The world is filled with unannounced acts of good, done by regular, everyday people.
A Crashed Car, A Man Crawling On The Road, And Nobody In Sight
“One day I was on my way to a job interview, when I saw a man crawling down the side of the road. About 100 yards away, I saw a car crashed into a tree, and assumed that this man had been in that car. So I pulled over, got out of the car, and talked to the guy to make sure he was alright. He said he was, but clearly he wasn’t. His injuries weren’t life threatening by any means, but he was scratched, bruised, disoriented, and old.
I offered to take him to the hospital, but he wouldn’t have it. He didn’t have the money, he said, and with a little more prodding eventually released that his niece is a nurse, and she could get him cleaned up. I asked him where she lived. It was about a 45-minute drive. I told him to get in my car, and I drove him there. Sure enough, his niece cleaned him up, and after some rest, he was ok.
I missed my job interview. I never told anyone why I didn’t get the job.”
“…Mostly Walking By Ignoring Her. She Just Looked Broken.”
“I was day tripping to Vancouver from Seattle and stopped in for lunch at a little cafe. From my window I saw a young teenage girl out in the cold, squatted down in a closed up businesses doorway, holding a small bundle in her arms. She was panhandling, people were mostly walking by ignoring her. She looked just broken.
I finished up my meal and went outside, went through my wallet and thought I’d give her $5 for some food. I got up to her and she was sobbing, she looked like she was 14-15. And that bundle in her arms was a baby wrapped up. I felt like I just got punched in the chest. She looked up putting on a game face and asked for any change, I asked her if she’s like some lunch. Right next door was a small quick-Trip type grocery store, I got a can of formula for the baby (very young, maybe 2-3 months old.), and took her back to the cafe though I’d just eaten. She was very thankful, got a burger and just inhaled it. Got her some pie and ice cream. She opened up and we talked. She was 15, got pregnant, parents were angry and she was fighting with them. She ran away. She’s been gone almost 1 full year.
I asked her if she’s like to go home and she got silent. I coaxed her, she said her parents wouldn’t want her back. I coaxed further, she admitted she stole 5k in cash from her Dad. Turns out 5k doesn’t last long at all and the streets are tough on a 15-year-old. Very tough. She did want to go back, but she was afraid no one wanted her back after what she did.
We talked more, I wanted her to use my phone to call home but she wouldn’t. I told her I’d call and see if her folks wanted to talk to her, she hesitated and gave bad excuses but eventually agreed. She dialed the number and I took the phone, her Mom picked up and I said hello. Awkwardly introduced myself and said her daughter would like to speak to her, silence, and I heard crying. Gave the phone to the girl and she was just quiet listening to her Mom cry, and then said hello. And she cried. They talked, she gave the phone back to me, I talked to her Mom some more.
I drove her down to the bus station and bought her a bus ticket home. Gave her $100 cash for incidentals, and some formula, diapers, wipes, snacks for the road.
Got to the bus, and she just cried saying thank you over and over. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and a hug, kissed her baby, and she got on the bus.
I get a Christmas card every year from her. She’s 21 now and in college.
I’ve never really told anyone about this. I just feel good knowing I did something good in this world. Maybe it’ll make up for the things I’ve f-ed up.”
He Entered A Burning Building For A Man He Didn’t Know
“This is a story about my father.
I’m awakened by my mom around 1:30 am. ‘Get up, there’s a fire, we have to go outside.’ she says. I’m freaking out but I don’t smell smoke. I assemble outside with my mother and younger brother and sister. Down the street a townhouse in the same row as ours is engulfed in flames. I don’t see my father around so I ask my mom.
‘He went to see if he could help.’ she says. I can hear the nervousness in her voice, my father is known to be rather bold. The story as it was told to me as an adult goes like this:
My father arrives after the fire department and learns that a man is alive inside, possibly lost. The FD won’t go in after the man because they do not feel that it is safe yet. My dad is like, ‘Screw that.’ and (clad in only his long-johns) breaks a window and enters the home. He finds the man at the top of the stairs, badly burned and unable to walk. He carries the man down the stairs and out the front door. The firemen treat my dad briefly for smoke inhalation and the cops take a statement.
The man he carried from the house died after a week in the hospital, but his family was grateful that he had a chance to say goodbye. The county awarded my dad a plaque and Comcast gave us free cable for a year. He never talks about it and it was so long ago that no one he knows is aware that it ever happened.
About a week ago my 5 year old asked me if superheroes were real. I told him the story of the day his grandfather was a superhero and I almost couldn’t finish. I hope that one day my son will feel that kind of pride in me.”
