Random Acts of Kindness December 20, 2019 11:56 AM   Subscribe

End of another long week, let's carve out a space to talk about something other than politics for those that need that space. Let's talk about random acts of kindness. I just read this news story about a woman who let a stranger ahead of her in line while shopping, the stranger repaid this act of kindness by purchasing some of her items as a thank you. What are some random acts of kindness that you have experienced yourself? Maybe someone bought you a cup of coffee. Or passed on a parking ticket that still had time left on it. It could be the dinner that was paid for without your knowledge. Whatever it is, in keeping with the holiday spirit, let's talk about those random acts of kindness that surprised you. Don't forget that this includes being kind to yourself. Cheers.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 11:56 AM (41 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, oh, oh, I have one!

Lo these many years ago when I was 16, I mysteriously received three months of some left-leaning paper (the Guardian? something that only briefly had a paper edition in the US) It was a free promo and I for some reason could not (or didn't think to ask my parents to) continue the subscription, but I really enjoyed it! I saw my first-ever Alison Bechdel cartoon in it (the famous Bechdel test one, actually).

But who signed me up for it? Who? It wasn't my parents, who were more arts and literature people than politics people and would never have heard of the paper and also would have told me. I was a lonely kid with basically no friends, so it wasn't a friend or a friend's parents. I suspect my social studies teacher, but can't prove it.

Also, one time when I was 22 and taking an overnight train trip between Beijing and Shanghai and had a standing-only ticket, this very lovely Chinese family let me share their bench seats and the grandfather gave me some maotai - and was even nice enough to let me off drinking more than a few sips.

I'd say that a lot of the kindness I've received in recent years has just been people being really nice and friendly when they could easily have been stand-offish or just minded their own business - in particular, recently, the people at the GLBTQ science fiction book group I started attending.
posted by Frowner at 12:11 PM on December 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

One time I was waiting for the bus and for some reason playing balance beam on the curb (I'm an adult!) but there was a broken section so I fell off and sprained my ankle. I was in the road and couldn't move at all and the other people came over and pulled me onto the sidewalk. That was really nice of them! (Course I had to hobble my own ass into a cab and find an urgent care once I stopped crying but such is life!)

Another time I got into a car accident and my car was totaled and sitting there in the intersection during rush hour. I had no idea what happened to my phone or what I should even be doing with myself and it was like 40 degrees out. This lady pulled over and asked me if she could call anyone for me, so I asked her to call my hubby (tip: have someone's number memorized!). I left a frantic message over her car's bluetooth (which was new to me in 2011, didn't know it was a thing!) When hubby called her back in a few minutes she had already left but gave him all the information he needed to come get me. She didn't have to do any of that but I'm so glad she did!
posted by bleep at 1:25 PM on December 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Feel free to delete this if it's not the deal, but I saw that twitter thread as well and have been reflecting about stuff.

My 2018/2019 project was to be more kind. A lot of it involved noticing - noticing when someone nearby was struggling with something and offering to help. Carrying around change just to give to people who need cash. Noticing when someone was being harassed on the TTC and checking in on them. Choosing a handful of causes and really dialing in on supporting them.

It was hard! I wasn't a jerk before but I was feeling really adrift in my place in my community. I had to look at kind people and notice things that I appreciated from folks around me, and I tried to emulate them. I spent a bunch of late 2018 in a sort of internal dialogue about niceness vs. doormattery and selflessness vs. self care and it got kind of hairy there for a while.

But I think it worked. I think I notice stuff more, and I empathize with people more, and I know exactly how far I can stretch myself in the name of kindness.

6 weeks ago I donated my liver anonymously to someone who needed it. It was a hard surgery and I'm still recovering. I don't know my recipient and I never knowingly will, but I think it was a kind thing to do. I'm proud of myself.

I hope this doesn't count as totally out off topic, only that kindness is something I've been thinking about, practicing, and improving at. And if I can do it, with all my judgyness and anxiety, so can other people, which is what gives me hope, which is me being kind to myself.
posted by robot-hugs at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2019 [84 favorites]

I went to the transfer station today (it's a thing where you bring your trash that then gets taken to a landfill somewhere else since our town does not have a landfill anymore). It was cold out, like single digits F and I had a small bag of trash and a ton of boxes. It's always a little challenging to get those boxes out of my place because they are bulky and I live up two flights of narrow steps. But I did it and got to the transfer station and bullshitted a little with the guys there who are always nice and friendly and even the guy who calls me "honey" doesn't bother me for some reason. I asked them what I owed them--the prices have changed a few times, I rarely pay the same amount each time and sometimes recycling costs extra but maybe not boxes?--and the guy said I could just get him next time which basically means "Hey it's free" so happy holidays to my slightly cleaner house and me for getting a thing done even though it was a hassle.

