There is nothing quite like helping out a stranger in need. Or being helped by a stranger when you really need it. No man (or woman) is an island and here are the helping hands to prove it.
“One grocery week when I was in college I had my card declined. This was a bit of a problem as the kitchen was entirely out of food and I wasn’t going to be payed for another week. It was a really awkward being at the front of the line with $100 worth of groceries having a hasty conversation with my girlfriend about how we were going to deal with this. Well the guy behind us in line offered to pay for our groceries. I tried to talk him down but he insisted and I was feeling really awkward holding up the line. I thanked him profusely and he told me word for word “Just pay it forward if you ever get the chance.”
Ever since I’ve been jamming a dollar or two into every donation box I see, tipping an extra 5%, giving my change to the homeless and otherwise looking for opportunities to ‘Pay it Forward'”
“One of my good friends was in an accident in her junior year of high school. She was thrown from the car through the windshield and was hit by at least two passing cars before finally someone stopped to help. It was an older woman and she went to my friend to check on her.. my friend was not conscious but still barely breathing and this woman stayed with her and held her hand and prayed for her (both she and my friend’s family were Catholic and this happened on Ash Wednesday) until EMS arrived. My friend later died, but the old woman was at my friend’s wake and funeral sitting right next to the family. My friend’s mother thanked the woman through deep sobs for staying with her daughter in her final moments when car after car just drove past…”
Night Of The Living Crackhead
“19 years old, incredibly sketch looking (long hair, beard, piercings, the works) and I was with my best friend on a trip to New York from Vancouver, Canada. We were staying in Times Square but we went to a concert in Long Island and ended up taking really late transit home.
Enter the crackheads. A man and a woman clearly addicted to drugs get on the train and sit across from my scrawny pale friend and my equally scrawny white self and start to inexplicably pick a fight with us, accusing us of making fun of them or something, I don’t know, probably just an excuse to beat the s— out of us and maybe take whatever we have on us. The man becomes physically threatening when out of nowhere, an exceptionally large (probably 400 pounds+) black man with a thick New York accent says “Out of the way, fatty needs a seat” to me, temporarily defusing the situation. He then proceeds to pull jawbreakers out of his pocket and hands them to my friend and I while telling a story of the jawbreakers he used to steal from kids at school. When the crackhead gets belligerent again, the huge dude instantly changes the topic to his current bodyguard job and tells stories of smashing people’s faces into cement walls and putting bad people into the hospital. The crackhead shut the f— up and got his girlfriend off of the train at the next stop, and we rode the rest of the way back to the hotel with this awesome dude talking about our favorite candies and the fastest ways to get to the center of a jawbreaker. Very welcoming first night in New York!”
When I was younger I had abusive parents, like really abusive parents, one night in the middle of a snowstorm they threw me outside in the snow with no shoes or socks and in a t-shirt. It was freezing cold. I was wandering around the neighborhood behind the houses because I was too embarrassed.
Suddenly, a neighbor of mine, (17ish) was sitting on his window smoking and looking at the snow. He saw me, asked what the hell I was doing, I just gave him this look and he leaned out his window, grabbed me by the arms and hauled me up into his window. He gave me some blankets and let me sit there in the warmth for awhile and we just small talked and he put on a movie. A little while later my mother came by, saw him and asked if he had seen me. He instantly, without hesitating told her no, and watched until she left before helping me back home.
At the time, it was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for me, the only person who had ever protected me from my abusive parents. Since then I’ve always been doing my best to help my friends and acquaintances from their abusive families or relationships.
Someone To Talk To
“I didn’t have the best childhood. My adoptive father has some unconventional parenting methods, and so I used to cry a lot. On one such occasion I was sitting on a park bench, crying softly to myself. I was trying to be discreet but I couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 at the time. An old lady sat at the other end of the bench and we sat in relative silence for a few minutes (I would sniffle occasionally but I was trying to be quiet). She clearly noticed me wiping my eyes and asked me if I was ok. I told her I was, but she insisted on taking me to a nearby coffee cart and buying me a cup of hot chocolate (it was winter). It was the nicest thing she could have done for me and it was really nice to know that someone cared.”
Saved In The End
“I was 14 and two girlfriends and I had gone to the theatre in my neighborhood to see Ghost Rider (my first mistake, I know). We had gone to the 10pm show, so it let out around midnight. It’s the only large theatre in the area so it’s always filled with moviegoers, but there is very little staff and the hallways are deserted when any movies are in progress. This is all especially true for the late night shows.
