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Soldiers Confess How They Actually Got Their Drill Sergeant To Crack A Smile

It's a well known fact of life (and cinema) that a drill sergeant, second only to British Palace Guards, are the hardest people on earth to get to react to literally anything. Let alone smile.

People may try, and often, they will fail. But every once in awhile, they are able to coax a little wry grin from the drill sergeant. It may be because they did something dumb, or unexpected, but hey, at least it happened.

Reddit user AjskaCloud asked:

Soldiers of Reddit. What was something that was so funny even the drill sergeant couldn't help but giggle?

Here were some of those answers.

We were all thinking it.


Battery had a charged guy with the last name "White", and a brand new girl with the last name of "Rice". Sergeant-major was on a rant and informed us that if we messed up, he'd be all over us like white on rice. Someone helpfully snapped to attention and notified the Sgt. Major that both White and Rice were on parade.

seemed confused by the interruption, then incorporated the info, checked it over a couple times, and went red with embarrassment. I don't think he intended to imply that whitey hooking up.

Bless whoever the fast thinker was who called that out. He said what we were all thinkin'.


That's embarrassing

There were quite a few Puerto Ricans in my basic training platoon, and some of them struggled with English. We didn't mind helping them along, and of course, we took every opportunity to teach them the bad words first.

One day, at lunch chow, we taught one young fellow the word "queef", and what it meant. We weren't supposed to be talking at chow time, of course, so the drill sergeant honed in and made the young fellow stand up and tell him what they were talking about. He stood at parade rest and said, loud and proud, what he was taught. You could see that the drill sergeant wanted to yell at him for talking, but couldn't keep his composure, and the two got away with it this time.




In basic they made us keep our shower kit in a small Tupperware container so the rest of our stuff didn't get wet. Most people would dump the water out every day, but not this one kid. Kid already had the nick name of Tree because he was tall and talked/walked slow.

They do a wall locker inspection with a bunch of MTIs, and one finally get to Tree's wall locker. He pulls out the tub and yells "holy freaking smokes batman, what are you doing Tree, smuggling water?". Even the senior MTIs started laughing. Sadly it was Tree's last strike and he got recycled.


So dumb

My step brother who is in the marines and was crawling under barbed wire, instead of doing that he turned to his side and rolled. The drill sergeant laughed and said "You're SO dumb."


Army of one

In the recruiting slogan change from "Be all you can be!" to to the widely unpopular "Army of One" every time we noticed a DS looking at a private doing something silly we would yell "Army of one Drill Sergeant!"

That would usually elicit a chuckle before before they jumped the poor guy.




I'm an Air Force Academy graduate. We had TIs, or Technical Instructors, present during Basic Cadet Training. They were there to make sure all training was done properly, and would yell at the upperclassmen cadre just as readily as they would yell at a Basic Cadet. There were 9 training squadrons, 4 flights per squadron, and each TI was assigned to watch over an entire squadron.

Our TI was Staff Sergeant Hartman. My squadron was the Hellcats, or H squadron. During formations, when our Cadet Commander reported in, we were supposed to yell "HELLCATS, HOOAH!" The Interceptor (I squadron) TI was good friends with Sgt Hartman, and was jealous of our chant, so he tried to get his Basics to do something similar. One day, during the noon meal formation, he instructed his Basics to yell, "INTERCEPTORS LEAD THE WAY!"

However, when the appointed time came, it was less than stellar. We of course rocked our chant, but the Interceptors faltered immediately. No more than a dozen people even started, and by the end, there was literally one voice left finishing the phrase.

When this happened, Sgt Hartman just happened to have been walking right beside me. I watched him turn around and literally double over laughing, all sense of military bearing momentarily lost as he watched his friend's best laid plans completely fall apart. But just as quickly as it started, it ended, and then he was back to TI mode.

Another fun one with those two was during the field portion of training. Sgt Hartman has just pulled up in a gator (small 4-wheeled open top vehicle, like a tactical golf cart) to where my flight was formed up waiting to march somewhere. He was having a conversation with some of the cadre when the Interceptor TI drove by our formation and his parking spot in another gator.

Sgt Hartman proceeded to drop bearing once again, breaking out a huge grin, holding up his hand, and giving the most Phoebe-from-friends open handed wave you could imagine to his passing buddy. Then it was immediately back to training mode with the serious faced conversation.

An "accident"

I had a guy who really wasn't cut out for the Army in basic. The morning of a 12k ruck march, he woke up but didn't leave his bed. When asked about it, he said he had an accident. Things happen, we are all stressed, but no one expected a massive poop snake to be lurking under the covers. The problem was, it was intact. It wasn't smushed or smeared at all. Eventually we found out that he intentionally pushed a log out to try and get out of the ruck march.

The Drill Sergeants sent him to sick call after they made him clean it up and after he left, they were hysterical. They have never seen someone go to such disgusting means to avoid training. He was eventually sent home.

We also had someone who was so bad at throwing, he was not able to participate in the grenade exercise for fear of casualties. They made him practice while we all did the exercise but he was never able to get the fake grenade more than a few feet from himself. A few times, he even managed to throw it backwards, Wii bowling style. They felt bad because he admitted to not having a father figure in his life but they were obviously holding back laughter watching his pitiful attempts and listening to his grunts.



Drill instructor heard someone fart while we were watching some video about something, he then told us to turn on the vacuum. This meant we all inhaled like vacuums. He then said we better get it all and that he better not get a single wiff of it.

There was a new drill instructor that had never encountered this before so he quickly covered his face with his cover so no one could see him lose it, and immediately bolted off giggling to himself.yeet_Melody666



2nd exercise at phase 1, we were in our shellscrapes (foxholes) at night, and our DS contacts us and we have to buy out. After we collapse our harbour area and are about to patrol out, one of the lads walks up to a member of our training team and asks, "Can I go wipe my arse Corporal?"

"What?" The corporal said dumbfounded.

"I was taking a poo when we were attacked, I didn't have time to wipe." He got to wipe.


Worth it

In our cycle we had a very knowledgeable class clown type, who was super funny but also super informed about everything military. One day he was doing impressions of a drill sergeant and had everyone cracking up, so the DS he was imitating heard the laughter and walked over to see what the commotion was about. Now, this DS was one of those that had the thousand yard stare, was super unpredictable, total BA, and was one I would've followed anywhere. He was probably one of the funniest and darkest people I've ever come across, and you simultaneously wanted him to be around all the time and never wanted to be within 100 yards of him.

So this DS comes in, asks what was so funny, and eventually gets the guy to do the impression of him. He stops, thinks for a bit, and then rounds up the entire company. At this point I'm thinking about how screwed this guy just made us (platoon punishments were his go-to, so we all were going to get it, not just him), and I am overcome with this sense of impending doom.

So he tells the guy to do the impressions, and after he finishes, the DS starts cracking up, and everyone else starts joining in. The guy then continues, and everyone is dying laughing. After 5 minutes of imitations, the DS suddenly gets serious and says, "Oh so you guys think this is funny huh? We'll see how funny you think it is later".

It was definitely worth it.ChristianSingleton

Sk8er boi

Very shortly after arriving to (Air Force) basic, you have to take whatever you brought in your civilian bag, and spread it out on the end of your bed. Pretty much everything gets locked up til you graduate, then you get it back.

The TI walks the aisle, looking at everything you've put out. One kid in my "flight" (what they call your training group) brought a skateboard. To basic training. He had it propped against the end of his bunk when the TI walked by.

