If you're lucky enough to experience a simple act of kindness from a complete stranger, you'll likely remember it forever.
And this week, when Reddit user stranger2Me asked "What’s a small act of kindness you were once shown, that you’ll never forget?" the stories truly proved that.
So, here are just a few of the sweetest, kindest stories shared:
1. This dumpster dive:
"In high school, I ate at a Mexican restaurant and unknowingly threw away my car keys on my tray when I was done eating. I went and asked a worker if he had cleared them off the table and he said no, and he had just taken the trash out to the dumpster. I remember going outside and calling my dad to ask if there was a spare and he told me there wasn't.
I went back inside, feeling humiliated, ready to ask if I could look through their dumpster — only to see that this man had already dug through the dumpster on my behalf and ended up finding my keys for me. He just went above and beyond and to this day I am so grateful for his help."
2. This train angel:
"I missed my train to go home for Christmas from university due to a crash near the station. I was completely broke and knew I wouldn't be able to afford another ticket. Life just got on top of me and — knowing I'd have to spend Christmas alone in my shitty student house and not being about to see my grandad who was in rapidly declining health — I was bawling my eyes out on the platform when a janitor appeared out of a hidden stock room under a stairwell and brought me some tissues.
He found out why I was so upset and said 'leave it to me.' He took me to the customer service desk and got them to reissue me a ticket for the next train home. I was so thankful I started bawling again and he went on his way. Then just before I was about to get on my train, he found me on the platform and gave me some snacks and a can of coke. It's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
3. This borrowed umbrella:
"I broke my foot and was trying to limp my way across campus with crutches in the pouring rain. Someone ran over with their umbrella and walked across campus with me so I wouldn't get rained on."
4. This pizza delivery:
"I was around 19 in my first year of community college. My dad had lost his job and my mom was supporting the entire family. We were struggling for a while — I remember being in my night class one time, starving. I figured there’d be no dinner so I told myself I’ll go straight to bed when I get home and not think about being hungry.
When I got home after class, there was a giant box of Costco pizza on the kitchen counter. Apparently one of our neighbors had bought it for us because my dad fixed a part of her fence a few months back. I think it stuck with me because, A: I was so fucking hungry and, B: the chances of her bringing food that night of all nights was wild to me. It might sound so stupid, but I’ll never forget it."
5. This roadside assistance:
"My alternator died while I was driving home from university. The engine died as I exited the freeway in the middle of the night in a not-so-pleasant part of town in the days before cellphones. As I'm pushing my car out of the intersection, a guy in a truck comes up and offers to push my car to my neighborhood — which is a good three miles away. He does it and, as I'm pulling into my neighborhood, he simply gives a wave and drives off into the night. I never even had a chance to thank him."
6. This kind pharmacist:
"After my Dad passed away, my depression kicked into overdrive. I went to the doctor and got a prescription for anti-depressants. While I was picking up my prescription, I started crying. I apologized to the pharmacist for crying, and the pharmacist said, 'You don't have to apologize. You recognize you have a problem and you are trying to fix it. That is a brave thing.' It changed my perspective on treating my mental illness forever."
7. This warm moment:
"I was 9, waiting for the school bus in the middle of a Wisconsin winter. I had a thin coat and no hat or gloves. A woman driving past saw me and stopped, giving me a blanket from the back of her car. It was a long skinny one, so she wrapped it around my head and shoulders like a big scarf. I remember thanking her, but being confused. I told her I didn't know how I would give it back when I was done borrowing it. She hugged me and said not to worry. I still have that blanket."
8. This gas station savior:
"I literally coasted into a gas station out of gas on my motorcycle, then realized I didn't have my wallet. A lady saw me patting all of my pockets and looking upset, and offered to fill up my tank. I only let her put $5 in, which on a bike, is a lot. It meant so much to me."
9. This cinema experience:
"I took my sister — who is in a wheelchair — to the cinema for the first time on my own. At the end, I realized I couldn't undo the brakes and we were blocking everyone. I felt like crying because I thought everyone was pissed at me, but a 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 it."
10. This grandpa gift:
"Last year, my son and I went to Lowe's to buy his grandpa a weed eater and a certain attachment that goes with it. As we get there, there's only ONE of the attachments left that we wanted. Well, there was a guy there getting it down for another customer. My son looked devastated. He knew how much his grandpa had been wanting this stuff and we were going to surprise him with it.
My son looked at me and said, 'That's the last one. What are we going to do for Pa now?'
