What is the kindest thing a stranger has done for you?
March 4, 2019 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Nicole Cliffe (formerly of The Toast, currently writing for Slate and Vulture) asks a question about kindness, and the replies pour in. posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (25 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Warning, do not read if you prefer to remain all dried up and dead inside or are allergic to having water coming out of your eyes.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:35 PM on March 4, 2019 [10 favorites]

This is glorious.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 12:49 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bookmarked to dip into after each time I spend in a Trump thread.
posted by gwint at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

These are great. This one made me cry.

We also (coincidentally?) still have this similar thread going on Metatalk which is also really good.
posted by Mchelly at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

Oh holy shit, this is awesome.

I needed this.
posted by nubs at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2019

In my mind this post is now called "2 xanax and a banana"
posted by gwint at 12:56 PM on March 4, 2019 [15 favorites]

Really sweet, but this one really pisses me off:

I had a miscarriage two weeks into a new job. Had no PTO; the doc agreed to do d&c Friday at 7pm so I could go to work the next Monday. I learned in post op it was her night off and she came in anyway to help me out

How can work leave policies be so cruel?!?
posted by stillmoving at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2019 [19 favorites]

A giant flaming ball of gas poured massive amounts of radiation onto the rock I live on, making life as we know it possible.
posted by idiopath at 1:08 PM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

People are so kind to me all the time--I have had my wallet returned to me several times, with contents (yes, I work very hard to keep track of it, and have a place for it, but I have rather severe ADHD so it still goes missing) --and people have gone out of their way to be good in many other ways as well, on the bus, on the street, in line, everywhere,every day. We don't expect it, do we? I once offered a ride to the hospital to the distraught parents of a neighbor kid who got shot, and though they didn't know me and didn't need a ride right then, they came to the door a few days later to ask my husband who the lady was (they knew him) so they could thank me. I have often been touched by their courtesy when I think of them since then.
posted by Peach at 1:23 PM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

My high school girlfriend and I were on a date - at the library. Struck up a conversation with an older woman - a kind of "character" - named Meg.

A few months later, I broke up with the girlfriend, moved away for 20 years. Moved back, married high school girl friend, who'd kept in occasional touch with Meg - who'd been asking what ever happened to me.

A few years after that, we had house, kid, mortgage. Out of the blue, Meg - somewhat crotchety, opinionated, and now quite old- paid off our mortgage. No strings. I never saw her again.

Paid it forward, many times over.
posted by Modest House at 2:25 PM on March 4, 2019 [63 favorites]

Lately I've been reflecting on my good fortune, and it is my great hope that one day I can be the person on the other side of these stories. However I worry that I'm too shy and socially awkward to step up and take the opportunity should it ever present itself.
posted by Rora at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

My good deeds often go unsung, but when your public bathroom flush failed, it was I who flushed after you while others were too afraid to face a stranger's turd.
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:48 PM on March 4, 2019 [26 favorites]

This is a beautiful post, thank you. There is nothing like stories of people being kind to others for making me sob like a baby.

Over the weekend I watched the documentary You Are Here: A Come From Away Story (CW: the trailer in the link opens with footage of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre). It is the true story of how, when US air space was closed on 9/11, the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, took in 7000 stranded airline passengers from all over the world whose planes were grounded for 5 days. (Previously) I highly, highly recommend this film. It is a story of love and kindness towards strangers on a giant scale.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:17 PM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

I don't post to social media for the most part (and only on here sometimes when I get the gumption but I couldn't resist telling this story somewhere.

My grandmother was like a mother to me and was the sweetest, most gentle, most loving woman in the world and I love(d) her with the brilliance of a thousand suns. I worshiped the ground she walked on and talked to her almost every single day on the phone, well into my early 30's.

Back in the year 2000, I got the call that she was dying. The directive was "get her as quickly and safely as you can." I grabbed my purse and overnight bag and was out the door in 20 minutes - straight for the San Francisco airport and and an hour later I was in the air on the way to Yuma, Arizona. I had to change planes in Phoenix and had to make a quick connection. There was a thunderstorm so we had to circle awhile and looked like I was going to miss my connection.

In the meantime, I happened to be sitting in and amongst a college basketball team on their way to play an away game. I was devastated about missing the connection and they noticed and talked to me, comforted me and even told stories about their own grandmas.

