Sure, recognition is nice, but there’s something about doing a secret good deed and watching a person’s face light up from afar. At least, these 10 people’s stories seem to back that up.
#10. A valid excuse
“One day I was on my way to a job interview, when I saw a man crawling down the side of the road. About 100 yards away, I saw a car crashed into a tree, and assumed that this man had been in that car. So I pulled over, got out of the car, and talked to the guy to make sure he was alright. He said he was, but clearly he wasn’t. His injuries weren’t life threatening by any means, but he was scratched, bruised, disoriented, and old.
I offered to take him to the hospital, but he wouldn’t have it. He didn’t have the money, he said, and with a little more prodding eventually released that his niece is a nurse, and she could get him cleaned up. I asked him where she lived. It was about a 45 minute drive. I told him to get in my car, and I drove him there. Sure enough, his niece cleaned him up, and after some rest, he was ok.
I missed my job interview. I never told anyone why I didn’t get the job.”
#9. Superheroes are real
“This is a story about my father.
I’m awakened by my mom around 1:30 am. “Get up, there’s a fire, we have to go outside.” she says. I’m freaking out but I don’t smell smoke. I assemble outside with my mother and younger brother and sister. Down the street a townhouse in the same row as ours is engulfed in flames. I don’t see my father around so I ask my mom.
“He went to see if he could help.” she says. I can hear the nervousness in her voice, my father is known to be rather bold. The story as it was told to me as an adult goes like this:
My father arrives after the fire department and learns that a man is alive inside, possibly lost. The FD won’t go in after the man because they do not feel that it is safe yet. My dad is like, “Fuck that.” and (clad in only his long-johns) breaks a window and enters the home. He finds the man at the top of the stairs, badly burned and unable to walk. He carries the man down the stairs and out the front door. The firemen treat my dad briefly for smoke inhalation and the cops take a statement.
The man he carried from the house died after a week in the hospital, but his family was grateful that he had a chance to say goodbye. The county awarded my dad a plaque and Comcast gave us free cable for a year. He never talks about it and it was so long ago that no one he knows is aware that it ever happened.
About a week ago my 5 year old asked me if superheroes were real. I told him the story of the day his grandfather was a superhero and I almost couldn’t finish. I hope that one day my son will feel that kind of pride in me.
tl;dr: My dad pulled a guy from a burning building and no one really knows.”
#8. A lucky day
“I was day tripping to Vancouver from Seattle and stopped in for lunch at a little cafe. From my window I saw a young teenage girl out in the cold, squatted down in a closed up businesses doorway, holding a small bundle in her arms. She was panhandling, people were mostly walking by ignoring her. She looked just broken.
I finished up my meal and went outside, went through my wallet and thought I’d give her $5 for some food. I got up to her and she was sobbing, she looked like she was 14-15. And that bundle in her arms was a baby wrapped up. I felt like I just got punched in the chest. She looked up putting on a game face and asked for any change, I asked her if she’s like some lunch. Right next door was a small quick-Trip type grocery store, I got a can of formula for the baby (very young, maybe 2-3 months old.), and took her back to the cafe though I’d just eaten. She was very thankful, got a burger and just inhaled it. Got her some pie and ice cream. She opened up and we talked. She was 15, got pregnant, parents were angry and she was fighting with them. She ran away. She’s been gone almost 1 full year.
I asked her if she’s like to go home and she got silent. I coaxed her, she said her parents wouldn’t want her back. I coaxed further, she admitted she stole 5k in cash from her Dad. Turns out 5k doesn’t last long at all and the streets are tough on a 15 year old. Very tough. She did want to go back, but she was afraid no one wanted her back after what she did.
We talked more, I wanted her to use my phone to call home but she wouldn’t. I told her I’d call and see if her folks wanted to talk to her, she hesitated and gave bad excuses but eventually agreed. She dialed the number and I took the phone, her Mom picked up and I said hello. Awkwardly introduced myself and said her daughter would like to speak to her, silence, and I heard crying. Gave the phone to the girl and she was just quiet listening to her Mom cry, and then said hello. And she cried. They talked, she gave the phone back to me, I talked to her Mom some more.
I drove her down to the bus station and bought her a bus ticket home. Gave her $100 cash for incidentals, and some formula, diapers, wipes, snacks for the road.
Got to the bus, and she just cried saying thank you over and over. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and a hug, kissed her baby, and she got on the bus.
I get a chistmas card every year from her. She’s 21 now and in college.
Her name is Makayla and her baby was Joe.
I’ve never really told anyone about this. I just feel good knowing I did something good in this world. Maybe it’ll make up for the things I’ve f-ed up.”
#7. Someone in need
“When I lived in the city an older lady about 90 got her apt robbed in my building. They went in a stole all her cash and took some valuables that she had. She did not have a bank account so the thieves took about 30K the ladies life savings. She was afraid of being evicted for the apt because she wouldn’t have the rent money and did not want to end up in a state run nursing home. I called the landlord and paid her rent in full for the rest if the year, five months worth and told the landlord not to tell her it was me. I also had groceries delivered to her once a week for the next two months until she had some money saved from her social security checks. I never told anyone what I had done for her and I don’t think she even knew my name because the apt building had about 50 apartments in it. The landlord was I only one who knew and he wanted to tell her what I was doing but I told him that I would deny it. I did not want her to feel indebted to me. She posted a letter in the lobby of the building to thank who ever had helped her. I took the letter down and kept it. The landlord still writes to me every few months to tell me how she is doing. She is still living in the apt seven years later. I never told any one.”