Well, the guy overheard and saw the look on my son's face, so he casually handed it to me and said, 'I think Pa needs this more than I do. I'll just get an IOU from the store.'
It was such a small moment for this guy, but it's one of those things that will literally help shape my son and his view of the world.
After that, the saying 'it takes a village' didn't mean what I thought it meant anymore. Instead, it made me realize that society, as a whole, is impacting all of these young people in so many ways, and most of them don't even know it."
11. This example of paying it forward:
"When I was at school, I helped a girl out when she was having a meltdown in the bathroom. Then, a few weeks later, she pretended to be a friend who had been waiting to meet me when she saw I was being followed home by two guys. We never saw each other outside of those two occasions, but I still think about her and hope she’s doing okay somewhere out there."
12. This sweet teacher:
"I transferred in the middle of first grade to a school that did 'Ice Cream Fridays' where you'd pay like 75 cents for whatever kind you wanted and then you'd watch an educational video in the classroom. I was unaware of this and, when the first Friday rolled around, I didn't have any change — neither did the kid next to me. So, the teacher called the both of us aside and gave us each the change required to have our ice cream. I think the biggest thing was that she didn't do it in front of the other kids, so it looked like we had brought the money all along. It was incredibly kind of her, she was a wonderful teacher outside of that, as well."
13. This chocolate treat:
"At work, I was complaining about heartburn. I was still pretty new to the job and didn't really have any work friends. I felt like an outsider, and my life outside of work was pretty shit as well.
The bartender on shift overheard me and ran to a nearby coffee shop to get me a chocolate milk. It definitely didn't make the heartburn go away, but it was such a needlessly kind act. I don't think I'll ever forget it. Two years later, we're still friends and she is definitely one of the kindest people I've ever met."
14. This purchased lunch:
"My gym teacher purchased me lunch in the third grade after I dropped mine. I'm 34 years old and still remember this."
15. This public DEFENDER:
"When I was 19, I lost my wallet and someone used my license to rack up tickets. It was pretty obvious — once courts looked at the location of the tickets, what vehicle was used, and the signature — that it wasn't me.
I had to go to three courts to clear it up. The third judge was the only one with a problem. He said I had failed to appear and the tickets were ignored. I explained what was happening and how I'd been dealing with this and that I came in as soon as I was made aware of the issue.
He wanted to put me in jail because he didn't trust that I'd be back, and he wouldn't look at my paperwork because it was an arraignment. He would only look at it during the trial date.
I didn't know what to do, but I had the name of the public defender memorized. I asked if I could talk with her first. He called her in and said, 'This young man seems to know you...'
I quickly explained what was happening and showed her my evidence. She told the judge that if he didn't release me to come back, she'd pay my bail out of her own pocket. He scorned me, but released me. I just had to return the next month during the trial date.
I was 19 then. I'm 39 now and will never forget it."
16. This gift:
"I was out of a job for a time, but I had to support my mother. I finally landed one, but I had to walk back and forth to it and I didn't have any shoes that would hold up for the walk or the work. I went to Facebook and asked around for some hand-me-downs I could buy from someone. A day later, a very kind man showed up with a brand-new pair of really nice shoes that he had just gone out and bought for me. He left before I could even get any money for him. I cried."
17. This kind Canadian:
"I was riding my bike on a long trip through Canada when, with about 50 miles left to go, I had a major mechanical failure. I was stuck on the side of the road in a foreign country but, within five minutes, at least 10 cars had stopped to check on me.
Finally, one guy loaded my bike in the back of his truck and drove me 30 miles to the border where I could catch a ferry back to the US. It was just such amazing kindness and generosity toward a stranger. He asked that I 'pay it forward' and, to date, I've helped five cyclists who were broken down in honor of that promise."
18. This parting present:
"I had a coworker about 10 years ago and we became work friends. He was moving to another state so, on his last day, he gave me an iPod nano (back when they were fairly new) completely filled with different music that we had talked about or listened to together. No one had ever done something that thoughtful for me before. I could have cried. If you're out there Gabe, that's something that I will always remember!"
19. And finally, this shoulder to cry on:
"I was at a terrible point in my life at 17 and had a bad day at work, then my train home was 1 hour+ late. I just started crying at the train station and was really wondering if it was all worth it. A woman came up and just held me for a bit while I cried. She was a complete stranger, I've never seen her since, but I needed her. I think she saved my life that day."