The kindness of strangers is a rare and valuable thing. From a young age, we are taught to fear and mistrust strangers, so when someone goes out of their own way to help us, it is magic.
Here were some of the answers.
Got into a pretty bad car wreck when I was 19 and was alone and scared. The cop dropped me off at a gas station so I didn't have to wait for my parents to come get me on the side of the interstate.
A kind lady came over and asked me if I was alright. She gave me directions and drew me a map to the local tow yard (I had the tow yard name and street from the cop). She helped me calm down and gave me water and waited close to an hour until my parents picked me up.
I'll never forget her kindness. I think of her often and I hope she remembers what she did helped so much in my time of shock.
Small Yet Kind
Years ago I was at Walmart buying a lunchbox and a bunch yogurt for my kid and my debit card didn't work. It was about $30 and the lady behind me pulled out cash and paid for my groceries. I tried to thank her, ask her name, or give her the little bit of cash from my wallet. She wouldn't hear any of it and sent me on my way.
I try to "pay her back" by doing random acts of kindness for people when they least expect it, but definitely need it.
The Man In The Chippy
I was on my way home from a party and my phone had died, it was late, dark out and there was a very heavy rainfall. I missed my turning (roadworks and couldn't for the life of me see anything) so I figured if I keep in the same direction I'll find my way again.
Wrong. I had drove about an hour in the wrong direction down all these small country lanes trying to find a slip road to the motorway. Starting to panic I pulled into the first open shop I saw which happened to be a fish and chip shop and asked the ladies if they could point me in the direction of my hometown. They hadn't even heard of it, major bad sign right there and similarly I hadn't heard of the small village in which I found myself completely lost.
There was a man in the chippy buying his tea who had overheard my conversation and took pity on my plight and tried to draw me a map but the route was complicated and said it best if he took me as it was a short cut and would very likely get lost on my own, it was only a 10 minute journey and he really didn't mind.
So I was following him in my car down all these small country lanes in the pitch black and the 10 minutes passed and then another, and another, 30 minutes in and he indicates to pull into a garage. He must have sensed that I would be scared as he approached my car cautiously and kept a distance and told me to take the next left onto the motorway and I would know my way from there. I didn't get much of a chance to thank him because I was feeling quite scared and emotional. But truth to word he had drove me right to the motorway slip way.
The next day, overwhelmed and grateful I tried to track him down so I retraced my steps on google maps until I found the chip shop and googled their number. I recounted my story to the owner and they had remembered me. I said I was trying to track him down to thank him and asked if I could leave some money with them to pay for his next meal but they said he wasn't a regular customer and they didn't know who he was but that they had gave him a free meal when he returned.
So this kind hearted stranger drove an hour out of his way just so that I could get home ... his kindness is something that will stick with me forever.
A Little Life
I was crying alone in the park at night because I just got back from dinner with my estranged dad that I now see maybe once a year. It was really hard seeing him again and as I was sitting on the curb crying, someone approached me and said: "Look I know it's weird because I'm a stranger but you look like you need a hug" Got the hug and she actually had a really good pep-talk about family and absent fathers. Never even got her name but I gained back all my trust for humanity that day.
Four months ago, I got the call at work that "something was wrong," with my stepdad, who raised me. Walked outside to follow up, as nobody would give me details while I was at work. Found out he had killed himself. I fell onto the sidewalk and sobbed and sobbed. Honestly I barely remember it, besides the feeling of being unable to breathe or move. What I do remember is a beautiful stranger picking me up off the sidewalk and half carrying/half walking me back into the building so I could get myself together and collect my things so I could go home. It turns out she works in my building (there's probably close to a thousand people, and we work in different departments, plus I'd only been there 5 weeks, so we'd never met before), so I eventually found out her name and wrote her a thank you note, but no note will ever adequately express how grateful I am that she picked me up off the sidewalk that day.
