Let’s face it. Some days, life sucks. You wake up, and it seems like the whole day is already a write-off. In those moments, it helps to remember that people aren’t all bad, and that all it takes is a moment of connection or an act of kindness to turn everything around. These heartwarming stories are just the thing if you need to brighten up your day…but could also push you over the edge into ugly-cry territory. Get out the tissues for these touching stories that totally made us weep.
1. My Dog, the Hero
I stopped at 7-Eleven on my way home from the dog park with Brody. I left him in the car with the windows down, like I have frequently in the past three years. When I came back out, he was gone! I panicked and called him. He ran over to me, but when I opened the car door and told him to get in, he took off and ran behind the store. I followed him because this was very out of character for him.
I found him sitting by a dumpster being hugged by a ten-year-old boy. I tried to ask his name; he didn’t say a word. I called law enforcement. Turned out someone in the neighborhood called in a missing autistic child. He’s a hero!
2. Coffee Karma
I worked at Starbucks. One morning around 6:30, a customer came in and I asked how she was doing. “Oh its already crazy and I haven’t even started,” she replied. To make her day a little easier, I gave her her coffee order for free. A few days later, I was having a terrible morning. It was only 6:30, and everything was already chaos—but it quickly turned into the best day ever.
She came in as usual and saw that I was having a bad day. A couple of hours later, she came back with a gift bag for me. Inside was a nice bottle of vintage. It’s amazing how someone’s small gesture can make the day just a little bit nicer!
3. Nothing More Cathartic than Coloring
I was on what I call a rumpled suit flight—one of those flights on a Friday at 6 from NY to DC where most of the flight consists of business people in suits drinking $14 double whiskeys. A fellow rumpled suit sat across the aisle next to a mother and her kid. When she could the kid brought down her tray table and a coloring book and started coloring.
I didn’t hear what was said but at some point, the kid handed the rumpled suit a coloring book and they spent the remainder of the flight coloring and chatting. I was kinda like, “I want to color too.”
4. Heart of Gold
I was selling my bike online when I was a teenager for $30. A buyer contacted me, so we set up a location. The buyer ended up being two kids on a single bike; one was balancing on the pegs when they rode into the parking lot. The kid with the bike bought my bike for his friend so that they could ride together. It was the most wholesome thing I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t keep the grin off of my face as I watched them ride away together.
5. Monkey Business
My family and I were homeless when I was about to turn 13. My youngest brother is also severely autistic. We were standing in line for lunch at the local soup kitchen, which opened at 11 am. We had arrived at 6 in the morning, and were decently close to the door—there were only about 20 other people in front of us at the time.
My father had just returned from taking my youngest brother for yet another walk around the block, as he had begun fighting and biting himself in frustration. After another few minutes in line, it was clear that he had more than reached his tiny 9-year-old limit and had begun to lose it. People were staring at the fuss he was making.
There were a couple of guys who were dressed in ratty t-shirts, jean vests covered in patches, and plenty of veteran memorabilia, mostly from Vietnam. Each of them had either an old, dirty backpack or a trash bag, which held all of their personal belongings in the world. One of the men, in a wheelchair and missing a leg, saw my little brother’s frustration.
After hearing my mother apologetically explain yet again that he had severe autism, the man rolled up to the five of us—two parents and three young kids, all sunburnt from the Florida sun with no place to call home—and unhooked his one treasured possession. He had a little stuffed monkey that was hooked onto his steering portion of the wheelchair. It was the only clean thing about the man.
He gave it to my little brother, and my little brother immediately hugged it and cuddled with it, calming down. I’ll never forget the man’s words: “He looks like he could use it more than me.” It was his one and only real, treasured possession and he gave it to a little boy that was crying. Now, I’m in a position to give back, and I do whenever I can, but I don’t think I could ever repay that single gesture.
6. All Dogs Go To Heaven
I work at a veterinary clinic, and was helping a client when he noticed that our euthanasia candle was lit. They asked if someone was saying goodbye, and I sadly nodded. His next act brought tears to my eyes. He handed me his credit card and said he’d like to pay for them. Trying not to lose it and burst into tears completely, I ran his card through and thanked him.
He waved his hand saying that he’s been in that position plenty of times, knew how difficult it was, and wanted to help. He wished to remain anonymous and left with his pet.
7. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
In sixth grade, I witnessed an incredible act of kindness. I was on the bus, 2 stops away from my stop on the way home from school. There was a man just lying on the sidewalk outside the bus, which had stopped. I noticed the bus driver wasn’t on the bus; I looked outside and saw our bus driver, being the nice lady she is, rush out of the bus, check his pulse and call an ambulance.
The bad part was that some people on my bus were saying cruel things, suggesting that the man was an addict, and that it was no use trying to help him. The next day, our bus driver heard the nasty rumors and decided to set us straight. “The man from yesterday didn’t overdose on anything; he went into diabetic shock.” She basically saved him twice. You never know a person’s story until you ask.
8. She Danced Through It
My mom would sing and dance in the kitchen every Sunday morning when I was growing up. Times were always tough and money was always tight, but my mom always made sure we were happy and healthy. One particular day when I was eight, I was woken up by the sound of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” blasting through the house and my mom singing off-key.
As I walked to the kitchen the smell of chorizo and eggs filled the air and there I saw her. My mom, who only a few days earlier looked so miserable with her life, was dancing her heart out with a spatula in hand. When she passed seven years later I cried every time I thought of her, except for this memory. This is the only memory that got me through her passing.
It not only makes me smile every time I think of it, but it’s my favorite memory of all time because I’m so lucky to remember her for who she was.
9. Up in Flames
My parents once bumped into a lady while they were traveling and got talking to her. She told them her horrific story. Her house had just burned down, her husband was gone, and she had no family or friends locally. She was outside my parents’ hotel bawling, standing around her car with her kids and not knowing what to do.
They had made it out of the burning house with nothing except the clothes they had on. The kids had no shoes, she was in a nightgown and wasn’t sure what she was going to do for several days until she could contact distant people and get help. My parents had a car full of stuff from their travels, including clothing they had bought for my nieces and nephews.
They let her kids pick through it for shoes and shirts, gave them all the food in the cooler they traveled with, handed her all the travelers’ checks they had on them, and then dad went inside to pay for a hotel room for a week for them.
10. What Goes Around Comes Around
I was 16 and driving over to my girlfriend’s house on a rainy Saturday afternoon. There was a man biking in front of me and when he went to get onto the sidewalk, he completely wiped out. I pulled in to the closest driveway and saw that his bike was mangled and his arm was bleeding. I threw his bike in my trunk, gave him my old sweatshirt for his bloody arm, and drove him home.
When I dropped him off, he gave me his card. It turned out he was a dentist at a local research hospital. Well, fast-forward to when I was 19, and the same man took out my wisdom teeth for free as part of a “research experiment.” Not sure if there was actually an experiment that they needed wisdom teeth for, but just goes to show that good things happen to good people.
11. Blindly in Love
My original date to prom canceled on me. My plan was just to go by myself and hang out with my friends. However, my best friend’s mom heard that I didn’t have a date and decided to set me up. She asked one of her co-workers if her daughter would be interested in going on a blind date to prom, and her daughter said yes. Now, we had never met each other, because she didn’t go to the same school as me. She was homeschooled due to medical reasons.