I think liver donation is very on topic. I hope you heal well and quickly.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:34 PM on December 20, 2019 [11 favorites]

A few months after moving about 3,000 miles to South Florida, Hurricane Irma was set to hit our area, and we decided to (temporarily)GTFO. Me, my hubby, and baby drove North. We were at a BBQ place in a small town in Georgia. Super delicious, lots of customers, lots of regulars. We were obviously pegged as anxious fleers (sp?) And a lovely older couple bought us our meal and wished us safe travels. It was very sweet and I instantly thought of this wrt the post question.
posted by PistachioRoux at 2:10 PM on December 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

Someone recently left a painted rock at my doorstep! It makes me happy every time I see it.
posted by HotToddy at 2:51 PM on December 20, 2019 [14 favorites]

When I first visited Seattle to see if I wanted to move here, I wound up getting a cup of coffee to kill time/jet lag, and the guy behind me in the queue bought it for me cos he had a buy one/get one coupon or something like that. I was kind of wary, but he was genuinely nice and we chatted about Seattle and Philadelphia and the Super Bowl, and he did not hit on me or linger or anything creepy like that, which frankly may have been the better gift.

It was sort of funny at the time too -- I already knew I quite liked Seattle, and it felt like the city going out of its way to try to welcome me. (Similarly -- it wasn't a person, but soon after I moved here I went out for a hike and found a heart-shaped rock right on the path, plain as day. I thought about leaving it there because some things are just too obvious, but it is at home now, a reminder of what it's like to love where I live.)
posted by kalimac at 2:57 PM on December 20, 2019 [12 favorites]

robot-hugs, I spent a long time recently talking to someone whose life was saved by organ donation. They did not know the identity of their donor and did not plan to find out, but they said they thought about the person every single day as their hero. What you did is beyond kind.
posted by sallybrown at 3:00 PM on December 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

I temporarily have a cane and a lot of people have been very considerate, especially the taxi and Lyft drivers I have grumpily resorted to paying to ferry me around. This was not always the case when I had a cane or crutches before, so I definitely don't take it for granted. A guy who also had a cane wished me happy holidays when we passed each other walking and I said same to you and I felt just like Tiny Tim. Also I went to a holiday party and met many lovely new people and just generally felt like things are not as bad as I misanthropically tend to think.
posted by ferret branca at 3:23 PM on December 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

I started dating my girlfriend Amy while I was still living with my dad (more of a roommate situation than a parent/child thing) and at some point I got my own place. When my first Christmas in the new place was approaching Amy asked me if I was going to have a Christmas tree. I explained that, no, I was not going to have a Christmas tree because I had a childhood filled with Christmases where everyone fought and I basically hated Christmas and wanted nothing to do with it.

A couple days later I walked into my apartment, turned on the lights, and did a double take because there was a fully-decorated Christmas tree standing in my living room.

My heart grew two sizes that day. I still get a bit of the holiday blues and I still have a lot of bad Christmas memories, but I decided that day I could begin creating my own Christmas memories and maybe they could be good ones.

I'm typing this looking at the Christmas tree in my current living room, the 22nd year sharing a tree with my wife, Amy and the 17th with our child. All the Christmases have been good.
posted by bondcliff at 3:58 PM on December 20, 2019 [52 favorites]

I was doing some Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago at Barnes and Noble, and wound up on the upper level trying to wrangle two awkward, over-full shopping baskets full of heavy books and bulky games. Standing at the top of the escalator, I could not figure out how to get on with a basket in each hand as I am not very coordinated and need to hang on to the handrail. I was standing there all befuzzled trying to figure out how manage my predicament, very tired from shopping and starting to stress out, when a lady behind me asks "would you like some help?" I gratefully handed her one of my baskets and she carried it down for me. It was super nice of her and really made my day.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:41 PM on December 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

This thread is an unexpected kindness. >sniff!<
posted by Don Pepino at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

6 weeks ago I donated my liver anonymously to someone who needed it. It was a hard surgery and I'm still recovering. I don't know my recipient and I never knowingly will, but I think it was a kind thing to do. I'm proud of myself.