My camera bag (my wallet was in it, too) fell out of the back of my SUV when the trunk didn't latch properly as we were leaving the Cape May, NJ beach. In the camera was the SD card with the only copies of the last photos of my son and my stepdad when he visited for my son's second birthday 6 weeks before his death. A stranger returned it to the police station with free boardwalk tram passes and a little note.
My stepdad was one of the kindest, most compassionate, and generous people in the world. These experiences at least made me feel like there are still people out there will a soul like his.
My family had a tradition of spending Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family, and Christmas Day with my moms. For quite a few of the Christmas eve parties, a man I didn't know would wander around with a old camcorder, and talk to people. He was a friend of other people in the family, but I had no idea who it was. Several years later, after both my mother and grandmother had passed away, he handed us all a copy on DVD of his Christmas videos, edited together as a thank you for inviting him every year. It was about the nicest gift I've ever gotten, as it's the only video footage I have of them left, and it was from a total stranger.
A Bike, A Bike!
When I was about 7 we went to a police bike auction to try and find me a bike, since I hadn't learned how to ride one yet. I found a really cool red bike with flames and even training wheels already on it; I was totally obsessed from first sight.
But my mom then had to explain to me that it was too expensive ($50) and she couldn't get it for me. I was pretty upset, crying and not understanding why I couldn't have this great bike. That's when a random stranger who'd overheard came up and told my mother he'd buy that bike for me.
I didn't really understand what he'd done at the time, I was just ecstatic that I got my bike. But I still think about it; how that guy just bought a crying kid a bike out of the kindness of his heart, expecting nothing in return.
Now that I'm older with a steady job, I'd like to get a kid a bike like that, given the chance.
My first job was in a little coffee shop. I was 16 and doing my best to support my little brother and mother. Times were tough, very tough. Anyway there was a baker that used to work next door to my coffee shop. He'd come in and always say, "Ya need a new pair of shoes, kid." He was right, I did need new shoes. I'd just agree with him, too embarrassed to say I could not afford them. This went on for about a month. Then one day, I come into work and my coworker tells me someone dropped something off for me that morning.
There's 2 boxes sitting in the back for me. In one box is a new pair of shoes. The other box has assorted pastries. There's an eclair in there with special wrapping and a note that says: 'don't share this one.' Well, as it turns out, the filling of that eclair was cash. $500 and another note that said, "Please get rid of those ratty shoes. Keep your head up and pay it forward when you're older." I used that 500 to pay rent that month. We would have been evicted otherwise. And I kept those shoes well into my late 20s.
None Left Behind
I hitchhiked around the country (USA) this past summer. I got out of a 4 day backpacking trip in the Tetons in Wyoming and hitched a ride with a couple who were living in their van. They fed me tons of fresh fruit, and when they dropped me off, I realized I had left my phone in there van! I was devastated. I was alone in the middle of nowhere with no phone. 30 minutes later the same couple pulls up and the woman gets out and hands me my phone. I felt like crying and gave her a huge hug.
They had drove off for about 15 miles and realized I left my phone and drove back to give it to me. Hearts of Gold indeed.
Pay It Forward
Was driving on the highway with my family when the car broke down. A stranger pulled in behind us almost immediately. I was looking at the engine when he pulled up and asked if I needed help. I asked if he could give me a ride into town so I could arrange for a tow (this was pre-cell phones). He suggested we might get the car running again and asked me to get in it and try to start it. After a few minutes of troubleshooting he said he thought it was the fuel pump--a known issue with that particular engine. He said there was a parts store just a few miles up the road that probably had a fuel pump on the shelf. He offered to drive me over to check.
I said even if they had a pump I didn't have the tools to replace it. He said he had a set of tools in his trunk. I looked at the wife, and she said to go ahead (she had an equalizer made by S&W in her purse). So off we went to the parts store. Sure enough, they had one in stock. Back we went to the car, and replaced the pump right there on the side of the road. 45 minutes after the car had died we were headed down the road. I couldn't get the guy to even let us buy him lunch.
Now I pull over and offer to help anytime I see someone sitting in a car by the side of the road.