1. I was 18 and working 3 jobs to put myself through college. My roommate barged in one evening and dragged me to a campus talent contest with a first prize of $100.
She said, “You need the money. I put your name in. Just get up there and do your thing!” But I didn’t have a talent. So when they called my name, i just went up there and told a story. That was it. But magically – I won first prize!
Shocked and happy, I called my aunt. She said she in dire need of money. Would I help them? Despite my situation, I sent her $50 in the mail.
A few months later, my aunt passed away. Remembering my generosity, she left me a jade ring – her most prized possession.
I wore it through college and graduate schools, marriage, childbirth, and divorce. In the height of a financial struggle, a major health challenge, and single parenting teenagers, I said a prayer.
Shortly there after, I received a phone call from a concerned relative who asked about the jade ring. He encouraged me to think about selling it to cover my expenses.
With mixed feelings, I had the ring appraised. The appraisal came back with a verbal offer from an interested buyer. Much to my surprise, the ring sold for $6,000.
It helped pay for medical expenses, my mortgage, grocercies, and provided other essentials for my family.
A simple, kindly gift of fifty dollars turned into six thousand over the space of several years. The dividends of a good deed.
-Michele L. Gaddis
2. I was a volunteer DJ at a small classical music radio station at the end of the 90’s. For my love of classical music, I presented several programmes at 6:00 in the morning, including Saturday mornings, and every second Sunday afternoon.
Every presenter built up a certain fan club and unfortunately also some people who would hate us (some people seemed to take it personally when I played music they didn’t like).
Nevertheless, one of my listeners was an elderly German lady who would always phone me to thank me for the music. We developed a friendship over the telephone until I had to leave the radio to take a up a job elsewhere.
A few years later, I got a call from her lawyer. (continued…)
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He told me that, unfortunately, the elderly woman who had been my biggest fan, had passed away. He was acting as the executor of her will, and he informed me that she had left me her house!
I never expected her to give me anything. We had just bonded over a love of the same music. I can never thank her enough for such a touching gesture.
3. I was chatting with a stranger at a party; he was very curious about physics. It was time to sit down and eat, and several of my friends urged me to take a seat with them; but there was only one seat. I thought it would be rude to leave my conversation, so I declined and sat with the stranger I had been talking to.
We continued to talk through the lunch. Then, at the end, he said, “I assume you get all the financial support you need from the federal government.”
I said no; because my kind of research was typically in fields that they didn’t support. He continued, “I run a small family foundation. Could we help support your research?” That was 15 years ago, and his foundation has given us substantial help every year.
4. Back in the 1970s I was in the Air National Guard. My unit was always looking for volunteers to go on special deployments to support flight operations.
I was on one such deployment and the pilots threw a big beer party for all the maintenance people. I was at the party, but I dont drink. The ranking pilot noticed and he asked the maintenance chief, Whats wrong with Joe? Hes not drinking. When the pilot was told I dont drink he replied, Well what can we do for Joe? The maintenance chief replied, Why dont you take him up for a ride?
The next day the pilot took me up for a ride in the back seat of an F-100 Super Sabre. It was a very cool reward, believe me!
5. I was returning home from spending a year studying abroad, and was on the very last leg of my journey. I was exhausted. Three flights under my belt, traveling had taken over twenty hours already, including my various layovers, and all I wanted to do was sleep for the last leg. I had refused to fall asleep prior to this because of time differences, and this was my chance to sleep.
Just after I settled into my seat, buckled up, covered myself up with my blanket, and closed my eyes, I felt a tap on my shoulder. (continued…)
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Reluctantly, I opened my eyes. Above me was a nice looking gentlemen with an apologetic expression on his face.
Excuse me, said he, but my wife and I ended up in different rows and Id like to sit next to her for this flight. Would you change seats with me?
I did not want to change seats. I had a good seat with seemingly polite row-mates. They didnt seem the sort to fall asleep on top of me or steal my leg-room. I opened my mouth to decline – I was very comfortable and sleepy, after all, and all my carry-ons were stowed already – but then looked over at his wife and couldnt say no.
So I agreed, got up, fetched all my baggage, and asked for his seat number. It was 8C; an aisle-seat in first class. I had been in coach. Most comfortable flight Ive ever had. First and only time Ive ever flown first class.
So much free ginger ale. It was great.
6. This happened not to me, but to my oldest daughter, so I asked her to write it down:
A few weeks ago, my family and I were at a Shopping Center. We had just finished having lunch, when I excused myself to go to the toilet. It was supposed to be a quick visit to the Ladies Room, but when I came back, I was dying of laughter.
As it turns out, when I was in one of the stalls, the lady from the stall next to me was saying something. At first, I didnt realize what she was saying or who she was saying it to, but eventually, I heard her say, No tissue! No tissue! with an accent. She seemed like she was really panicking, so I asked her if she ran out of toilet paper. Thankfully, she understood me and said, Yes! Yes!
I passed her some paper, and got out of the toilet stall to wash my hands. The lady got out, too. She kept thanking me over and over, until I finished washing my hands, said Youre welcome, Maam, once again, and tried to leave.
