People From Around The World Share Heartwarming Things Random People Did For Them

People From Around The World Share Heartwarming Things Random People Did For Them

Given the news these days, it's sometimes hard to remember that people are fundamentally kind and good at heart. If current affairs have got you down, then you're in for a special treat. We asked people from around the world about the time they were on the receiving end of a random act of kindness. These stories are about the strangers who went out of their way to make someone feel better or help out someone during a dark time. We could all take a lesson.

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45. Bearer of butter chicken.

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 2 days in a joking manner because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping due to the exams.

He brought me two plates of delicious butter chicken with rice the next morning. He said his parents run an Indian restaurant so he brought some for me. He told me I can ask for more whenever. That was the first time anyone outside of my family has gone out of their way to do a nice thing for me. It really touched my heart.

Unfortunately he dropped out a few weeks later but I will remember him forever.

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44. Things are less sad when they're shared.

I lost my mom to lung cancer June 2006, one month after graduating from high school. I am an only child. That August, I moved an hour from home to attend university. Without fail, in every class we were asked what memorable thing we did over the summer. I spent my time telling people I had planned my mother's funeral.

One girl I happened to share several classes with ended up being my across-the-hall neighbor. That following January, she showed up at my door with a cupcake and a candle on my mom's birthday. Not a single person I was close to remembered, but she did. She held me while I cried and we stuffed our faces with cake.

She stood up at my wedding as a bridesmaid several years later.

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43. Three cheers for Greek Santa.

When I was about five, my mom was single and in nursing school. She had very little money, and we lived in this tiny one bedroom apartment. This elderly Greek man who lived in our apartment complex dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve and brought me presents. I can still remember him saying “ Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” in that wonderful Greek accent. That was one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.

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42. Thanks to the string-pullers.

Mother's boyfriend at the time gave me a referral to the company he works for. I get a "Thanks, but we don't have any blah blah blah" letter from the company. Oh well. No big. My resume was hilariously lacking in things they want in an employee. He then pulls some strings and gets them to give the resume a second look. Another no thank you letter.

He talks to them again, and convinces them to give me an interview. He's confident that if they interview me, and give me the aptitude test they give everyone in the tech side of the company, they'll hire me. So, they interview me, give me the test. Call me in for a second interview. Hired less than a week later. I've been there for just over 12 years.

If it wasn't for all the stuff that guy did to just get my foot in the door, I'd probably still be managing retail and not happy about it, and not at an awesome company doing something I generally enjoy.

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41. We could all use an anonymous benefactor.

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 stepdad, and 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.

All of a sudden, about a week and a half away from the trip, my band director pulls me aside. He asks me if I want to go on the ski trip. I responded something to the effect of not being able to afford it. He cut me off, saying that's not what he asked. Obviously, I told him I wanted to go.

Turns out some benefactor saw some of what was going on behind the curtains in my life. They were - and still are to this day - anonymous to me, but they footed the bill for my charter ticket, food money, and ski gear money. I cried. I just started crying right there in the band director's office.

It was great for me, my best friend ended up getting altitude sickness.


40. Hand me a tissue.

A woman came up and consoled me in a 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.


39. You're on your way.

I just started driving, maybe had my license for a week. Went to go fill up gas for the first time. Realized I never learned how to fill up a car. A guy saw me struggling for about 10 minutes and he walked over pulled out his credit and showed me what to do. Ended up paying for my gas and teaching me a lesson. Never got his name or anything.


38. Taking in two strays.

My best friend's mother saw that my home life with my dad was getting steadily worse and more abusive. She went to Children's Aid to see about taking my brother and I in and becoming our guardian. She already had four kids of her own but still found room in her heart to take in another two teenagers. She fed and clothed me, paid for braces and expensive proper fitting bras. She treated me as an equal to her other children. If she hadn't stepped in, I have no idea where I would be today. She saved me. It would have been her birthday today actually, but she passed away two years ago.

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37. Here's to Hug Bro.

Awhile back, back in high school, my freshmen year I had gotten into a fight with my ex of two years and we had broken up. Since she was my first love, I actually started tearing up during lunch after we broke it off. So I’m standing there tearing up outside next to a pole, headphones in and this random guy comes up to me and taps my shoulder. Looks at me dead in the eye and ask me, “are you ok?” I said, “yeah man, I’m alright”. I just remember the way I said it, voice quivering and he didn’t buy it for a second just gave me a look and just said to me, “you need a hug”. The dude legit just looked at me and gave me a big hug. At the moment I didn’t really care how I looked, or how we looked just hugging it out right there, but it really helped me throughout the day. This guy, never spoken to him, never seen him in my life just was such a nice guy and such a bro that he didn’t even care himself that he just gave me a big bear hug. I never saw that dude again. I like to think he’s out there giving the world a giant hug to this very day. Hug Bro, if you’re out there, thanks man.