“I Hope This Can Get You To Where You’re Going”
“I was in a hurry and stopped at a gas station to fill up. While I was outside my car a man came up to me and asked if I could spare a buck or two for gas, he, his wife, and his daughter were traveling but were broke and barely made it to the station. They had a broken down old Volvo and it was clear that they were vagabonds of some sort who lived in their car. The kid was at most two years old. I was pretty low on cash myself but I thought hey what the hell, I could use some affirmation that people can be kind if I were in their situation. So I swiped my card at their pump and said, ‘Fill it up. Good luck to you and your family, I hope this can get you where you’re going’ and walked away. He started crying as I left and I would have lost it too if I wasn’t too proud to do so in public. To see a grown man cry like that – both for having received an unexpected gift and for having to be put in the position of begging to keep his family safe, was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I haven’t told anyone until now.”
$1700 And A Room For A Week. A New Man.
“When I got my settlement check for getting my finger cut off at work I kept $2000 dollars and put the rest in the bank. That night after dinner and drinks I was coming home and saw a homeless man (25-30) that I’ve seen several times before, posted up against a wall near the intersection shivering in the cold. Since there were 3 hotels at that intersection, I stopped, rented a room for a week on my debit card then took the key out of the envelope, replaced it with $1700 and walked over to the gentleman to hand him the key and cash.
No BS, I saw him a month or so later working at a gas station, clean, shaved and nice hair. I’m not sure if he recognized me but I’m glad because I recognized him and he appeared to be happy and doing well which said enough. I haven’t seen him in several years but I like to think he’s back on his feet, maybe a family, a house, whatever really but just doing well.”
He Wanted Food For His Dogs More Than Food For Himself
“I was driving back from dinner with some family and I saw a homeless man holding a sign which read ‘Need dog food’. I got home and took a trip to the grocery store and bought at least 20 or so dollars worth of dog food and drinks for the dog owner. I went back to the intersection and walked over with 30 lbs of food and drinks for the dogs and owner. I walked past the 20 cars waiting for the light to turn green and wondered if anyone would have helped him more than just give him change. As I got closer, his two dogs started to cry and whine, they had no food and didn’t seem like they would make it past winter. I gave him the dog food and drinks and he thanked me.”
“Thank You For Being My Friend”
“I work as a meat clerk at a major natural foods chain.
Every week there’s an old man that comes into my store – his name is Sid.
Sid is a picky old man that forgets things – he often calls me ‘George’ (my name is Robert). He gives the clerks a hard time, asking for special things, and being an overall curmudgeon. No one wants to help him – but I was nice to him one day and ever since that day, he comes in asking if ‘George’ is around. One day while I was helping him he told me that he had lost his wife several years back and that he forgets things and that it’s generally lousy being old. No secret there, but he’s lonely and I felt bad for him.
I often give him special service that takes a great deal of time — it can be a pain in the butt at times, and my co-workers sometimes give me guff for it.
This past week I was helping Sid when he asked me to take his hand. He firmly grabbed it, looked me dead in the eye and said:
‘Thank you for being my friend.’
I started to well up and thanked him for being my friend, telling him that he was a nice man.
It’s not too much that I’m doing something incredibly nice for Sid, or even that it’s the nicest thing I’ve ever done – it’s simple stuff. It sounds cheesy, but the impact of simple actions can make a huge difference to some people. I honestly had no idea that what I was doing was so important to him.”
He Let Young Love Flourish At A Concert
“It was 2007 I think, I was going to see Weezer, not sure who else was there. I went to the show by myself as I don’t have anyone to get out to shows with these days, and I saw a younger couple, probably in their older teens. They were a really cute couple, it struck a chord with me for some reason, and they were really excited to be there.
Fast forward to doors opening, I make my way to the General Admission line (in case anyone doesn’t know, this is the line to get on the floor in most cases, as opposed to the seats.) and I’m standing right behind these two. The boyfriend goes through first, the ticket is scanned and he goes through. Girlfriend is next, only apparently she has a seated ticket. Pretty rough for them because obviously the boyfriend has already scanned his ticket, so it’s either, they see the show separate or they go home. They looked pretty bummed. It was an easy decision for me to trade my floor ticket for the seated ticket, and getting the two in together made up for my not being on the floor. They seemed quite happy, and it made my day.”
Sometimes You Have To Tell On Someone For Them To Survive
“When I was in high school, my best friend was a kid named Mack. He was the only Jew at my Catholic school, which he got picked on for by some of the kids. During the summer between our freshman and sophomore year, I got a phone call from an unknown number– it was Mack calling to see if he could get a ride from some random place out near the cornfields (on the fringe of the city). When we picked him up, he was bloody from various cuts around his body, and had bruises on his arms. I didn’t ask him about them, and he didn’t say anything about them.