#6. A hand up, not out
“When I got my settlement check for getting my finger cut off at work I kept $2000 dollars and put the rest in the bank. That night after dinner and drinks I was coming home and saw a homeless man (25-30) that I’ve seen several times before, posted up against a wall near the intersection shivering in the cold. Since there were 3 hotels at that intersection, I stopped, rented a room for a week on my debit card then took the key out of the envelope, replaced it with $1700 and walked over to the gentleman to hand him the key and cash.
No bullshitting, I saw him a month or so later working at a gas station, clean, shaved and nice hair. Im not sure if he recognized me but I’m glad because I recognized him and he appeared to be happy and doing well which said enough. I haven’t seen him in several years but I like to think he’s back on his feet, maybe a family, a house, whatever really but just doing well.”
#5. Don’t wait for the cops
“I heard a fight outside my apt. one night. I looked outside and saw the fight but couldn’t tell if it was a man beating up a woman or a teenage boy( I couldn’t find my glasses). I called 911 and told them what I saw and while I was on the phone the man started dragging the other person around the corner of the building. I told the operator that I couldn’t see them anymore and that I had to go. Contemplating bringing a weapon with me as I threw on shoes and pants I decided it would be best to go bare handed. If the other guy had a gun or something he would have already used it to subdue his victim. I ran outside and quickly scanned the area and bam there he was on top of this woman. He had stripped her and thrown her clothes on top of an 8′ hedge. He was about to rape her. I hollered at him to get up and told her to come stand behind me. It was January and she was naked and freezing. I quickly took off my coat and gave it to her, never taking my eyes off the guy. Now at the time I was in very good shape and probably looked a lot tougher than I do today, this was nearly 20 years ago. The guy looked like he might try to fight me but I told him that I had called the cops and that they’d be here any minute and that his best bet was to get in his car and get the hell out of there. ( I got his lic. plate as he drove off). The first thing the girls says is ” can you get my underpants please”, so I climbed the fence next to the hedge and got all her stuff. I let her go into my apt. and lock herself in the bathroom while we waited for the cops.”
#4. The joy of giving
“This one is cheating a little, because it wasn’t actually me, but it has inspired me to do a lot more selfless things in my life:
When I was 14 or so I went with my dad to Target. He was doing some general Christmas shopping but also had a list from an impoverished inner-city family. It was hand written notes from each of four children in the family. They were instructed by the charity running the program to keep their requests reasonable. But my dad read every one and went way overboard, One kid asked for a video game for a previous gen system. My dad bought him a PS2 (which was new at the time) and a bunch of games. One of the daughters asked for a modest desk to do her schoolwork on. He bought her a really cool one and threw in every kind of school supply she could possibly need. And so on for the other two kids. He ended up spending a lot of money on this family. When he saw how jealous I was of the PS2 (I’d really been wanting one badly) he looked at me and said, “I want you to stop and really think about who this is going to and what their life is probably like and what it will feel like for them to open this on Christmas. If you do that and still want it I’ll give it to you instead.”
And so that’s the story of how I got my rad new PS2. Just kidding, it’s how I learned about the joy of giving and that my dad’s a pretty cool guy.”
#3. Breaking down
“I was in a hurry and stopped at a gas station to fill up. While I was outside my car a man came up to me and asked if I could spare a buck or two for gas, he, his wife, and his daughter were traveling but were broke and barely made it to the station. They had a broken down old volvo and it was clear that they were vagabonds of some sort who lived in their car. The kid was at most two years old. I was pretty low on cash myself but I thought hey what the hell, I could use some affirmation that people can be kind if I were in their situation. So I swiped my card at their pump and said, “Fill it up. Good luck to you and your family, I hope this can get you where you’re going” and walked away. He started crying as I left and I would have lost it too if I wasn’t too proud to do so in public. To see a grown man cry like that – both for having received an unexpected gift and for having to be put in the position of begging to keep his family safe, was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I haven’t told anyone until now.”
#2. The right thing to do
“About 6-7 years ago my gf at the time and I were vacationing in Chicago. It was our last night, so we hit a local bar and were just hanging out drinking $12 martinis. This homeless guy walks in and comes over to us with a handful of postcards and offers them to us. I didn’t need them so I give him $5 for two. He refuses. I try to give him $10 and he still refuses so I ask him what he wants. He tells me that he is just hungry and wants something to eat.
The bartender had to go all the way around to come up to the guy. The homeless guy orders a cheeseburger. The bartender was clearly distraught, and asked the guy if he had any money. I jumped in and said it was on me. I ordered a second cheeseburger and two orders of fries to go with it.
We sat and talked to him while his food was being made. Just a normal guy that lost his job and then his hope. I felt so terrible spending a couple hundred dollars in a bar while this guy could do so much with it. When his food came out, he profusely thanked me. I shoved all the cash I had into his hand and awkwardly told him good luck.
The bartender turned out to be the owner. He came back around told me that he had never seen anyone do something like that before. I offered up some feeble reply on how it just seemed right at the time and that we were leaving because I spent the last of my drinking money. He wouldn’t let us go. He gave us round after round on the house.
Closing time came soon after and we started heading to the door and he stopped us again. He was dating one of the waitresses and wanted to take us out to the late night bar. We hung out in the locked up bar with her while he did some paperwork. We played darts and drank before staggering back to our hotel. I can’t remember the homeless guys face, what he was wearing, but I still have that postcard of the sears tower.”
#1. Packed to the gills
“Well, it’s not me personally. But my great uncle was a quiet guy. He wasn’t around much. He lived in a small town.
But when he died a LOT of people came to the funeral. Way more than expected.
Turns out he’d spent a lot of his time volunteering, visiting with old folks, talking with people in hospice, the food pantry, etc. etc. He never told anyone. When he died all the people from these different volunteer organizations showed up along with the people he’d helped. Line was around the block to the funeral.”