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36. Put it in a letter.

I asked a colleague to be a referee for me for a new job. She wrote me a letter of recommendation that, eleven years later, remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.

All of the little efforts that I’d been putting in and getting no real attention for, she noticed, and mentioned in a way that made me feel so seen. Bless you, Nat. I don’t think anyone has made me feel so good about myself, ever.

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35. An older mentor.

When I was a kid, I met one of my grandmother's best friends. At first, I was super scared to approach him because he had a wheelchair. But after I got to know him, we instantly bonded. He was exactly 50 years older than me (same birthday) and also loved Harry Potter. During that summer, he would take me to see the movies (nemo, spiderman, spykids) and treat me to ice-cream at BK afterwards (I'd always get lemon and blue-bubblegum). Growing up, we were pretty poor, so those trips meant a lot to me. Looking back, we had a pretty special friendship. He was my best friend, my mentor and my role model for most of my life. He had a huge impact on my life and I never think I was able to thank him enough for it.

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34. More than just furniture.

Fresh out of a relationship left me with almost nothing. My college roommate offered me a place to stay. When I showed up without any furniture he immediately went and found a bed, sheets, etc. and set me up basically with a makeshift bedroom. I swallowed my young man pride and hugged him. I remember telling him I'd never ask for help again. He simply said "Anything for a brother."

He probably doesn't remember that night but I'll never forget it. I've helped 4 people with places to stay to get back on their feet over the years, and it honestly humbles me anytime I help a friend in need because of him.

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33. A friend in the air is a friend everywhere.

I was 6 months pregnant with my first child, and was flying across the country alone. The woman sitting next to me was also pregnant, but with her fourth baby. We made small talk for a few minutes at the beginning of the flight but that was it. About 2/3 into the flight we hit turbulence and no one was allowed to get up. Between the motion and pregnancy I was feeling it, so I ended up puking into the air sickness bag. The whole time I was sick the woman next to me held my hair, rubbed my back, even patted water on the back of my neck. She was an angel, I wish I’d gotten her name.


32. Art that spells L-O-V-E.

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 they surprised me with a poster board covered in magazine cutouts 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.


31. A helpful guide.

As a teen, I didn't know how to read the bus schedule. I took the wrong bus and ended up in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I was super lost, overwhelmed, and trying not to panic.

A tiny, elderly black lady in a giant hat saw me freaking out. She told me to take some deep breaths until I wasn't on the verge of tears, then taught me how to read the bus schedule. She told me which buses I needed to take to get back where I was going.

I'm sure she didn't think anything about it, but I still appreciate what she did for me that day.

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30. An unexpected treat.

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 that 20 minutes we spoke about my military career, life, sports, family, everything. Super cool people. Finally sat down to eat, enjoyed 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 Sunday's and hold a dope conversation with a couple, my wife and I will pay for their meal. Pay it forward!

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29. It all adds up.

It was my sophomore year and we had had 4 different math teachers that year, and then never the same sub twice after that. I had an F and I was freaking out because its $75 to make up a credit. Anyways, a random math teacher in the same building starting doing our lessons but not actually teaching us. She noticed I was failing and did everything she could to help me but we still didn't know if I would pass (she didn't do final grades.) The last day of school she came and banged on the window of the class I was in and mouthed "You passed!!!" Holding up my paper. It made me so happy she came to tell me. It was no big deal and she probably doesn't remember me at all but I'll never forget it.

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28. Help down the mountain.

I was about 8 years old and in the french alps on a skiing trip. My parents didn't want to get saddled with me and my sister so put us in ski school. The class were skiing down a run when my ski got caught on something and fell down and got turned around. I couldn't get up off the floor without sliding backwards down the run which ended in a sheer drop off the side of the mountain. Basically I was stuck and the ski school had continued down the mountain not noticing they were a child down. I was stuck there for so long crying while everyone on the slope continued past me until one french snowboarder in his early 20s stopped to help me. Couldn't understand a word he said but he picked me up off the floor, turned me round and helped me on my way. Guy probably forgot about it that night but 20 or so years later and I can still remember clear as day.

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27. Welcome to America.

In September 1978, I was a new Australian kid who had just moved to the US (Portland, OR). It was the first day of third grade and when class started, everyone stood up, faced the flag, put their hand over their heart, and started saying something in unison that they all obviously knew and I didn’t. I was embarrassed and just stood there like an idiot.