The lady stopped me outside the toilets again, and kept saying Thank you a few more times, before saying some things that I couldnt understand. I simply smiled at her and agreed quietly. She then went into her shopping cart and grabbed a plastic bag. (continued…)
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The lady grabbed a sandwich, a veggie burger, some hot-hog bread, and some hamburger bread, then gave me them. I could barely hold them without dropping them, and I tried to ask the lady to take them back politely, but the lady seemed so happy and so determined to give me the food, that I complied.
Some people were staring at me and my newly-acquired food as I walked back to my family and our table, but I didnt care. The lady treated me like I had just saved her life, and I was feeling like a hero. (That, and the food looked good)
Once I got back to our table, my parents were staring at me weirdly, and really, their reactions could be justified. Their daughter had simply intended to go and do her business for a minute or two, yet she came back with enough food to last for an entire day, maybe two.
When they asked me to explain everything, I simply burst out laughing at the bizarreness of the situation before I could make up a single word. I kept laughing for a while, before I finally got around to explaining it. Then they started laughing, too. A few moments later, and someone came up to us.
It was the lady again.
She thanked me again, then proceeded to explain that she had just moved to our country and that her English wasnt very good. She also said that she had been in that toilet stall for a long time, and despite her calling out to people, no one gave her toilet paper. She thanked me again, gave me a plastic bag to put all the food in, and left.
We stayed at our table, talking, for a while, until I finally decided to put all the food in the bag. Only then did I realize that the lady had left even MORE food in the bag.
Best thing thats happened to me for being nice so far.
7. While at dinner in a bustling restaurant with my two daughters (5 and 12), an elderly man walked in, struggling with his cane, and was seated at a table adjacent to us. He sat down, removed his cap, and got comfortable. Our (shared) waiter welcomed him and asked if hed like to wait for anyone else before ordering, to which the gentleman responded no, son, Im alone..
Without noticing anything in particular, my daughters nodded to me and gestured to the man and asked Daddy, is he sad that hes all alone? When I looked at him again, I noticed his cap was a WWII veteran cap. (continued…)
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In watching him a few more minutes, I observed him straightening his napkin, silverware, water glass, etc – as if he was in some ritual or mentally preparing as if he was waiting for someone. Im not sure what touched me the most about his demeanor or his presence, but I felt drawn to him for some reason. Hell, maybe I saw myself in his shoes in 50 years.
The veteran ordered his meal and ate half, then asked for a to-go box for the other half. I called our waiter aside and told him that Id be paying for the veterans meal. The server asked why, and I told him that someone in the restaurant wanted to say thank you for your service, and to keep it anonymous.
The veteran went to pay his tab, and the waiter kneeled down beside him and whispered to him that his meal was taken care of. The old man was pretty confused for a bit, and the waiter had to explain a few times what was happening.
We were close enough to hear his voice crackle as he replied, Well, thats the nicest thing thats ever happened to me. I hope they live a long and happy life. I cried as I walked out
Later in the car, my daughters asked me what was happening and why daddy was crying. I didnt gloat but explained about how some veterans and even just older folks in general are so forgotten and neglected, and that how doing some simple things for them is so appreciated.
I didnt receive anything in return for what I did, but I did feel like a better person, better parent, better human for it, and that is one of the best feelings I have ever had.
8. In 2014, we were among 15,000 people stuck at the Dallas airport, due to cancellations, trying to get home to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were in line to speak with a customer service person when I noticed a young Indian woman behind me, looking quite concerned.
I struck up a conversation with her and learned that she was an astrophysicist visiting the U.S. for the first time. Well, you never know what could happen when you reach out to a stranger. (continued…)
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We took her under our wing. Gave her the only cot we could find so that she could sleep comfortably. Though American Airlines said she couldn’t fly out until the next evening, my wife complained and got her a flight the next morning. I accompanied her to be sure she got to NM safely (My wife got a flight an hour later).
After dropping her off with the people who were waiting for her, I gave her a hug and told her, “My family just grew by one.” The three of us became Facebook friends. She visited us before leaving New Mexico. The young woman began referring to us as her “American parents.”
By the end of 2014, she announced her engagement and requested that her “American parents” attend her March, 2015 wedding in Kolkata, India. Not as guests, but as part of her wedding party! We flew to India. Her family put us up in a “service apartment” and delivered homemade food daily.
After a week in Kolkata for this memorable wedding, we flew to Jaipur for a week and then nearly a week in Delhi. I finally got to visit India – something I’ve always wanted to do – all because I helped a stranded young lady at an airport.
9. One day, when I sat in a lecture hall at university, there was one seat free beside me. Quite late, a girl entered the room. Other people had book bags and coat draped over the seats next to them so that they could sit alone and not be bothered. Not me.
Since I sat in one of the last rows, she gladly took the seat.
Well, we talked a bit, and I made sure from then on that there was always a free seat available beside me (since she always came late). If she didn’t show up, I gave her my notes for copying – my handwriting was quite readable and I always paid close attention.
That led to us studying together for tests and teaming up for the experiments we had to do – and as you may have guessed by now, that team stuck together for life. We’ve been married more then 20 years.
Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t offered that girl a seat?