The basketball team guys fixed it with the stewardess so that I got to be the first one off the plane. Then, 4 of them full out sprinted to the other side of the airport to get to the departing gate to tell them to wait for me. One of them carried my overnight bag so I could run faster I'll never forget his almost 7 feet all self as he loped along side encouraging me all the way. I got to the gate utterly breathless and was just able to get out a THANK YOU! and a quick wave to them before gangway door shut behind me.

I made it to Yuma that night. I got to spend time with my grandma was she was still conscious. I got to tell her once again how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. She squeezed my hand and the love in her eyes is something I will never forget. She died a few hours later.

If it weren't for those basketball guys, I never would have made it in time. I honestly wish I could say I remembered what college they were from but that detail is lost to time. What isn't lost is their kindness to me. I think about them often. They didn't have to make me their mission, but they did. I hope that Karma treated them well for their mitzvot.

THANK YOU, you wonderful "Basketball Guys" for giving me that priceless time with my Grandma Joyce.
posted by crayon at 5:08 PM on March 4, 2019 [153 favorites]

Although I follow NC, I had missed a lot of her recent tweets in my timeline. So in going back to look at your links, I also read her recent spooky story about Aunt Patty. *eek*
And then I laugh-cried at some replies to that.
Now I'm reading the "kindness" thread and cry-crying.
What I'm trying to say is, thank you, fifteen schnitzen.... Your kind deed was to give me some laughs/cries today.
posted by NorthernLite at 5:42 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was in 7th or 8th grade, walking the mile and a half home from the library, when it started to pour buckets on me. I was probably halfway home, and looking like a drowned rat, holding my backpack to my chest trying to keep it at least a little dry, when a passenger bus pulled up next to me.
The driver opened the door and motioned me to get on. I shook my head; I had no money; but he insisted I get on. He drove me to my street (my house was only a couple of houses down) and saved me more soaking. I've never forgotten him.

Years later, I had taken my two small children and left my abusive husband, when my job cut my pay (and 24 other employees) by 28% as a "cost saving measure". I wasn't getting child support; I was barely able to survive as it was. Around Thanksgiving, my coworkers got together and surprised me with four + bags of groceries. I was so humbled and grateful.

I've tried to do my part; but I am eternally grateful for all the kindnesses I've received.
posted by annieb at 5:49 PM on March 4, 2019 [17 favorites]

A giant flaming ball of gas poured massive amounts of radiation onto the rock I live on, making life as we know it possible.

Probably not kind enough for the thread.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:08 AM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I had to put my beloved dog down last September, a woman at the vet saw me crying and hugged me and heard me out as I sobbed. She wasn't an employee there, just someone bringing in her own dog for a post-surgical follow-up.

Thank you, Nice Lady. Thank you so much.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:15 AM on March 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

I was 19, working a horrible summer job to pay for repairs for my clunker of a car. My grandfather, who I was exceptionally close to, was also nearing the end of his life, he'd just been moved to a nursing home, and ultimately, he'd have a fall and pass away later that July.

Anyway, I was driving home, and the damn car died, in the left turn lane in the middle of a busy intersection. I panicked, hard, because it was 2005 and I didn't have my cell phone with me. Somehow, I got it in my head that maybe I could walk to the mechanic (about a quarter mile in the other direction) and they'd help me out. I'd started to walk in that direction, when someone pulls up to me. He'd been at the McDonald's across the street, and hands me the drink from his lunch, a Hi-C, telling me he didn't like it that much anyway. (It's late June in Florida, and I'm sobbing hysterically, I am beyond dehydrated.) Then he calmly explains that I can't abandon my car, even for a short trek to the mechanic. He tells me to turn on my emergency flashers and helps me push it out of the street, then lets me use his phone to call AAA to get it towed to the shop. He's not treating me like the naive kid I clearly am, but kindly and patiently.

It's been nearly thirteen years, and I still remember that kindness during a horrible period of my life. Thank you, kind man.
posted by PearlRose at 6:44 AM on March 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

This story doesn't make me look great, but here goes:
Many years ago, before Lyft, even before I had a cell phone, I had called the night before to arrange a taxi very early in the morning to get to the airport -- maybe 5am -- and I gathered my things and waited outside my apartment and the taxi didn't come. And as it got to be ten and then fifteen minutes late, I started to freak out and I was maybe not at my best and the taxi kept not being there and it was probably 20 minutes or more late and I didn't want to miss it if I went back inside (carrying all my stuff ) to call the company, and maybe I thought the best solution was to scream expletives into my quiet street at 5am to vent my frustration and anxiety.