After everyone sat down, the girl sitting at the desk to my left, Tracey O’Neill, dumped the pencils out of her yellow pencil box into her desk, handed me the box, smiled, and said “Here.” Printed inside the lid was the Pledge of Allegiance, which I read out loud every day in class until I learned it myself.

30 years later, I still have that pencil box. I wish I knew where Tracey was now so I could tell her how much that moment meant, and still means, to me.

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26. Put on the right track.

I moved to Germany in 2012. On my way to my new city, the train broke down and I had no idea how to get where I was going. A woman about my age (late 20s at the time) asked me if I needed help, first in German, and when I shook my head, in English. It turned out she was an English teacher in a town about 15km from where I was going to be living, so she helped me carry my suitcases and guided me onto the correct platform and train after we reached her stop. When I still lived in Germany, I thought about her a lot and made sure to help other train travelers when they needed it the way she helped me.


25. Kindness with a lifelong impact.

My family wasn’t very wealthy growing up and I remember going to McDonald’s for ice cream with my sister literally paying in pennies and dimes. The lady behind us saw that we were paying with just coins and just bought my sister and I our own cones and just told us that it never hurts to help out every now and then. I remember going back to the car with the change and my mom started crying because she could use that money for gas so she wasn’t cutting it close. 10 years later I’m working at a pizza place and I don’t let anyone pay for our food with just change or obvious “this is all I have” money. I’d rather cover it and lose 5-12 dollars just so I could hopefully just give someone that leg up that they might need.

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24. Hallmark hero.

Valentine’s Day this year I stopped in at my local convenience store to get my coffee like I do every single morning. One of the ladies who worked there called out “good morning” as she does every day. I replied, or course, and then she asked me “so what plans do you have for Valentine’s Day”?

I laugh and say “well, no one loves me enough to give me flowers, so I’ll just go to work as normal.” I went to the counter to pay for my coffee, and as I was there a man tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a red rose that they were selling in the store.

I burst into tears and I hugged him right there in the store. I couldn’t stop the tears. Kind flower-giving-stranger, thank you so very much for making my whole year so much brighter. I kept the flower and pressed it... and have it in a frame on my desk.



23. Courtesy has a big effect.

There was a girl at my high school who was the most talented, most athletic, most well-liked person ever. Her name was synonymous with success and she was absolutely wonderful to be around. I was two years younger, and played on a couple school teams with her.

One day I was chatting with her in my usual awkward sophomoric way, and a few of her senior friends came over and interrupted our conversation. "Wait just a minute," she said, holding up one hand to them, "I want to finish our conversation first." Then she turned back to me and said with a smile, "Go on."

I am the youngest in a large family of loud, slightly narcissistic (myself included) interrupters and have always had to fight for attention. I have never forgotten how genuinely kind and graceful that act was. I now try to remember to give people my full attention when they are trying to tell me something the way she did with me.


22. The book angel.

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which one I wanted to get and then decided after I'd gone through them all.

One day an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read. I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked. She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me and said, "Promise me that you'll keep reading." I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away and I went back to my piles able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.

It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was probably about 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.

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21. Teddy bear means the world.

My grandmother and I were very close. She helped raise me. I have had fertility issues for years which she had helped me through. After a very difficult year of going through IVF, I was finally expecting my first child. My grandmother had been keeping very close track of the pregnancy because of all we had gone through to make this miracle happen. She was so excited to meet her newest great grandson. I ended up getting married at city hall when I was 4 months pregnant. She would have been thrilled about our marriage but before I could even tell her the happy news, I received a phone call that she had passed away the very next day. It was one of the worst days of my life, right after one of the happiest days of my life. I miss her every day.

Unbeknownst to my new husband and I, my cousin's daughter went over to my grandparents home and retrieved a few of grandma's old shirts. She then proceeded to have them made into a teddy bear for our unborn son so that he could always have a bit of grandma close to him, even though they were never able to meet. I broke down and bawled my eyes out when that little bear arrived in the mail. It means the world to me. Our son is due to arrive one week from today. I never knew a teddy bear could hold such a special place in my heart. That is the most thoughtful gesture I've ever witnessed. I will be forever grateful to her for this sweet and wonderful gift.

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20. Kind stranger in a new place.

A few years ago I had to go to Japan for work. I flew into Tokyo, then took trains down to the rural area where the site was. When I got off the last train, I couldn't find the bus stop to take me to the hotel. I walked up and down the street for 20 minutes with an enormous suitcase.