When our movie finished, my friends went to the bathroom, as is necessitated by the female movie theatre ritual, and I elected to wait out in the secondary lobby.
That was probably my second mistake.
This theatre, due to its lack of staff, often has more people sneaking into the theatre than people paying for tickets. It is very, very easy to simply waltz in through a side door when another person is walking out.
I was the only one in the hallway which made me a target for an extremely large, homeless/cracked-out-looking 40+ year old black man (only relevant because I’m pale as f— and he could not pass as my dad). He was built like a truck.
Generally I’m extremely outgoing and can talk with strangers easily; however, the moment I noticed this fellow approaching, an overwhelming sense of fear washed over me and my brain kept telling me to get out of there fast. My naive 14-year-old self decided to stay where I was, thinking: “There’s no way in hell anything bad could happen to me since I’m obviously invincible to the world. Bad s— only happens in the news. Don’t judge a book by its cover! He’s probably a lovely guy.”
He approached and asked me if I had any cigarettes. I said no and that I didn’t smoke, when he suddenly reached out and grabbed my hand. He stood there shaking my hand saying how he was just dying for a cigarette, increasing his death-grip every time I tried to pull my hand away. He kept closing the distance between us while strangling my hand and eventually he had me backed into a corner, all the while he keeps fiddling around with something in his pocket (I don’t know what it was; he never took that hand out of his pocket the entire time). He kept saying how he wasn’t even there to see a movie, just wanted some cigarettes. He was insistent that we go get cigarettes and kept trying to steer me towards the side door.
I was so scared that I was probably on the brink of pissing myself. I looked to see if anyone was around, only to notice my two friends standing outside the bathroom door — not doing anything while this man was forcing his body onto mine in a public place. They were the only people around and they were just standing there. Understandably, they later said they were confused as to what was happening and didn’t know what to do.
Thankfully, a movie lets out right in front of where the man has me trapped.
Every single person passed by without so much as a second glance. S—, I thought, I’m gonna get kidnapped. This man wouldn’t take his eyes off of mine for a second, and pushed his chest against mine every time I looked around for help. I was too afraid to yell.
Suddenly, a group of three guys (probably only around 15 or 16 years old) came straggling out of the theatre. They didn’t notice me at first, but just as they were rounding the corner out of the lobby, one of them turned around and stared at me oddly. He mouthed “do you need help?”, and I nodded as discreetly as I could.
The guy came running up and threw his arm around my shoulders, saying things along the lines of “thanks for waiting, babe. You ready to go? That was a great movie, huh? I’m glad we went in the end. Who’s this guy?!” The man instantly lets go of my hand, keeping his other hand in his pocket, and backs away quickly, mumbling how he just wanted a cigarette, and then he ran out of the emergency exit at the back of the lobby.
My guy escorted me outside, and I was in such a state of shock that I think I just hugged him and ran away to my mom who had been waiting in the parking lot. I had been so sure that no one was going to help me, not even my friends, and in such a moment of panic I was really not thinking straight enough to follow the steps I should have (i.e. yell for help).
Ever since, I’ve made an effort to make sure I’m aware of my surroundings just in case someone needs help but can’t ask. Haven’t “saved” anyone yet, but only time will tell! The extent of my “paying it forward” is saving girls from bad situations at the bar, nothing heroic yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to help someone out when they really need it.”
Bob The (Saving) Builder
“Mine sounds ridiculous but this bloke genuinely saved my life.
I was very young, probably about 4 or 5 and my parents were about to take me out on my first tricycle. I was sat just outside the gate to my house waiting for my parents when I had a scumbag brain moment:
“Hey Rael,” my brain said, “yo Mr Mozo, you should totally just lift up your feet. Just lift them up!”
I did. I should probably mention that my house is on a very steep hill which leads directly down to a very busy road. It might also help to mention that the wee tricycle had no brakes of any kind. So pretty soon I was shooting down the hill like nobodies business. Straight towards the road. I was too frightened to even think straight. My parents were running after me screaming “Put your feet down!” but I was going too fast. I couldn’t hear them and they couldn’t keep up with me.
Just a few meters from the road, a builder (I think he was a builder but it was a while ago) was loading up his van. He looked up and saw me. Without a word he gracefully strode onto the pavement and as I passed he swiftly and elegantly reached out, grabbed me and lifted me from the tricycle which then rolled over. He set me down on the ground, closed his van, jumped into the front and drove off. Neither me nor my parents ever got to thank him.”
Teacher’s Are Always There
“When I was in 8th grade, my mother tried to commit suicide for the first time and I was too ashamed to tell anyone. What I did do was write what happened into the last paragraph of an English essay I turned in later that year.
