asked if she could come over for a couple of days to help with some of the more stressful stuff we were dealing with.
She dropped her entire life and was up the next day, stayed in a nearby hotel for a couple of weeks, just doing whatever we needed. We’d meet up, tell her briefly what we needed done, and she just handled it. We’d spend 15 minutes explaining what we’d like to accomplish, then she’d spend hours wrangling with the lawyers or accountants to make it happen the way we wanted it to.
Then the lawyers would come in and talk with my mom alone for half an hour to verify her wishes and go over provisions. Instead of exhausting ourselves wrestling for hours with lots of different bureaucracies and intricacies, we were able to hand that off, secure in the knowledge that it was being handled correctly and efficiently by Ellen.
It allowed us to focus more on my mom’s medical treatment, and to just have time together in each other’s company, doing other, smaller things that were really nice to be able to do. I still desperately miss my mom, but that time would’ve been so much harsher without all the support that Ellen and our other friends gave us.
My mom was able to leave peacefully, on her own terms, without stress or distress, and was able to spend time with all of her friends, talking over the good times they had. And by focusing on the good things, good times, good people, it helped keep my mom’s spirits up, and it made the entire atmosphere much less maudlin than it could’ve been otherwise.
Because we had the time and space that Ellen gave us, the separation was a lot less painful than it would have been otherwise, for everyone involved. Thank you, Ellen.
27. Saving the World One Hug at a Time
A while back in high school, in my freshman year, I had gotten into a fight with my ex of two years, and we had broken up. Since she was my first love, I actually started tearing up during lunch after we broke it off. So I’m standing there tearing up outside next to a pole, headphones in, and this random guy comes up to me and taps my shoulder.
Looks at me dead in the eye and asks me, “Are you okay?” I said, “Yeah man, I’m alright.” I just remember the way I said it, voice quivering, and he didn’t buy it for a second. Just gave me a look and just said to me, “You need a hug.” The dude legit just looked at me and gave me a big hug. At the moment, I didn’t really care how I looked, or how we looked just hugging it out right there, but it really helped me throughout the day.
This guy, never spoken to him, never seen him in my life, just was such a nice guy and such a bro that he didn’t even care himself that he just gave me a big bear hug. I never saw that dude again. I like to think he’s out there giving the world a giant hug to this very day. Hug Bro, if you’re out there, thanks, man.
28. Did We Just Become Best Friends?
I lost my mom to lung cancer in June 2006, one month after graduating from high school. I am an only child. That August, I moved an hour from home to attend university. Without fail, in every class, we were asked what memorable thing we did over the summer. I spent my time telling people I had planned my mother’s funeral.
One girl I happened to share several classes with ended up being my across-the-hall neighbor. That following January, she showed up at my door with a cupcake and a candle on my mom’s birthday. Not a single person I was close to remembered, but she did. She held me while I cried, and we stuffed our faces with cake.
She stood up at my wedding as a bridesmaid several years later.
29. Earned a Spot in the Dedications
I finished writing and editing a book about four years ago. It sat as a manuscript for a long time. My GF stole the script and had six copies printed in high-quality hardback, which she surprised me with for Christmas. I couldn’t speak for about a minute, then cried like a baby.
30. Family Is More Than Blood
My stepmom continues to do nice things for me. I grew up with a very neglectful mother, emotionally, physically, and financially. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I was forced into a motherly position to my two younger sisters. My dad and stepmom married three months after the divorce was finalized, and because of my mom’s anger and dislike of her, I never took the time to get to know or be nice to my stepmom.
To put it bluntly, I was a jerk to her. I’m sure she thought about leaving my dad a billion times during those years. Then my father is eventually re-stationed and moves away for work, and my anger stops me from keeping a relationship with them. After years of not talking, I message them out of the blue. I’m fed up with being homeless—my mom threw me out at 18—depressed, lonely, and uneducated.