I decided to ask an old woman out sweeping in her driveway. Of course, the only Japanese I knew was "thank you", and she did not know English. It took a few minutes of not communicating effectively (beyond the name of the hotel, which she definitely recognized) before she gestured one finger, like "one minute" and disappears into her house.

She pulls her car around the other side of the house and insists on driving me to the hotel 10 minutes across town. It was so overwhelmingly helpful and appreciated. I tried to give her the money for the bus but she wouldn't take any. I must have said thank you 100,000 times, but I don't think it was enough.

I do think she got a kick out of pointing and laughing at how I was much too tall for her car and my head was grazing the ceiling, which is hilarious.


19. Some moms just know.

My parents would regularly starve me as punishment, as the food in the fridge were for "the good children" and not "the bad one." I'd survive off of school breakfast and lunch, and pretty much coast off of outdoor fruit on the weekend (I would regularly sneak into a fruit grove).

My middle school friend, who would always bring lunch to school, eventually caught on when I broke down to a bully dumping my food tray on a Friday afternoon. The next week, her mom apparently packed extra food and she just couldn't finish it. Same with the next day. And the next, and the next, until I moved at the end of my 8th grade year. Even if I couldn't finish the food myself (it was a LOT, I'm talking double servings of good leftovers), I was gifted old tubberware to take the food home in, so long as I brought it back to school.

The starvation punishments stopped once I passed out in PE and my guidance counselor had a parent meeting to make sure the family wasn't struggling to buy groceries. The last leftover meal I got was a delicious slice of homemade cake -- my friend's mom seemed to know it was a joyous day.

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18. A soft heart in a cruel world.

When I was in highschool, and had also just broken up with my boyfriend of two years. He and his new girlfriend were basically torturing me, shouting out mean things to me in the hallways, spreading rumors, rubbing my pain in my face, etc. It was especially bad because I really didn't have any friends I could go to, and my home life sucked, so I was even more miserable than I would have been.

I missed the bus home one day, and the office refused to give me a late bus pass because I didn't have a good excuse. I was just so overwhelmed and had no idea how to get home or what to do, so I parked myself by the theatre, in a quiet corner with nobody around, and just completely lost it crying.

Next thing I knew there was a guy there, whom I'd talked to a few times in passing but wasn't friends with by any means. He started talking to me, gave me a huge hug, and listened to me babble. He was so kind and understanding, it made me feel so much better. We ended up walking to his house which was close by, and he stole his parents' car to give me a ride home.

I was so thankful still am.

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17. Just one word is enough.

I had a miscarriage and was devastated. It was after I had already been showing in my pregnancy so everyone knew. I was at my parents’ house and they had some guests over. When I came out of my room all the guests got really quiet and didn’t know what to say, so they all looked away and no one said anything.

Except one guy, a family friend, who came right up to me and said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He probably doesn’t remember it, but I knew it took courage for him to do that and it meant so much to me to have someone acknowledge my loss. Even though this was more than ten years ago, I’m choking up as I write it. I thankfully have my beautiful children now but I think about my miscarriages from time to time and still get emotional.

It also taught me to that you don’t need to say anything special, just acknowledging what someone is going through makes a huge impact. Before, I would have been like the others and not said anything because that’s so much easier and also because you know you won’t say the wrong thing. But since then I will always reach out, even if it’s awkward or uncomfortable.

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16. The parent you needed.

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. To put it bluntly, I was a total jerk 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 (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 degree and am working towards a bachelors in biochemistry. My parents, especially my stepmom, have shown me what true unconditional love looks like and how parents are SUPPOSED to take care of their children. Kris, you’ll never understand just how much my life changed because you decided to love me despite my crap headedness. I’m a better person because of your support.


15. To the next generation.

When I was super pregnant, working at DQ (actually paid amazingly well), I was only 18 so I got a lot of anxiety about rude customers. One lady at one point had told her daughter I was trash and not to end up like me. She was the only really rude person, but it had totally put a damper on my spirits and made me feel permanently more on edge about being the stereotypical "teen mom".

This guy comes in, average early 40s/mid to late 30s looking. As he's waiting for his food I'm making he makes small talk with me. Asking things like "a boy or girl?" "What will her name be?" "Are you excited?" We made really great small talk until it was done. As I handed him his food, he grabbed my hand and slapped 30$ in it. He told me "Get yourself something nice for your babygirl." I didn't compute was was happening and stared at him, barely yelling out "thank you" as he walked out the door because I was so shocked.

I went in the back. Everybody thought he offended me because my cheeks were red and I was slack jawed until I explained. He was the first stranger to make me happy cry. I wish I could remember exactly what he looked like. I'd try and find him so I could let him know how much it meant to me and that I did not mean to stand there with my mouth open.


