1. Party Animal by MeddlingKids1126
I was at a party once when I was about 16, the bday boy was turning 22 so there was a good range of people my age into their early 30s. However there was one guy who stood out like a sore thumb. He looked like he was at least 45 and came straight from his office job. He had a collared shirt buttoned up and tucked into khakis, big thick glasses, a pink necktie tied around his head, jumping around to the live (screamo/hardcore) band that was playing in the living room. This guy was having the most fun of anyone there clearly and we all started joking about him in our corner wondering if he was on drugs, secretly videoing him (I know, shitty teenagers) etc.
As the party went on and I got a few more drinks into me I saw him sitting off to the side and my curiosity got the better. I sat with him and tried to politely ask how exactly he fit in here. When he started talking I could see he wasn't fucked up on drugs, didn't even seem drunk. He just told me to stay young him and his wife always kept up being social and going to parties and no one his own age liked to go out anymore. I made some comment that he was keeping up, as he was clearly the life of the party. He seemed happy and smiled before he told me it was the first time he'd been out since his wife had passed away 2 months prior and he was trying to go extra hard for the both of them.
2. A cup of Coffee by Doodleybugg
The homeless man I met at my grandfather's funeral.
He came into the funeral home, signed the guest book, and took a seat in the very back row. I noticed him because he didn't come up to greet the family like so many others did. And he looked out of place. Everyone else was in traditional funeral attire, the dark somber colors and all that, but he was wearing a red t-shirt, jeans and a jacket that had seen better days.
And he looked so sad. He seemed like he was really hurting.
After the funeral, he stood quietly in the back and watched other people leave. I went to him right before we got in the limos to leave and asked him how he knew my grandfather.
"He let me get in his truck one day when it was really cold so I could warm up. And then he started bringing me coffee. And after a while we were really good friends. I miss him so much."
This guy was the real deal. He knew my name, knew the names of all my family, told me some stories that only my grandfather could have known, and it soon became very clear that they had been friends for a long while.
Then he said, "I want to go to the cemetery but I don't have a car."
Of course he rode in the limo with my grandmother. I'm sure they had quite the conversation.
But after we all went back for the light lunch, he slipped away. I never got his last name. I had no idea where he was staying. I went into town so many times looking for him, but never found him. It's been 20 years now, but I still look for him when I go back home. I wish I could buy him a cup of coffee.
3. Cheeseburger by icanstopwheneveriwan
Pulled up at some lights once and glanced into the car next to me. There was a guy tucking into a massive cheeseburger with a look of pure desire on his face. I was late home and very hungry and he caught me watching him, he just grinned and offered it towards me. It wasn’t a real offer, we were 2 car windows apart but it makes me think about how we’re all just humans and in this together.
4. Roadtrip by Kalvinaissance
I was moving from FL to CO with limited money in a shitty conversion van with no A/C so I was primarily driving at night to keep cool. The van's brake pads disintegrated and the rotors were destroyed by the time I got to Bum-fuck-nowhere, Kentucky. It was early morning and I needed some sleep; technically too early to check into a hotel but I talked the one motel into letting me into a room. They gave me the address of the closest car part store 10 miles away; I was going to buy the parts, take a nap, and then fix the van myself.
Anyways, I go to the shop but they don't open for a couple more hours. I take a nap in the van until a man is tapping on my window: the owner of the shop. He asks me if I needed help and I tell him what's going on with the van and tell him how I'm driving across the country to my new home with all things to my name in the van.
He, luckily, has all the parts I need. He comments on how tired I look and says that he has a buddy up the road that can install the parts while I get some rest. I tell him I have limited funds so I'll just install them myself. He tells me that since I bought the parts at retail price and he makes a good profit, he'll work out something with his buddy and adds: "we try to take care of each other 'round here."
So I follow this owner (who closes his shop for a bit) to his buddy's barn and travel even further into Bum-fuck-nowhere about 30 minutes from my motel. I meet the man who services vehicles in his barn and he tells me that the owner of the store took care of the installation costs. The owner of the store then explains that he'll give me a ride back to my motel so I can rest while my van is repaired, and then he would give me a call when it was ready, come pick me up, and drive me back to get the van.
I don't know if it was from exhaustion, or resignation that my new home may be Kentucky if this is some kind of ruse...but I agreed and decided to put my faith in the potential kindness of a stranger. Even still, I was brainstorming what to do if the men took all my shit or tried to ask for/demand sexual favors or something awful like that.
The store owner gave me a ride back to the motel and only offered some great conversation. I slept for 7 hours until he called me and asked "ready to go get your van?" Sure as shit, he drove me back out about 30 mins from my motel - offering more fantastic conversation and jokes - to the barn in the middle of nowhere and I picked up my van. I tried to tip the man who repaired the van and the owner multiple times and they both refused. I tried to at least give the store owner some gas money, but he refused. Again he said: "we try to take care of each other 'round here" and added "...just take that with you wherever you go. That'll be payback enough." With that, I left Kentucky with only $200 less in my wallet including the motel.
I'm sad to say I don't remember the name of the town, the shop, or the man. I took one of his business cards but couldn't find it anywhere when I made it to Colorado. Needless to say, my whole outlook on humanity shifted that day. It changed the way I give and the frequency with which I offer. I unapologetically believe in the good possible in people if shown kindness and if they have an opportunity to tell their story.
I hope I can affect one person as profoundly as that store owner did me.
5. Pay it Forward by hermeown
Two small moments of generosity from strangers:
- Once, when we were little, my sister and I were at one of those arcade/restaurant places. We managed to scrape up a few tickets for prizes when some lady handed us a huge stack of them. "Merry Christmas!" And she just walked away.
- Similarly, almost two decades later, my sister and I were grocery shopping for Thanksgiving (or Christmas, I can't remember), and while we were checking out, our card was declined. We were devastated, we almost had to put everything back. The woman behind us stepped up and paid for all our groceries. My sister and I were almost in tears, the kindness was overwhelming.
Now I try to pay it forward. I have handed off arcade tickets to children, and I've paid for strangers' meals, though I haven't done the grocery thing yet.