Gosh, robot-hugs, that's beyond kind; random act of kindness seems too small a term for organ donation. Since you won't know your recipient's story, and since it fits the theme, let me tell you my story.

I used to be on dialysis; it sucked. Three half-day sessions every week, hooked up to a machine and the rest of the week just tired. It was like I was always missing two hours of sleep, and my life and schedule revolved around the sessions. A little over 13 years ago, I got the call that a kidney was available for me; in my case, somebody's family had to make the difficult call under what must have been devastating circumstances to let their loved one's organs go to help others.

Now, with my transplant, I'm free from all of that. A handful of pills a day and a blood test a month and that's about it. I have my time, I have control, I have freedom. Thanks to someone like you, I've turned 30, and I've turned 40. I've had a successful professional career; published papers, got my Master's, worked in three countries. I've fallen in love and gotten married. I've travelled in 8 provinces, 14 US states (plus DC!)... and 24 other countries, including all six inhabited continents; I've even had a play performed off-off-Broadway. And I appreciate the gift I've had, every day.

I'm proud of you.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:57 PM on December 20, 2019 [56 favorites]

This is odd, but the unexpected kindness has come from "inside the house". The holiday has been living under a dark shadow for me because of an awful event that happened and is foremost in my mind when the holiday comes around. But this year my brain finally let go of the grudge and I am enjoying my favorite pastime, which is decorating my little place. So, thanks, brain, for giving me a respite and allowing some joy to happen.

But on topic, this year I heard a co-worker trying to find three live wreaths and all were gone, so I volunteered to make them. I haven't done it before, but they turned out great! And it was fun to create them because there were no rules or expectations. Hmmmm, I'm sensing a theme; maybe I am back into creative mode which is my best self. Cool.
posted by mightshould at 5:43 PM on December 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

Once when I got to the booth to pay for my parking at the cancer center, I was told the person in front of me had paid for mine. So I paid for the person behind me. I did that several times afterwards. This thread is a reminder to do it again. (There’s a fixed rate for patients.)
posted by FencingGal at 5:44 PM on December 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

This thread reminds me that years ago, after a death in my family, I went back to the house to stay for a while and start clearing it out. One day a guy who owned a restaurant nearby dropped in to pick up some stuff and found me crying. He informed me that I was coming to the restaurant for dinner that night and every night, on them, and that I could sit there and read a book all evening if I didn't want to be alone. What a nice gesture and, now that I think of it, not without risk, inviting a shaky, weepy person to camp out in your dining room during service!
posted by BibiRose at 6:13 PM on December 20, 2019 [32 favorites]

This is a tiny one, but I’m part of a neighborhood Buy Nothing Group (no-strings-attached giving of stuff you don’t want/need within neighborhood networks; it’s awesome). Last year someone posted a cute stuffed otter near winter holidays, when my kid happened to be going through an otter phase, and I was chosen to take it. When I picked it up, two tickets to our local aquarium (which has super expensive admission) were paperclipped to its ear with a kind note. This year I’ve been sticking extra treats in with any kid stuff I give away too.
posted by centrifugal at 10:10 PM on December 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

Reading these are inspiring me to want to do more, AND giving me ideas of what I can do so awesome.
This seems small in comparison to what I've read here but it's pretty important to me right now. My dog died recently and I was utterly devastated. Part of the problem is that I work from home and my daily chats with other dog walkers were often the only social contact I had with other people.
Also, my twice daily walks on Park Island were a great way to relax and recharge and for a while after his death I felt unable to walk there again. I was scared that one of the dog walkers would inevitably ask me "Where's Pippin?" and then I'd burst into tears. I hate the idea of crying in front of people.
Anyway, after about two weeks I went for my first walk alone. It was so hard walking the same route, but without Pippin there, and I spent ALL THE TIME just fighting back the urge to cry. People greeted me, and even had small chats but nobody mentioned the absence of my dog. I was very relieved, and proud of my poker face.
The next day I walked the same route again, and this time it was much easier. I didn't have to fight back tears all the time. And this time, person after person stopped me and asked me where my dog was. I was able to talk to all of them without crying, and each conversation was lovely. Since then, almost every day, somebody stops me and asks me about Pippin. I hadn't realised how many friends I'd made by simply walking my dog every day and saying "hello" to everyone I encountered.
Once I was actually in town, far away from my regular route, and a complete stranger stopped me and asked me where my dog was. She told me that her child had noticed me walking with Pippin every day, and when they saw me recently without my dog, the child had said "Oh no, I hope nothing's happend to the dog!". We had a great chat about this woman's new naughty Labrador puppy.
It meant so much to me that all these people who I'd thought of as strangers had noticed me, and taken time, first to let me alone when I was in distress and didn't want to be spoken too, and then to reach out to me when they could see it was ok. Apparently my poker face isn't all that poker after all.
posted by Zumbador at 11:44 PM on December 20, 2019 [41 favorites]