I wouldn't say she giggled, but she made it about one step past before her brain registered what she had just seen. She almost fell over he own feet turning around to being.. addressing his problem.specialskepticalface

That doesn't sound safe


It was my first week in basic and we had just received our rifles. We were marching to the dfac in the morning to get breakfast and reveille started playing. Our drill Sergeant called us to attention and to present arms. At this point we had never been taught how to salute with our rifles. So we all looked at each other and just pointed our rifles to the sky with our right arms full extended.

Everyone in our platoon was standing at the position of attention with our rifles pointing to the sky when our drill sergeant turned around. He immediately started laughing and said he had never seen anybody do that before. We proceed to be a platoon of many firsts for him.



We had all our bunks at the edge of the walls with an empty area in the middle. It had our rifle racks and a bed that was an example for how ours should look. Well near graduation we had to shave and fork our berets and a mannequin head was left on the fireguard desk with a beret as an example of how ours should look. Well we took the head and make a whole mannequin in uniform stuffed with clothes. It was positioned in such a way that the DS couldn't tell unless he walked around to the side of it.

He was calling names for accountability and was about to leave when someone told him he missed somebody and pointed to the bed. His eyes filled with rage as he walked over but instantly calmed when he realized what it was. He yelled "WAKE UP" and flipped the bed and walked out laughing.


That's funny

After laundry was done they threw it on the floor in a big pile. Your name is stenciled on every article of clothing so one guy would stand next to the pile, pick up an article of clothing, read the name and then throw it at the owner as we walked around him in a circle. So we took one of our mesh laundry bags and carefully cut it to look like a thong, then stole a pink highlighter and colored it pink and wrote our drill instructors name on it and snuck it into the laundry.

The day comes to pass out laundry and he sees it, loses it starts screaming, "WHO THE HELL OWNS THIS?!! I'M GOING TO OWN YOUR WHOLE WORLD!!!!" He picks it up, sees his name and had to leave the room he was laughing so hard.




My drill sgt made me kneel so he could scream in my face. He was 5 foot nothing and I'm 6'3.

According to my boys, the other drills were giggling like school girls. All I remember is terror.


Good sense of humor

I had a somewhat short, Hispanic TI in basic that would occasionally "squeak" when his voice broke. He would almost always give everyone permission to laugh about it when it happened, guy had a great sense of humor about himself.


Don't play with my emotions!

Marine chiming in here, we were in first phase during boot camp and were in formation marching to the All Weather Training Facility, gym. We were still getting used to drilling our Kill Hat kept messing up the calls as he himself was new at calling drill so we kept tripping over each other's boots.

Out of nowhere we hear him draw his NCO sword and shout "Y'all better stop playing with my emotions before I slip and have an accident." We died laughing and he just walked off muttering to himself and trying not to laugh as well.




Fort Benning

Drills were searching for contraband after a Private was found with chewing tobacco. One of the DS got a broom handle and started pushing the ceiling tiles up to see if anything would slide out.

A 'happy sock' fell out and hit him in the face. The other DS walked off into the office. He was cough-laughing the whole time.

We were smoked into oblivion.


Good self-esteem

One day during basic we had someone who my Staff Sergeant called Goon because of the way he marched.

During one of the daily line-up's the Staff discovered that Goon had a girlfriend to which he responded "how the hell is that possible? I want you run down to the toilet look in the mirror and tell me what you see."

Goon ran off and came back a few seconds later. After the Staff finished reading the daily updates he asked "so Goon what did you find out?"

Goon:"Staff I have discovered that I am one ugly MF-er!"

Goes without saying everyone couldn't really help but let out a roar of laughter.


Need I say more?



He did look nice, though


OMG, I have the best story for this. Basic training, some dude was getting a reprimand from the course officer because he was a bag of fail. He got briefed by the platoon Sergeant beforehand to march to the door, salute the officer, and wait to be instructed what to do. But this guy was as dumb as a brick, so he marches to the door, and stands there looking stupid.

The Sergeant waits a good long while hoping this kid will clue in, and nothing happens. Finally he yells at him "WELL, AREN'T YOU GOING TO PAY COMPLIMENTS TO THE OFFICER?!" And he stammers for a bit and finally chirps out, "Um, uh, you're looking really nice today Sir." Sergeant yells at him to GTFO, and slams the door and the entire course staff nearly die from laughter. It took an hour for us to stop laughing long enough to call him back and actually give him the reprimand. I was on the floor with tears in my eyes.

For YEARS afterwards, anytime we would see that officer we would stop him to tell him he was looking nice. It never stopped being funny.


And another one

The gas chamber - as privates were sprinting out of the gas chamber they would 1 by 1 slam into a tree that was conveniently located directly outside of the exit door. The DS has a different privates doing jumping jacks and singing "another one bites the dust" as it happened.


I'm out

The food made us really constipated. Lots of people had to go get laxatives after not being able to poop for over a week.

So, it became tradition in my group when anybody was trying to take a dump and the drill sergeant wasn't around the person taking a dump would scream "GET OUT OF MY BODY!" or "IT'S FINALLY COMING!"...etc. (talking to the poop of course).

One day two guys were in the latrine (bathroom) trying to poop and screaming at the top of their lungs when the drill sergeant entered the barracks... He just stopped and listened for a while to what sounded like two men performing an exorcism in the bathroom.

He shook his head and just walked back out. We were his last group going through basic before he was going back to his regular job and I think that was the day he finally broke...




Someone in basic threw their half eaten schnitzel into the toilet and tried to flush it. It didn't flush. He left

So we are all in are rooms as we hear one of our drills scream to get out and line up.

We line up and he was one of the super serious guys, 190meters tall, easily 100kg of pure muscle and always mean mugging everyone.

He starts screaming at us telling us that we are pigs. No one knew what went on. Then he started yelling "someone threw a schnitzel into the toilet" as he finished he started smiling. First time in months I saw the dude smile. Everyone started laughing hard. He got angry again and started repeating himself. He starts laughing once he hits the schnitzel part again. We all laugh again.

He just tells us we are dumb and someone better fish that piece of schnitzel out asap.



Marine Corps, to preface.

We're doing the rappel tower in bootcamp, and once all of our harnesses (via plain rope) are secured, we stand at perfect position of attention 6" from the recruit in front of us to go down the tower. These harnesses were TIGHT, like feels like they're red hot tight. One recruit is leaning forward:

DI: Recruit, what is your malfunction?

R: This Recruit has his left testicle on the other side of the rope, Sir!

DI: pause, audible chuckle

DI: Fix it, Recruit.

the most high-pitched 'eeeeeeee'

R: This Recruit has fixed the problem, Sir!

Never forget, right Marines?


That is how birthdays work

Well one time when I was in basic training, my petty officer was going around asking questions to people. If you got it wrong, everyone had to do push ups. If you got it right, he just moved on to the next person.

I was in panic mode because all the questions before now had been really difficult, or maybe I was just stupid. In retrospect, I'm inclined to believe the latter.

Anyway, my turn came up and the interaction went as follows:


Me, ecstatic because this is one of the few bits of trivia my brain had decided to retain, relieved: SIR, OCTOBER 13th, SIR!

Petty Officer: WHAT YEAR?

Me, without missing a beat: EVERY YEAR, SIR!

