Do you remember the nicest thing someone ever did for you? It’s hard to forget when something so kind (and possibly small) touches your heart for years afterward. These stories focus on those exact moments, reminding us that even minute gestures can last a lifetime.
1. Through Thick and Thin
My family putting up with my depression, alcoholism, and theft, supporting me as best they could the whole way. I’m now killing it as an apprentice electrician and have a clear goal that I care about and can work on, to make a living. I could not have done this were it not for them.
2. Poster Board of Friendship
One time I was in the summer school class and I became friends with two girls in the class. Once, for a whole week they were purposefully ignoring me and I felt hurt. When I went to confront them, I was stunned. They surprised me with a poster board covered in magazine cut-outs that spelled my name and had pictures of things I was interested in. Pictures of my characteristics and theirs too.
They had been secretly working on it the whole time. Almost 20 years later I still have it somewhere.
3. Going to the Cinema
When I was eight years old, my mom worked as a cleaning lady for a family. The mom of that family took her kids to the movies and invited me to join them. We saw Toy Story. I felt so happy that I consciously try to take a mental picture of that moment. It was like the second time I went to a cinema in my life.
4. Fix That Collar
When I was a young man, I did really well in high school. All As, teacher’s pet, the whole shebang. After high school, with a lot of effort from me and my parents, I managed to get into a really good college. It was hell. While I was the smartest guy back in high school, doing well with no effort, here I felt like an idiot compared to 99% of people.
Every day was depressing. I didn’t understand anything, nothing was working out, and worst of all, I couldn’t make any friends. I felt like nobody even knew who I was. Finally, I decided to drop out of school. I went to a couple more classes, and I was standing in line to talk to this one professor who I liked. I was planning on saying goodbye to him.
And then the guy behind me straightened my collar, slapped me on the back, and said, “C’mon, Alex, a genius like you can’t walk around with a popped collar.” I spun around, kind of scampered off, and hyperventilated a little bit. Then I got my life in order, stayed in college, and eventually graduated and got a good job.
Whenever I felt conflicted after that, I just thought of that guy and what he said, and my whole day brightened. I tried finding him later, with no success. That was a couple of years ago. A couple of days ago, I was walking in the street, when, there’s the guy! I run up to him and tell him how much I owe him, and how grateful I am.
I’ll never forget what he said. “Who are you?” So, I told him the whole story, and we laughed and went our separate ways. It just got to me. He changed my whole life and didn’t even know who I was. Crazy.
5. Let Me Show You the Way
As a teen, I didn’t know how to read the bus schedule. I took the wrong bus and ended up in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I was super lost, overwhelmed, and trying not to panic. A tiny, elderly black lady in a giant hat saw me freaking out. She told me to take some deep breaths until I wasn’t on the verge of tears, then taught me how to read the bus schedule.
She told me which buses I needed to take to get back where I was going. I’m sure she didn’t think anything about it, but I still appreciate what she did for me that day.
6. Random Camo Bag Man
I was coming home from Whole Foods with like five paper bags via a five-block walk to the bus that goes right to my place. Well, it started to rain and my phone died, so I had no choice but to walk with paper bags five blocks in the rain. One block in, they start ripping and I had to walk them in two loads, basically doing half a block at a time holding back frustrated tears.
This old man saw me and just took a couple of things out of this camo bag he had and just handed it to me saying, “Looks like this will help you more than me,” and he left. It held the stuff from the broken bags and got me onto my bus. I’m a nicer and more considerate person to this day, always aspiring to be like random camo bag man.
7. A Simple Hug
30 years ago, when I was 17, my friend and I went over to a classmate’s house and saw her hug her dad. Up until that moment, I had no conscious knowledge that kids existed who loved their parents. Or that parents could be loving to their children. That moment changed the way I saw the world and always stuck with me when I became a father.
There weren’t very many days when I was raising my own daughter that that moment didn’t come to mind and remind me to show her love. That classmate was universally loved and tragically died young from cancer. So, I never got to tell her what she’d done for me. I did make it a point to hunt down her dad, tell him the story, and thank him.