Three years of no communication, and after only three weeks texting back and forth, I ask her if I could relocate to the West Coast to better my life. She not only purchases my plane ticket, but a plane ticket for my dog as well. I’ve been living with them for two years now, I’m 22 and I have my associates and am working towards a bachelor in biochemistry.
My parents, especially my stepmom, have shown me what true unconditional love looks like and how parents are SUPPOSED to take care of their children. Kris, you’ll never understand just how much my life changed because you decided to love me despite my jerk-headedness. I’m a better person because of your support.
31. Don’t Have to Dine and Dash
A random lady paid for my group of eight or so college students’ sushi order once. It was somewhere around $250-$300 before the tip. Never really saw her, but I think of it randomly sometimes when I’m pissed off in traffic, and it makes me happy.
32. Going the Extra Mile
When I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the first two days I was in the ICU on a ventilator. I was HEAVILY medicated, but somehow I was still awake a lot of the time. There were two really kind nurses. The first one came in and said, “Hi, I’m Lil Rachel. They call me that because I’m short. Your grandparents are coming tonight, so let’s get your hair done so you look pretty for them.”
She used rinse-free shampoo to clean my hair—I hadn’t been able to shower for like three days before getting to the hospital due to balance/mobility issues—then brushed it and braided it and put it up in a bun. No one else cared about that, they were focused on keeping me alive, so that was really kind and thoughtful of her to do.
The second nurse, I don’t even know what she looked like. I had like a four or five-hour head-to-toe MRI while still on the ventilator. I was crying and scared and didn’t know what was going on, so every time I came out of the tube I started panicking. This lady was there to hold my hand, literally, and rub the back of it and tell me that I was okay, I was doing a great job, and we were almost done.
Every time I came back out, I immediately reached a hand out and she was right there to grab my hand and comfort me when I was scared and confused. Really, every nurse, doctor, physical therapist, and psychologist I saw when I was in the hospital was so incredibly kind to me. I’m crying just thinking back on how amazing every staff member was in the darkest and hardest part of my life.
33. Monopoly Card
I was 16 and got pulled over outside of the curfew on my limited license, while mildly speeding. Forgot to pay the ticket, missed the court date, had to go to the District Attorney, and a clerk there looked at me and said, “Well, you don’t have a warrant for your arrest, so that’s good.” Then she said she was going to reduce my speed and throw out the curfew, and I was just going to owe a large fine.
She didn’t say it, but I knew that was the only “get out of jail free” card I was ever going to get in my life.
34. Family Matters
Recently my husband, son, and I made the trip from Australia to Canada to visit my family and friends. My father bought our plane tickets, and my mother bought my son enough clothes for this summer and the following autumn. My mother-in-law picked us up from the airport, helped us get our four suitcases and a very grumpy toddler into her truck, drove us home, and then helped us unpack a little, ordered us pizza, and then bathed and put our son to bed.
I adore my family.
35. Not on Their Watch
A group of colleagues in another department heard I was leaving my job, having been refused a promotion and a raise to reach parity with my immediate coworkers. I had accepted a position doing less and earning more with another organization. In response, this group of colleagues actually petitioned and successfully caused their boss to intervene by creating a position for me in their department.
They even convinced his superiors to offer me beyond the top-end of the salary range for that position—beyond most of their salaries. It was very hard to go back to the people whose job I had already accepted and tell them I had to withdraw my acceptance of their offer, but the outlandish nature of the circumstances helped.
The whole thing changed my life dramatically, and I have never had a better job than I have with the people who went to such lengths to make me a part of their team. Pretty amazing.
36. Bedside Buddy
This past summer, I was in South Dakota working for the summer and I got in a really bad ATV accident, which left me in a coma. One of my friends who I was with dropped everything and drove three hours to Nebraska to the hospital I was in, stayed by my side, and kept everyone I’m close with updated with what was going on with me.
He stayed by my side until my parents drove all the way from Jersey. Thank you Shacore, I love you buddy!
