As cliche as it sounds, we all have the ability to make the lives of people around us better, through the simplest of actions.
These Redditors received a random act of kindness from a stranger when they needed it most. Some of these interactions happened years ago, but they still remember them as if they happened yesterday.
Warning: Some of these stories contain descriptions of severe personal injury, substance abuse, and abusive behavior.
[Sources listed at the end of the article.]
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 sitting on the tricycle just outside the gate to my house, which is on a very steep hill that leads directly down to a very busy road. I’m just waiting for my parents when a brilliant thought pops into my head:
“Hey you,” my brain said, “You should totally just lift up your feet. Just lift them up!”
I did. 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 nobody’s 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 construction worker 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.
When I was around 18 or so, my brother and some friends had a flat tire in the pouring rain. None of us had ever changed a tire, so we kind of stared at the tire and fumbled around with the “tire changing tools” while standing in water half way up to our knees. All of a sudden, a businessman in a suit stops and gets out of his SUV, changes the tire in about 30 seconds. We thank him and he runs, or should I say swims, back soaking wet to his SUV.
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 matter who they are, 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.
I was 19 years old, on a trip with my best friend 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 the train home really late at night.
Enter two tough-looking people, a man and woman, who sit across from my scrawny pale friend and my equally scrawny 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 us up and maybe take whatever we have on us. The man is getting physically aggressive when out of nowhere, an exceptionally large man with a thick New York accent says “Out of the way, big guy 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 guy gets aggressive gain, the huge dude instantly changes the topic to his current bodyguard job and tells stories of putting people into headlocks and putting bad people in the hospital. The guy and his girlfriend got off 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!
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.
My current SO at the time had 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. She barely has time to look back a second time before she sees 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 thieves, I’m gonna mess you guys up!”
Out runs this shoeless, 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 look in this guy’s eyes, cause they bolted real fast!
Upon my GF’s return home, she explains what had happened. We went back to thank this guy in person and shake his hand for his bold action and avoiding what I assume could’ve been a tragedy.
We actually became friends and went to see a couple of metal concerts together (Lamb Of God and Parkway Drive), and I have since done many good deeds with this story in mind.
When I was 22, I was struggling with a drug addiction. My neighbor was an old polish lady who would bang on the wall when I played music too loud. When things got really bad for me, she must have known I was hurting and not eating because she started ringing my bell and giving me sandwiches she’d made, or bags of bagels and containers of soup and stuff. She would sit with me and we would eat together. I never understood a word she said because she barely spoke any english.
She really gave me hope in humanity, which is something I desperately needed at the moment. I’ll always remember her.
Also – just celebrated 7 years clean and sober.
When I was in college, I was out with some friends at a bar and having too much of a good time. I drank a little bit too much tequila when this guy giving off a creepy vibe starts buying the group drinks.
Later on I got up to use the bathroom, and obviously did not notice him following me. As I walked into the restroom, a girl was walking out and presumably saw the guy following me in there as she came in about twenty seconds later with the bouncer, catching the creeper before he could try anything. Creeper got thrown out, and random woman saved the day.
Now, I always make it a point to look out for girls who have had a lot to drink at the bar. I’ve pulled quite a few girls aside to ask them if they were all right, if they were at the bar alone or with friends, and if they knew the guys they were talking to, and put them in cabs if they were not feeling well/creeped out. It may cost me money, but I’d hate to be in their situation without help. My fianc calls me the bar-dian angel.
I tried to be a hero once. Standing outside a bar, smoking a cigarette, and this guy and girl walk by, obviously both drunk.
He has her basically in a headlock as they are staggering off, so I said something like “are you okay?” She unwrapped herself from his grip, turned to look at me, and said “are you kidding me, he’s the best boyfriend everrr!”
They proceeded to hardcore make out directly in front of me.
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. Before I knew it, SLAM. I was t-boned going about 30 mph. The car hit me right in my left thigh, breaking it immediately, and my upper body hit and rebounded off of the hood, I flew maybe 20 feet before hitting the pavement.
I’m laying on the ground calling for help when this guy comes up and kneels down with a knee on either side of my head to protect me from hurting myself. 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.
I worked at an ice cream parlor and once had a guy give me a $20 and told me to pay for the next person. The next person was a grumpy old man who told me to step off, and that he can pay for himself.
While working as a barista I had a little girl come up and order a mocha. I make it for her and hand it to her. She has an odd, disappointed look on her face, but she leaves with it anyway.
She comes back with mom five minutes later who explains that she wanted a mocha frappe. Totally different. Now, usually when someone just orders the wrong thing I basically say tough luck… it’s our policy not to re-make drinks unless we make a mistake. But she was a little girl, and I felt sorry for her, so I made her a new one. She came back later and gave me a 3 dollar tip. It was sweet, and obviously money her mom had given her, which she could have spent on a lot of better things. It made me smile and be a lot less bitter that day.
Years later, went through a Starbucks drive thru, went to pay and realized I had lost my wallet. The barista let me keep the drink anyway. Went and found the wallet, came back and gave her a 5 dollar tip. I don’t think she expected to ever see me again, she was just being nice.
Tip-forwarding: feels good.
The other day a friend of mine texted me, asking if I had any spare computer keyboards he could have. I said sure, he asked how much, and I told him not to worry about it, but to pay it forward. He didn’t know what I meant, so I sent him the wikipedia article on the phrase. He didn’t understand that either, so I just asked for $5.
Met a guy on the train to East Germany back in the late 1980s. We ended up partying the night away, becoming good friends, and I spent Christmas with him, his family, and his girlfriend.
I remember being blown away by how gracious and kind his parents were toward me. Plus, he bought me a “New Kids on the Block” Christmas album. It was such a catastrophically poor gift but the thought was there.
So now I always invite friends over for holidays, and try to go overboard on gifts to friends.
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 desparate 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 absolutely 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 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.
When I was getting off the bus in High School, some reckless driver 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 called out to me to stop.
That gesture probably saved my life.
I was about 13-14, I was going to a friend’s house alone in a taxi (this is normal where I’m from, btw). When we got there, I realized I only had a 50 dollar bill, and the fare was around 8. I, being a naive person, gave the $50 to the taxi driver and asked him if he could change it somewhere. He took it and drove off.
The maid then came out and asked why I hadn’t gone in yet, and I told her I was waiting for my change. She looked at me sadly and explained reluctantly that I probably wasn’t getting my money back. I felt really bad, but decided to wait anyways for a few minutes. I waited for about 10 minutes; I was about to give up when the taxi driver suddenly appeared and handed me my change back, saying he was sorry it had taken him so long. I thanked him and gave him $5 extra as a thank you. Years later I still remember that and it makes me feel happy.
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, “Hey, are you okay?”
She was stopped pacing and stared at me for a bit, then gave one one of the most desparate 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 went home. 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.
I work two jobs and I’m a full-time student. I was exhausted one day after work, but still had a ton of work to do. I made it to the library, where I proceeded to fall asleep on my laptop. I woke up about thirty minutes later with an energy drink by my hand with a note that said, “Good Luck on Your Work.”
This definitely did me tons.
Every month or so my cousin stops by his bank and exchanges $50 for $2 bills. When I asked him why, he said, “because people are always happy to see a two dollar bill.” Simple as that.