So much snow has fallen that I finally had to leave my truck parked awkwardly on the side of the road by the trail home, instead of up on a little turnout where its more discreet. Its a remote road so not really in anyones way but I didn't like being so on the road. My most recent trip to town, when I got back (after dark), parked & got ready to trudge up the hill, I suddenly saw that someone who must have been passing by on a Cat* had taken the time (and fuel) to dig out a path and a little landing spot for me. I am so thankful that someone thought to do such a thing!
*a dozer not a fluffer
posted by cabin fever at 11:59 PM on December 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

Random food.
I get random free food from people; mostly although not exclusively restaurants. Sometimes it's an extra item thrown in, sometimes with a wink, other times with a direct acknowledgment. Or someone waves me off paying. Sometimes cuz of a small non-issue, like the customer in front of me was slow. But sometimes just because?

IDK, I thought maybe I just forgot how to be a person in the world and this was normal. So I've talked to some friends and they don't get offered or given free food randomly. I'm not sure whats going on. Heck it just happened last night, I went to get pizza by the slice and the guy waved me off of paying, said it was on the house. And the week prior, I was sitting with a packed lunch in the library, contemplating how much I didn't want a cold dinner (it was a sandwich, but still), when a guy walked up to me and the table next to me; someone didn't meet him for his delivery, so here are some deep dish pizzas.

I've had a lot of kindness in the past few years, but the food, that's the random kind of kindness.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:09 AM on December 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

About 5 years ago I was really struggling financially, like scraping up quarters to give my son for lunch money (or peanut butter on the last 2 heels of bread), because my rent/utilities/car payment totals far exceeded my income. Every week was a rollercoaster of anxiety. One day I received an envelope in the mail, with a local return address. In it was two $50 bills and a sweet note - unsigned. I cannot explain how helpful that money was to me. To this day I still do not know who sent it. I wrote back a grateful thank you and sent it to the address. I also posted a cryptic note on my social media, thanking the mystery person.

I try to pay forward whenever I can.
posted by sundrop at 5:56 AM on December 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

When I was maybe ten or twelve years old, I was swimming at the pool and a younger girl of maybe seven or eight walked up to me to tell me I was pretty and then walked away. I had never had a compliment on my appearance from anyone other than family members before, and I was feeling very self-conscious at the time. I think that incident is a big part of why, though I've struggled on and off with confidence in other areas, I've always felt confident in the way I look.

When my cat was hospitalized and then died early this year (he was fairly young, and had a medical condition emerge suddenly) I got an outpouring of support from so many people. It reminded me there are so many people who care about me. I suppose those aren't exactly random acts of kindness, but reaching out wasn't anything anyone was obligated to do and it still meant so much. And, also not random, but the EAP therapist who refused to let me "accept" that his death was my fault even though I outlined in detail why I felt responsible (won't go into detail here) and told her my goal for the therapy session was to accept my responsibility and make peace with it. It felt like such a burden was lifted when she told me I should change that goal. I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night questioning every decision I made around my cat's care and health but I have that phone call--with a stranger, who knew the whole story and who I'd given permission to judge me completely--to give me strength. Because of her, and because of my friends and community, I'm going into 2020 still missing my sweet, goofy guy like hell but so much stronger than I thought I was capable of being.
posted by capricorn at 7:49 AM on December 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

And Zumbador, I'm so sorry about Pippin.
posted by capricorn at 7:51 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

About three years ago, my wife and I, my brother, my father and stepmother, and my mother and stepfather were eating at St. Mary's Seafood in Jacksonville, FL.

When it came time to pay the bill, our server informed us that the couple at the table behind us had already paid it. Apparently, once a month they come to the restaurant, pick a table, and pay their bill, but only let the waiters tell the people at the table after the couple have left the restaurant.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:07 PM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

In October my husband dropped our kids off at school and then had a mild heart attack. Luckily there were some other parents still around who encouraged him to call an ambulance. I was already at work while all this was happening.