The room was quiet for a moment as the horror sank in. Everyone laughed at me. The Petty Officer laughed at me. Not a mocking laughter, but a sincere, oh my god I can't believe you're this stupid kind of laughter. I wanted to die.

I had to do a lot of push ups.


Oh, honey!


Late for the parade, and this isn't my story, but from my brother in the air force.

During one of the first inspections, one of the recruits had a honey packet from Chick Fill A he had before going to boot camp and some spare change he left in his pocket.

The drill sergeants said "WHY DO YOU HAVE HONEY AND MONEY IN YOUR POCKET!" Which is something that can't not get a laugh out of everyone.


For good luck

Friends basic from years ago. During morning inspection the sergeant found a penny in someone's locker. Of course push-ups. So someone had the brilliant idea to put a penny in everyone's locker. 1" in and 1" from the left.

Sergeant walks in. Sees the first penny. Stops. Keeps walking. Finds more pennies. My friend caught a glimpse of him smiling and almost cracking up. He then snatches up a penny and screams at them. Push-ups.


A new fantastic point of view!

Navy bootcamp 2008, we had a big Samoan guy in our division who loved singing Disney songs. This dude started singing A Whole New World in a shower with 80 other dudes and all of us started singing along. I can remember our RDC just shaking his head and grinning.




When I was in basic training we were truly terrified of one our drill sergeants, and she told us specifically we could not turn the lights on until 4:30 in the morning.

One morning we had to be up earlier than usual for some reason so we all got up and just got ready in the dark to avoid getting in trouble. She comes bursting into our bay screaming at us to wake up.

The light from the hallway shines in a bit and and she looks around at us all getting ready and goes "why are the lights off, privates?" So we tell her that she told us we couldn't have them on before 4:30 and she just laughed and said "that's not what I... okay privates carry on" and walked out.


Worth it 

One dude got literally sewed into his rack in the night. He had the top rack.

When "heave out and trice up" sounded the next morning, the guy tumbled off completely attached to all of his bedding... AND the mattress. Our RDC couldn't help smirking as he yelled at all of us for the next ten minutes.

IIR, the perps were quickly discovered and actually got sent back to the beginning of boot camp. We were like 6 weeks in at that point. Poor guys pulled off an epic prank and paid for it by going back to being smurfs again. I don't know if they still do that, but it was the major punishment de rigueur back in the mid 90's.


That's a bad look

A friend of mine is a helicopter instructor in the Army. She is also tiny. She's maybe 5'1" on her best day. Her job was to instruct the helicopter pilot trainees in the actual equipment after they master the simulator. This is the first time the trainees fly an actual aircraft.

She met the trainee in a classroom and went over the entire exercise they were about to perform. He kept saying, yeah, yeah, I got this. They walked out to the tarmac. He kept snickering. They get to the helicopter. He said "This is a joke, right?" She told him no and get in the aircraft. He laughed and says ok.

She talked him through the pre-flight. He made a big show of going down the checklist. Then she had him start up the engines and check the gauges. He did and said "Ok, who put you up to this?" She told him to lift off about 10 feet above the tarmac and hover. The aircraft rose.

That's when it hit him. This tiny 5 foot Army Major was his helicopter instructor and not some girl his friends found for a joke. He went completely white and started apologizing profusely. The rest of the exercise he would not stop apologizing. She had to help him set down the aircraft. He thought he was dead meat after the way he treated her. She was laughing so hard that she didn't punish him.




Dude was told he couldn't trim his unibrow, if he did he'd have to shave both eyebrows as well... so that's what dude did, shaved it all. DS lost it laughing and then made the private report every morning to have them sharpied on with a new expression every day

Added: The best ones were when he was given two squares as eye brows or a constant surprised look


Get your head our of the gutter

At a military college, during hell week cadets are standing in line at parade rest in the buff outside the shower waiting on their turn to go in. The expectation is that you look straight ahead at the back of the head of the person in front of you in line.

One cadet glanced at the instructor to his left, the instructor saw this quick glance and angrily demanded, "What are you looking at cadet?"

The cadet was suppose to be staring at the back of the head of his buddy who's last name happened to be Cox.

So without giving much thought to the current situation of thirty young men in the nude waiting on a shower - the cadet shouted back, "I AM LOOKING AT COX, SERGEANT"

After the laughing ceased, the sergeant regained his composure and the pushups began...

Worth it.


Yes, Sir!

Not a soldier but an airman, hopefully you still like the story.

We are out on the pad standing in formation waiting for breakfast just like any other BMT morning. We are at the end of our training so the MTI's tend to not harass you as much in your last week or so at basic.

Our MTI has a doctor's appointment or something so he has a female MTI in the squadron we have seen from time to time watch us while he is gone.

So she takes us all from parade rest to attention and addresses the dorm chief (lead trainee position in the flight). He lets out the fatal response of "Yes Sir!" to whatever she said to him.

She's a petite athletic looking redhead and would not be mistaken for a sir. She gets right in his face as it leaves his mouth and starting yelling, "AAAAAAAHHHHH! YOU MAKE ME SO MAD I JUST WANT TO WHIP OUT MY PENIS AND SLAP YOU ACROSS THE FACE WITH IT! IFFFFFFF I HAAAAAAAAD ONNNNNE!" there were 3 other flights with like 20-40 trainees each including their MTI's immediately dying laughing. Even she only held it together for a few seconds of being angry red in the face before laughing.

I think you would get in some serious trouble these days yelling great lines like that.


High five


We had inspections of our equipment at the end of AIT. Our Battalion Commander (a Lieutenant Colonel) was talking to this kid next to me. He mentioned he was from Michigan, and so did she. She asked where in Michigan and held up her hand (since Michigan is shaped like a hand, she wanted him to point on her hand where he was from in "The Mitten"). Instead this idiot high fived her and smiled.

The steam came from my DS ears like nothing I have ever seen. On graduation day a few days later, we all had a good laugh about it.


We are all in this together

Fort Jackson, October 31st 2002:

The entire male barracks of the company, except for two guys, decided to dress up for Halloween. Instead of wearing our proper PT attire for bed check, we all tore the sheets off of our bed and fashioned them into Togas.

Every night in Army Basic, you had to line up on both sides of the barracks with your toes touching a line painted in front of each row of beds. It was called "Toe the Line".

So the barracks door flies open and our Drill SGT walks in. He's not even looking at us. He's looking down at his clipboard and reading off names. He gets about halfway down the list of names and looks up for a half second... then he just stops and starts laughing.

Then his head snaps back up and he bellows, "Why are you out of uniform!!?" All but the two guys who wore their PT's yelled "TOGA THE LINE!" He starts laughing again but quickly recovers.

Then he says, "I wasn't talking about you, I mean you two losers who aren't wearing Togas!"

So those two guys get down to do pushups and the rest of us jump down and start pushing too. He yells again, "Why are the rest of you on the floor!?!"

We didn't even plan this part, but we all said, "If they go down, we go down!" It was something that one of our DS's had been drilling into us from day one.


Old McDonald had a farm

We had an inspection and we had to hold our money in the top of our shaving cream while at attention. One guy dropped his top and his change went clanging across the floor. The TI (Air Force) got up in his face and asked him if he was trying to make music for everybody by dropping money all over the floor and since he must be, told him to sing a song for the flight.

After a bit of more yelling while he tried to think of a song, the guy starts singing "Old McDonald". And the TI continues with the inspection. After a while, the TI tells him to go into the latrine so he can get a nice echo and so the entire flight is standing at attention with old McDonald ringing out from this disembodied voice.