She’s had seizures her whole life and had to drop out of school because of how bad they were getting. This would probably be her only chance to go to a prom of any kind. So, she decided to give it a shot—lucky for me. We met up at my best friend’s house. We decided to double date so that she didn’t feel uneasy.
I remember the first thought I had when she walked through the door, which was, “This girl is way too pretty for me.” I felt like she was way out of my league. Turns out she thought I was handsome, too. That night was one of the best nights of my life. The next day I called her and asked if she’d want to go on another date, and she said yes. A few years later and we were married. We’ve been together now for over ten years.
12. How to Save a Life
I worked as a homeless street outreach worker for a couple of years. My co-worker and I saw a guy standing near a river. We felt something wasn’t right and parked. Thank god we did. My co-worker and I convinced the person that ending his own life isn’t worth it. A few weeks later that person confronted my co-worker and thanked him for being there that night.
That person had found an apartment and felt that their life had finally gotten on track.
13. Kinder Kindness
I worked at a museum that ran a summer camp, and I was in charge of the little kids. I had a kid in my group that came from a wealthy family. He brought a massive Megazord Power Rangers toy one day to play with. Then that kid did something so beautiful it made me cry. Another kid in my group tripped, scratched his knee, and started crying.
The first kid stepped in while I was taking care of the blood, and after noticing that the crying kid had a wolf on his T-shirt, asked, “Do you like wolves?” The crying kid answered while sobbing, “Yeah…a lot.” Then the rich kid proceeded to snap the right leg of his Megazord off. As we watched, he transformed it into a purple wolf.
He gave it to the other kid and let him keep it just because he liked it. The kid stopped crying and cracked a smile. They became best friends from that point on.
14. Puppy Love
Begging my parents for a dog when I was 13 years old. They refused to buy one for ages saying it was too much responsibility/money for me and my brother. We decided to take that as a challenge and worked odd jobs scraping some money together—mowing lawns, delivering papers, etc.—for about six months straight.
I come home one day from school, open the door, and this Labrador puppy comes running out of the house to greet us. Cue squeals of excitement and plenty of hugs and kisses. Spent all the money we saved up buying him a collar, bowls, food, and an awesome dog house. He gave us 11 good years as part of the family.
15. Melt, Cold Heart
When my daughter was little, she literally could not stop talking. One day, we were walking by an abandoned lot. It looked like an old gas station or something. My daughter looked at it and said: “Wow, that’s a beautiful yard!!” I said, “That’s a lot.” She replied, “Yeah!! A lot of beautiful yard!!!”
16. Paxton at Peace
My husband and I adopted a Great Dane and named him Paxton. He quickly became the equivalent of our first child. Pax went everywhere with us, including family holidays like Christmas and vacations. Pax was more human than a lot of humans I’ve met. He would actually hug me when I was down, loved everyone, even cats, and slept with his stuffed frog for years.
Paxton passed suddenly last year of a heart attack. We came home to find him on the floor of the living room. My husband and I were devastated. We can’t have kids, and Pax was our baby. In the 18 months before Pax passed, I had also lost my mom, my grandmother, and uncle. I think something in me broke. I couldn’t function. I took a week off work.
When I returned, I had an envelope waiting for me on my desk. Its contents made me burst into tears. It was a thank you card from the local animal shelter. My co-worker had donated $150 to them in Paxton’s name. I was floored. I knew he was a dog, and didn’t expect anyone else to get that he had been like a child to me. That one gesture was so kind and needed. She will never know how much that meant to us.
17. Flying High
I’m from the middle of nowhere in Scotland, a tiny little fishing village. So anyway, my parents are like, “Let’s go to the airport and look at the planes!” So I am insanely excited as I’m obsessed with flying. We get there and they’re like, “Let’s buy some tickets!” and I just about lose it. I’m on the plane, FLYING.
They take us to London, and we get on a few trains to France. I’m not aware of where we are, I think we’re still in Scotland as it was so fast. I think the train is taking me back home. So, the train stops, and they say, “Let’s get off here!” Whatever, we’re probably on the way home now. Until I see the sign.
Disneyland Paris. They took us to Disneyland and never said a word in advance. We stayed for a week, it was AWESOME.
18. Secret Santa
I absolutely love doing adopt-a-family programs during Christmas. I don’t have kids of my own, so I love the opportunity to buy gifts for kids in low-income families. My favorite family of them all was single mom who’d just turned 18. Her son was three and she’d moved into her very first apartment. She had nothing but two bare mattresses on the floor, one for her and one for her son.
She was working a job and was trying to save up for things for the house. Her wish list was heartbreaking. She wanted blankets for them both, a pan to cook with, and a Spider-Man toy for her son. That’s it. I was single at the time, and supporting myself, so I only had a couple hundred to spend, but I was determined to make it go as far as possible.
I got her a complete comforter/sheet set, a pillow, and a full set of cooking pans. Then I found the coolest thing for her son: it was a fitted sheet that turned his bed into a Spider-Man tent! It was awesome! I found a big Spider-Man stuffed toy for him as well. I also found a huge book with over 100 full-length bedtime stories. I got the usual boring stuff of course, clothes for her son and a gift card for a holiday meal. But then I found the ultimate deal.
It was a clearance TV/dvd combo for less than $100! I knew money was tight for them, so I included a note in her Christmas card letting her know that she could rent her son videos from the library for free. I would have given anything to see their faces; I hope that it made her first Christmas on her own a little more happy.
19. The Wall of Honor
My grandparents were always super religious and fairly old fashioned, but they were cool with it. If they saw something they didn’t like, you know what they’d do? They’d smile at you, tell you to have a good life (in a sweet way), and go on their way. One day, as most little kids do, I drew a picture. It was of an alien saying, “Wowee, I’m on Earth!” I gave it to my grandpa.
Instead of throwing it away and lecturing me about the Bible like most people I knew would, he hung it up on the wall next to his side of the bed. It was still there, around 10 years later, when he passed. It was still there, around 4-5 years after his passing when Grandma passed. My stupid little drawing, drawn by a little kid and given to a person who could’ve easily thrown it away, was put in a place of honor for the majority of the time I knew my grandparents.
I’m crying right now, I can’t help it. I’m going to have to go up there and see if it’s still there and ask if I can have it.
I had some extra laminate flooring from a renovation I was doing. An elderly neighbor saw it and offered to buy what I had leftover. I hesitated, because it wasn’t really leftover, I had other plans for it. It was about a thousand dollars worth of material. I told her if she could hire our neighbor to move it for her, she could have it for free, since I knew my neighbor needed the money. She agreed and redid her living room with it.
21. The Biggest Steps
Many years ago, I worked with severely physically challenged kids and teenagers. A group of us were in the gym with different kids doing different exercises etc. We aware all asked to be quiet and obviously, our curiosity was engaged. A beautiful young man, about 15 years old, maybe six feet by this stage, was about to stand up out of his wheelchair.
He had done it before, so we were all smiling and happy for him once again. It took a huge effort for him to do just that. Cue clapping and general praise for a physical feat. Then he went quiet, stood as tall as he could, and took one step. We all hushed and watched in utter amazement. Then another, albeit very wobbly one step.