One of the parents there called me to update me and told me that our dog was safe with him and that he had no problem keeping her all day. My husband walks the dog with him on school drop off and pick up so if someone hadn't taken the dog I don't know what I would have done. Instead I grabbed a cab to the hospital and waited with my husband for test results. The parent also sent me photos during the day of our dog chilling in his house. it was such a comfort.

We know and like this guy but more in the sense of having kids in the same class and seeing him at drop off and saying hi. We didn't hang out per se. he really stepped up to help with no hesitation. When I went to pick up the kids after school to tell them what had happened (they had gone into school and did not know their dad was ill, and luckily his heart attack was mild so I didn't bring them to the hospital until that evening), the guy was already waiting with our dog. He arrived early for school pickup so I wouldn't have to have been searching for the dog

my husband ended up needing a triple bypass and so many acts of kindness towards us from friends, family, and neighbours followed. I am so grateful.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:30 PM on December 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

What a fantastic thread. Thank you so much, everyone. I haven't been hanging around MeFi much lately, for a whole bunch of reasons. But now that I have tears in my eyes from this thread, I want to tell this story here.

About 5-6 years ago, I was pretty much at "rock bottom," financially speaking. I'd been gutted by a devastating divorce and the Great Recession. My duplicitous ex had an affair, left me for someone else, and managed to abscond with my share of the money from the sale of our home (over $50K). Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get back on my feet. I started a solo house cleaning business out of sheer financial desperation, but remained snowed under by grief, poverty, and untreated depression. In the space of a few years, I'd gone from being financially comfortable (with good health insurance and early retirement plans) to scrounging around for a few measly coins to pay bus fare to work. It was terrifying and demoralizing.

The first turning point that kept hope alive for me was the passage of Obamacare.

Around that same time, my dear friend David found out that I'd been hauling my groceries a long way in a wheeled cart on foot every week, because I couldn't even afford a buck or two for transit fare.

He offered to pick me up and take me grocery shopping with him every two weeks, just to save me some time and effort (and allow us a chance to chat more often.) He knew I was a writer, and that the most valuable thing to me was unencumbered solo time to write. By taking me grocery shopping, he gave me the gift of 3+ additional hours of writing time, since I no longer had to spend that time hauling groceries across town in all manner of weather.

But that's not all.

One day, on our way back from the store, he handed me an envelope. Inside there was a sweet card expressing his appreciation for our friendship, along with a check for $1000.

One thousand dollars. ONE THOUSAND. With no strings attached. It wasn't a loan, he insisted. It was a gift to help make my life a little easier.

I burst into tears of gratitude. I'd never had a friend that kind-hearted before. I spent the rest of the day crying tears of joy and relief, and promising I'd pay it forward.

That was the second turning point. I was still a struggling house cleaner wishing she had more time to write, but that $1000 went a long way, and gave me a major morale boost. Plus, those joint grocery excursions were still adding 3+ hours a week to my writing time. I made good use of those precious hours: working on my blogs, gathering and organizing research notes, meeting other writers, etc.

Then in 2017, another kind-hearted soul (and fellow writer) I met through my pagan group recommended me for a freelance copywriting gig after being impressed with my blog. I got the gig based on his recommendation. Overjoyed, I quit cleaning houses.

I worked for them as a self-employed copywriter for a couple of years. They loved my work and told me I was one of their best writers: skilled, reliable with deadlines and communication, and pleasant to work with.

Six months ago they promoted me to their remote editorial team, and I'm now - finally - financially comfortable. (With a few caveats, but I won't get into those here.) I enjoy the work, I love being self-employed and working remotely, and it leaves me with enough time and energy to work on my own projects.

I now publish a respected music newsletter which brought me the rare privilege of interviewing Ulf Söderberg, a reclusive musician who rarely grants interviews, and whose music means more to me than I'll ever be able to express. (Note self-link; hope it's OK in this context.)

I feel so fortunate to be able to do this work. I don't take it for granted for a single minute.

I love interviewing. Every time I interview musicians, there's a stage of the production process where I get so ridiculously over-the-top excited about it that I can barely sit still. I may be in my fifties now, but at heart I'm still that same giddy sixteen-year-old music-obsessed nerdy fangirl who got her first record reviews published in the high school newspaper in 1984, and aspired to interview her favorite musicians one day. With my newsletter, I'm living out that dream. Complete with embarrassing fangirl-squee (in private, of course) and big silly grins.

I've also made major progress on my book manuscript in the past six months.