A few months later, toward the end of our second semester in Sophomore year, I began to notice he seemed distant. I also began to notice that when I was over at his house, there were frequent, loud and violent-sounding fights between his parents, which we would both pretend not to hear– the look in his eyes during these was heartbreaking. We were really good friends, so we talked on the phone sometimes during after-school hours. One such night while we were talking, it got really quiet for a few seconds before he told me, ‘I think I’m going to kill myself.’ I was dumbfounded. He had never said anything like this before, never mentioned anything about being depressed. I was wary of this, though, because I was young and not sure about his commitment to the idea. So I tried to watch him carefully, but I didn’t do anything. That was until he continued talking about doing it. One day when I was over at his house, he started talking quietly about trying to decide which of two ways he was going to do it– between being decapitated by a train or shooting himself in the face with his father’s shotgun. He had apparently been researching this online.
It was then that I decided I had to act. I didn’t know exactly who to tell, so I went to our high school principal. He disappeared in the middle of that schoolday, and I was extremely nervous; had they pulled him out of class or had he slit his wrists in the bathroom? I must have searched every bathroom at least 3 times that afternoon. Fortunately, he showed up later in the day while I was at my locker. He asked frantically, ‘did you tell anybody?'” I knew exactly what he meant, and stammered out a feeble, ‘no…’ before he walked away hurriedly.
The end result of this rather long-winded story was that he dropped out of my high school and was put on anti-depressants (Zoloft, I believe it was). He spent the second semester sitting at home like a zombie before leaving the summer after for the west coast. It’s been about 10 years since that all transpired, and things could not have worked out better for him. His grades at my school were D’s and F’s, and the new high school he went to evidently appealed to his creative nature, and he got A’s and B’s. He also made a lot of new friends, and went out with multiple girls there after having never had a girlfriend beforehand. After that, he went on a tennis scholarship to a decent public University out there and graduated recently.
About 3 years ago, he came back to town and invited me to dinner. While we waited for dessert, he came out and told me with a heavily-strained voice that I had saved his life, and that he couldn’t put into words how much he wanted to thank me for ratting him out. He then proceeded to explain the events of that summer day when we had picked him up, no questions asked: his father was driving him home from 18 holes of golf (something they frequently did) when Mack made a smartmouth comment. Instead of acting like an adult, his father had begun to beat him furiously with one hand while he drove with the other. In order to escape his father’s wrath, my friend, under the rain of blows, unlatched his seatbelt, opened the door, and jumped out of the car moving at 30 miles an hour. He then got up, and hobbled into the nearby cornfield. That’s when he headed to a subdivision close by, and proceeded to call me. Apparently, this was neither the first or the last time his father had physically or verbally abused him. Luckily, his father did not accompany him to the west coast, or it might have continued.
So it turned out rather well for my friend. Almost no one I know has heard this story. The direct result for me was that my best friend of 3 years (we knew each other in middle school) was suddenly plucked out of my life and dropped over a thousand miles away. I coped the best I could, which wasn’t very well. I didn’t make any good friends for the rest of my high school career. But the important part is that my friend survived, and I can’t help but think the whole ordeal was worth it when I compare the looks in his eyes from when his parents were fighting the floor above us, and when he nearly broke down as he thanked me for saving him.”
The True Christmas Spirit
“I’m 19 years old. This happened to me a few days ago. I went to a diner, while ordering some food I couldn’t help but notice that the waitress was starting to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she started explaining to me that about 20 minutes before I came in, a few customers flew the coup without paying the bill. She told me how it’s going to come out of her paycheck and that she may get fired if she talked to the manager about this. Also, not to mention the fact that she has children and Christmas is coming up. This deduction from her paycheck was the very last thing she needed. After I finished my meal, I paid the bill and left her a $50 tip (everything I had in my wallet) and a note saying ‘Merry Christmas.’ I walked out of the diner before she saw it.”
Care Packages For The Weary Traveller
“In my late teens and early tweens, I used to hitch-hike a lot, all over France. There were some routes that I used quite a bit, and knew all of the best places to wait to get picked up.
So I’d do maps of towns, cities and roads with the best pick-up spots, warnings of the bad ones, and a guide to nearby bars, bakeries plus places where you could get cardboard for making signs. Left these all over the country, usually with a spare marker, lighter, a few cigarettes and maybe a beer or a bottle of juice. Oh, and a pair of gloves a few times too. I’ve no idea how many people actually got these mini-packages, nor how helpful they were, but I’d like to think that it made some people a little happier.”
