All it takes is for a small gesture from a stranger to drastically transform someone's life for the better. Sometimes, a random person can provide the exact solution to someone's dilemma. Maybe it's random, or maybe it's fate. But the people in these stories will never forget such a dramatic twist. This content has been edited for clarity.
"My first wife abandoned us when my son was an infant. It was rough, but I survived. One evening I was at dinner with some friends. I had to change the baby, but there was no table in the men’s room. I asked a lady leaving the ladies room if it was empty. She checked for me and gave me the okay. While I was trying to get my diaper bag sorted, she came up and offered to change him. I told her I had it, but she insisted and put her arm around me. Apparently, I’d been holding in a breakdown the whole time and she saw right through it.
I cried for a minute while a total stranger changed my infant son, thanked her profusely, and went back to dinner with my friends carrying a little less weight on my shoulders. No clue who she was, but she was an angel to me that night."
"My flight out of Syracuse was cancelled, and when I finally made it to the front desk, they told me it would be two days before I could get home. I decided I’d rent a car and drive to NYC to catch a flight out of one of their airports.
As I was getting to the counter, a woman, whose flight had also been cancelled, announced that she was driving to NYC and welcomed anyone to join her. On an impulse I said yes, and we started the journey to NYC.
She turned out to be one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. While calling the airline to figure out my next situation, the customer service person was incredibly rude and refused to do anything, eventually hanging up on me. Seeing I was so upset, this wonderful woman proceeded to call customer service agents over the next two hours. I would explain my situation and she would pretend to be my mother and ask for a solution. She ended up getting me fully refunded and booked on another flight the next morning.
I was planning on just sleeping in JFK until my flight, but she offered her couch in her apartment and a hot shower. I refused at first, but the prospect of a hot shower after such a stressful day was too much for me to pass up. On the way to her apartment, she even asked the cab driver to go a little out the way to swing by some famous sites in NYC because I’d never been. I still think about her often and wonder if she realizes how big of an impact her kindness had on me."
"I spent a summer in the country with relatives as a teenager. It was extremely rural, with many miles in between the houses.
I love long walks, so one sunny day I decided to take a very nice one. There was this big road that led around the area in a circle. It looked like a good couple of hours of strolling. This was before smartphones, so I couldn't gauge the distance perfectly. I was still convinced I could handle it. I grabbed a soda and a freshly charged mp3 player and set out in the afternoon, convinced I would be back by dinner.
I had made a terrible misjudgment of scale. After several hours of walking, I was nowhere near home. My phone had no signal, there were no streetlights, and no cars. It was getting dark and I could barely see the road beneath my feet. Chances of a surprise attack had gone up about 1000%.
The houses were extremely far apart too. I passed one and knocked on the door, but no one was home. I seriously debated going to sleep on their porch in hopes of someone eventually turning up, but in the end I kept walking.
Finally, I found a house with a light on. I banged on the door, and a middle-aged woman answered. The first words out of her mouth were to straight-up ask if I was there to rob her. She was refreshingly direct, really. I assured her I was harmless and explained my situation.
Her demeanor flipped 100% from suspicious to charitable. I had just hoped to use her phone, but she insisted on driving me home herself, and also on feeding me. The route she took continued around the loop and I realized that I had barely made it halfway. Her house was the last house for a very long while, and things got a lot more woodsy after that. If she hadn't helped me, I would have been walking all night through the woods.
"My son was probably 2 or 3 years old, and we went to the mall for some reason. My son liked looking at the store displays. Well there was a model train set in a case that you could put a $1 in and watch it go around for a while. I was pretty broke If I recall, and I never had cash on me. My son was content just looking at the display. A group of loud mall teens come through and go past. One of them comes back and puts a dollar in the machine and says, 'I always liked watching trains too,' then hurries off back to his friends.
My son lit up. I never would have expected that action from a stranger, let alone a teen with his friends in a mall. I hope I remember it forever."
My birthday one year was really terrible. I decided to go buy myself a cake at the grocery store and get it decorated, because it was my birthday and I wanted something nice. When the guy at the counter asked who it was for (in retrospect, he meant what name to put on it), and I said it was for me. He was incredulous that I had to buy my own birthday cake. I just kind of shrugged and went out to finish shopping for groceries. He said my cake would be need to be paid for at the register up front.
When I came back to pay for and pick up my cake, a different person was at the register, and she said my cake had been paid for. It was also decorated a bit more than I thought it should have been. I have not seen that guy working there since, and in my head I've called him the cake fairy.
It was a good cake. I still cried eating it because the entire day was rough, but it was a good cake."