My depression is well-controlled with medication, thanks to Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion in Oregon. For the first time in my entire adult life, I have affordable health insurance that isn't tied to conventional full-time employment or marriage. It is glorious.

David still drives me to the grocery store every month, and we always chat and laugh and cheer each other on. Our friendship is stronger than ever.

It wasn't just his thousand-dollar gift that changed my life, nor even the ongoing gift of helping me free up time for writing, although both of those things helped greatly. It was the kindness. It was his unflagging trust and belief in me and my writing...at a time when I was most often perceived as "that lady who cleans houses," end of story.

That's the thing that still moves me the most.
posted by velvet winter at 5:37 PM on December 21, 2019 [32 favorites]

Two weeks ago I saw a nice Ikea Billy bookshelf on the street that was exactly the size/color I'd been wanting (but hemming and hawing about buying because I'm kinda broke) and it's a long story but a random guy who was moving other furniture out of the building was really sweet and helpful in making sure I could have it and that I got it for myself. And now all my books are finally arranged in my room instead of in boxes, and the top of the bookshelf gives me another surface to store stuff (in my teeny-tiny room), too.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:11 PM on December 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

When I was a little kid visiting New York with my family, I got separated from my parents and ended up trying to walk from the east side of Queens back to New Jersey where we were staying. As I was picking my way along the grassy margin of some highway on Manhattan, this homeless guy came up and asked me what I was doing all alone in the dark wearing only a sweatshirt against the cold. He ended up giving me his Metrocard.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:26 PM on December 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

Holy shit how long did that take?
posted by bleep at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel like I have a bunch of stories that are just beyond conscious recall. And I was going to make a loving joke that we should've just declared robot-hugs the winner & closed the thread anyway.

A few that pop into mind: The past several years, home has been a complex near a lake that was meant to be a calm retreat. But it's been somewhat marred by some noisy tenants, so relationships have at times been frosty.

However, the relatives of one did something nice for me last winter. They found car insurance papers that'd fallen from my vehicle at a local store, recognized the address as being the same as their relatives', and brought it back to me.

A few times at arenas or theatres strangers have just walked up and offered extra tickets - always welcome when you're on a a budget.

My elderly mother lives in a nursing facility that has undergone some negatives, including disruptive renovation and staff turnover. The renovation didn't include provisions for landlines, but mom doesn't use a cell phone. A few staff members there have tried to find a remedy, even tho it's far from their duties. That's nice, especially as I know they've all been stressed themselves by the changes.

(The people who take care of our elderly, the people who take care of children, the people take care of the sick - none of them get enough attention and praise.)

Finally, today I happened to text a neighbor re going on a walk. She told me later she's been depressed and had just woken from a nap-time nightmare when I texted, was glad to hear from me. So that was a bit of an unintentional good deed on my part.

When I got home from said walk, I had a present from a Secret Santa exchange I do with film twitter. It was a beautiful book about women in movies. This on top of my cool TV-related Secret Quonsar gift have been wonderful spirit-raisers during a challenging autumn in a challenging year.

I'm a pretty sensitive person, which makes me both empathetic to people but also easily hurt, which then turned me cynical & cranky. (In short, I'm a land of contrasts.) This thread is a good reminder how even small efforts to be nice can make all the difference. What's the saying about you never know what someone else is going through?
posted by NorthernLite at 10:17 PM on December 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had so many moments like these. For some reason, this is the one that suddenly came to me to share.

In undergrad I was sitting in an art class working on a sculpture that I hated. It was one of the worst falls of my life (eff you 2003) and I was deep in a terrible depression, horrifically lonely, and sick in my brain and my heart. A sort of friend, more like friendly acquaintance, who helped out in the art department, was walking past me. Just at the moment I thought, "Maybe I'll end it," he reached out and put his hand on my back, just between my shoulder blades and left it there for a long moment. His hand was so warm, and so firm, and so steady. He didn't say anything but he didn't have to. I've always wondered how he knew to do that, right then. I carried the sensation of his palm on my back with me as courage for a very long time.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:15 AM on December 22, 2019 [19 favorites]

It doesn't matter what kind of mood I'm in to start with, reading this kind of thing always, always makes my eyes start to water up. It is one of the best things, and when times are dark and news is terrible it is always so wonderful to stumble on to something like this and to remember how innately good and kind most people are.

