Good deeds do not go unnoticed. However, sometimes the person that did a good deed would rather remain anonymous.
Here, people reveal a good deed they’e done in secret.
1. That 20 Was Worth A Lot to Her.
I worked with this girl over the summer and $20 was missing from her apron bag that held change. She was freaking out about it and was afraid she’d lose her job. She had just gotten a car and had barely any money left. I pretended to ‘find’ $20 on the floor (which actually came from my wallet) and told her, ‘Oh. Must’ve dropped it!’
She still has no idea. I figured $20 was a small price to pay to rid her of the anxiety.
2. He Could Barely Afford It.
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.
3. Holding Her Hand.
When I was working as a summer job in our local hospital I got paged to a room by a patient. Usually what they wanted for me to do is shift their position or get them some water or something similar. This time the old lady asked me to come to her and take her hand (story continued on the next page…).
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She told me ‘I don’t want to die alone.’ I assured her that she would not die alone. After a few silent moments of her just staring at me smiling she said, ‘Thank you, good bye.’ and then she died.
4. Beautiful Surprise.
Well, it’s not me personally. But my great uncle was a quiet guy. He wasn’t around much. He lived in a small town.
But when he died a LOT of people came to the funeral. Way more than expected.
Turns out he’d spent a lot of his time volunteering, visiting with old folks, talking with people in hospice, the food pantry, etc. etc. He never told anyone. When he died all the people from these different volunteer organizations showed up along with the people he’d helped. Line was around the block to the funeral.
5. This is a real hero.
When I lived in the city an older lady about 90 got her apt robbed in my building. They went in and stole all her cash and took some valuables that she had. She did not have a bank account so the thieves took about 30K the ladies life savings. She was afraid of being evicted for the apt because she wouldn’t have the rent money and did not want to end up in a state run nursing home.
I called the landlord and paid her rent in full for the rest if the year, five months worth and told the landlord not to tell her it was me. I also had groceries delivered to her once a week for the next two months until she had some money saved from her social security checks. I never told anyone what I had done for her and I don’t think she even knew my name because the apt building had about 50 apartments in it. The landlord was the only one who knew and he wanted to tell her what I was doing but I told him that I would deny it. I did not want her to feel indebted to me.
She posted a letter in the lobby of the building to thank who ever had helped her. I took the letter down and kept it. The landlord still writes to me every few months to tell me how she is doing. She is still living in the apt seven years later.
I never told any one.
6. He Saved Two Lives.
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.
I finished up my meal and went outside, went through my wallet and thought I’d give her $5 for some food (story continued on the next page…).
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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.
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.
7. He Didn’t Do It To Be A Hero.
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, ‘Forget 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.
8. Saving a Life.
Two years ago, I was walking into my local gym for my workout through the parking lot. As I approached, I noticed a car that had pulled halfway out of it’s parking space. Behind the wheel was man in his mid-60’s, evidently on his way to or from his workout. He was slumped over the wheel, clutching his chest. I knocked on the window and got no response. I opened the door and asked him if he needed help (story continued on the next page…).
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He looked up at me, pale as a ghost, and mumbled, ‘I can’t feel my arm. I think I’m having a heart attack.’
I ran into the gym and went to the front desk, told them the situation and asked them to call 911 and get an ambulance immediately. The three people behind the desk fumbled through some corporate policy manual, attempted to call the gym manager, conferred with one another, and basically did everything and anything but pick up the damn phone and dial for help. I pretty quickly realized that these people weren’t going to do anything helpful in time.
I ran back out to the man in the car who was, if anything, even paler than before and was unable to verbalize. So, as gently but quickly as I could, I pushed him into the passenger seat, put his car in gear, and drove as fast as I could to the nearest hospital, which fortunately I knew the location of, running most every red light in the process, and also getting pursued by a police car, in front of whom I’d run several lights.
I pulled into the ER at the hospital and ran in, telling the first nurse I saw that I had a man in the car undergoing a cardiac arrest. The staff rushed out with a gurney and transferred the man to it, while supplying oxygen and checking his vitals, and wheeled him inside with great haste.
About this time, the police officer rolled up and I explained the situation. Fortunately, he let me off. Unfortunately, I was too dumb to ask for a ride back to the gym, where I’d left my own car. So, I walked the five miles back, worked out, and drove home.
About 8 weeks later, I was riding the recumbent bike in the cardio room when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I didn’t recognize the person. Turns out it was the man from earlier, but a lot healthier looking.
He told me his name was Lester, and he said, ‘You’re the guy who took me to the hospital. The doctor told me if I’d arrived a few minutes later, I’d probably have been dead. You saved my life. I just wanted to say thank you.’
So, that made feel pretty nice. Other than the police pursuing me at the time, I never told anyone about this.