This is a 15-year-old who had NEVER walked un-aided before. Then he took another step. Then another! The whole room by now is up on our feet cheering and screaming and clapping and jumping up and down to egg him on!! Most of us are very ugly crying too as he takes the very first steps by himself, with no assistance, of his life!
And the kicker? As if that wasn’t good enough, his parents had come to speak to the school about starting a new sports program and had been watching through the doorway the whole time! Happy, happy tears all round. Still, one of the happiest memories I can remember. I’ve never stopped being proud of him, and never will.
22. To Teach Is to Touch Lives Forever
I was in a car accident when I was four years old that left me in a coma. But that wasn’t the worst part. My sister, who was also in the car, succumbed to her injuries the next day. I was unconscious when my sister’s funeral was going to occur, which meant I would be left alone at the hospital. My preschool teacher offered to sit with me and hold my hand at the hospital, so that my parents could attend my sister’s funeral without having to worry about me being alone. It is the kindest gesture anyone has ever done for me.
23. Free as a Bird
In the 90s in London, Sega opened Sega World, six floors of arcade games arranged in themes; racing game floor, flight game floor, etc. Each floor was connected to the next by an indoor theme park ride. Basically heaven for a kid like me. I won a pair of tickets from a newspaper competition when it first opened.
I went up there with my dad. When we got there, I looked around the first floor carefully for which game I was going to play and saw Time Crisis in the corner. I took the five-pound note I had in my pocket and asked the nearest staff member where I could get it changed up. He looked at me and frowned. I thought I was in big trouble.
Then he made a sweeping gesture with his arm and said, “They’re all free.”
24. There’s a New Sheriff in Town
In 1990, I was 19 years old. I was driving across the country by myself and all I had was $63 and a Texaco card. One night, I notice that my gas tank is close to empty somewhere in the middle of Iowa, so I pull up to a Texaco station—about five minutes after they had closed. I was trying to only use my Texaco card and to conserve what little cash I had.
The person working at the station wouldn’t open to give me gas, so I decide that I’ll just put ALL my clothes on and sleep in my car until they opened again in the AM. It was the middle of December and only about 11 degrees. At about 2 in the morning, I hear a tap on the window and a voice saying “I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the car!”
It was the sheriff. Uh oh! I explained what was going on to him. He ran my ID to make sure I didn’t have warrants or anything and then ominously stated, “That’s not how we do things around here.” Oh no, I was terrified! How do you do things around here? What’s going to happen to me?!? Turns out, he was FURIOUS that the guy at the gas station had left me there and refused to help.
So, he called the owner of the gas station up and made him come down in the middle of the night to fill up my gas tank—for free. Then the sheriff calls his wife and lets her know what’s going on. She tells him to offer to bring me over to their place for the night. Mrs. Sheriff proceeds to feed me, let me take a shower, and give me a place to sleep until the next morning.
Then she feeds me again, packs me a lunch for the road, gives me $20 in cash, and sends me on my way. It was seriously one of the most wholesome things that has ever happened to me.
25. Angels in the Heavens
When I was really ill in October 2017, my father also became even more ill than I was in another country. There was nobody else around for him who actually gave a darn, so I had to fly over there to see and support him. I planned to bring him home with me after he had recovered from his surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical or emotional state to be getting on a plane—but there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around two hours long, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was at that time. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky—but that got a lot worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full blown panic attack, hyperventilating and crying in my seat.
I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle with his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. She took my hand and said something along the lines of “You’re okay, we’re here. There’s no need to hold this anxiety back, we’re not going to judge you, just let it happen and everything will be alright.”
She just hugged me and told me she’s so sorry while I hysterically cried. Once we landed, she and her father drove me in their car directly to the door of the hospital my dad was admitted to (over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but thankfully I already had my accommodations sorted out. I do not know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook now, and she still occasionally checks in with me to this day.
26. License to Give Thanks
On a Monday afternoon, I came home from work to find a letter in the mail. It was addressed by hand and the return address wasn’t familiar. I thought to myself “this can’t be good!” I opened the envelope to find my driver’s license and a note. I was unaware that I had even been missing my driver’s license. Apparently, on the prior Saturday, I had managed to drop it from my wallet somehow.
This nice person found it on the sidewalk, went home, wrote her note, addressed an envelope to me, and put a stamp on it, then deposited it into a mailbox in time for the Saturday pickup. By Monday, it was already back safely in my hands before I had even realized that it was missing.
27. More Than She Bargained for
I was at a convention standing in line to get David Tennant’s autograph. I was so excited that I unfortunately caused a seizure. After I woke up, I was so embarrassed. I was wheeled back beyond a curtain that was behind the autograph booth. A moment later, David Tennant’s agent came up to me and asked me what color pen I wanted.
I was confused, but I said black. After he said that, he explained that David wanted to come back to make sure I was okay. I was still pretty embarrassed, but of course I agreed. The first thing he said to me was a joking, “What are you doing falling down on me?” Then we had a full conversation. Eventually, he asked my name, and autographed the book I had brought. I was so excited that I forgot to be embarrassed!
28. Just Hug Me
I was depressed for a long time and became a shut-in for roughly three months or so. I went back to my parents’ house once every month. Every single time I’m at my parents’ house my three-year-old nephew comes to visit me. One day he came and knocked on my bedroom door when he heard me crying. He then asked, “Are you sad?”
Then I opened the door while acting as if I was okay. Before I could give him any answer, he hugged my legs so tight I cried again in the doorway. He never said anything, just stayed there, giving me his best hug. It was all I needed back then, and I never thought I would get such happiness from a kid. I love him so much, and he is here with me right now.
29. A Coffee in the Darkness
About a year ago, I was in a discount grocery store. I had about $20 left after bills and rent, so I was having to carefully pick what to buy. In the end, after umming and ahing for a couple of minutes over whether I could afford to spend $6 on coffee, I put it back on the shelf and went to the register, defeated.
As I’m walking out of the shop I hear a woman call after me: “Young man, you forgot this.” I turn around and she thrusts the jar of coffee into my bag. I go to protest and she cuts me off saying; “I remember what it was like, not having enough money and having to go without. You take that coffee and enjoy it mate.”
She had the biggest smile on her face. She was like a beacon of light during one of my darkest times, and I always remember her. With every cup of coffee, I can’t help but smile ear to ear. Because now each cup reminds me there are truly good people in the world. Thank you, mysterious lady. I’ll never forget you.
30. The Musician’s Message
I had a breakdown in the middle of one of my college classes. I had been depressed for several weeks, feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be in my major. Really I just felt worthless. I was doing a performance-based test in front of the whole class, and I was doing terribly. I was really angry with myself for not being better.
My professor interrupted me midway through and asked, “Do you want to try it again at the end of class?” I nodded, went back to my seat—and immediately started crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t help it or stop. I ended up excusing myself to the bathroom so that I wouldn’t cry in front of the class and embarrass myself further.
I performed again at the end of the class, and my professor was really patient with me and gave me feedback. The thing that really got me was before he dismissed the class, he wrote something down in the binder I had open in front of me. When I read it, I’ve never felt so touched. It said, “You are a strong, smart musician, and you have a bright future ahead of you. I believe in you, and I’m here for you.”
