One good turn leads to another. How would you pay it forward?
"I have a very chubby, lovely bulldog. She lives in Texas with my sister. I live in New York. I was without her this Christmas, and I really missed her, so I wanted to do something special for bulldogs. I donated to the SoCal Bulldog Rescue. During the week of Christmas, my mom received the sweetest thank-you card from them (it's my old address) — and my doggie, out of nowhere, got like 17 presents from other bulldog-owning families that followed her on Instagram. It was so heartwarming!"
"I have worked at several delis and understand how thankless customers can be when it's crazy busy. So, I was at my local deli, and it was PACKED! A curmudgeonly and highly impatient woman was berating the guys working their butts off and was writing down their names to report to management. Watching her do that, I thought of all the rude customers I'd served in my life. I beat her to the store manager and said, 'Despite what you're about to hear, I want you to know that those guys in the deli are amazing!' The next time I went to the deli, one of the guys pulled me aside and said, 'You saved my job that day, so thank you. It's really made a difference in how I treat our customers.'"
"Last night I was going to use my bank's ATM, but you need to insert your card to open the door. Another guy unlocked it first, so I held the door for him. We laughed about how difficult it is just to get your money. We didn't fall in love, but it was still nice."
"Yesterday my subway turnstiles had a huge line, which is super unusual for my dinky little stop. One of the two turnstiles was broken, so everyone bottlenecked into one, and it wasn't working well. I heard the train coming, and there were still a few people in front of me. A frantic woman at the back of the line begged the guy in front of me to open the emergency door once he got through the turnstile, but he refused — probably because it's against the law? Anyway, the train was arriving, I finally made it through, screamed, 'I'LL DO IT,' and pushed the emergency door open for about 30 people to stream through. I felt like Moses.
"As I was getting on the train, the frantic woman surprised me with a hug from behind, which I thought was super forward, but also made me feel nice."
"I bought these adorable plastic cups with little ghosts on them the other day. When I got to the car I realized the cups stuck together; I paid for five cups, but I got 10. I went back inside to give the extras to the cashier, and he looked at me like, 'Oh, that's OK. You can just take them.' It was a nice gesture.
"I guess honesty pays?"
"I was at a show pretty close to the stage, and things were super rowdy during the faster songs. I am a petite lass, but I was wearing six-inch platform boots, so I was tall enough to keep an eye out for crowdsurfing limbs, circle pits, and people being dopes in general. There was this even tinier high school girl by me who obviously did not have much experience. She was just getting crushed, hit, and no dudes were following the proper etiquette where they protect the smaller people from getting hurt. Rude! This girl began to look genuinely scared, so I yelled, "We're getting you out of here!" I linked arms with her and shoved every person out of the way and took her to the back where it was far less chaotic. Of course I would have rather stayed in front, but I too was once a scared teen girl who lost her friends at a rock show... She was really grateful and sweet, and gladly listened to my tips for surviving and thriving in the pit."
"The other day, climbing the steps of the subway, I saw someone trip and slip a little bit. I asked her if she was OK. She nodded, embarrassed. Then, literally a few minutes later, as I was transferring to a different train, the doors were about to close, and some kind people held it open for me. It was IMMEDIATE good karma repaid. It was pretty cool."
"I used to work in the bakery department of a grocery store — one that offered complimentary doughnut holes to customers — and, occasionally, near the end of the day, we would run out and have nothing left for our evening shoppers.
"One of our regulars, an old man whose uniform was sunglasses and a ball cap, noticed we didn't have any doughnut holes one night, so he purchased a dozen outright from the shelf and set them out for everyone.
"The dozen dwindled to crumbs almost immediately, but I never forgot the gesture. Every time we ran out of treats, he'd do the same thing: buy a bag off the sales floor and watch it empty.
"I eventually took up an interest in this character and started going out to dinner with him. We'd buy each other meals, and I'd listen to him talk about his life. We did this every month until I graduated.
"Two and a half years after I left, I visited the store. He was there, and he remembered me. I doubt I'll see my college town again, but this customer's — this friend's — generosity continues to inspire me to be a kinder, more empathetic person."
"I was going through airport security a few months ago, and a couple ahead of me was looking super frazzled. Like, hadn't-slept-in-days, about-to-miss-a flight frazzled. Naturally, they'd been randomly selected for a security screening. She was saying to the agent, 'Please, we are so late.' Their ordeal began many cities and many delayed or missed connections ago and was going to end only if they made the flight. As TSA took their time going through their bags, I felt a pang of sadness for them. We have all been there.
"I went to my gate, set up my laptop, and ordered lunch at the nearby restaurant. After cranking out a few emails, I looked over and saw the couple from security sitting looking dazed at a nearby gate. I could only assume that their holdup at TSA had in fact caused them to miss their flight. I called the bartender over, ordered a glass of white wine and a beer, then closed my tab. I packed up my stuff, and, drinks in hand, made my way toward the couple.
"'Excuse me,' I began. 'I couldn't help but overhear your ordeal at security. It seems like you guys could use a drink.' They blinked at me, seemingly dumbfounded by this small gesture of a stranger in a crowded airport terminal. 'Thank y—' the husband began to say. His wife burst into tears. I gave her the white wine and a sympathetic smile, and with a trembling hand she took it.
"That word and a half was the only thing they ever said to me. And I hope at the end of the day they arrived home, wherever home was, with a distinct impression that the world is an awesome, magical place full of small kindnesses and sensitive strangers."
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