My across the street neighbor, whom I had never met, but whom I had seen frequently with her two very small children, came out of her house in a bathrobe, (maybe holding her baby - I can't remember) looked at me standing there with my suitcases, and offered me a ride to the airport.

I was far too embarrassed to accept (I apologized to her, called the cab company and barely made my flight) but I still think of it often as the kindest, most generous reaction to my bad behavior and I am still so humbled by it.
posted by tangosnail at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

I didn't share this earlier because it makes me cry every time I think about it, but here goes.

Four years ago, I had a much wanted pregnancy go very wrong, and my partner and I had to travel to another city so I could have a termination for medical reasons. We stayed in the same hotel we always stay in when we travel to this city, a kind of quirky heritage hotel with many longtime staff members whom we have gotten to know a little bit over the years.

After I was released from the hospital, still looking quite pregnant and basically out of my mind from grief and drugs and hormones, we went straight to the hotel. My partner went to check in by himself; I stayed in the car because I just could not bear to see or talk to anyone--my big fear was that someone would see my big belly and think I was still pregnant and try to make conversation about it. He talked to the person at the front desk and explained the situation and that we would probably just be staying in the room a lot while I recuperated physically. The woman working the front desk, who remembered us from our previous visits, immediately upgraded us to a better room, with a nice view of the ocean, at no extra charge. I cried when my partner came back to the car and told me we had a nicer room because of this lovely front desk person. But that was not the end of it.

About 30 minutes after we got in the room, there was a knock at the door. One of the bellboys was there with a huge beautiful bouquet of flowers, a sympathy card signed by the hotel staff, and a gift certificate for room service so we could order dinner in and not have to go out to get anything to eat. I was so overwhelmed I could not talk. I just cried and cried. We were just blown away by the generosity and kindness.

Those days were a very dark period for me and my partner, but that kindness is something I will not forget.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2019 [29 favorites]

One of the best replies to Cliffe was Moira Donegan saying, "... you, it was what you did." And if you don't know why that is true, here's a synopsis.
posted by gladly at 7:07 PM on March 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

I was 16 and in the hospital for something really, really serious. I was upset and scared and crying, really carrying on. The young girl, she had to have been about 11, who was sharing the hospital room with me gave me one of her beanie babies to comfort me and told me to keep it. I still have it 20 years later. It comes with me when I have long hospital stays still.
posted by sockermom at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2019 [7 favorites]

When I had to put my beloved dog down last September, a woman at the vet saw me crying and hugged me and heard me out as I sobbed. She wasn't an employee there, just someone bringing in her own dog for a post-surgical follow-up.

I have a friend who lost a very beloved dog some time ago, and isn't able to have another because of disability. She goes once a week to the waiting room of the oncology area at our local university-affiliated vet hospital. She settles down with something low-key to do, like working on a puzzle, and is just available for people to talk to. Sometimes nobody does; other times, she has very deep conversations with people whose dogs are very sick.

When my mom was in the ICU dying, I spent quite a bit of time in the ICU waiting room. I would crochet to keep my hands busy, and I had several incidents where someone else in the waiting room just started talking to me about whatever was going on with their family member. I'd keep crocheting and interjecting little things: "Oh, that sounds hard," or "I see," or whatever. I felt like I understood the ministry of my friend in the veterinary oncology waiting room, because by sitting there alone with my hands busy, I seemed to invite people to talk.

Even though my mom was dying and that was hard, I was happy to be a listening ear. It helped me feel useful.
posted by Orlop at 7:16 AM on March 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

I work in consulting with clients all over the country. With most it's a strictly business relationship; with others I've gotten to some level of casually friendly. One of these is Gil, who works in the Chicago area (about 250 miles away from me).

When my grandson E.R. took his own life at the age of 15, we held a memorial service at an event center on a June Saturday. As the doors opened, in walked Gil. He'd flown from Chicago and rented a car to be with us for E. R.'s memorial. He spent the entire 6 hours with us. He circulated among the family and friends (place was SRO), sat with us, didn't make anything like a big deal out of it, just comforted us with his presence. And then he went back to the airport and flew home.

Bear in mind, Gil is a happily married father of 4, successful business owner, very active in the community in various ways, and certainly has priorities upon priorities demanding his time. Yet he invested a full day and no small expense to come be with us.

Just blew me away and still does.
posted by charris5005 at 1:20 PM on March 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

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