Anybody whose been through basic probably had moments where you had to use all your strength to not laugh while the Instructor was railing on somebody and this was one of those moments. We were all dying and trying not to laugh, some were less successful than others and felt the wrath of the TI. Especially when the singer got into the less common animals from the song like "and on his farm he had a ...rabbit, eieio. With a fft fft here and a fft fft there, here a fft there a fft, everywhere a fft fft." We were all dying. And then the singing stopped.

"Airman White! Did I tell you stop singing!?!?" "Sir, no sir!" "Then why did you stop?!?" "Sir... I ran out of animals sir!" With that, the TI broke and thank God because it allowed the rest of us to break as well. We all laughed a long time after that.




Gave me right instead of left. I walked full force into a brick wall.

Joke was on everyone around me I'm the only one who didn't get smoked because they all anticipated and went left.

The DI who gave the order didn't say much but the full bird walking by couldn't contain his laughter.


Everybody clap your hands

Navy boot camp in Orlando Florida in August of 1989. The company was split up in two, on either side of the center line facing the front of the bay. Our company commander had us doing 4 count jumping jacks where we all had to clap on the 2nd and 4th together. It had to sound like one clap.

There were 68 of us and even though we struggled, all of us eventually got it. Well, all of us but one. This poor guy just could not clap with the rest of us.

He was eventually pulled up to the front of the bay where he would lead the exercise. At the last second, every time, he would change his pace and ruin it. The company commander smiled throughout and eventually just keeled over laughing at this guy.

It's funny though that I don't remember being angry even though we must have been doing jumping jacks for about three hours in 100 degree heat. I do remember that the only reason we quit was because the cement floor was too slippery with sweat to safely continue.


Peanut Butter Jelly time


When my brother was in Marine Corps boot camp, there was this guy who snagged a whole bunch of packets of peanut butter from the chow hall and filled his foot locker with them, like some kind of comical Full Metal Jacket. For the rest of that guy's career he was known as Peanut Butter.


All the names

We all had these plastic name tags before getting our official ones stitched onto our uniforms. They were to be marked by first and middle initials followed by the last name.

For example mine said: AA Porg

Had a dude in my platoon whose (Not his real name, but same concept) tag said EJAT Smith. Naturally, the Drill Instructor asked him what the was up with his name tag.

Shouted with complete enthusiasm: "MY NAME IS EDWARD JAMES ALLAN THOMAS SMITH, SIR!"

Needless to say, the DI didn't expect him to actually have 5 names, nor did he expect to hear it so proudly stated. He covered his face with his hat.

"On our final ruck march on of the guys in our platoon got hit by a deer as we were going down the stair way to heaven. Drill sergeants messed with him until we graduated."




A latino friend of mine told me that when he was in training one of the drill sergeants would bully him for his accent. On one of the FTXs the drill sergeant asks him what his MOS was.

"25U, Drill Sergeant." "Communications? How are people going to understand you if you don't speak proper English." "With subtitles, Drill Sergeant." The other DS who was also standing there just walked away laughing.


We're taking notes. Some of these are comedy gold.

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To Serve and Protect

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He's still just as awesome now. He restores old Volkswagens and sells them for cost to his fellow veterans. He restores old furniture and donates the pieces to families in need. He volunteers with wildlife rescue programs. He refuses to let me pay him back, so I'm going to try and buy his drink at our 30-year high school reunion. Gotta thank him somehow!


Something for Nothing

I went to a local breakfast spot one day after a rough night. I totally forgot my wallet, so I left my phone as collateral and went back to my house. When I came back, some guy had already paid for me. I know it doesn't seem that big of a deal, but it was a pretty bleak week for me so it meant a lot just to have someone do something for nothing.


A Friend Forever

boy feeding a animal during daytimePhoto by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

My wife and I were driving our kids, who were three and five at the time, to the zoo. We narrowly missed being smushed by a semi truck, but also almost flipped our top-heavy minivan doing 75mph when dodging said vehicle. All in all, we were very blessed to have our lives, let alone no damage to our car. The same couldn't be said for other cars, but no one was hurt either.

The State Trooper who showed up was the most generous young man. He gave my daughter a little teddy bear that she still has to this day 5-6 years later. She even remembers getting it, which is pretty incredible for someone that age. I think that was the most meaningful thing anyone's done for me, and I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good people in my life. This one stands out because it was directed towards my daughter.


I’ve Got You, Babe

My mother passed, and I was so stressed trying to find a way to give her the funeral she deserved. My boyfriend went down to the funeral home, made the arrangements, and paid the balance. By FAR the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me.


A Helping Hand

My firstborn had a severe deformity, and spent a week in hospital before we took him off life support. I was staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and even though one of the rules was that you are your own maid when you leave, complete with doing laundry and remaking the beds, I was a complete wreck and couldn’t do a thing. Then I got the surprise of my life.

A kind stranger took care of my room for me even though they were going through their own stuff. Another blessing from that dark time is that the funeral home took care of everything for me, including all bills associated with the service and cremation. I will never not donate to the Ronald McDonald House and I know what funeral home I'll be using when I one day need one again.

It was a very long time ago and very dark sad time. It destroyed my family, a few years later I lost my husband to the depression that happened from this, and while both tragedies changed me, I'm very good now and know happiness. I want to say that I've thought about how very, very bad things can get in the world, but this stranger, and people like him, showed me daily that the world is full of amazing loving people.


A Little Tune-up

A few years ago, I was going down to visit my grandmother in South Carolina. I needed an inspection and oil change on my car, and I was the single mom of a 5-year-old. The total cost ended up being 40 dollars more than I thought. At the time, that was devastating, and I had to tell my daughter in the parking lot that we couldn't go see her grandmother anymore.

Someone heard me talking to her and came over to us and gave us 60 dollars. That was one of the nicest things someone I don’t know has ever done for me.


Can’t Put a Price on Education

On September 14, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn't even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.

We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend's dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.


The Tables Have Turned

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One of my high school tormentors invited me to his house to hang out for a day. I was really nervous it might just be to screw with me, but I was desperate for some sort of friendship at the time, so I went over. We're now best friends, and he and his family feels like family to me. Honestly, I have no idea how we ever disliked each other.


The New Normal

I was hugely pregnant and had very young children with me. We went to a free exhibit at an aquarium down town. I was unfamiliar with the area, but found free parking several blocks away. I was broke, so finding a free exhibit with free parking was really a special outing for us. After the exhibit, my young children and I started walking towards the car, but couldn't find it.

I figured I had gotten turned around, so we returned to the aquarium and started walking in the other direction, but still couldn't find the car. We went back and started out in a third direction, still unable to find our car. It had started to rain and we were just lost. All along, a homeless man had been watching us, as we had passed by him multiple times in our search.

His words were heartbreaking. He told me he remembered seeing us first go in to the aquarium hours ago and what direction he saw us come from. He offered to walk down that way and look for our car for us so we didn't have to be walking around aimlessly until the car was located. I thanked him, but turned his offer down, not wanting to send this homeless man out into the rain.

He told me he was impressed with how well-behaved my children were, and he offered a dollar to buy them a candy bar. I couldn't accept, I mean how horrible of a person would I be to take money from someone who clearly needed it more than me—but he insisted. He said the dollar wouldn't save him from being homeless, but buying my kids a candy bar for being so patient and well-behaved would make him feel normal and some days he just needed to feel normal.