I cried even harder after that, but in a good way. I had never had a teacher care about me that much, or show me so much compassion. That one message genuinely turned around my entire year and made my sense of self-worth improve exponentially. I still think about it all the time, and I’ll be forever grateful to that professor.
31. Help Needed
I worked at Apple and had a homeless gentleman come in and ask for a job. Even though he tried on several occasions, he couldn’t get a job, unfortunately, because he had no phone and no home. He eventually got into a halfway home, and a bunch of us at the store got together and got him a cheap phone and a SIM card, paid for six months. He eventually got a job and isn’t homeless now!
32. 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.
33. Grocery Gratitude
It was the first day of isolation here in Michigan, and there was a line in the grocery store that wrapped around the building. I spent 90 minutes waiting to check out. Eventually, I was next in line, but the lady in front of me had a problem with her card: it was denied. After a few failed attempts, the cashier asked her to step aside and call her bank.
They set her groceries aside. She only had necessities, nothing fancy; jugs of water, rice, macaroni & cheese, everything generic brand. As I was checking out, she was sitting on a bench trying to get through to her bank without having any luck at all. So I asked the cashier to check out her groceries with mine, which she did.
As I checked out the cashier told the woman, who was still waiting on the phone, that she was good to go. She was confused, and the cashier told her that I had paid for her groceries. If I had lifted a car off of this woman, she couldn’t have looked any more grateful. I once rescued a claustrophobic woman who was trapped in an elevator, and her look of gratitude didn’t even compare to the look of appreciation I got from this woman at the grocery store.
She said thank you and asked my name. I told her, said something cliche about needing to stick together, and we went our separate ways. It was only $80, it wasn’t a big deal to me. But, in that moment, on that day, when things were falling apart and people felt scared and powerless, after waiting so long, and not knowing what to do, my small act of kindness had been a big deal to her. I was so glad I was able to help out, even that little bit.
34. 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 a huge disappointment. 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.
35. The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
When I was in seventh grade, I was getting yelled at by some mean people at lunch one day. I had been tormented for years and was getting tired of it. After the mean kids went away, I just sat down on the floor where I was and ate my lunch, stifling tears and sniffles. A group of sixth-graders came up to me and asked what was wrong. I told them what had happened and they offered to have lunch with me. I accepted. Then we just started having lunch every day.
36. 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 battery was at 0%, 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.
37. Foreign Friendliness
I had recently moved to a foreign country, and one day I was riding my bike and epically crashed. I ripped a hole in my leg and couldn’t make it to the hospital. I also didn’t know how to call the country’s emergency services. I flagged down a car and when they saw the leg gash, they told me to get in. They not only drove me to the hospital, but they also held on to my bike all day, and then once I was done and back at home, brought it over to me. Complete strangers and the kindest people I had met in a while.
38. 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 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!
39. Auspicious Timing
It was Christmas Eve and I found out that a friend of mine had literally no one to spend Christmas Day with. I lived far away and had a family of my own, but I wanted to help him somehow. I was browsing Facebook and suddenly saw a friend of ours post that he had room for a spare person on a trip. I told my first friend to go grab his passport and pack to go away for a few days, and then sent him to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve with some spending money. Dude was in tears.
40. 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.
41. Pay It Forward
When I was 17, my mom signed us up to deliver presents for one of those giving tree places. The lady who she was taking presents to lived in a tiny town in a rural part of our state that was about an hour and a half from where we lived at the time, but also just happened to be close to where we had lived when I was little.
I tagged along with her because she asked, and I didn’t want her to have to drive all the way out there alone on Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to go though; I hated the tiny town we were going to. I was a moody teenager in a perpetual bad mood, and I thought I had better stuff to do. Anyway, we got out there and found the place.
It was a tiny, one room shack in among tiny one-room shacks behind what used to be a little hotel on the side of a rural highway. We knocked on the door and this little woman, probably in her mid-late 20s but so careworn that she looked closer to 40, opened the door. She invited us in and we offloaded the goods, like three bags of presents. Her three kids were peeking at us from behind a curtain, and she had them come out to say thank you.
She was beaming, couldn’t stop thanking us. The kids were ecstatic. They weren’t getting presents at all until we knocked on that door. It was like 10pm Christmas Eve, and we had basically saved Christmas for them. As we left I was quiet until we got in the car. Then I turned to my mom and told her that I was glad she had brought me.
She started crying her eyes out and just grabbed me and hugged me tight. I offered to drive home and she agreed. On the way she told me that when I was little, we had been in that family’s position. We had gotten gifts from that same giving tree organization for years. I knew we had been poor, but never realized how poor. I still consider that my best Christmas. I have no idea what I got that year; but I remember giving those kids and their mom a good Christmas, and that’s so much better.
42. A Different Kind of Donation
I donated stem cells to a complete stranger. It’s a very impersonal experience because of the anonymity of it, so I didn’t know anything about the patient I was donating to, and she knew nothing about me. But then I received a heartbreaking message. I received a letter from her that really hammered home to me how much of an impact I had had on her life.
For me, it was a cheek swab I did in college four years ago, and then a random email saying that I had matched with someone. It was eye-opening to read her letter. Of course, it was a profound experience donating lifesaving stem cells to someone, but not knowing where those cells were going after the procedure had left me feeling a little empty, so I was grateful for her letter.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. Don’t Shoot the Messenger
There was a man on the train I was on giving grief to the ticket attendant because he had incorrectly purchased a ticket and she had asked him nicely to buy a new one. Long story short, he asked for her full name and said he wanted to write a complaint. I felt bad for her, because she was just doing her job and had done nothing wrong.
I left my spot and went on a mission to find her. When I did find her, she looked absolutely miserable. I asked her nicely if she had any spare paper and a pen, and she brought it to me. I then wrote a recommendation from myself to her boss saying that she had been a great host and was doing a great job. The smile on her face was beautiful.
46. Destiny at Play
I went to pump gas today. The card reader was broken, so I went inside to pay. As I opened the door, I saw a mother holding her daughter’s hand saying, “Come here honey,” as she inched towards the cashier. She then pulled out a crumpled dollar bill and some change and told the cashier, “$1.47 on 3 please.” When it was my turn, I added another $10 to her pump.
I tried to do the deed unnoticed, but her $1.47 worth of gas ran out before I could enter my $10 worth. This resulted in me going outside and telling her to try the pump again. She knew it was me, and was very thankful. I can’t help but wonder if the exchange was meant to be. How often is a card reader broken at a gas station forcing you to go inside?
Had that not been the case, I wouldn’t have been presented with the opportunity to help. Before the mother left, she told me that she hopes someone does something nice for me in return. Though that would be appreciated, the only thing I truly hope for in return is to be presented with more opportunities where I can be of help. I have yet a single regret: Only adding $10.
47. 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.
48. 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.
My brother and I were driving home to my parents’ house, and it was about a five-hour drive from our college. We came up a hill in a fairly rural area and I saw something weird on the side of the road; a motorcycle abandoned on its side. My brother said it was nothing, but I stopped anyway because I had an eerie feeling. I soon found out I was right.
It turns out that a 65-year-old man had crashed his motorcycle and was unconscious in the ditch. Since there was a hill right there and he was on the other side of it, he was pretty hidden and no one saw it happen. He was ten minutes away from his house too. I stayed with him until the ambulance came, and then checked in on him a few weeks later.