My teacher, who I wasn’t particularly close to, pulled me aside after reading the essay and held me as I cried for about an hour. It was extremely cathartic. I never told her anything more that happened and she never asked.
She moved away from my school district the next year and I have always regretted not staying in touch with her because she saved me from what could have been a very dark spiral.”
A Hug That Matters
“Back when I was going to the local community college, I saw this girl outside of one of the classrooms having a serious breakdown. She was crying, holding her phone in one hand, and pacing back and forth nervously.
Out of the blue while I was walking on my way to class I said, “You look like you need a hug.”
She was stopped pacing and stared at me for a bit, then gave one one of the most desperate hugs I have ever received. Afterwards I asked her if there was anything I could do and she said that she was having a panic attack and just wanted to go home. The problem was that her purse and all of her books were still in the classroom.
I offered to go in and get them for her, and her eyes widened like I had just saved her life. So I opened the door and the whole room turned to me. The teacher looked at me with this super-skeptical look and asked, “Can I help you?”
As I hadn’t really thought it through, I told the first lie that popped into my head, “my sister isn’t feeling well so I came by to pick-up her things.” He just stared at me for a while and pointed at an empty desk. I tried my best to pretend like I wasn’t surprised by the purse and her other belongings, and then walked out of the room and handed her her things.
She thanked me profusely, and I told her to just take the night off and relax. I never told her my name, and she never told me hers, but to this day there are few things that make me more proud than that random act of kindness.”
When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong
Best night ever at the bar this past Wednesday. It was crowded cause everyone was back in town with their friends and just getting hammered and having a good time and I went to get some more drinks and for everyone and I was standing at the bar waiting for the bartender who was slaving away and started talking with the random guy beside me. Next thing you know he offers to buy my drink and when I tell him I cant let him do that cause im buying for a s— ton of folks he tells me its not a problem, don’t worry, he insists. So I of course being in good spirit let him and then offer to buy the next round. Well when I go to do so, I find out some other guy already did so cause he overheard our conversation take place and then one of the bartenders pulls us aside and tells me and the my new buddy that they now have no clue whose cards to charge anymore cause everyone is buying drinks for each other and not themselves anymore and all of the tabs were left open and the buyers aren’t the drinkers and everyone is confused as to who order what for who and there are multiple orders and people arguing on who turn it is to buy. The bartender said about 12 different people have bought drinks for other people/groups now at that time all because of the simple generosity that was first shown.”
“A good samaritan pulled my unconscious body out of my flaming car wreck, waited for the ambulance to arrive, then disappeared. I will never know who saved my life, but rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about them.”
A True Lifesaver
“I actually did for a girl at a bar once because some really drunk dude was trying to drag her out the back door into the alley. The kicker here is that I’m also a chick (straight and married) but I know what it looks like when a girl is in trouble. I was heading to the back where the bathrooms were and saw her struggling with this slobbering dude. She also seemed like she was too scared to scream or really put up a fight so I went up, grabbed her hand, pulled her towards me and palmed the guy hard in the diaphragm. Since he was so drunk, he immediately fell over. The girl gave me a full body hug and ran in the opposite direction towards a bouncer. Dude got immediately “escorted” out and into the hands some nearby cops. Apparently this wasn’t the first time this guy had done this to random girls at the bars but hopefully it was his last.”
Lady In Shining Armor
“I went to a frat party a few years ago (because I was underage and my dorm was across the street from the frat house). I then saw a super drunk girl getting hit on by some douchy frat dude. I could tell that she was obviously out of it and didn’t really understand what was happening to her. He was pushing himself on her and trying to drag her into the house and yelling at her whenever she tried to resist, and in the meantime all of the surrounding dudes were just cheering him on and saying things like “that slut is obviously aching for some dick.” I was there alone at the time (I’m also a girl) and pretty scared, but I walked up to the girl nonetheless and grabbed her hand. As I was trying to get her away from the guy, he and his friends flung their beer (full cans) at us and one hit me in the back. I found the girls friends and got them to take her home. I don’t even think she remembers it happening, but it still feels great to know that I might have saved her from a very serious situation.”
She’s Got You Covered
“I was in a foreign country so I didn’t have a car and it was a weekend of a public holiday so there was very little public transportation. A friend and I had gone to explore the city managed to walk quite a distance from our hotel. While we were out, over an hour away, it started raining harder than I remember seeing. It was gorgeous when we left, but ridiculously cold and rainy on the way back. My buddy had brought a coat, but I was in a t-shirt. A lady walking down the street towards us with her umbrella stopped me and insisted I take her umbrella. I tried to refuse, but she insisted, telling me that her place was just around the corner. I was already drenched, but it sure did help to walk the remaining several miles with an umbrella instead just my t-shirt. I try to pay it forward by being generous whenever I have something I don’t need. Rather than just repaying the one event, I want to be the kind of person that lady was.”