9. He Didn’t Get The Job.
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.
10. That Postcard.
While walking through South Station in Boston (waiting 3 hours for a connecting train to Worcester) I met a beggar by the name of ‘Fast Eddy’.
I have this habit of connecting with people ignored by society, since I myself have been not only homeless, but a criminal in the past. So he started by coming up to me and saying ‘I bet you that I can tell you three things if you’ll give me a dollar (it was a 3 part riddle, something about the state you were born in (A state of infancy), where you got your shoes (You got your shoes on your feet and one other thing.). I told him after he told me his riddle that unfortunately I didn’t have a dollar, but I had a debit card and 3 hours to burn before I had to catch my train to Worcester, so I invited Fast Eddy out to lunch with me. I walked over three blocks with him to a restaurant called ‘Shabu Zen’. It’s a delicious Chinese food restaurant that serves ‘hot pot’ style cuisine.
He ended up eating a LOT, 3 platters of beef and 3 bowls of Udon later, he started to loosen up a little bit.
Turns out that Fast Eddy has a masters degree in economics (story continued below…).
He lost his wife in a car accident 3 years earlier and turned to drugs to kill the pain. What started out as weed and hard liquor turned into coke, meth, and speed. He was living in a homeless shelter and had nothing but the clothes on his back… he spent all his money panhandling on hookers booze, drugs and hotels to do the above.
We sat for a while, after we finished eating before we walked back to South Station, I asked him what he would do now, if he had the chance to turn things around. Eddy looked right at me and said that he couldn’t turn things around, he couldn’t get over his losses. I asked about his family… His mom lives in South Carolina from what he confessed, and his Dad passed away 6 months before his Wife. I asked him when the last time he talked to his mom was, he told me 3 and a half years ago.
I thought to myself about the amount of money that I had in my bank account…. $650 was approximately what I had in my checking, savings was pretty low too. I asked him if he had any interest in going home, to see his mom and get out of the harsh New England winter. He told me time and time again that he couldn’t go back to living with his mom, he was 34 years old and his pride couldn’t take the hit…
I pointed out to him that he was strung out on meth, and I want to put him on a bus back home so he can get better. He teared up as soon as I said it and kept saying, ‘Thank you,’ as he hugged me. It was a long, somewhat awkward hug for me… not because I didn’t feel like I was doing what was right… but because I was doing what any decent human being would. Before I put him on the Bus I cashed out all but $40 of my checking account and went to a few stores to get him some respectable clothing. He ended up looking a lot more human once he shaved, washed up, and got into some clean clothing.
I pulled out my cell phone and told him to call his mom, and to tell her that he’s coming home. The phone call lasted a little over 20 minutes, which made me end up missing my train, I didn’t really care at this point. I knew that even if this man went back to drugs… that for this brief moment, he was happy.
I put him on that bus Feb 23rd 2005, I got a letter with a picture 6 months ago. It was (Fast) Eddy, his mom, his fiance’ and their newborn child in the picture. In with the letter was a note it read: “Once, you told me that if I ever needed help you were just a call or a letter away. Now I’m writing you to tell you that it was your help that has saved me from myself. God bless you…”
It went on into more personal details about his old meth habits, his new girlfriend, his relationship with his mom, his new job, and his new life.
I’ve never told anyone this because I don’t see it as doing anything spectacular… I bought someone lunch, a bus ticket to go home, new clothing and let him call his mom. I don’t see why we as people can’t be more civil to those in need… sometimes there is infinite potential right behind a broken smile
Always pay it forward.
11. She Must Really Love Him.
Not me, but my step mother.
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 (story continued on the next page…).
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.
12. Hand Knit Gratitude.
I was at a 4-way stop on a fairly busy country road and there was a car stuck off to the side of the road that was dug into the ice. After I saw all of the cars ahead of me just pass by, I pulled up ahead and got out to help. It was an older woman that was probably in her 70’s and she had blown out a tire from gunning it and trying to get unstuck.
The car was in disrepair and was older than me. On the way to town I learned that she didn’t have any family in the same state and was living on social security and a 10 hour a week job that payed minimum wage. She couldn’t afford to be towed and didn’t have the money for a new tire, so I bought her one. She cried and wouldn’t stop thanking me on the way back to her car. I had her wait in my truck where it was warm while I put on the new tire. She wouldn’t let me go until I gave her my address for her to repay me somehow, so I gave it to her.
A few weeks later I got a hand knitted beanie in the mail and an apology that she couldn’t come up with the money. I never told my girlfriend why I came home late because she would get mad at me for buying a stranger a tire. I had to lie and say the beanie was from my grandma.