He had some broken ribs and was a little beat up, but he made it just fine. I think about him a lot and hope he’s enjoying his retirement and is staying away from motorcycles.
50. Midwinter Miracle
At one point in my life, I was struggling so much financially that it was difficult to even gather up a couple of dollars to put gas in my gas-guzzler car. Consequently, I rarely had more than 1/4 tank, even in the winter. One day, I miscalculated, and I ran out of gas in the middle of town. I remember carefully walking on snow and ice to a nearby phone booth carrying my nine-month-old baby in his snowsuit.
I only had a handful of phone numbers memorized, and nobody I called answered the phone. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even have enough money for a bus. Out of desperation and feeling completely humiliated, I approached a stranger and asked for a couple of dollars so I could walk to a nearby gas station and buy some gas.
He told me a couple of dollars wouldn’t be enough, because they’d want deposit money for the gas can. I’m sure my face fell as I fought back tears and muttered, “Thanks anyway.” He looked at me a moment, and then said, “I’ll be right back. You stay here.” He left for a few minutes and came back with a full gas can. As he poured the gas into my tank for me, he told me the location of the gas station where he got it.
He then said, “I’m counting on you to return this gas can.” He drove away once I assured him that I would. When I got to the station about a half-mile away, the attendant told me that my “friend” had given him $40 and told him that it was so I could fill my gas tank and that he was to give me the change. It was like a miracle to me, and I started crying all over again.
51. 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 devastated 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.
53. Let Me Get That for You
I was walking down the beach in Morocco on holiday in December when I saw this couple walking the opposite way to me. It was a chilly day, so the women had her hands in her pockets and she was all snuggled up in a big scarf. She started scrunching up her face and tilting her head, and was clearly about to let out a big sneeze. Her partner noticed that she was about to sneeze and before I knew it, he had whipped out a tissue and covered her nose before she even had to take her hands out of her pockets. It was the most wholesome, purest, and kindest thing I’ve ever seen.
54. Saving for a Rainy Day
An acquaintance of mine with two kids had his car repossessed. I only found out after a mutual friend of ours was gossiping about it. I decided to give the guy my second car, since it was just sitting in the garage gathering dust. He used it for two years until he got his dad’s old car. I let him sell the car and keep the $600 bucks he got for it. For years before, I had people ask me why I was keeping that second car and I just kept saying, “just in case.”
55. 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.
56. 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 passed on. 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 passed on. 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 passing. He kept me sane. I was never able to properly thank him for that kindness.
57. Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
I was at a store and there was a woman with two very small kids checking out. She had a bunch of groceries and a couple of toys for the kids. She went to pay and discovered that she didn’t have her wallet, so she told the cashier that she would put everything back. Her little girl, who was only about two, started to cry uncontrollably.
The rough-looking man in front of me, who looked like he could have been homeless, went up to the cashier and told her that he was going to pay for everything. When the lady protested he said, “I don’t want your little girl to cry. This is my good deed for the day.” I almost cried too, as did the lady who was trying to buy her groceries.
58. Compassion in the Cake Aisle
Years ago, I was going to a family get together and I was told I needed to bring dessert. So, I went to the store and was looking at the cake mixes for an awkwardly long time, not knowing what to get. A lady walked up beside me and began scanning the options as well. After several minutes, I said jokingly, “Are you having a tough time deciding too?”
She replied yes, and explained that for the past 15 months, she had been watching her diet and exercise and that she lost 100 pounds. I replied, “Wow that’s incredible—you should really be proud of yourself!” She replied with a shrug. I stopped her and said it again, because I really meant it. She started to cry. I asked why she was crying, and she said that her family and friends weren’t very supportive of her efforts.
I said, “Well I’m very proud of you!” and asked if I could give her a hug. She said yes, so we hugged right there in the middle of the aisle. Then, she said thank you and we parted.
59. 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.
60. 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 persecution 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 suicide 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.
61. Medicine Miracle
About eight years ago, I had lost my job and was on social assistance. One day I went into my pharmacist to have my prescription filled. I miscalculated the total and I was about ten dollars short, but it was all the money I had to my name at that moment. Embarrassed, I was fiddling in my purse looking for coins when the pharmacist stopped me and said it was okay.
They just gave me the medication, no charge. A few weeks later I got a job, and upon receiving my first paycheck, I paid them a visit with a big box of chocolates and a thank you card. I tried to give them what I owed for my medication, and they refused it. What they did for me meant so much at such a dark time and I’ll never forget it.
62. The Shoes Off His Feet
My dad was working in construction in New York City in the early 90s. It was December and it was raining, so there was nasty slush everywhere. He saw a homeless guy outside the train station on his way home. The poor man was wearing no jacket, and had shoes with holes in the bottom so large that you could see his wet socks through them.
Dad gave him the boots off his feet, the jacket off his back, two extra pairs of socks he had packed with him, and a $20 gift card to a local chain restaurant that he had received for his birthday but hadn’t used yet. We picked my dad up at the train station, shoeless, socks soaking, with no jacket, shivering uncontrollably.
Despite all that, he was smiling and waving at us as we pulled up. We were poor growing up, so he had a lot of compassion for people who were struggling. He knew, as you will if you’ve ever had to buy them, that good work boots and a good winter jacket aren’t cheap buys. He saw someone who needed what he had more than him and gave it, just because he could.
63. 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.
64. 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.
65. Scam Safety
An older gentlemen tried to ship an envelope to his “grandson” from a shipping company I worked at. The way he acted and the things he said threw up too many red flags in my head, so against company policy, I opened the envelope after he left and found five figures in cash inside. I called the authorities and told them to get in touch with the man to try to figure out what was going on.
As it turns out, someone had called the older man and said his grandson was in the hospital and if they didn’t send the money, he wouldn’t get a surgery that was badly needed. The older man couldn’t get in touch with the grandson by phone, so he panicked and sent the money to the address the fraudsters provided. We were able to stop it from happening and get the money back to him. He was so grateful; he said that the money was basically his life savings.
The news ran a story on the situation, and apparently, it’s a scam that happens to a lot of older people. We started a club to reach out to nursing homes to try to educate people about the scam. A lot of people were not aware of anything like that happening, so hopefully we prevented some people getting scammed. A lot of good came from me just being nosey!
66. Love Thy Neighbor
My neighbors asked to borrow my truck one day. I told them no because I could not trust my truck due to the tires being bald. The next day, my neighbor called and said that he was getting new tires for his vehicle, and that I could have his old ones, since he knew I needed them. He told me to just show up at a certain tire shop and they would put them on for me.
When I got to the tire shop, I was shocked when they put on brand new Goodyear tires. I asked what had happened to the used tires I had been expecting to receive, wondering if there had been a mistake. The shop owner smiled and confessed that the “old tires” were just a story to get me in the shop. My neighbor had bought me a full set of new tires instead.
67. Secret Tipster
I had been working as a server for a while, and one day I was working with a co-worker who was pretty new. They’d sent most staff home because it was late. Then disaster struck. As it always seems to happen at those times, we got super busy. My co-worker was struggling and got a terribly rude table. They didn’t seem to understand that they weren’t the only customers in the restaurant or that we were understaffed, and it took a turn for the worse.