It was an act of kindness I will never forget. I think of that gentleman often.


From Beyond the Grave

My grandmother made a ton of birthday cards in advance. After she passed, I still received birthday cards from her for the next few years. It was a little weird, but I cried happy tears whenever I got to read words from her after she passed.


Duty of Care

A paramedic helped me after I was in a car crash. He took his time to come back to the car and bring me back my front tooth, which was really tiny and he offered to go and look for in the wreck. At the same time, he found and brought back my partner's phone. I don't know his name, and I was in such a state of shock that I can't even remember what he looked like.

Still, he put my tooth in a special liquid and the hospital team managed to put it back, saving me a lot of money. There was also a woman officer who put a blanket on me and made sure I kept it. The hospital only managed to take it off me right before I left. It was a green standard first aid blanket, and I don't know why I refused to let go of it (again, shock) but it provided a lot of comfort. Thank you so much, guys.


Get Away From It All

The nicest thing someone I know has done was for someone else. My brother took a fellow band nerd on a high school graduation road trip for several weeks. Thing is, the friend was dying of leukemia, and they both knew that this was going to be his first and last road trip. No timetable, just one day at a time across the breadth of the US.


Found in Translation

people walking on street during night timePhoto by Yu Kato on Unsplash

I worked in Korea for a bit. It was late at night, and I decided to surprise a girl I was talking to by heading to her apartment. It was around 10:30, and unbeknownst to me, the subway stopped running at 11:00. Unfortunately, I was halfway there, so I decided to message her. She told me to take a specific bus to get to her place. I get on the bus, and I don't have the slightest idea which stop I should be getting off on.

Well, about 10 minutes later, a load of people get off on this one stop. An older Korean businessman sees me and motions to me that there's an available seat next to him. He starts talking to me in English and he says that the stop where I'm getting off is one stop before he gets off, and that he'll let me know when. We start a conversation about where he works, how he learned English, what I'm doing in Korea.

By the time we knew it, his stop came up. He profusely apologized to me and said that it was the stop before. I said, "It's okay, I'll just walk the opposite direction." As we get off the bus, we're both walking in the same direction. As we come up to an intersection, he flags down a taxi, tells him the subway station to drop me off on, and he paid the fare. All this while still apologizing to me. That guy was just such a good person, you know?


Moms Just Know

I was involved in a hit and run on my bicycle in Chicago. I broke my collarbone, and a stranger drove me to the ER. I was going into shock and freaking out about finances—I’m a single mother. The stranger gave me her number for the report and such, but then she made a gesture I’ll never forget. She later sent me $5k because she knows what it’s like to be a single mother with nothing.

I sobbed. I hadn’t gotten my unemployment yet. I was overwhelmed by her kindness.


Friends With Benefits

I was having a panic attack for the first time. It swung between so euphoric I thought I was going to "ascend" and terrified that my life was going to end in pain. I called my loved ones to say goodbye, including my best friend. He came running from a block away. He was terrified too, but he held it together, sat me down, hugged me, told me that he didn't want me to go anywhere, and that he needed me right here.

I needed that. I needed to see what I felt wasn't based on reality, needed someone to say that I should not obey those feelings because I was needed and loved. On some level, he saved me. Years later, he voluntarily went into homelessness just to fly out to see me on another continent. Yes, we're together now romantically. No, I don't know how I got so lucky. We're planning the wedding. :)


The Art of Caring

When I was a freshman in high school, I took an art class that was a mix of 9th-12th graders. I was really bad with people back then, so I spent most of class sitting on the floor between the trash can and the drying racks and never speaking to anyone. Still, there was this one 11th-grade guy who would always make it a point to talk to me.

He didn't know me or anything; he just happened to sit near me. But he'd always ask about my day or compliment my art or offer to help me with my math homework. At one point, he even managed to get me to sit at the desk with the rest of the students. It's just one of those things I think about from time to time because he really had every right to ignore me like everyone else did, but he didn't. He really made art class into a second home for me. I miss that guy.


It’s the Little Things

I have an online friend in another country, and one time she made a cake for my birthday with my name on it because she knew no one else would do anything.


Know Your Worth

women's blue dress shirtPhoto by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

During my Physics graduate program, there was a terrible professor for two of my core classes. He was terrible at teaching, but also known for complaining at faculty meetings how the grades had been going down in his classes ever since more women started taking them. I put in a ton of work anyway, and despite all that he gave me two Ds for those two classes. I’ve honestly never heard of someone getting Ds in grad school and finishing, so I was convinced my life was over. Then, I learned that I was so, so wrong.

At that point, I told another professor who had been supportive what happened, and he got me a stiff drink to talk it over. In that meeting, he said that technically there was no requirement to take the guy’s classes. Instead, he told me to sign up for two independent study classes, which he would supervise, and all I would be doing is practice questions for the qualifying exam.

So we did exactly that—I studied, and we would meet up a few times a week to go over problems. By the end of the semester, I took my qualifiers, and passed with margins to spare. Today, I’m a postdoctoral fellow in astronomy at Harvard, which never would have happened if that professor hadn’t taken a chance on me and put in so many hours to help me.

It makes me so determined to help all the students in my path and mentor them as well, because people can be so much more than one bad professor thinks they are.


Chosen Family

I had just had my father completely cut ties with me after years of estrangement and him being super distant. Obviously, I was a little emotionally uneasy about how “final” it felt, and the implications for the distant future. My live-in girlfriend knew, told her mom, and her mom sent me a bunch of snacks I’ve always wanted to try but never wanted to spend the money on.

Instant mood lifter, and it restated the fact in my mind that there are other people who care about me even if my dad doesn’t.


Pikachu, I Don’t Choose You

When I was like nine, I went to an arcade over in San Antonio, Texas because we were there for a vacation. There was this claw machine that had pokemon in it, and I was aiming for my favorite pokemon ever, but accidentally got a different one. The employee comes around to unlock the thing so I can get my prize. I whine to my mom, "Aw I wanted the Charizard though."

This dude puts the other one back in there, and hands me the one I wanted. I will forever remember you, bro.


Work to Live

My one co-worker got all my other co-workers to donate money for a gift to me from my hugely underpaid apprenticeship. I received $350, which was exactly how much I needed for an upcoming bill. It really saved me when I had literally $0.70 in my account. A few weeks earlier, actually, a different co-worker noticed me not eating and bought me lunch, then many of them brought me leftovers. That apprenticeship was the worst, but the people were the best.


The Good Neighbor

His name is Duong. When I was in university, he was my neighbor. I got into a motorbike accident and couldn’t go to class by myself, so he put me up on his back and brought me to the class like a hero. When my elevator was broken, he climbed all 13 floors to bring me dinner because he knew I couldn’t go out to get it. Whoever is with him for the rest of his life is a lucky person.


Child’s Play

assorted color of wicker baskets on displayPhoto by zakariae daoui on Unsplash

I was walking through the streets of Marrakech after it had just rained, and I was wearing those flimsy flip-flops, so all the wet sand from the street was being catapulted onto the back of my legs. Out of nowhere, I feel a tap on my arm. It’s a young Moroccan girl, not older than 6 or 7 years old, offering me her water bottle to clean my legs.

I politely declined because I could never accept to take someone’s water in that scorching heat, but thanked her and her mother profusely. Children are so pure.