14. A soft place to fall.

My sophomore year of high school, a good friend of mine who attended a different school was hit by a car and killed. I was shattered. Facing mortality for the first time in that fashion at the age of 15 was...rough. I was an absolute mess for months (probably didn't help that it happened like a month and a half after 9/11 - my sophomore year got off to a rocky start overall). The school administration was very cold to those of us that knew him and refused to do anything to help us or even publicly acknowledge that a student from another school had died (there were only three high schools in our district; literally everyone at all three schools had friends at the other schools. Both my friend's school and the other high school brought in grief counselors to help those who'd known him) - when we tried talking to the principal about it, she straight-up told us that they weren't acknowledging it "because we don't want to upset the students who didn't know him." So that...didn't help.

My theater teacher, though. He cared. He saw how distraught I was and pulled me aside. He told me that any time I needed it, his office was open to me as a place to process my grief. I spent hours in there over the next few months. I cried in there a lot. And Mr. Quinn was always there, with a hug, a kind word, anything I needed. He listened to my disjointed raging at how unfair it all was without ever making me feel like I was wasting his time. The man who told raucous and raunchy jokes and called us all "dumb, dirt-licking gourd-heads" practically turned into Mister Rogers when I showed up at his office door. He helped me come to terms with my friend's death. He kept me sane.

I was never able to properly thank him for that kindness.


13. Chocolate makes everything better.

I was babysitting a friend's dogs for two weeks - dogs I had known for years and loved like they were mine - when one of them had a medical emergency. Corneal rupture from pressure building in the eye; they were bug-eyed dogs and it's apparently pretty common but it came out of nowhere and scared the life out of me. Fast forward through taking it to the vet, calling friend/owner and telling them they had to cut the vacation short and also the vet was relaying the dog was probably going to need to have the eye removed. It was emotional and stressful and one of the worst days ever.

I was at the vet until very late at night where I was told the dog could come back home with me while we waited for a surgery date and the owners to get home. I was sent to one of the last pharmacies open in the area to get drops/pills for it and that was a whole ordeal and a half I won't get into. Suffice to say I rolled into a pharmacy near midnight looking like worn out death with tear streaks stained on my face and probably defeat stamped all over me. The pharmacist was this unassuming little German guy who looked taken aback by my appearance and tried to gently ask if I was okay without being too invasive. I just said no. As he was coming back with the prescriptions he gave me a chocolate bar too and it was so unexpectedly nice in the moment it just made me cry more but like I said in the beginning, I think of the little German Pharmacist every now and then and hope he's having a good day.

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12. We're on the next flight.

On a train in Kazakhstan, I was invited to stay with a stranger I had met and his family when I returned the following week. He picked me up from the station, drove me a couple hours to show me the beautiful mountain lake outside Almaty. Showed me the park and a few other places before taking me back to his house. His wife had prepped everything and has a HUGE feast on the table. Fruit, bread, soups, horse meat, goat meat, tea, vegetables, and various small dishes from their country. It was amazing.

They gave me a nice room and I napped until dinner time. Their friend came over with his family and we enjoyed an even bigger feast. The next day he shows me a traditional Russian Bath House and Hamam Bath. Refuses to let me pay for anything, not even the beers.

That night we had a small dinner and they brought out three gifts for me. A really nice, purple dress shirt (that fit perfect and I wore to a wedding the following month), a beautiful keychain with charms of all top sights in Kazakhstan and a hidden USB drive, and a terracotta army souvenir he got from China. I was overwhelmed. They insisted it was their culture to leave guests with gifts from their home. Guest is God there.

I had met him on an 18 hour train ride and just because I was a backpacker and he wanted to practice his English and host a foreigner, he gave me all of that. It was absolutely the most kind thing I've experienced on my travels.


11. A hug from out of nowhere.

About ten years ago, I was living in New Hampshire, about to start college. My parents were living back in California and I was staying with my aunt till it was time to move in. Anyway, after a rotten day working at a certain chain drugstore, I get a call from my mom telling me my grandmother passed away. She was the last of my grandparents and I knew she wasn’t in great shape, but I just took it for granted she would still be around. I even sent her a CD of the best of the Rat Pack a week earlier just because I knew they were her favorites.

Anyway, that night I went on a walk as I always do when I’m upset. I was just numb and shut off to everything around me. Walked to the gas station to grab a pack of smokes and then walked past a house on my way back.

A girl probably around my age called out to me. She didn’t know me nor I her. I glanced over. It was dark but I could see she was hanging out with one of her friends on the stoop. I nodded and muttered something before continuing on my way just to be polite enough not to be bothered.