They made her cry and have a meltdown. We’ve all been there, so I took over the table and, after they left, put $15 on the table so that she would see she had received a “tip” from the table. I never told her that I was the one who put money on the table for her. Seeing her confidence grow from that was what I was hoping for. I got my wish.
When she picked up the tip, a grin broke across her face and she said, “Wow! I must not be as terrible of a server as I thought I was! Maybe I’m getting the hang of it after all.”
68. 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.
69. 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.
70. Mother of Mercy
When my wife gave birth to our firstborn, the woman she had shared a ward with while in the early stages of labor had a stillbirth. After giving birth, rather than spending time bonding with her newborn, my exhausted wife handed me our son and spent the next three hours comforting and consoling the poor woman. Something about the bond of mothers seemed to connect them.
The woman and her husband have since become close family friends and had two beautiful children after that—they still credit the support my wife gave them in the period of time after the stillbirth, especially in those three hours, with helping them get through their grief. It was the kindest act I’ve ever seen, done by the kindest person I’ve ever met.
71. 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.
72. The Meaning of True Friendship
Years ago, I struggled to pay rent and buy food. One day my buddy stopped by for a visit and asked if he could have something to drink. I told him there was some cold water in the refrigerator. He did not realize that one gallon of water in my refrigerator was all I had. He looked in my freezer, then my cupboards and saw they were empty.
I thought that he was looking for a cup. He goes, “Hang on buddy, I’ll be right back.” He comes back about 30 minutes later with several bags of groceries. I’ll never forget that and I will always be thankful.
73. A Helping Hand
My firstborn had a severe deformity, and spent a week in hospital before we took him off life support. I was staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and even though one of the rules was that you are your own maid when you leave, complete with doing laundry and remaking the beds, I was a complete wreck and couldn’t do a thing. Then I got the surprise of my life.
A kind stranger took care of my room for me even though they were going through their own stuff. Another blessing from that dark time is that the funeral home took care of everything for me, including all bills associated with the service and cremation. I will never not donate to the Ronald McDonald House and I know what funeral home I’ll be using when I one day need one again.
It was a very long time ago and very dark sad time. It destroyed my family, a few years later I lost my husband to suicide stemming from the depression that happened from this, and while both tragedies changed me, I’m very good now and know happiness. I want to say that I’ve thought about how very, very bad things can get in the world, but this stranger, and people like him, showed me daily that the world is full of amazing loving people.
74. A Little Tune-up
A few years ago, I was going down to visit my grandmother in South Carolina. I needed an inspection and oil change on my car, and I was the single mom of a 5-year-old. The total cost ended up being 40 dollars more than I thought. At the time, that was devastating, and I had to tell my daughter in the parking lot that we couldn’t go see her grandmother anymore.
Someone heard me talking to her and came over to us and gave us 60 dollars. That was one of the nicest things someone I don’t know has ever done for me.
75. A Class of His Own
When I was in school, I had a classmate who was terminally ill. He wanted to do all the things he wouldn’t grow up to do, and pretty much our whole school got involved. One girl’s parents owned a nightclub, and they decked out the VIP lounge and served mocktails to roughly 100 students. The kid wanted to be a law enforcement officer, and one boy’s dad arranged for him to go on shift with him for the day.
He wanted to go on a beach holiday, and the teachers put little kiddie pools around the long jump pit with water in. We all did something off his list. He got 62 valentines cards in October! He was always such a kind and thoughtful guy that everyone was happy to join in. His mom messaged me a few weeks ago just to catch up and she said she can’t believe that this year it’s 20 years since he passed, and she’s so grateful that everyone made his brief time on earth so wonderful.
76. A Thoughtful Gesture
I’m a science teacher and needed to buy glucose testing strips for a lab. Another teacher had the department purchasing card and Walgreens had the strips listed online for $8, so I figured I’d bite the bullet. When I got to the store they only had cases going for $58, which caused me to break down in the middle of the store.
It was my first year teaching, so my spirit had already been broken by junior high students. The pharmacist saw me crying and told me to take the test strips for free. It was the most surprising act of kindness I’ve ever experienced. I still think about it to this day.
77. Finding a Great New Group of Buds
I was chilling out with some workout buddies after a martial arts class when they decided to do their late Christmas present exchange. At that point, I figured that was where I ought to bow out, since I’d only known them for a couple of months at this point. Surely we weren’t that close and this was a “between them” kinda thing.
Then up comes one of them with a little gift bag for me and says it’s from all three of them. They’d been texting back and forth to try and figure out something I’d like—since, you know, I’d only known them for a couple of months—and came up with a Star Wars mug. Just a Star Wars mug, sure, but I had the biggest grin on my face.
None of them knew much at all about Star Wars, they’d had to rope in one of their husbands for a fellow geek’s opinion. All that based on a related tattoo I’ve got and maybe a few sentences I’d said on the subject. That’s not just paying attention, that’s going the extra mile to include the new girl just because she hangs around to laugh at the same stupid stuff after class.
I think this is what you call “making friends as an adult.” God these people rock.
78. The New Normal
I was hugely pregnant and had very young children with me. We went to a free exhibit at an aquarium down town. I was unfamiliar with the area, but found free parking several blocks away. I was broke, so finding a free exhibit with free parking was really a special outing for us. After the exhibit, my young children and I started walking towards the car, but couldn’t find it.
I figured I had gotten turned around, so we returned to the aquarium and started walking in the other direction, but still couldn’t find the car. We went back and started out in a third direction, still unable to find our car. It had started to rain and we were just lost. All along, a homeless man had been watching us, as we had passed by him multiple times in our search.
His words were heartbreaking. He told me he remembered seeing us first go in to the aquarium hours ago and what direction he saw us come from. He offered to walk down that way and look for our car for us so we didn’t have to be walking around aimlessly until the car was located. I thanked him, but turned his offer down, not wanting to send this homeless man out into the rain.
He told me he was impressed with how well-behaved my children were, and he offered a dollar to buy them a candy bar. I couldn’t accept, I mean how horrible of a person would I be to take money from someone who clearly needed it more than me—but he insisted. He said the dollar wouldn’t save him from being homeless, but buying my kids a candy bar for being so patient and well-behaved would make him feel normal and some days he just needed to feel normal.
It was an act of kindness I will never forget. I think of that gentleman often.
79. This is One Awesome Mom
My mom is a piano teacher and was shopping in a music store. A 10-year-old kid came in wanting to buy his first musical instrument. He wanted a ukulele, so the clerk showed him somewhere the entry-level model was; it cost about $65. He ran back outside to his mom waiting in the car, then came back in and asked, “What is the cheapest musical instrument you have?” and the clerk started showing him a $3 kazoo.
Overhearing this made my mom sad, so she went over and asked the kid if he really wanted a ukulele and would promise to practice and learn it. Hooked him up with the instrument, a beginner book, picks, etc. When she left the store the kid and his mom both waited to give her a hug.
80. A Kind Act That’s Appreciated, Doesn’t Go Unnoticed
In my small town, there’s an older guy who wears the biggest smile and stands on his porch waving to all the traffic. I always wave back. The sad thing is that he lives in a super rough area of town, and kids and teenagers regularly make fun of him and tease him while shouting at him. Somehow, he just smiles through all this.