Do the Math

I went to a very small school with a bunch of really amazing math teachers, and one really bad math teacher. For example, she tried to sue a kid for "aggressively swinging his backpack" at her when she threw him out of the classroom for something trivial. He had only picked up his backpack in a completely normal manner.

I was slated to have pre-calc with the terrible teacher the following year and was complaining about it to my amazing math teacher, saying how much I was dreading her class. That’s when I got the offer of a lifetime. My amazing math teacher offered to teach me pre-calc over the summer so I could skip a year of math and go straight to calc with the amazing teacher.

So, once a week, each week over the summer, I met my amazing teacher in her back garden, where we had tea and cookies and she taught me pre-calc. A week before school started, I met with horrible teacher and took her pre-calc final, aced it, and got to stick with amazing teacher. I’ll always be grateful someone cared enough about that.


Second Home

Growing up, I was severely neglected and had no friends due to my lack of hygiene and social skills. One of my teacher aids got wise to it, and brought me to her house to play with her daughter, took me on family trips with them, gave me clean clothes, and just showed me an insane amount of kindness I'll never be able to repay.


Through Thick and Thin

I was fired from my last job. It was the first and only time I had been fired, and it sucked. I really liked that job, and I got super depressed. My friend also lost his job later that week, which really sucked because I knew he loved that job, too. He would always tell me that it was his dream job. And right as soon as he found out, he called me.

He called me to tell me that even though he lost his job, he knew he was going to be alright. He wanted to tell me that to set a good example. I knew he was heartbroken, but he put on a strong face for me. And I'll never forget that. Never.


24 Candles

I’ve never been able to celebrate my birthday. Between my awful mom and horrible relationships, it’s just become a tradition to lie in bed and cry every year. Well this year, my best friend and boyfriend put their heads together and threw me a surprise “party.” They decorated our apartment, baked me a cake and decorated it to the best of their abilities, and got me some small, thoughtful presents. 24 years old, and finally I had my first good birthday. I cried like a baby.


You Shall Not Pass

man in black jacket driving car during daytimePhoto by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

I went out to a bar drank a bit too much with my girlfriends. Some guy saw and tried to push me into an Uber to take me to his hotel. Then, the bouncer wouldn't let me back in no matter how many times I asked because according to him, "I changed my mind and that's not the guy's fault." No one else passing by wanted to intervene. I was getting really scared—until a good Samaritan stepped up and changed everything.

The Uber driver popped out of the front of his car and wrestled the guy off me. He made sure I was okay, gave the bouncer and everyone else a piece of his mind, too. Hope that guy's doing well in life.


Let the Good Times Roll

I took my sister, who’s in a wheelchair, to the cinema for the first time on my own. At the end, I realized I couldn't undo the brakes because it was a new wheelchair. It was blocking everyone. I felt like crying because I thought everyone was angry at me, but some nice lady helped me, then took me and my sister out. She said she once had a son who needed a wheelchair. This was long ago, but I'll never forget her or the kindness she showed me that day.


Tripping out

I am from 1980's rural Texas, where education was laughed at and where the idea of living in a foreign country was ludicrous. When I was 17, I met a Rotarian (like, a guy from a non-profit) who allowed me to go on a year-long foreign exchange. I had never heard of that concept before and had no real idea of what it meant. At 18, I packed my bags and discovered a brand new world! It honestly changed my life FOREVER. Definitely for the better.

While I was gone, I met other foreign exchange students and learned that it was fairly difficult to get into this program. I'd heard ambassadors’ children were being turned down from it. I honestly think that I got to go because no one else from my area wanted to leave the safety of our small town, while I jumped at the chance. I think about that old Rotarian a lot. I owe him everything for changing my life.


How to Save a Life

Back in 2018, I had a drastic decline in my mental health, which led to a failed attempt to take my life. I had enough of feeling miserable, so I checked myself in to a program. Afterwards, the hospital gave me a number and location to follow up with my newly-appointed therapist. Upon getting to their building, though, they needed me to pay a co-pay.

I didn't have a darn penny on me and said I couldn't pay. They denied me my appointment, and I remember thinking that when I walked out of there I was really going to go through with harming myself this time. Then a miracle happened. Right before I was about to leave, this other patient stopped me, pulled out her credit card and paid my co-pay.

She had told me that this place and these people saved her life. She said she didn't want me to lose mine because I couldn't afford to be cared for. The intensity of that relief almost cured my debilitating depression, I never felt so grateful in my life. I sincerely hope that lady is flourishing and being the best self she can be. She saved my life; that is the greatest kindness someone has ever done for me.


Those Who Can Do, Teach

My English teacher when I was very, very young. She was the sweetest I've ever had. She knew I loved the Harry Potter books, even though they were not super popular in France back then. So one day, she brought me HP-themed coloring books from her trip to England. It made me so happy that she thought about me even though she was away from school.


I Recommend This Man

white mug on brown surfacePhoto by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

My boss and mentor wrote me a glowing reference and pulled some strings to get me into a graduate program, even though I was severely depressed and my work performance was nothing to be proud of. I couldn't comprehend or remember anything due to an undiagnosed disease, and I also acted extremely awkward socially. I really don't know why he went so far out of his way to change the trajectory of my life, but I’ll always be grateful.


Guardian Angels

I've had many people do nice things for me, but one stands out. I was very young, maybe 16 or 17. I'd had a terrible car accident and needed to get to a specialist downtown during my recovery. I wasn't a confident driver to begin with, and I had never driven downtown and got hopelessly lost. This was before everyone had cell phones.

I stopped at a pay phone in a grocery store. I was sobbing and scared. I couldn't describe where I was, since I was so lost, and I didn't know how to get turned in the right direction. A little old lady stopped to ask me if I was OK, so I told her where I was going and that I didn't know how to get there. She was shocked that I was SO LOST.

I was so far removed from where I was supposed to be. I wasn't even close to downtown. So she literally drove there in her car while I followed her. She just pointed out her window when we got to the address and I turned in. I never got to properly thank her. But it was far from over. To make it so much worse, once I finally got there, I was told they'd had to cancel my appointment.

I broke down, and an elderly couple came to comfort me and gave me some money and said to please take some time to calm down at the cafe next door, have some lunch or something. Twice in one day, I was approached by kind people who just wanted to help a teenager. That was over 25 years ago. I still don't like to drive downtown, but I do. I think of those people every time I have to go there.


Saving the Day

My dad cancelled my weekend with him a day before we were supposed to go to Six Flags and do other stuff together. My best friend's parents found out and duplicated all the activities. It meant so much to me.


Hit the Road

I was given a car by a former co-worker. At the time, I was walking or riding my bike eight miles one way just to get to work, and then another eight miles to get back home. When working with her, she asked if I wanted a car. I thought she was joking, but said yes anyway. About two weeks later, she said her husband had this old car that he fixed up and it’s ready for me.

From there, she had me meet up at a notary, and all I paid was for a title transfer and tax, which only came around $150. It wasn't the nicest car, but it worked. The car lasted a year, but still to this day I am forever grateful someone would gift me something that truly helped out tremendously. Then, she said there was a catch. I started to get nervous, but it was actually so heart-warming.

The catch was that, whenever I'm able to, I have to pass along a good deed. I've tried to pass this whenever I can. I sincerely appreciated all the help, Debby, and I wish only the best for you and your family. I'm still working on passing along good deeds as we have agreed. Thank you so much for your kindness, especially during a time in my life where I thought there was little hope. There is always hope.