Then the strangest thing happened. Not two seconds after our brief exchange, she runs up to me and gives me a hug out of the blue. “You looked like you needed a hug,” she said before going back to her stoop.

I’m not one for physical interaction, especially at that point in my life (a different story), but for that brief amount of time, despite all the anguish I was feeling, things seemed like they were going to be fine. I didn’t know her. Didn’t even get her name or see her again.

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10. Paying it forward every day.

About 10 years ago, I stopped at Subway to grab dinner after a very long 14 hr shift. When the employee swiped my debit card, it declined. I was already tired and I know I had at least $2k in the bank (lived with a roomie for cheap and had a decent telecom job). I felt the tears immediately start to fall down my face as I timidly asked to try it again. Declined. I just slumped over and eeked out "thank you for trying" and started to walk away, shaking because I didn't know what happened to my money, I was very tired and all I wanted was an Italian sub.

The lady behind me says "wait! I'll get it for you!"

I thanked her and asked for her info so I could pay her back, she said not to worry about it, and as cliche as it sounds, to "pass it on."

Got home, checked my account, and was relieved to see all my money was there. Called the bank, and they told me my old card was expired and they had sent a new one out several weeks ago. My bank still had my parents address, so I was able to get it.

Since then, I have made it a point to help when I see someone's card declined. I've picked up the tab for about a dozen people since then, from a cup of coffee for an elderly man at a gas station to a couple cans of baby formula for a very frazzled looking mom at the grocery store.

We're all just out here trying to make it.

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9. Going beyond the call of duty.

When I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the first two days I was in the ICU on a ventilator. I was HEAVILY sedated, but somehow I was still awake a lot of the time. There were two really kind nurses.

The first one came in and said "Hi, I'm Lil Rachel. They call me that because I'm short. Your grandparents are coming tonight, so let's get your hair done so you look pretty for them." She used rinse-free shampoo to clean my hair (I hadn't been able to shower for like 3 days before getting to the hospital due to balance/mobility issues) then brushed it and braided it and put it up in a bun. No one else cared about that, they were focused on keeping me alive, so that was really kind of her.

The second nurse, I don't even know what she looked like. I had like a 4-5 hour head to toe MRI while still on the ventilator. I was crying and scared and didn't know what was going on, so every time I came out of the tube I started panicking. This lady was there to hold my hand, literally, and rub the back of it and tell me that I was okay, I was doing a great job, and we were almost done. Every time I came back out, I immediately reached a hand out and she was right there to grab my hand and comfort me when I was scared and confused.

Really, every nurse, doctor, physical therapist, and psychologist I saw when I was in the hospital was so incredibly kind to me. I'm crying just thinking back on how amazing every staff member was in the darkest and hardest part of my life.

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8. A friend in need.

When I was in high school, I got into my dream university through hard work, luck, and an ounce of talent. I lost out on that opportunity when the financials came back and my family realized there was no way we could swing it. What I'd been working at for the past three years was over, just like that. I had gotten into a couple of other schools, but knowing THE school accepted me and I had to say no just killed me. I was 17 at the time, and it felt like my world collapsed. I got depressed, badly. I did nothing for the next two weeks of that hot summer but sit on my front porch and feel sorry for myself. Some of my friends would come over, hang out, try to cheer me up, but I was just morose and difficult to deal with. My friends would eventually get tired of my boring crap and leave. Not Joe.

Joe hung out with me on that porch all day every day after it became apparent I wasn't just snapping out of it. He would sit with me for hours on hours, just sitting in silence. We'd watch the cars go by and smoke cigarettes. When night came he'd get up to leave, and every day he'd say, "See you tomorrow." And he'd show up again, and we'd sit in the same silence, me stewing and feeling sorry for myself.

After about ten days of this, Joe came over and walked up onto the porch, me in the same spot. He said, "Get up, we're going somewhere." I told him I didn't want to go anywhere. Joe was a big dude, a lot bigger than me, and he just walked over, picked me up 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. Actually, Joe--I'm gonna call you right now.

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7. He doesn't even know.

When I was a young man, I did really well in high school. All A's, 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. But once I got there, I was alone and miserable.

While I was the smartest guy back in high school, doing well with no effort, in college 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, kinda 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. And whenever I was feeling conflicted after that, I just thought of that guy, and my whole day brightened. I tried finding him later, with no success.

That was a couple years ago. A couple days ago, I was walking in the street, when, holy crap, 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.


6. Looking out for the birthday boy.

It must have been my junior year of high school and I was on a huge class trip (something like 60 students), to attend a conference 4 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.