One time I honked at him while waving and the next day he came up to my car when I was at a stoplight and gave me flowers. I always honk and wave on my way home from work.
81. Duty of Care
A paramedic helped me after I was in a car crash. He took his time to come back to the car and bring me back my front tooth, which was really tiny and he offered to go and look for in the wreck. At the same time, he found and brought back my partner’s phone. I don’t know his name, and I was in such a state of shock that I can’t even remember what he looked like.
Still, he put my tooth in a special liquid and the hospital team managed to put it back, saving me a lot of money. There was also a woman officer who put a blanket on me and made sure I kept it. The hospital only managed to take it off me right before I left. It was a green standard first aid blanket, and I don’t know why I refused to let go of it (again, shock) but it provided a lot of comfort. Thank you so much, guys.
82. The Future is Bright
When my youngest brother was eight, he came home with a “student of the month” paper in his folder. This is how he earned it: he heard that the school custodian recently had come back from having back surgery, so after lunch he gathered a few of his buddies and they swept the cafeteria to give the custodian a break. He was so humble about it too, he didn’t care that he got noticed.
I just remember being so proud and crying a bit because although I knew he is a good nugget, I just didn’t expect him to go out of his way at such a young age and to get his buddies to follow. Makes my heart happy.
83. We All Need a Friend Like This
At a concert, I saw a buddy walking with his friend who was blind and also somewhat physically disabled. I overheard him telling his blind friend “Oh man I was so smashed last night! I couldn’t walk or see anything. Thank goodness for you and your cane. You were steering us everywhere like a champ. I would have been helpless without you!”
It was really so heartwarming. You could see how much it meant to his friend to be told how he was the helper, not the person being helped. I’m assuming he was being a little hyperbolic, but the amount of joy I saw brought to his friend’s face from his kind words was so heartwarming.
84. Moms Just Know
I was involved in a hit and run on my bicycle in Chicago. I broke my collarbone, and a stranger drove me to the ER. I was going into shock and freaking out about finances—I’m a single mother. The stranger gave me her number for the report and such, but then she made a gesture I’ll never forget. She later sent me $5k because she knows what it’s like to be a single mother with nothing.
I sobbed. I hadn’t gotten my unemployment yet. I was overwhelmed by her kindness.
85. A Sweet Christmas Tradition
One Christmas season, I saw a young woman walking through an IKEA picking up things in the huge marketplace area, taking a picture of them, putting them back, and moving on. She was obviously thinking intently about gifts but I was confused—was she making a wish list or something? An employee saw this and asked if they could help her find something.
She says “Oh, no thank you. I’m helping my Dad Christmas shop. He works really hard and has very little time, plus when he gets off work his brain is just fried. So every year when I’m on break I go around to a bunch of stores and take pictures of things I think my mom would really like. Then I’ll show them to him at home, we talk about them and he picks some out. Then I go back and get them. It’s the least I can do for him, plus it’s kinda become our little secret Christmas tradition. Mom has no idea.”
86. Through Thick and Thin
I was fired from my last job. It was the first and only time I had been fired, and it sucked. I really liked that job, and I got super depressed. My friend also lost his job later that week, which really sucked because I knew he loved that job, too. He would always tell me that it was his dream job. And right as soon as he found out, he called me.
He called me to tell me that even though he lost his job, he knew he was going to be alright. He wanted to tell me that to set a good example. I knew he was heartbroken, but he put on a strong face for me. And I’ll never forget that. Never.
87. Putting Your Best Foot Forward
One of the students in my class was talking to a new kid. It came up in conversation that the new kid’s shoes didn’t fit and made his feet hurt. The boys also realized that they wore the same size shoes. The next day the kiddo comes in with a pair of Jordans he never wears for the new kid, plus a note from his mom saying it was okay.
It was one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen.
88. You Shall Not Pass
I went out to a bar drank a bit too much with my girlfriends. Some guy saw and tried to push me into an Uber to take me to his hotel. Then, the bouncer wouldn’t let me back in no matter how many times I asked because according to him, “I changed my mind and that’s not the guy’s fault.” No one else passing by wanted to intervene. I was getting really scared—until a good Samaritan stepped up and changed everything.
The Uber driver popped out of the front of his car and wrestled the guy off me. He made sure I was okay, gave the bouncer and everyone else a piece of his mind, too. Hope that guy’s doing well in life.
89. Let the Good Times Roll
I took my sister, who’s in a wheelchair, to the cinema for the first time on my own. At the end, I realized I couldn’t undo the brakes because it was a new wheelchair. It was blocking everyone. I felt like crying because I thought everyone was angry at me, but some nice lady helped me, then took me and my sister out. She said she once had a son who needed a wheelchair. This was long ago, but I’ll never forget her or the kindness she showed me that day.
90. A Good Samaritan in the Bay Area
I’m heading to Oakland from San Francisco through the tube. Train’s packed as always. People on BART are good about public transit etiquette in general during commute hours so nobody’s talking or listening to music or anything. When we leave the tube onto the viaduct over the Port, one guy answers his phone. “Hello?… Yeah?… Oh my God… What hospital?… Okay I’ll be there as soon as I can.” He hangs up and just looks super distraught.
Someone taps him on the shoulder and says, “My car is parked at West Oakland. Do you need a ride?” He agrees and they get off together. Little gesture but it was uplifting to see someone volunteer for a stranger like that.
91. Guardian Angels
I’ve had many people do nice things for me, but one stands out. I was very young, maybe 16 or 17. I’d had a terrible car accident and needed to get to a specialist downtown during my recovery. I wasn’t a confident driver to begin with, and I had never driven downtown and got hopelessly lost. This was before everyone had cell phones.
I stopped at a pay phone in a grocery store. I was sobbing and scared. I couldn’t describe where I was, since I was so lost, and I didn’t know how to get turned in the right direction. A little old lady stopped to ask me if I was OK, so I told her where I was going and that I didn’t know how to get there. She was shocked that I was SO LOST.
I was so far removed from where I was supposed to be. I wasn’t even close to downtown. So she literally drove there in her car while I followed her. She just pointed out her window when we got to the address and I turned in. I never got to properly thank her. But it was far from over. To make it so much worse, once I finally got there, I was told they’d had to cancel my appointment.
I broke down, and an elderly couple came to comfort me and gave me some money and said to please take some time to calm down at the cafe next door, have some lunch or something. Twice in one day, I was approached by kind people who just wanted to help a teenager. That was over 25 years ago. I still don’t like to drive downtown, but I do. I think of those people every time I have to go there.
92. Wanting a Fresh Start For Your Kid
A few years ago, I was on my way to catch the bus when a middle-aged woman called me from behind a newspaper stand. She pointed to the bus stop, one block down, where a guy was standing holding something. She said he was her son and he’d just got out of jail after serving time for dealing drugs. Today was his first day trying to make an honest life.
He had baked some traditional pastries and was trying to sell them on the bus stop. She said she wanted to make sure things went right for him on his first day so he wouldn’t feel tempted to go back to selling drugs. Then she put some money in my hand, asked me if I could buy some pastries, and obviously not tell him she was there.
At the stop, I saw the guy, probably in his mid-30s, with this little table of pastries. I bought three, we chatted a little bit, and one minute later my bus arrived and I left. It always makes me emotional and warm inside to think how pure a mother’s love can be.