Color Me Surprised

A woman I worked with a few years ago knew my 30th birthday was coming up and asked me what I was doing. I just said I’m visiting family, but she also found out that I’d never had a “surprise” before. I might get a present and maybe a bit of money and I was happy with that. I had no idea the gift she was about to give me.

At my parents’ house, they’d forgotten to buy a cake, so I just picked up a Victoria sponge cake and stuck a couple of tea light candles on it. It was fine, I don’t complain. But when I got back to work a week later, my lovely colleague had organised this beautiful two-tier birthday cake surrounded by gifts! And then she really surprised me.

She produced tickets for us two to get a drink at this ice bar place and tickets to go to the theatre. She did this because she remembered me saying I hadn’t been since I was a kid and no one I knew was interested in going. I was so shocked, I was nearly in tears. This was the very first birthday surprise I ever had. I will never forget my 30th birthday because of my colleague.


A Purr-Fect Present

person walking inside building near glassPhoto by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

I worked as a retail cashier at a drug store. It was the Christmas season and CRAZY busy. We had tins of chocolates on sale for under $10, and they had designs of kittens and puppies on them. I mentioned to a lady who was buying a bunch that one tin in particular looked identical to my cat. She bought the tin and gave it to me!

I actually cried. To have a stranger spend their own money on someone else in that capacity. I’ve never had it happen before. It was years ago, and although the chocolates inside are long gone, I still display that chocolate tin every year at Christmas.


Girl Power

I was in a boarding school, so I couldn't go home or anything like that, and I was also really out of touch with my emotions. Very “keep calm and carry on.” One day in class, I was having REALLY REALLY bad period pains, and since I'm not the kind of person to share much, I was trying to hide it even though I was pretty much in agony.

My friend sitting next to me could clearly see something was wrong, and eventually I told her. So she sneaked into the dorm where you're not supposed to go during class hours for me to fetch some medication. She also offered to bring me dinner so I didn't have to move once I got home from class. She even told me jokes and stuff to cheer me up. I’ll always be grateful.


Memento Mori

I couldn’t be there for the passing of my grandmother because I was at university, so my uncle had a bracelet made for me. It was engraved with her handwriting.


One Happy Ending

I had a really bad home life growing up. My friend—and at the time she was only loosely my friend—had two incredible moms who heard what was going on with me, and pretty much immediately got involved. At the time, I was emaciated, constantly terrified, and never let anyone get close, especially adults. When it got really bad, I used to dumpster dive and collect scraps from the school cafeteria for food for myself and for my brother.

I was chronically sick, mentally ill, rarely slept, and skipped class all the time. My friend's parents started dropping off bags of food at school for me and my younger brother. One night, they invited me over and I just...never left. They moved my brother into the house. They had absolutely no money. Not a freaking dime.

The money that used to be split between four people (two kids, two moms) was suddenly split between six. The house we shared was a half-finished re-modeling project and a total hazard. We didn't even have doors installed inside! Just curtains. To me, though, it was magic. I thought the fact that we didn't have sinks—that we had to crouch over the tub to wash our hands—was mythical.

My moms hugged me every morning and told me how special I was and how proud they were of me. For the first time in my life, I was stupidly, ridiculously happy. Every morning I woke up, my heart would race until I thought it might burst. I was literally that happy to be alive. The second I woke up—I mean the second—I bolted to the kitchen to say good morning to my moms and get a hug.

My friend (now my sister) and her family did everything for us. No rhyme, no reason. I stopped skipping school. My grades improved. I started earning scholarships. I got into a fantastic university. I now have a degree, a fantastic job, friends, and a family that I love.


Kindness Is in Short Supply

On the last day of school, I was helping my art teacher clean up for the summer. She knew I was rather poor growing up, so she gave me all the leftover paper, some really high quality bristol board and watercolor paper, all of the leftover prismacolor pencils, tons of paint brushes, and other various art supplies. It was her last year teaching, and she didn’t care to save the stuff for the next year. I still miss her. She was the best teacher I've ever had.


Long Time, No See

photo of pub set in room during daytimePhoto by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I was at a restaurant in Boston by myself on a Friday night. It was 7 pm, so I was just enjoying a nice dinner by myself before heading back to my hotel. There was a man with a wedding ring on who asked me if the seats next to me were taken. I told him no, and he and his friends sat down. He eventually started chatting with me and it was friendly, but then he started hitting on me.

I brushed him off, and he slightly backed off…but then started eating French fries off of my plate. I pushed the plate away and asked the bartender for my check. I was in the last seat at the bar, so I had nowhere to go other than to wait, and the bar was packed. The guy then tells me I’m beautiful and asks if I want to go back to my hotel with him.

I told him again no. He asked again, I told him I was married and he said “So? So am I.” I’m so grateful for what happened next. All of the sudden, this voice says to me “Oh my god! What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in so long!” And a woman hugged me. This woman and I chatted and pretended we were old friends while I paid. She then walked with me to my Uber to make sure I got into it safely and that he didn’t follow me. I don’t know where this woman is now, but she made me feel safe.


Mirror Image

I went on a homecoming date and ordered a bunch of food. While we were there, this old couple ended up buying our dinner because we reminded them of what they used to look like when they were young. I’m very grateful, because I didn’t actually have enough money to pay for dinner. I was maybe $30 short. I’m still with the girl three years later.


A Grave Secret

I have many family members interred in a small cemetery with a few unattended graves that I occasionally clean and place artificial flowers on. Sometimes I do the ones around them. I feel morally obligated to honor their memory. One day, I found a letter. Its contents were heartbreaking. Obscured behind my father's flowers, in an inconspicuous brown envelope, was an effusive message of gratitude from an old woman whose arthritis incapacitated her.

She had seen my maintenance of her husband's grave from her house across the road and wanted to thank me for my compassion. I was confounded because I never anticipated any recognition. She said she asked her daughter what she could do to compensate me, and she purchased an iTunes voucher for her mother to give me in the envelope.

It was one of those letters and gestures that the gratitude and appreciation emanated from the very paper. The handwriting was so elegant and fastidious; I know she took an inordinate amount of time composing her words. She loved her husband beyond articulation. We have tea together twice a month now.


A Class of His Own

When I was in school, I had a classmate who was terminally ill. He wanted to do all the things he wouldn’t grow up to do, and pretty much our whole school got involved. One girl’s parents owned a nightclub, and they decked out the VIP lounge and served mocktails to roughly 100 students. The kid wanted to be a police officer, and one boy’s dad arranged for him to go on shift with him for the day.

He wanted to go on a beach holiday, and the teachers put little kiddie pools around the long jump pit with water in. We all did something off his list. He got 62 valentines cards in October! He was always such a kind and thoughtful guy that everyone was happy to join in. His mom messaged me a few weeks ago just to catch up and she said she can’t believe that this year it’s 20 years since he passed, and she's so grateful that everyone made his brief time on earth so wonderful.


A Little Something Extra

My dad is a retired junior/senior high school art teacher. Every single morning for well over a decade, he packed an extra lunch and put it in a place in his classroom where a student whose family was struggling could take it without making a big deal of it. Eventually, when the older student graduated, one of his younger siblings started taking his class.

The kid would already know he could take the extra lunch bag without having to face talking to my dad about it, or being embarrassed in front of the class. I used to ask why Dad packed two lunches while I was growing up, and he would just say, “I sometimes get extra hungry.” My mom later told me the truth. He is such a quiet, humble, and extremely generous man.


man in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglasses
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

When you've spent enough time in your professional industry, you tend to learn secrets about the industry that the general public won't know.