Towards the end of the night, I was just sitting on my bed and my good friend from class came up to me and just said happy birthday like it was nothing. First and only person to wish me a happy birthday, I thought to myself. We chatted for a bit and he said hey let’s go get you some food at the Denny’s next door. I agreed and we left.

On the way there, he did a pocket check and realized he didn’t have his wallet and panicked. We went back to the room and found nothing. He was freaking out so we went to the lobby and asked the concierge if they had a lost and found we called our teachers and had them ask everyone if they had seen it. He was trippin at this point.

A few minutes later we get a call from the program director saying someone found it and turned it into him. Relieved, we head up to the 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 friends wallet,” everyone was making their way to my teachers room. That’s one of my favorite memories from high school.

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5. A motto for life.

Some friends and I were road tripping through Nevada when my car breaks down in Barstow on a Sunday evening. The mechanic shop we took it to eventually narrowed it down to a bad alternator, but by then it was closing time. By all accounts, Barstow was not a place you want to be stranded, especially at night. But the mechanic shop is closing and it’s actually illegal there to get work done on your car anywhere but at a mechanic shop. We were stuck.

One of the guys at the shop pulled me aside and told me to meet him at the auto parts store up the road. We got a jump and limped the half mile or so to the store, which just happened to have our alternator in stock! The friendly mechanic got to work tearing out the guts of my poor broken car.

As if that weren’t enough, the folks in the store were sympathetic and let us “test” (read: use) whatever tools we needed, in addition to bringing out some chairs and free sodas(!) for us. The manager hung out with us, telling stories of her life in Barstow until she had to lock up and leave. She asked us to just put the tools and flashlights in an unlocked car in the lot when we were done.

In the end it took the guy about 3 hours to fix the car. He refused payment, in cash or the nice bottle of whiskey we had. I finally convinced him to let me buy him a tool he picked out, to the tune of maybe $15. I don’t remember their names, but the mechanic and the lady running the store really teamed up to show us how it’s done. It was a real “today you, tomorrow me” event that I still think about a lot.

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4. A diamond in the rough world.

I'm lucky enough that a lot of people have done a lot of nice things for me in my life, but a recent thing that happened this last winter touched me very deeply.

My wife and I had celebrated 20 years together by dumping the kids on their grandparents and got a hotel room for a night for a change of scenery and a night on the town. It was very snowy outside (this is relevant) and the day after when we were leaving and I was scraping all the snow from the car in the hotel parking lot my wedding ring slipped off my finger into the snow. I didn't even notice it was missing until later. After going back and searching the parking lot by myself and not finding the ring I had an idea.

One of my friends has a metal detector as he likes to go and search for old coins and such. I called him up and asked him if he would be willing to come down and help me look for my lost wedding ring.

"Sure, no problem man" he replied. So, he came 20 minutes later with his metal detector and we scoured the parking lot for like an hour and a half before finally giving up (as it was freezing cold). I was obviously super bummed about losing my wedding ring, but thanked him profusely for taking the time to come and help me.

Ah, but that's not the whole story.

About a week later I'm heading to work in the morning when he calls me up saying "hey dude, are you driving to work?" and 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.

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3. Sweeter than pastry lady.

When I was in college I fell on some really tough times financially. Not wanting to make the commute back and forth to my parents rather dilapidated house in the dead of winter often left me to stay on campus all day and some times I could not afford to eat much.

One particular day, my eyes were worn from trying to study on my laptop (free check out from the library with student ID) and I felt a headache and my blood sugar crashing. My school meals typically consisted of a plastic bowl to heat pack of Ramen, or an orange, or a bag of popcorn - stuff I about easily stuff in my backpack so I wouldn't have to make the long walks back and forth from my car - but I didn't even have those with me that day. I had nothing, and I was due to stay on campus until at least after my night class, which didn't start until a few hours. There was a coffee stand many of the students frequented and the smells coming from it were so delicious. I scrounged for some change in my pocket (think it was a little over $1) and walked down the stairs to see if I could afford anything.

The lady who always worked the counter was always really nice and spoke to everyone in the sweetest voice. I sort of hovered around until all the students in line were gone and then approached to ask what was the cheapest pastry/snack they had. What she listed was over my budget by probably $1.50. She saw me falter back a little and say "Oh. Never mind, it's okay," and I almost went to see if I would have better luck with a vending machine (food I know would not be able to satisfy the hunger as much) until she stopped me.

She proceeded to open up the pastry door and put one on a plate and hand it to me. I tried to give her my change to at least make up for some of the difference but she wouldn't let me and passed it off like it was nothing. She asked me if I wanted anything else but I said no and thanked her profusely.