37. 24/7 Service
One time, I stayed up until 2 am finishing an essay that was due in the morning, but just when I thought I was home safe and could finally get to bed, of course, the printer refused to print out my essay unless I refilled the magenta ink. I even did the “print only in black and white” thing, but my stupid printer still didn’t want to cooperate.
I was stressed, sleep deprived, and starting to panic. My dad awoke and came out to see what all the noise was, as the printer was obnoxiously loud and was now making a racket trying to do a 15-minute system scan. After sheepishly explaining what I was doing, he said, “Why did you only start your essay now?” and of course I didn’t have a good answer for him, but he could see how stressed I was.
Without another word, he grabbed his keys and drove off at 2:30 am to find a 24-hour convenience store that sold printer ink, despite me telling him not to worry about it, I’d find another way. He came back 20 minutes later with the ink, and I was able to print out my essay and go to bed. I’m completely hopeless, but my dad never gives up on me.
I have no words for how grateful I am. I hope he’ll be able to see me make something of myself one day.
38. I’ll Be Back
I got one of those mall chair massages, and realized I left my card at home after the massage. The guy was super nice, took the bit of cash I had, and said I can come back later to pay the rest. See you tomorrow, Tom!
39. Great Words to Live by
A high school teacher told me once, “You’re one of the good ones. Don’t waste your potential, and keep working hard.” It was said to me at a point in my life where I just got rejected from my dream university, I was lonely and didn’t have any friends, and I was feeling awful having just immigrated and being slapped with a heavy handed culture-shock-machine.
I cannot count how many times I’ve gone back to that moment of affirmation. In my college years, trying to get admission to my dream school. Those long days waiting for an acceptance letter only to get rejected yet again. Those nights I was studying for a midterm or final and I knew I was going to fail. Those moments finding out I did fail and ending up on academic probation.
I’ve held on to that moment in between those teeth-gritting smiles during a rough shift at my fast food job. Those moments I’ve been rejected from job interview after job interview. More than a decade—or so—later, I’m a professional now, working a very fulfilling job where I’m happy. I got a small push through an off-handed comment from a teacher who doesn’t remember saying it, but it changed my life.
To all the teachers out there, I know it can get tough. I know you rarely see where your seeds land and how they grow. I know there’s a lot of faith and energy that goes into your students that is often under-appreciated. But know that you are making a difference.
40. More Than a Just Generous Tip
When I was super pregnant and working at DQ—actually paid amazingly well—I was only 18, so I got a lot of anxiety from rude customers. One lady at one point had told her daughter not to end up like me. She was the only really rude person, but it had totally put a damper on my spirits and made me feel permanently more on edge about being the stereotypical “teen mom.”
This guy comes in, late-30s to early 40s and average looking. As he’s waiting for his food, he makes small talk with me, asking things like “a boy or girl?” “What will her name be?” “Are you excited?” We made really great small talk until the food was done. As I handed him his food, he grabbed my hand and slapped $30 in it.
He told me, “Get yourself something nice for your baby girl.” I didn’t compute what was happening and stared at him, barely yelling out “thank you” as he walked out the door because I was so shocked. I went in the back. Everybody thought he offended me, because my cheeks were red and I was slack-jawed, until I explained.
He was the first stranger to make me happy cry. I wish I could remember exactly what he looked like. I’d try and find him so I could let him know how much it meant to me and that I did not mean to stand there like an idiot with my mouth open.
41. Fake Out
It must’ve been my junior year of high school, and I was on a huge class trip—something like 60 students—to attend a conference four hours away from home. It was the week after Thanksgiving, and this trip coincidentally landed on my birthday. I remember being really bummed out because I was barely starting to make friends outside of my classmates, and I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate it with them.
I’ll admit I was really mopey in the way teenagers get about dumb stuff. Toward the end of the night, I was just sitting on my bed, and my good friend from class came up to me and just said “happy birthday” like it was nothing. The first and only person to wish me a happy birthday, I thought to myself. We chatted for a bit and he said, “Hey, let’s go get you some food at the Denny’s next door.”