13. Overdraft Account.
One of my best friends lost $800 in overdraft fees and didn’t get paid for 2 weeks. They called me crying, I told them to call the bank and see if they can sort it out. Meanwhile, I went to the bank and deposited the amount he said he was missing. To this day he still thinks the bank reversed the overdraft fees. This was like a year ago, and (at least from what he tells me) he’s never over drafted since.
14. Meaning of the Season.
This one is cheating a little, because it wasn’t actually me, but it has inspired me to do a lot more selfless things in my life:
When I was 14 or so I went with my dad to Target. He was doing some general Christmas shopping but also had a list from another family (story continued on the next page…).
It was hand written notes from each of four children in the family. They were instructed by the charity running the program to keep their requests reasonable. But my dad read every one and went way overboard, One kid asked for a video game for a previous generation system. My dad bought him a PS2 (which was new at the time) and a bunch of games. One of the daughters asked for a modest desk to do her schoolwork on. He bought her a really cool one and threw in every kind of school supply she could possibly need. And so on for the other two kids. He ended up spending a lot of money on this family.
When he saw how jealous I was of the PS2 (I’d really been wanting one badly) he looked at me and said, ‘I want you to stop and really think about who this is going to and what their life is probably like and what it will feel like for them to open this on Christmas. If you do that and still want it I’ll give it to you instead.’ And so that’s the story of how I got my rad new PS2. Just kidding, it’s how I learned about the joy of giving and that my dad’s a pretty cool guy.
15. Compassion is a Universal Language.
A couple of years ago, I was working late at Dublin Airport. Nothing much to do, I had to wait ’til the last plane came down, usually two or three in the morning. I had a radio with me, so I was just walking around, killing time. Many people sleep in the airport overnight rather than travel there in the morning for early-bird flights. Among these, I saw two Spanish girls, teenagers, one of them in obvious distress with tears trickling down her cheeks. I asked what was wrong.
Between their broken English and my even worse Spanish, we established that the crying girl had a painful kidney infection. When I explained that she would not be allowed to fly because she was obviously in need of medical treatment the trickle of tears became a flow. I advised her to get a taxi to the hospital and then taxi back and she’d be in time for her 6:25 flight. Her problem – no cash. I wasn’t exactly flush myself. However, I arranged a lift for them both to the hospital, made sure that their luggage was secured and gave them enough for the taxi back from the hospital. I hope it worked out for them.
16. More Than A Ride.
I used to pick up pretty much any hitch hiker I saw. I would even pick up people at the bus stop. It just seemed to me that since I had a car and some free time that it was no big deal to help someone out. I never asked for money or anything like that. It was nice to see the people smile. One day I pickup up a guy about my age ( I was 19 at the time) and he was very thankful that I I did. He was telling me about all the stuff he had to do that day and he knew that he would only get 2 or 3 things done because the buses. I had to be at work soon so I asked him if he knew how to drive standard. He looked at me funny and said yes.
I pulled into my work and told him to be back here in 12 hours. I gave him $20 for gas and said bye. The guys at work asked me who he was but I didn’t even remember his name from the short time we rode together. They urged me to call the cops but I told them the kid would be back. After my shift ended my car was there. The kid had the biggest smile on his face and as I drove him home he told me how he was able to get everything done and that I had saved him at least a full day of running around. I saw him from time to time after that. It was nice to hear that because I helped him out he would go out of his way to help others out.
17. Just Something to Eat.
About 6-7 years ago my girlfriend at the time and I were vacationing in Chicago. It was our last night, so we hit a local bar and were just hanging out drinking $12 martinis. This homeless guy walks in and comes over to us with a handful of postcards and offers them to us. I didn’t need them so I give him $5 for two. He refuses. I try to give him $10 and he still refuses so I ask him what he wants. He tells me that he is just hungry and wants something to eat.
The bartender had to go all the way around to come up to the guy. The homeless guy orders a cheeseburger. The bartender was clearly distraught, and asked the guy if he had any money. I jumped in and said it was on me. I ordered a second cheeseburger and two orders of fries to go with it.
We sat and talked to him while his food was being made. Just a normal guy that lost his job and then his hope. I felt so terrible spending a couple hundred dollars in a bar while this guy could do so much with it. When his food came out, he profusely thanked me. I shoved all the cash I had into his hand and awkwardly told him good luck.
The bartender turned out to be the owner. He came back around told me that he had never seen anyone do something like that before. I offered up some feeble reply on how it just seemed right at the time and that we were leaving because I spent the last of my drinking money. He wouldn’t let us go. He gave us round after round on the house.
Closing time came soon after and we started heading to the door and he stopped us again. He was dating one of the waitresses and wanted to take us out to the late night bar. We hung out in the locked up bar with her while he did some paperwork. We played darts and drank before staggering back to our hotel. I can’t remember the homeless guys face, what he was wearing, but I still have that postcard of the sears tower.