For example, I work in social media. I create social posts for influencers and activists. I have no real affiliation with these people, and I usually don't even get guidelines on what to post, past that I have to post every hour or so.

Every industry has a secret, and Redditors are ready to share secrets about their own industries.

It all started when Redditor Thealexiscowdell1 asked:

"What is a "dirty little secret" about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really should know?"

All The Same

"Not all that much of a secret, but, i used to work in a peanut butter factory, we produced about 25-30-ish different storebrands ranging from very cheap to stupidly expensive, we had a grand total of 3 recipes, chunky, not chunky and no additives."

– ptvipers

"Peanut butter should taste like peanut butter."

– GroundbreakingAsk468


"Wash the top of your cans. Mice poop on those things all the time while they are in warehouse or transit."


"I’m so relieved that my mother raised me to do this lmao. I thought it was strange growing up but then I just started to do it automatically without question."


"Absolutely, I did security at a local supermarket warehouse, and doing my walkthrough, I saw rats 🐀 so big the porters used to ride around the warehouse on them (obviously not really) but I did see the rats and they’d be everywhere. Of course, they cr*pped on everything."

– peepers63

Quite The Employee Discount

"I worked at a major jewelry company in the US. When we wanted to buy jewelry, we paid what it costs to make the product (material, labor, shipping), plus 10%. I paid around $115 for a pair of $950 diamond earrings."

– SComstock

"I worked wholesale diamond sales so I had connections throughout the entirety of the industry. Made my wife's 15k+ engagement ring for about 3k."

– Kreepy_Quoll

Keep Track Of Your Belongings

"I worked in the moving and storage industry and if you EVER pay movers to pack and move your family, DEMAND an itemized bill and proof of service."

"These people are out here RAKING people over the coals. Inflating box counts, charging for services not performed, etc. it’s not AS BAD if it’s COD but if it’s a corporate move for your job?? DEMAND IT. You might not be paying for it out of pocket, but it’s still showing on your income as taxable wages."

"special note to say not ALL companies do this but ALL the ones I worked with did."

– YEEyourlastHAW

Perfect Fit

"High volume recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds looking at a resume."


""You are a perfect fit for this [job title that's not remotely close to what you have done in the past] position based on your experience at [company].""

– F**kItImStillTired

"Emails are mostly just basic keyword match mass batches. They might not have even read your CV, it just had a keyword."

– LBertilak

"Totally. It's usually through LinkedIn. I generally respond with, "Oh wow! What part of my profile do you think makes me a good fit for the position?""


"And block."

– F**kItImStillTired

Heavier Is (Apparently) Better

"They put little weights in lipsticks to make them feel more expensive so they can charge more."

– RandomRedditCount

"Same for Beats headphones."

– BenHippynet

The Truth Comes Out

"Zoos and museums are universally held together with double sided tape. The size or prestige of the organization doesn’t matter either."

– Pentastome

"You guys can afford double sided tape?"

– ContentPriority4237

"We had to use single-sided tape, taped together."

– elenduwir

"Also, the dinosaur bones that you're ooh-ing and aah-ing over are probably plaster. The actual bones are stored safely in the basement."

– janisdg

"I imagine most artifacts on display aren't real, just very high-quality fakes. You really can't trust the general public not to f**k it up somehow. Honestly, as long as the museum is using the real ones to learn more about our history, I'm OK with it."

– RhynoD

Like Cramming For A Test

"When the health inspector shows up, a mad scramble happens in the back to clean the kitchen while they start the inspection in the dining/bar area of the restaurant."

– Lone_Buck

"Yup. One manager will hold the health inspector up in the front of house while back of house is busy labeling and making sure minor violations they visibly see are dealt with."

– kettyma8215

"Truer words have never been typed lol send out the king or queen of small talk and people skills while the back of the house tosses anything that isn’t temping correctly and runs ribbons of labeling to the walk in to make sure it’s all labeled."

– EatTheRichbish


"If you’re ever buying bulk gravel/sand/crushed stone from a local pit/quarry that has scales to weigh the amount of product you’re getting- you’re getting f**ked because you’re paying for water. Most of these pits/quarries spray the living f**k out of their stockpiles before/during operation to make the material heavier in the truck. Never buy by the ton- always buy aggregate by the cubic yard. It’s a measure of volume- not weight."

"Source: I own a rock crushing business/multiple quarries and I charge by the cubic yard to not screw the public :)"

– ianwrecked802

He No Longer Works For The Company

"I wouldn’t say it’s mostly a secret but agency staffing firms churn and burn college graduates who are basically thrown in the wild. The recruiter you worked with may be gone in six months and that’s why a lot of ghosting happens."

– resident16

"Yeah, recruitment and headhunting are not altruist professions. They're not social workers looking out for clients best interests."

"Story time:"

"I got a high-paying job via a headhunter. After three months at the new place, I realized I hated it, and I quit."

"Three days later, I got a call from the headhunter, and he was IRATE, YELLING at me over the phone at the top of his lungs. He called me every name in the book, and went hoarse from yelling."

"Turns out, he gets paid a commission for placing me at that job ONLY if I stay at least 90 days. I just happened to quit on the 89th day coincidentally."

"So he lost out on a good chunk of money thanks to that."

– whomp1970


"The roses you buy at Valentine's Day were harvested around Xmas. It's the worst time of the year to buy roses and I don't mean because they're more expensive. They're also the worst quality because it's a longer holding time between harvest and use than any other time of the year."

"Never ever ever send flowers through an order processing service. Look at the location you're in or sending to and talk to a florist in that area directly. Don't pick a picture off some external website. Ask the florist what they have and can make that fits your budget. If you're worried, ask them to text you a pic of the completed design."

– VinnyVincinny

​The Psychology Of Groceries

"There is a lot of money spent every year that decides where specific items are placed on grocery store shelves."

"If you're at a grocery store that's part of a chain, and you look at a shelf and there's an item that's approximately at eye level, I guarantee you that the company that makes that item paid a lot of money to put them there. There's lots of weird psychological tricks that go on in terms of how stores are laid out."

– blueeyesredlipstick

"Candy, sugary cereals with mascots, the more expensive toys...etc. all at child height."

"The milk and toilet paper are always in the back because those are what people often make a quick run to the store for. By putting it in the back, it forces the customer to walk past all sorts of tempting end caps. The chances of the person going in for one thing and coming out with a bunch is increased."

"People joke about doing this all the time at Target, but it's not just a joke, Target actually paid a lot of money to get customers to spend a lot of money. All by designing things just so."

"I learned this in the one and only marketing class I took. It was really interesting, while also being kinda horrible."

– _Futureghost_

Turns out the world is even more manipulative than I thought!

man holding telephone screaming
Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Like many people, I spent my time in retail. Customers were by far the hardest part of the job.

In college, I worked as a "bookseller"—our official title—in a mall for a national chain of bookstores. Without fail, every shift one or more customers would ask for something like "that book, the red one, by the guy."

When we'd ask for more information—like genre or if it was new or where they saw it—they'd just repeat, "red book, guy, you know which one I mean."

We most definitely didn't know which one they meant, but customers thought if we worked in a bookstore we should know every book in print from even the vaguest of descriptions. And they'd get mad when we didn't.

Anyone who has worked with customers has war stories.

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