Without witnessing that, my entire adult life would’ve been dramatically different.
8. Cool Shirt
I was an awkward teen and bullies loved to pick on me. One day, a guy was making fun of my shirt in front of the whole class. Those situations always made me die inside but that day another guy spoke up and said, “Actually, I think it’s a really cool shirt.” That was over a decade ago, but I still remember the incident as clear as day.
9. Unexpected Compliment
My freshman year of college I walked out of the library on day four and this girl just stops me and says, “Hey. I just wanted to tell you that you’re really, really pretty. Have a nice day,” and just walked away. I still smile about it years later.
10. Pay It Forward
I flew home from California to North Carolina to visit my family. My wife and I went out to eat at a local breakfast shop. While waiting to be seated, an old couple in front of us sparked some small talk with us. In those 20 minutes, we spoke about my military career, life, sports, family, everything. They were super cool people.
We finally sat down to eat and enjoyed our breakfast. I started looking for our waitress to grab the check when she informed us that the older couple had grabbed the check, paid for us, and thanked us for talking to them that day. Such an awesome feeling, and ever since, if I ever eat out on Sundays and hold a dope conversation with a stranger, my wife and I will pay for their meal.
Pay it forward!
11. A Little Reassurance
I was in a youth shelter a few years back that would routinely open the door to check on their residents. In my childhood and teenage years, I had family members who would barge in to beat me in the middle of the night randomly and without reason. So, I tended to bolt upright as soon as the air stirred from the door opening.
It was a condition that was years in the making and that really had nothing to do with the shelter. Anyway, there was an employee there who was known to be a real “by the book” kind of person. She followed the rules to the letter and rarely gave exceptions or special considerations, and so many of the other residents disliked her.
I always followed the rules and so we never really interacted much. It was my first week in the shelter and when she opened the door, I startled her with my reaction and we ended up staring at each other for a little bit. That’s when she told me, in the kindest voice I’d ever heard coming from her “It’s okay, you know. No one here’s going do anything to you. It’s safe.”
I nodded because I didn’t know how else to respond, but it did make me feel better. I had been living under fear for so long and she was the first person to ever tell me that I was safe. In my entire life. Unfortunately, it didn’t change any of my learned behaviors and I still never feel totally safe. Yet I still remember her saying that to me.
I also had the sneaking suspicion that she didn’t check up on me as much as the others after that and maybe told the other employees as well.
12. Gentleman of the Class
I was in high school and there was some big test I needed to take for a class. My mom didn’t like letting me miss school under any circumstances, including immediately after kidney surgery, so she made me go and take this test. I barely remember the test itself, but when I was done I just curled into a fetal position and shivered because I felt so cold.
A guy who sat next to me got up and put his coat over me. Didn’t say a word. Just gave me his coat and sat back down. I’m pretty sure his name was Frederick, but I don’t know his last name and I don’t think I knew it then. I have no idea where he is now, but I bet he grew up splendidly.
13. Soul Food
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 cereals for the last two days in a joking manner because I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping due to the exams. The next morning, he brought me two plates of delicious butter chicken with rice.
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.
14. Greek Santa
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.
15. Anonymous Ski Trip
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. Aside from going to that high school at two disjunct 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. I had to work to pay my own way.
I had problems with my mom and my stepdad and I hadn’t yet fully forgiven my dad. I had my own bills that I was responsible for. I could never afford to go on one of the band trips. Then, all of a sudden, about a week and a half before the trip, my band director pulled me aside. He asked 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. It 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.
16. Airport Bathroom Hero
A stranger 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.
17. Free Gas
I just started driving maybe had my license for a week. I 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 and showed me what to do. Ended up paying for my gas and teaching me a lesson. Never got his name or anything.
18. Lost Wallet
It must have been my junior year of high school and I was on a huge class trip with 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 it, 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 the 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 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 we called our teachers and had them ask everyone if they had seen it.