"I once got on a train late at night. I was going from start to end of the line to change which was nearly an hour journey. When I got on the train there were two other people. One young man and a much older, grumpy looking man. After the second stop, the young man became aggressive toward me for rejecting him and was trying to pull me off the train to do god knows what to me. Thankfully, the old man helped me get him off the train and away from me. After I'd thanked him and he calmed me down (as I was very upset), he sat down in the row behind me and looked out of the window.
When I got off, he did too, he waited on the same platform as me just further down, so I assumed he was waiting for the same connection. He wasn't. The train comes and I get on. I see him stand up, wave, and walk to the stairs to get back to the platforms going the other way. That man had missed his stop, waited on the wrong platform, and then went right on back, all while saying nothing, just to make sure I was okay.
I think about that man often. I wish I could thank him for that."
"I helped a guy go through TSA at La Guardia in NYC. He'd never flown before and had no idea what he could take on the plane, or even how much. Security told him he couldn't use his plastic bags he had his stuff in. Anyway, what rattled me was the fact that he was shoving pairs of very new Nike shoes into a trash bin. I couldn't fathom why, so I went to ask. He explained his situation, so I told him that if he held tight, I'd go through security and buy him a carry-on bag, so he could get his stuff through. He handed me a hundred and I gave him my crochet project bag to hold as insurance. I got him a suitcase and gave him while showing him how to go through security. He thanked me and we hugged, going our own separate ways.
My flight was delayed by 3 hours at the last minute, and I was already exhausted. I used my purse as a pillow, covered up with my coat, and fell asleep against a wall. When I woke up, there was a fuzzy travel blanket, convertible neck pillow, eye mask, a bag of cookies, and a little plush dog with a note tucked in his collar. That guy stuck this gift between me and the wall, and I never woke me up. I ended up traveling for 11 more hours, and that thoughtful little package saved my sanity.
Random airport dude, I'm glad you got to keep your kicks, and I still have the puppy. I named him LG."
"It was Thanksgiving Day many years ago. I was driving down to my parents on Long Island from Buffalo, which was a 7-8 hour drive. As I'm about halfway, I get a blowout. The tire is just shredded. I managed to get the donut on and slowly got into the next town. I stopped at every store that would conceivably have a tire, but nothing was open. I stopped at a police station, they told me to get a hotel until tomorrow. So I hop back into my car and try to make it to the next town, try there. That's when my donut went flat. So I get out and start walking.
I don't have a cell phone, so I knock on the first house I can find, hoping they'd let me use their phone so I can call my parents. The lady who answered the door invited me in, let me use her phone, and offered me food. She then, to my complete shock, called her friend who owned a used car dealership, had them tow my car to the dealership, and put on a new tire free of charge. I went from completely missing Thanksgiving and having to spend the night in some gross hotel outside Binghamton to being back on my way within 2 hours. I'll never forget that lady."
"When I was really ill in October, my father became worse than I was while located in another country. There was nobody else around him who would support him, so I had to fly over there to see him. I was the one to bring him home with me after he had recovered from the surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical shape or emotional state to be getting on a plane. Unfortunately, there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around 2 hours, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky. That got so much worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full-blown panic attack, including me hyperventilating and crying in the seat. I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle and his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. His daughter 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 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 (which was over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but I already had accommodations sorted out. I don't know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook, and she occasionally checks in with me."
"My fiance and I were at McDonald’s, with our book bags on and bundled up because we were homeless. We just wanted to get a drink and to sit inside and wait a few minutes before heading out to panhandle. We ordered the drink, but we were paying with mostly nickels and dimes, and then it got down to the pennies.
I had dropped some of the change, and both of us were flustered trying to scoop it up. A woman tapped me on the shoulder and said you dropped this and handed me something, and took it and realized it was cash. And looked closer and realized it was $100 bill. Which obviously I had not dropped.
I looked back for her, but she had gone back to her table already. I nudged my fiancé and handed him the money to get some food. I then rushed to the bathroom to cry. He didn’t even realize what was going on. He thought I had handed him a ten. He only realized what was up when the McDonald’s dude gave him $90 in change.
I went to her table to thank her on the way out, and she hugged me. Very nice McDonald’s lady. There were ALWAYS kind people when I was homeless though. A guy who gave us $20 at the train station. All the people who gave money while I was flying my sign. People who took me to eat, or brought warm food. I was an addict, at the end of my rope, wanting to give up, and all this constant generosity moved me. I started out panhandling mostly to get money for my addiction, and I would eat and sleep in the shelter. After a few months of this generosity, I started taking the money to the methadone clinic instead. Now I’ve been at the methadone clinic for 2.5 years, live with my family, and I have a car and a job. And I try to pay it forward and give to homeless people whenever I see them and can afford it."