Destroying Stereotypes, One Lost Purse At A Time
“I noticed a purse on the ground right outside a supermarket. I picked it up and tried to find the owner but had no success. So I took the purse home and went through it and found an ID, passport, and a small phonebook. The ID belonged to an Asian woman around the same age as me (20 at the time) and most of the phonebook entries were written in another language, but I could read the numbers, so I began calling. The numbers were long distance and most of the people who picked up spoke little to no English. At the time I lived with my boyfriend and his father, they both called me crazy and said I was going through way too much trouble — I even had to agree to pay my boyfriend’s father for the phone bill, which I did. After hours, I finally got through to a contact that spoke English and after telling me that what I was doing was weird and he would never go through so much trouble for a stranger; he gave me her grandfather’s number. I called and left a message. Half an hour later, a young woman called me in tears. As it turns out, she was new to the country and the purse contained all of her ID’s and credit cards. She spoke a limited amount of English but I explained to her that she could pick her purse up at my job the next day. When she arrived, I was the first person she saw; as I was the receptionist. I knew exactly who she was by her ID pic; but before I could address her, she walked out with a confused expression, checked the suite number on the door then walked back in. She addressed me, a little nervously. ‘I’m looking for– well– someone said they have–‘ ‘Your purse?’ I said, as I put the purse on top of my desk. Her jaw pretty much dropped. ‘You? You’re the one? You called me?’ I nodded and gave her the purse. I knew why she was so astonished; I am black, and many Asians do not hold us in the highest regard. She kept saying ‘I can’t believe you did this. I can’t believe it’s you.’ She started to say ‘I didn’t expect–‘ but did not finish her sentence instead she started crying and seemed to be ashamed. I patted her on the shoulder and told her that I would want someone to do the same for me. ‘But they would not’ she continued ‘I don’t think I would have done this for you.’ That kind of hurt a little, but I told her that it was ok and I was just glad she had her purse back; which I was. She thanked me, left my job and came back with a $50 grocery store card. She insisted that I accept it. I knew that I had changed the way she initially felt about my people, and that felt good.”
She Brought This Old Couple A True Thanksgiving Dinner
“When I was in college at an arts conservatory in New England I lived in an apartment complex and worked at a bakery. Downstairs from me and my roommates lived an older lady and her husband. She was very nice but did not have much money and her husband never left the apartment. Every once in a while we would bump into her in the parking lot looking for someone to open a jar for her as her hands were not strong enough.
I didn’t realize how poor she was until one of my roommates was invited to her apartment to have dinner with her and her husband. She made lasagna- wet noodles, soaked not boiled, ketchup and a few slices of fake cheese.
The bakery I worked at also catered. Weddings, parties, holidays, and food to go. On Thanksgiving, I put an order in for a fully cooked turkey and paid for it out of my earnings at the bakery.
Thanksgiving morning after working and handing out all the food for orders, I took the turkey up to the couple. The lady looked distraught and explained that their very small stove did not work very well and they didn’t use it. I explained that the turkey was fully cooked and they could save what they didn’t eat for later.
Every year around this time I think of both of them.”
The Ability To Make Someone Feel Wanted
“I been lucky and have had the opportunity to do different things in my life that allowed me to meet people that I could support – no questions asked.
But there’s one thing that always sticks out to me above all the other things that would seem like a lot bigger deal on paper.
I ran a summer long day camp for kids in a neighborhood that’s always labeled as ‘troubled’ ‘violence ridden’ etc. etc. You know the type. The media loves it.
There was this one 8-year-old boy who drove me up the wall. Not a day would go by when he wouldn’t steal, or hit/kick/punch/bite, or be verbally abusive to myself, my team and other kids. Not a day went by where I didn’t have to send him home early.
But every morning he was the first kid to arrive, sometimes showing up an hour early. So every morning I would hug him, look him in the eyes and say ‘I’m so glad you’re here today.’
Let me tell you, most days, my emotions did not line up with what I was saying. I mean, this kid caused me so much grief. But every day I did it. Every day I sent him home early because of his behavior, and every morning I welcomed him back without question.
That was one of the hardest nicest things I’ve ever done. But I think about that kid every day. I learned more about his family life – it was hell. Absolute hell. So I hope that for a couple hours he felt like someone wanted him around.”
A Stepmother’s Secret Kindness
“My mother died in child birth. I was the child. There was a photo my dad kept of her on the mantel. He’s got his arm around her, she’s looking young, happy, and pregnant.
When I was about 6 I destroyed it. I can’t articulate why but I did.
He turned the house upside down looking for it. In the end, he thought it stolen for the silver frame and after driving to the pawn shop banned me and my sister from having visitors ever again. I don’t know if he suspected but he gave me some very dirty looks. Then my step mother claimed she accidentally broke it and threw it out. she did it late that night, we, my sister and I, heard my dads outrage from our bedroom.
I don’t know why she took the shot but she did. A lovely woman”