I took my wonderful pastry upstairs where my laptop lay waiting for me and I ate it while sitting there and cried. I don't think she truly knew what she did for me and how rough things were for me at the time, but how much she made things better that day. That was about 5 years ago and it still makes me tear up to this day.

I have my own place now and a good, steady job, no longer living with my parents in that horrible house and I'm no longer going so long without eating. Things are much better. I still think about her and her kindness from time to time and it never fails to remind me where I came from and how things used to be, and to not take the life and stability I have now for granted.


2. Sometimes noticing is enough.

Back when I was a Junior in high school I was struggling with my parents messy divorce and just general crap that comes with being 16. Around that time I started getting into trouble to the point where I was missing school/extracurricular activities. I’m not sure if during this time my parents were too caught up in their problems to not notice/not care, but I pretty much carried on how I was for months seeing as I had no supervision. I was working, had a car and was way too independent for someone my age... it was a disaster waiting to happen.

But before I could get too deep into the hole, my dance coach Ms. Kelly pulled me into her office one day after practice to speak to me. To make a long story short, she knew I was struggling at home and knew what was going on but she just wanted to talk to me to make sure I wasn’t feeling alone. I sat there and cried with her for the better part of an hour just pouring my heart out to her and it felt SO GOOD.

For a few weeks after that she would take a good chunk of her day just to talk to me and see how I was doing, she would even text me on the weekends to remind me that she was there for me if I needed someone to talk to. I greatly appreciated what she did for me back then, but looking back almost 10 years later I realize that she significantly impacted my life in the most positive way. As cheesy as it sounds, the smallest things really make the greatest impact.

Looking back, other authority figures at the school must have noticed I was going through something, but no one even bothered to talk to me...not even my own parents! All it took for me to stop acting up was to literally just sit down and talk to me like a person with feelings instead of a dumb teenager. It’s sad to think that out of the 3 coaches I worked with that year that only one stepped up to help me, makes me think that all the other teachers/coaches viewed me as a lost cause.

I hate to think where I would be today if Ms. Kelly didn’t reach out to me that day. Her taking the time to just talk to me and tell me she cared was just what 16 year old me needed to hear. I wish I still had her number or social media info to contact her to thank her for the bit of kindness she showed me that day that motivated me into getting sober. Because of her I am extremely mindful of how I treat people and go out of my way to be kind to others.

Thank you Ms. Kelly, you are truly an angel.


1. The best help at a tough time.

My mom was always very healthy and took care of herself, ate right and exercised her entire life. But then she got cancer and was told she likely only had a couple weeks to live.

This was over Christmas, so every place was at least slightly understaffed, and anyone working was not fully focused on work, but we suddenly had to find an experienced, reputable lawyer to update her will, get a trust set up for her recently disabled daughter, make sure a scheming relative was definitively excluded from inheriting or even interfering, have an accountant review everything, etc. We're dealing with the shock of everything and having doctors and medical staff constantly coming in and wanting to discuss things and have decisions made, and we were just incredibly overwhelmed. We had all this stuff that needed to be done, yet all we wanted was more time together.

In desperation, I called my friend Ellen. I've always admired Ellen's ability to efficiently handle bureaucracy, and we really needed help! I asked if she could come over for a couple days to help with some of the more stressful stuff we were dealing with.

She dropped her entire life and was up the next day, stayed in a nearby hotel for a couple weeks, just doing whatever we needed. We'd meet up, tell her briefly what we needed done, and she just handled it. We'd spend 15 minutes explaining what we'd like to accomplish, then she'd spend hours wrangling with the lawyers or accountants to make it happen the way we wanted it to. Then the lawyers would come in and talk with my mom alone for half an hour to verify her wishes and go over provisions.

Instead of exhausting ourselves wrestling for hours with lots of different bureaucracies and intricacies, we were able to hand that off, secure that it was being handled correctly and efficiently. It allowed us to focus more on my mom's medical treatment, and to just have time together in each other's company, doing other, smaller things that were really nice to be able to do.

I still desperately miss my mom, but that time would've been so much harsher without all the support that Ellen and our other friends gave us. My mom was able to leave peacefully, on her own terms, without stress or distress, and was able to spend time with all of her friends talking over the good times they had. And focusing on the good things -- good times, good people -- it helped keep my mom's spirits up, and it made the entire atmosphere much less maudlin than it could've been otherwise. Because we had the time and space that Ellen gave us, the separation was a lot less painful than it would have been otherwise, for everyone involved.

Thank you, Ellen.

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