93. Hit the Road
I was given a car by a former co-worker. At the time, I was walking or riding my bike eight miles one way just to get to work, and then another eight miles to get back home. When working with her, she asked if I wanted a car. I thought she was joking, but said yes anyway. About two weeks later, she said her husband had this old car that he fixed up and it’s ready for me.
From there, she had me meet up at a notary, and all I paid was for a title transfer and tax, which only came around $150. It wasn’t the nicest car, but it worked. The car lasted a year, but still to this day I am forever grateful someone would gift me something that truly helped out tremendously. Then, she said there was a catch. I started to get nervous, but it was actually so heart-warming.
The catch was that, whenever I’m able to, I have to pass along a good deed. I’ve tried to pass this whenever I can. I sincerely appreciated all the help, Debby, and I wish only the best for you and your family. I’m still working on passing along good deeds as we have agreed. Thank you so much for your kindness, especially during a time in my life where I thought there was little hope. There is always hope.
94. Color Me Surprised
A woman I worked with a few years ago knew my 30th birthday was coming up and asked me what I was doing. I just said I’m visiting family, but she also found out that I’d never had a “surprise” before. I might get a present and maybe a bit of money and I was happy with that. I had no idea the gift she was about to give me.
At my parents’ house, they’d forgotten to buy a cake, so I just picked up a Victoria sponge cake and stuck a couple of tea light candles on it. It was fine, I don’t complain. But when I got back to work a week later, my lovely colleague had organised this beautiful two-tier birthday cake surrounded by gifts! And then she really surprised me.
She produced tickets for us two to get a drink at this ice bar place and tickets to go to the theatre. She did this because she remembered me saying I hadn’t been since I was a kid and no one I knew was interested in going. I was so shocked, I was nearly in tears. This was the very first birthday surprise I ever had. I will never forget my 30th birthday because of my colleague.
95. A Purr-Fect Present
I worked as a retail cashier at a drug store. It was the Christmas season and CRAZY busy. We had tins of chocolates on sale for under $10, and they had designs of kittens and puppies on them. I mentioned to a lady who was buying a bunch that one tin in particular looked identical to my cat. She bought the tin and gave it to me!
I actually cried. To have a stranger spend their own money on someone else in that capacity. I’ve never had it happen before. It was years ago, and although the chocolates inside are long gone, I still display that chocolate tin every year at Christmas.
96. Having a Teacher Believe In You is So Uplifting
I had a health class teacher in high school, who had a reputation for being super tough. Once, there was a mandatory CPR class that we had to pay for, and there was no way I could pay for anything in those days. CPR day came, and she told me to go with the other students. I gave her a confused look to which she replied: “You’re good, baby.” She had paid for me.
Later in the year, I fell asleep in her class. It was the last period of the day and she told me she’d wake me up before I had to go to the gym (I had a basketball game). She dimmed the lights and played some music while she worked at her computer. I hadn’t been sleeping well at home and I’m guessing she knew. When I got up, she handed me some soup. We never really spoke, but she had my back.
The most wholesome moment took place during my senior year. On senior night, they introduce the players and say some stuff about them as they walk to center court, typically with parents arm in arm. When it was almost my time to walk, she saw that I was alone. Bless her heart, she about fell down from her seat running towards me. She put her arm through mine and just looked forward, chin up proud as heck as they read my stats/grades/etc. I remember that walk and how I wish I had a picture or recording from that day showing how big I must have been smiling.
After I graduated, and was a bit better on my feet, I returned to visit her. It was honestly the only thing that could get me back in that place. Each time I’d bring flowers or food and made sure to do it in front of students and made sure they knew to respect her.
97. Into the Mouths of Babes
Right after I had my first son, I had a ton of formula that a friend gave me and I couldn’t use it because my son had stomach issues. So, I went on a website where you could give away/ask for things you needed for free. A young woman that lived in the same small town that I did at the time, messaged me and said she could desperately use the formula because her boyfriend had just left her.
She gave me her number and I called. She said she’d have to wait to pick it up from me until she could find a way to get closer to town. I could hear her holding back tears when I asked if we could bring it to her. We got her address and realized she lived in a very desolate, poor part of the town. It was in a trailer in the middle of the desert, with no public transportation ran anywhere around.
So, I decided we could do more. We went through the pantry, fridge, and freezer, trying to find anything we could give her that we couldn’t use/ didn’t need. We ended up with three big bags and a laundry hamper full. When we got to her house, she invited us in. She had almost nothing in her home. No TV, one couch, and the kitchen was empty.
We had to run out to the car a few times to get it all. She was shocked that we brought her food too. She hugged me and started to cry. She said, “Thank you. I didn’t know how we were going to eat for the next few weeks.” Then she made her son a bottle right away. It broke my heart cause I could tell they were both very hungry.
98. A Grave Secret
I have many family members interred in a small cemetery with a few unattended graves that I occasionally clean and place artificial flowers on. Sometimes I do the ones around them. I feel morally obligated to honor their memory. One day, I found a letter. Its contents were heartbreaking. Obscured behind my father’s flowers, in an inconspicuous brown envelope, was an effusive message of gratitude from an old woman whose arthritis incapacitated her.
She had seen my maintenance of her husband’s grave from her house across the road and wanted to thank me for my compassion. I was confounded because I never anticipated any recognition. She said she asked her daughter what she could do to compensate me, and she purchased an iTunes voucher for her mother to give me in the envelope.
It was one of those letters and gestures that the gratitude and appreciation emanated from the very paper. The handwriting was so elegant and fastidious; I know she took an inordinate amount of time composing her words. She loved her husband beyond articulation. We have tea together twice a month now.
99. 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.
100. A Little Something Extra
My dad is a retired junior/senior high school art teacher. Every single morning for well over a decade, he packed an extra lunch and put it in a place in his classroom where a student whose family was struggling could take it without making a big deal of it. Eventually, when the older student graduated, one of his younger siblings started taking his class.
The kid would already know he could take the extra lunch bag without having to face talking to my dad about it, or being embarrassed in front of the class. I used to ask why Dad packed two lunches while I was growing up, and he would just say, “I sometimes get extra hungry.” My mom later told me the truth. He is such a quiet, humble, and extremely generous man.
101. The Widower’s Way Back
I was coming out of a bar one night and saw an older man in his 70s staggering while trying to unlock his car in the parking lot. He was clearly drunk, and I knew he wouldn’t make it far driving. I walked up to him and asked if he needed help. He said, “I don’t think I can make it,” so I offered to drive him home in his own car.
I tossed my car keys to my girlfriend and asked her to follow me. On the way home the man said several times to me, “I lost my wife a few months ago, ya know, and just don’t know how to live anymore.” All I could do was offer my sympathy. He was coherent enough to provide directions, and I helped him out of the car and to the door of his house, making sure he could get in before I left.
He asked me “You want to come in for a drink?” as a thank-you for bringing him home safely, but I declined, as I had to drive my girlfriend home. I don’t even remember the man’s name or where he lived, and I thought about him for several years, wondering whatever happened to that sad man. I hope I showed him that he wasn’t alone, at least for the few minutes we were together. At the very least, I hope that my act of kindness saved him from a car accident.