I agreed and we left. On the way there, he did a pocket check and realized he didn’t have his wallet and panicked. We went back to the room and found nothing. He was freaking out, so we went to the lobby and asked the concierge if they had a lost and found, then we called our teachers and had them ask everyone if they had seen it.
He was tripping at this point. A few minutes later, we get a call from the program director saying someone found it and turned it into him. Relieved, we head up to the teacher’s room, and as he opens the door, my friend just says “come on, get inside.” At the time, my mind was not on his wallet. My mind was back home.
I follow him inside, and it’s completely dark except for this huge birthday cake with a bunch of candles and 60-plus people yelling “SURPRISE!!!” I was so shocked that I just started bawling, hard. Everyone came up and group-hugged me. It was a feeling unlike any other. Up until that point, I’d never had a surprise party before in my life.
I guess while we were running around “looking for my friend’s wallet,” everyone was making their way to my teacher’s room. That’s one of my favorite memories from high school.
42. Part of the Family
My grandmother and I were very close. She helped raise me. I have had fertility issues for years, which she had helped me through. After a very difficult year of going through IVF, I was finally expecting my first child. My grandmother had been keeping very close track of the pregnancy because of all we had gone through to make this miracle happen.
She was so excited to meet her newest great-grandson. I ended up getting married at city hall when I was four months pregnant. She would have been thrilled about our marriage, but before I could even tell her the happy news, I received a phone call that she had passed away the very next day. It was one of the worst days of my life, right after one of the happiest days of my life.
I miss her every day. Unbeknownst to my new husband and I, my cousin’s daughter went over to my grandparents’ home and retrieved a few of grandma’s old shirts. She then proceeded to have them made into a teddy bear for our unborn son so that he could always have a bit of grandma close to him, even though they were never able to meet.
I broke down and bawled my eyes out when that little bear arrived in the mail. It means the world to me. Our son is due to arrive one week from today. I never knew a teddy bear could hold such a special place in my heart. That is the most thoughtful gesture I’ve ever witnessed. I will be forever grateful to her for this sweet and wonderful gift.
43. Fun Police
When I was in high school, I got into my dream university through hard work, luck, and an ounce of talent. I lost out on that opportunity when the financials came back and my family realized there was no way we could swing it. What I’d been working at for the past three years was over, just like that. I had gotten into a couple of other schools, but knowing THE school accepted me and I had to say no just killed me.
I was 17 at the time, and it felt like my world collapsed. I got depressed, badly. I did nothing for the next two weeks of that hot summer but sit on my front porch and feel sorry for myself. Some of my friends would come over, hang out, try to cheer me up, but I was just morose and difficult to deal with. My friends would eventually get tired of my boring life and leave.
Not Joe. Joe hung out with me on that porch all day, every day after it became apparent I wasn’t just snapping out of it. He would sit with me for hours on hours, just sitting in silence. We’d watch the cars go by and smoke cigarettes. When night came, he’d get up to leave, and every single day he’d say, “See you tomorrow.”
And he’d show up again, and we’d sit in the same silence, me stewing and feeling sorry for myself. After about ten days of this, Joe came over and walked up onto the porch, me in the same spot. He said, “Get up, we’re going somewhere.” I told him I didn’t want to go anywhere. Joe was a big dude, a lot bigger than me, and he just walked over, picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, and carried me to his car.
He threw me in the back of his two-door, got in, and drove. I protested the whole time. He turned the music up. We stopped by a friend’s house and picked up three more people, who all crammed into his tiny car. He took us to the county fair, carried me in on his shoulder, and paid for my admission. He kept picking me up and carrying me from ride to ride, carnival game to game, and made me ride the tilt-a-whirl, throw balls, pick ducks, etc.
Everyone had a great time, while I was seething. At the end of the night, everyone was laughing and singing in the car as Joe dropped each of our friends off, me last. He let me out in my driveway and said: “See you tomorrow.” I woke up feeling much better the next day. Joe, thank you. Actually, Joe, I’m gonna call you right now.
44. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14th, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.