Lead To Safety
“I was an exchange student in Japan. My friends and I were visiting Kobe for the weekend. Of the three of us, I spoke the most Japanese, but even that was intermediate-level at the very best.
Predictably, we got lost. It was late and cold and we had nowhere to stay (hadn’t booked a room or anything). We were passing a karaoke place. It’s pretty common for someone to be standing outside of these places yelling about deals and shoving flyers at you. We were so desperate at this point that I asked the guy for help finding a place to stay. He tried to describe a place but even though I could understand most of what he said, we didn’t have a map, smartphones or know any street names, so his directions were useless.
The guy paused, looked around and then started running, waving for us to follow. He personally led three foreigners who had no intention of spending money at his karaoke place through the streets at night, apparently at great risk to himself because he seemed absoutely panicked about getting back to his job quickly – even though he took us right to the door of a place where we could stay. We collected every yen we had and shoved it at the guy, but he threw up his hands, seemed aghast and wouldn’t accept a dime (figuratively speaking).
I encountered some racist s— in Japan, but this guy made up for all of it.”
“When I was getting off the bus in High School. Some D-bag decided he didn’t want to wait behind the bus so he tried passing on the left. I should have been hit, but right before some guy getting into his car whistled at me. I stopped and turned around to see who it was. That gesture probably saved me from being destroyed.”
Al, I Got Hit By A Car
“I was 15 and I owned a moped. It was late and raining and this car did not see me as it turned left across my lane. I was t-boned going about 30mph. The car hit me right in my left thigh and my upper body hit and rebounded off of the hood, I flew maybe 20 feet before hitting the pavement. My left thigh snapped in two when the car hit me. I’m laying on the ground screaming for help when this guy comes up and kneels down with a knee on either side of my head so I can’t move it around. He does his best to keep me calm and keep the rain off of me until the EMS guys show up and put me in traction and take me to the hospital. During that time the guy is asking me my name and address, making sure I’m coherent. After they took me away he drove to my parents house and informed them that I was in an accident and mostly okay and that they should go to the hospital to see me. He wanted to make sure they got there as soon as possible and thought it would be less jarring than the police showing up at their door. I never got a chance to thank him either but I think about him and his kindness from time to time. I hope one day I can do something similar for someone in distress.”
“In middle school I went to my first dance. I was so terrified to ask a girl to dance, I just felt so awkward. Then one of my female classmates, her name was Mary, came and asked me to dance. She said she could tell I wasn’t having fun, and wanted to help me enjoy myself. It turned the whole experience around, and I was so happy. I felt so much better about myself after that.
From that point onwards I always try to make dances/parties/shindigs fun for someone who looks miserable. It doesn’t have to be a girl, I’ll try and strike up a conversation with anyone. Once someone starts feeling at ease, they usually loosen up and start enjoying themselves. It doesn’t always work, but I always give it a shot.”
“My SO at the time has a decent walk from the subway every night. On her way home she notices these 2 sketchy dudes following her. She hopes that she is just paranoid, but nonetheless continues to walk at a faster pace and she barely has time to look back a second time that one of the guys has grabbed her purse strap and the other has her grocery bags.
She starts yelling at the top of her lungs… From across the street, second floor she hears ” hey you f’ers, what the f— you doing, imma f— you guys up!!!”
Out runs this shoe-less, shirtless, long-haired metal head with an electric guitar that he is swinging like Conan the barbarian… (Two-handed-overhead-helicopter-swings, would be the best description).
And he is screaming like Braveheart or something similar… The two “thugs” must have seen the “crazed” look in this guys eyes but they bolted real fast!
Upon my GF’s return home, she explains what had happened. I had to go and thank this guy in person and shake his hand for being bad-a– and avoiding what I assume could’ve been a tragedy.”
With G-d’s Help
“My first weekend of college, my friends and i ended up at a party in an apartment. I made a dumb move and took a drink from a guy I’d just met – a few minutes later I was sitting on the stairs starting to fall asleep. A nice jewish boy (wearing a yarmelke) saw that something was wrong with me, gave his number to my roommate and walked me home. He said that he recognized what was happening to me as a sign of a possible date rape drugging, and he didn’t want me to be a victim because it had happened to his sister.”