After my dad died, my mum was taken very ill and subsequently diagnosed with leukaemia, amongst other things. I was the closest of the children, and I was eighty miles away, so spent a lot of time heading up and down the A19 to York - but I couldn't be there all the time. My mum was a devout Catholic, and a regular church goer, and I was so touched and moved by some of her friends from church who helped us out and would check in on her when we weren't there, going above and beyond. I'm an ex myself, but some of those people were walking the walk and practising their faith and showing true love and charity in a way for which I'll be forever grateful.

I know you should be kind just for the sake of being kind, but being honest and selfish about it I get such a buzz out of doing things like this myself that little else equals: this thread is a reminder to watch out for more opportunities to do so in 2020. Thanks.

Here's a lovely article full of such things, and for once - and maybe just this once - do read the comments.
posted by reynir at 12:21 AM on December 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

The other day I was running towards the bus stop (well, really, walking really fast while penguin shuffling, there was ice on the ground and I was holding a coffee) and there were these two guys who made it their personal mission to try to get me on the bus. We failed (it was fine, there was another bus I could catch), but they were just so nice about it.

Another bus story - for the first week or so after I got mugged I had a really hard time with people standing right behind me, which made lining up to get on the bus difficult. I never realized how ingrained the 'ladies first' mentality is with a lot of dudes until I was forced to break social norms. One afternoon I ended up just telling a guy that it wasn't personal, I just didn't really want anyone standing right behind me, explained the reason why. And that set off a chain reaction of empathy and stories that rippled through the back half of the bus - discussions of where the mugging occurred, talking about what's happened to them/their family, talking about the gang dynamics. A couple of guys asked if I wanted someone to walk with me, and were also respectful when I said no. And yeah, the next day, someone helped me go last on the bus.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:12 AM on December 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

I got home the same night, so several hours but less than a day.

When I have kids that can walk, I'm going to put them on leashes.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:39 AM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

When we moved to Florida from Arkansas, we had this sky blue Volvo 240. "The blue car." I hated that car because it broke down every time we left town and would strand us in scary places all the time. They're supposed to be so safe and all, but how safe are they if they drop out from under you every time you get a night+ away from home? My mother, ever the optimist, continued undaunted to take us in it on road trips and car camping all over the state. It never occurred to her to rent something and she couldn't've anyway, not having any money. This one time we were camping at a state park at the beach somewhere and for once it didn't break down but we were on one of my mom's terrifying adventures, trying to drive to some backcountry attraction she'd heard of that you probably needed a truck or an airboat for when we got into a patch of soft sand and got stuck. It was just the three of us, me 10, my brother 6, and my mom, sitting in the stopped car stuck, as usual. But this time before we had time to even take off our seatbelts to start to try to deal with the situation, a platoon came jogging up the road all shouting in unison, and we were suddenly surrounded by all these enormous, ripped dudes with buzzcuts. There were brisk orders from the drill sergeant, and eight or 10 of them snapped to and grabbed hold and picked up the car and jogged with it and us out of the sand and onto firm ground. My mom rolled down the window to try to thank them, but the sergeant just said, "Your United States Marines, ma'am." Then they all shouted "hoo-wah" or some such and ran off.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2019 [27 favorites]

In late July my father ended up in the ICU due to DT's. While not unexpected, it was awful and the weeks that followed were equally awful. Frankly the second half of this year has been horribly shitty for that and other reasons.

In early August spouse and I attended a fundraiser in honor of our friend's sister, diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of breast cancer at an absurdly early age. Spouse and I spent the day helping out - collecting money for 50/50 and the silent auction, making sure that plates were full and cups were available - generally just doing any little thing necessary to keep the event running smoothly.

Late in the evening, friend's mom asked how my dad was doing. I said not well, but did not elaborate. When she expressed the wish that she had asked me sooner (as it was very late and we were cleaning up) I replied that the day was not about me, it was about her daughter.

She gave me a hug. A mom-type hug. The kind of hug that I have not experienced since my mom died. The kind of hug that I badly needed, but did not know how badly until that moment.