He was tripping at this point, totally losing it. 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 teachers’ room and as he opens the door my friend just says, “Come on, get inside.” 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+ people yelling “SURPRISE!!!” I was so shocked, 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 teachers’ room. That’s one of my favorite memories from high school.
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 and leave.
Not Joe. Joe hung out with me on that porch all day every day after it became apparent that I wasn’t just snapping out of my horrible funk. He would sit with me for hours on hours, just sitting in silence. We’d watch the cars go by and smoke. When it got late, he’d get up to leave, and every 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 10 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 and 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—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.
20. Fetching Ink
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—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?” 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 in the morning 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.
21. Theater Teacher
In my sophomore year of high school, a good friend of mine who attended a different school was hit by a car and killed. I was shattered. Facing mortality for the first time in that fashion at the age of 15 was rough. I was an absolute mess for months. It probably didn’t help that it happened, like, a month and a half after September 11, 2001—my sophomore year got off to a rocky start overall.
The school administration was very cold to those of us that knew him and refused to do anything to help us or even publicly acknowledge that a student from another school had died. There were only three high schools in our district; literally everyone at all three schools had friends at the other schools. Both my friend’s school and the other high school brought in grief counselors to help those who’d known him, but not mine.
When we tried talking to the principal about it, she straight-up told us that they weren’t acknowledging it “because we don’t want to upset the students who didn’t know him.” So that didn’t help. My theater teacher, though. He cared. He saw how distraught I was and pulled me aside. He told me that any time I needed it, his office was open to me as a place to process my grief.
I spent hours in there over the next few months. I cried in there a lot. And Mr. Quinn was always there, with a hug, a kind word, anything I needed. He listened to my disjointed raging at how unfair it all was without ever making me feel like I was wasting his time. The man who told raucous and raunchy jokes and called us all “dumb, dirt-licking gourd-heads” practically turned into Mister Rogers when I showed up at his office door.
He helped me come to terms with my friend’s death. He kept me sane. I was never able to properly thank him for that kindness.
22. How to Love Your Kids
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 her or be nice to her.
I’m sure she thought about leaving my dad a billion times during those years. 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 when 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 degree 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.
23. A Friend in Need…
I have a knack for getting people to feel very comfortable talking to me. There was a girl in particular who, during the two times we hung out, told me about some abuse and terrible things that happened through her life that she had never told anyone about and also clearly never dealt with. I talked her about them for hours but ultimately said that I think she would benefit a ton from talking to a professional, but that I would be here for her when she needs it.
A few days later, she had her first therapy appointment. While we barely talked, she would update me or I’d check in on her about her weekly appointments and things seem to be really improving for her. Fast forward a few months I haven’t had much communication with her, but she heard through a random grapevine I had been used by someone close to me, the details of which are unimportant.
The thing is when she heard that she called me out of the blue to check on me and tell me how much I mean to her, how much I changed her life and that she knows she wouldn’t be alive today if she hadn’t met me by chance. The thing she said that really got to me was that that day someone had attempted their life by jumping off a local bridge and she said the first thought she had when she heard about it was that the person just needed someone like me.
She said she called because she wants to make sure that someone doesn’t hurt me to the point I stop being there for people in the way I was for her. I bawled, it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. After working on myself extremely hard for most of this year, to be someone I could be proud of and the person I needed at darker times in my life, it was the first huge validation I had ever received.
While I didn’t need it, I’ll never forget it.
24. Two Friendly Nurses
When I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the first two days I was in the ICU on a ventilator. I was HEAVILY drugged, 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, as I hadn’t been able to shower for, like, three days before getting to the hospital due to balance/mobility issues. She 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 of her.
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 (drugged to the gills) 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.
25. Oh, Christmas Tree
It was Christmas eve. My mom was totally broke. I knew Christmas would be bad. I was fortunate to have an older lady friend at the local drugstore diner. I ran down to the shop to help her clean, or serve, or whatever she needed. I was nine. I think I earned about a buck that evening, enough to get my mom a cheap lipstick.
