We asked our friends to tell us about the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for them.
Here's what they said:
"The day after my birthday, I was sitting alone on the train home after work. It was Tuesday, and the car was mostly empty — but shortly before we departed, an old man lugged his roller case aboard and sat across from me. I only had about six stops, so I closed my eyes while the man scribbled lightly in his notebook. When I stood up for my stop, he tore off his sheet of paper and gave to me — it was a pencil portrait of myself, signed and dated at the bottom: a personal souvenir!"
"I was traveling to Bordeaux with all of my worldly possessions except a cell phone. I was with a friend who had made our hotel reservations, but we got separated at the train station.
"Knowing nothing of the town, I ventured to the hotel district to find out that every single hotel and hostel in Bordeaux was booked for the Rugby World Cup. I hauled all of my bags out to a discount hotel at the city limits with hopes of finding some sort of shelter for the night. They too were booked up, so I had to solicit people in the lobby to see if I could sleep on someone's floor.
"A group of Australian rugby fans invited me along: They gave me some beers, had the hotel send up a cot, and refused money from me (so I stashed some euros in one of their shoes). Good people."
"I was moving a couch into my apartment in Brooklyn. We realized it would not fit through the front door (but only after lifting it up to the fourth floor). My roommate and I were in the process of lifting it out the second-story window and back to the ground floor when a man walking down the street came to our rescue.
"He helped us move the couch around to the back of the building and then helped us negotiate it up the fire escape (four stories of them) and into our living room window. The neighbors all came out and helped also."
"I went to visit my college roommate in England when we were studying abroad. On my way back to the airport, I took the wrong train and didn't realize it for 2.5 hours. By then, I'd missed my flight back to Belfast. Eventually, I got a new one and got in late that night, but there was no way for me to get back to Coleraine 1.5 hours away. Buses weren't running, and I didn't have enough money for a taxi.
"In hindsight, it wasn't a big deal to spend one night in an airport, but I was tired and in a strange place. I'd been on the phone with my mom, but she couldn't help, and my money ran out — so once I realized I was stuck there, I just couldn't help it anymore and started crying.
"Thankfully, a woman saw me, told me to go wait with her mother, and then she picked us up and offered to bring me to her uncle's house with them. They were so, so nice. Those two women were very kind to me when all I wanted was my mom, so that softened the blow, and I wish I could find them."
"After one of the really bad snowstorms, I went to dig my car out after I got home from work. I was expecting it to be bad, but not as bad as this. After trying for a while, a man who was digging out his own car saw me losing this uphill battle and came to help. My car would probably still be under snow if it weren't for him."
"In 2008, I was driving on the freeway in Los Angeles. While switching lanes, a car came out of nowhere, swerving into my lane in the process. The car caused me to immediately veer out of the lane, and I lost control, ricocheting through traffic and hitting the center divider.
"I broke my hand and totaled my car, and the car that caused my accident drove off. The police said there was no way we'd ever find the person who caused my accident, but when the police report came, we noticed that the person who had caused my accident's name and information were provided.
"Turns out, someone had seen me crash and assumed people would pull over and help me, so they followed the person who caused my accident to make sure they were held accountable. It changed my life, and I never got to thank them!"
"My sister and I were traveling in Turkey a few summers ago. We got to Istanbul, and our accommodations fell through, so we turned to couch surfing. We found this apartment near Taksim Square — the apartment of these two guys who we were worried might be creepy or not have space for us — but they made room for us and turned out to be the kindest, most trusting people. They gave us keys to their apartment, made us different varieties of eggplant every day, showed us around all of Istanbul, and made us feel completely at home."
"When I was traveling by myself in Hualien, Taiwan, I decided to rent a bike to take a scenic ride. I was very, very unprepared. I left kind of late in the day, and then I forgot my water bottle at the bike rental place. Additionally, I hadn't ridden a bike in almost a year, so it wasn't like my body was even mildly prepared for a totally leisurely six-hour ride. I was also hopelessly lost because I get confused easily and am terrible with directions.
"Long story short, I ended up having to ask for directions many times. One of those times was from two ladies who were chatting in front of their houses. They ended up giving me fruit, giant bottles of tea and water, candy, and a lot of compliments on my Mandarin. I eventually ended up having to take a taxi back because my legs were so wrecked from riding steeply uphill and against the wind."
"My freshman year of college at The University of Oklahoma was a bit of a tough start. I was adjusting to the newness of college and trying to pave my way at a university where I knew no one.
"One morning, I was walking to class and having a bad day. To add insult to injury, it was pouring rain, and I forgot my umbrella. At the crosswalk, I was standing in the rain like a chump until this kind girl approached me and put her umbrella over me without asking. We ended up talking and were walking to the same journalism class. It was such a small gesture but meant so much to me, and I still remember it to this day."
"I was meeting up with my siblings in Paris for vacation and planned out exactly how I would get from the airport to the hotel via train and bus. When I got off the train very late at night, I realized that I was the only person of a large group of people who was headed to the bus stop.
"As I stood there in a very poorly lit parking lot in a country where I did not speak the language with no one to call, I just kept telling myself not to cry. Then a young man told me the bus didn't run this late at night and that unfortunately I was in an area that cabs didn't frequent. He offered me a ride to my hotel, dropped me off, and said 'Have a nice visit.'"