She is not a stranger, she worked with my mom and knows my family very well. But it was unexpected and so lovely.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:36 PM on December 22, 2019 [9 favorites]

I made a compilation of all the Holiday Music AskMes (more than 50 of them) and put it on MeFi Wiki. Merry Solstice, Mefites.
posted by zamboni at 8:02 AM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I rent, but I try to make it easy for the man who does the lawn. When he first picked up the contract, he introduced himself by his first name, said he is 66, tapped his heart, and then has done a solo job of it for two years. I keep the porches swept, and put the leaves away, empty the leaf recycle bins, and little things. In the big leaf push, I always fill up a couple of cans, because the winds always come when he has just finished the day before. But he, brings fruit to me from his place, he has some trees, and he works where fruit falls also. So, this year he brought me a half dozen huge pomegranates, lemons, apples, oranges. Last week I handed over a pint of fresh chili verde. I have to unlock the gate as early as he gets here, and today he greeted me and asked how I am doing, and if I like cookies. Out of his pocket comes a package of Grandma's little vanilla cream filled cookies, perfect for extra early breakfast. He is just such a pleasant person, and the cookies were great!
posted by Oyéah at 9:41 AM on December 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

My grandfather went blind from an accident when I was 7. I loved him but I was also a little shit at times. I'm sure he forgave me but I wish now he could have seen me grow out of it before he died, but I didn't get that chance.

Fifty years later, I was getting new glasses at a local optician, a family business in a working class neighborhood, waiting for my turn. They were helping an older lady and I overheard them say her new glasses would be $75. She didn't have the money right then but she would save up until she had it and then order the glasses. After she left, I asked them to put her glasses on my bill. They couldn't believe it. I told them I had enough money that I wouldn't even notice it. All the attention got pretty embarrassing. It was really not a big deal to me. But the lady did get her glasses, and they reduced my price to their cost, which I didn't request but they insisted.

Anyway, this is for you Bompa! I still love you and miss you, and I'm still sorry about that stuff I did. To this day I often imagine you watching over me and maybe that has helped me make better choices along the way.
posted by hypnogogue at 1:23 PM on December 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

I just realized I have been treated exceptionally kindly by random strangers at least twice.

In 2010, I had taken my very expensive camera to a friend to show her some pictures (yes, I was foolishly keeping all of my 1000+ pictures on that camera all the time). I took a cab ride home from her place and after arriving home, discovered that the camera was gone. The friend didn't have it, I didn't have it, the taxi company swore they didn't have it. Gone. I felt so stupid that I cried. The camera was a gift, the pictures impossible to replace.

Almost a week later the doorbell rang and a guy stood there holding my camera.
He was taking the same cab after me and saw the camera. He was sure it was his because *he had the same model and was traveling with his wife and thought she had taken it along*. So he took it from the cab. Back home, his real camera was there and he realized his mistake. He did not trust the cab company SO HE LOOKED THROUGH 1000+ OF MY PICTURES TO FIND A CLUE until he saw a picture with a parcel I'd received with my address on it (yes, I was that clueless about security). He came by three times before he found me home. Would not accept money or a box of chocolates or even my business card. Just left the camera, waved and was gone.

The other time a streetcar driver found my handbag I had left in the streetcar. I was hoarding my nephews and their backpacks and left the handbag on the window shelf. A passenger brought the handbag to the driver. He looked through it, found my wallet and ID, looked through the wallet, found a business card from my regular nail salon (!), called them, got my number, called me on my cell phone. I WAS NOT AWARE OF LOSING MY HANDBAG YET. And he was still at work. He told me he'd be driving by my stop in ten minutes. I changed from my pajamas into street clothes, ran to the stop, caught the streetcar, retrieved my handbag and got off the streetcar all in ten minutes. Did not have the time to bring a gift or say a proper thank you. PEOPLE ARE AMAZING. I hope karma catches up with you, dear lovely streetcar person!

My friends couldn't believe how lucky I got TWICE. Both of these events were in the same year!
posted by M. at 1:51 AM on December 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

6 weeks ago I donated my liver anonymously to someone who needed it. It was a hard surgery and I'm still recovering. I don't know my recipient and I never knowingly will, but I think it was a kind thing to do. I'm proud of myself.

robot-hugs, my aunt’s life was saved by a living liver donor (though a known donor - her wife’s colleague). my aunt has a genetic progressive liver disease, and before the transplant, she was frequently hospitalized and had a super shitty quality of life. her doctors spent about a year screening potential donors, and we thought for a while that she might not make it - she was so, so sick. she’s about a year out from the surgery now, and I cannot begin to express what a huge difference the transplant has made. she was physically healthier within weeks of the surgery than she had been before, because recovering from major surgery with a functional liver was miles better than living with her previous liver.

i cannot express in words what the living liver donor’s gift has meant to my aunt, her wife, and our whole family. i am sure that the person who recived part of your liver - and their friends and family - feels similarly.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:30 PM on December 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

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