As I walked home there was a Christmas tree seller packing up his tent. He hollered to me, “Do you want a tree?” I told him I had no money and he explained the ‘leftovers’ were going to the dump anyway. “Pick one. It’s free.” I picked out the finest tree he had left, which was a 4-foot version of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and dragged it home.
I leaned that tree up in the corner of our living room, with a small tube of cheap lipstick underneath and swore to myself, I will never be this poor again. I fell asleep to the scent of pine.
26. Save You a Seat
I was going to college and paying for everything on my own. I was struggling a lot keeping up with a full-time job and going to school full-time. I met an elderly man on the bus and we just happened to take the same route at the same time. We got to talking and he ended up buying me a bus pass and just giving me “lunch money,” which was like $50.00, almost every time I saw him.
He always got on after me and got off before me. There was nothing creepy at all about it. I would always refuse it every time, but he would kind of guilt me into it. He didn’t have any family left and he just wanted to help out someone going to college. I would always save him a seat when I got on the bus since he was two stops after mine so if he didn’t get on, I’d move over for other people to sit once we got to the busier stops.
I genuinely looked forward to talking to him. I didn’t care about the money, but he would just listen to me and give me advice and paying for a bus pass helped me so much more than anything. I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend at the time and moving out back to my parents, so I didn’t ride that bus again. I never saw him again and didn’t know his last name, so I never got to truly thank him for how much of an impact he made on my life.
I think about him often and it was almost 10 years ago. I regret so much I never got to say goodbye or tell him what happened and I just stopped showing up one day to him.
27. The Ring
My wife and I had celebrated 20 years together by dumping the kids on their grandparents and got a hotel room for a night for a change of scenery and a night on the town. It was very snowy outside 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.
28. State of the Art
I was getting into art because a friend of mine that I met here on Reddit told me to join a sub where people gift each other. After that, she told me to make a wish list on Amazon, maybe add art stuff, then go and chat with people on the sub and maybe someone will buy me something from my list. I didn’t really want to do it since I’m kind of socially awkward and it’s hard for me to talk to people I don’t know.
But anyway, I decided since she wanted me to do it that I would. So, I made an introduction post and that was it. I felt like that would be enough, so I could at least tell her I tried. Well, a couple of days later I got an Amazon package delivered and when I opened it, it was a set of art pencils I’d added on my list and the gift note said, “Now you have to do a cute drawing for me.”
It was a gift from my friend. She wanted to gift me something but didn’t want to make it outright obvious, so she did the whole “join this sub and make a wish list” thing. That’s definitely one of the nicest things that has ever been done for me. After I got the pencils I didn’t have art paper, so I was just doing little drawings here and there on school paper.
I was planning on heading to Walmart to get some later in the week, but I figured I’d at least practice on regular paper in the meantime. I text a local friend of mine asking if he had printer paper I could borrow and explained that I was getting into art. He told me after work he’d stop by and give me some because they had tons of it at the office he worked.
Well, later that day he texted me that he was almost here so for me to head outside. When he got here he had two bags with him. I was thinking to myself, “I guess they do have tons of paper.” But then he opened the bags and it wasn’t printer paper. He’d gone to the store and bought me two sketchbooks (the big ones) and some additional art pencils and some shaders.
I was blown away because I was just expecting printer paper. I think these two things go hand and hand as the nicest things someone has done for me.
29. Something Wasn’t Right
I was seven years old and I was riding the bus with my mother. She was a horribly abusive mother and she was screaming at me about something I can no longer remember. The woman sitting across the bus from us was staring at my mom with her mouth open and look of shock in her eyes. That one tiny moment let me know that what was happening to me wasn’t normal.
It helped to start me down the path of understanding that my mother was the one with a problem, not me. That woman on the bus probably forgot about the whole thing by the time she went to bed that night but that brief moment is still precious to me 44 years later.
30. 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.