In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers to name the kindest thing a stranger had done for them. Here are a few of the many responses:
Seeing that I was an educator, a gentleman in line behind me paid for my latte at Starbucks. —Susan V.
I went to a small farmers’ market just to browse. A lady there had beautiful loaves of bread I was admiring, and she asked me if I would like to try one. I told her I had no money, but she gave me a huge loaf of delicious whole grain bread and said to take it home and enjoy with my loved ones. I’ll never forget it. She now has a successful bakery! —Rhonda H.
A nice man carried a heavy box down the post office stairs for me and put it into my car. He said, “Have a blessed day,” and I said, “I just did.” —Kathy B.
The kindest thing a stranger ever did for me was to put gasoline in my SUV after it ran out and left me stranded. It was hot, Southern summertime, and he was a working man in his work truck. He pulled up and offered help before I could even call anyone. God sends what we need in many ways! —Janice P.
I was about 10 years old, in line at Heffner’s Grocery Store in Mocksville, N.C., buying my mom a card for Mother’s Day. I didn’t have enough cash and was humiliated. Before I knew it, a tall older man behind me added the change I needed with a smile. My heart sang. —Jim S.
After using the ATM, I drove down the street to stop at a hardware store. Just before I turned into the parking lot, I noticed a car tailgating me, and the driver started honking. I finally stopped, and he jumped out and handed me my debit card. —Barbara F.
Pumped my gas for me while I was pregnant and had a screaming two-year-old in the car. So nice! —Leigh W.
Blistering summer heat in Charleston, car loaded with two weeks of groceries, flat tire on Highway 17. Guy in pickup pulls over and asks if I need help. Gets out and he has a broken leg! In a cast! I protest, but he helps unload groceries, gets the spare and puts it on. Wouldn’t take money or give me his name. —Rita B.
People frequently offer to extract or insert my wheelchair into my vehicle. This is very much appreciated. —Roger B.
I was at a Tennessee football game and was freezing, so I went to buy a sweatshirt. I started to pay for it, and a gentleman had already done so. I asked him why, and he simply said, “It just seemed like the right thing to do.” Every time I wear it I’m wrapped in kindness, knowing there are kind people out there. —Jenny J.
A stranger came up to me in a restaurant and complimented me on my children. As a weary mother of four, it meant the world to me. I felt like maybe I was doing something right after all. —Angie B.
Paid my toll on the bridge. Thanksgiving week. —Cynthia M.
I had been visiting Peru and ran out of money. It was my last day, so I thought no worries. At the airport when it came time to pay the exit tax, which I had completely forgotten about, I freaked. A very nice lady in line paid it for me. I am forever grateful. —Susan H.
A few years back after we left a restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, there was a note on our windshield that said, “If you lost something, see the manager at Carmine’s. I reached for my neck and my necklace was gone. We went back in and they asked me to describe the article–it is a three-stone necklace with diamonds from my mother’s wedding band. The manager had no information on the person who found it, but I think of them often with gratitude when I wear it. —Patti K.
I was driving home from work through a bad neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, when I realized I had a flat tire—before cell phones were really commonplace. I pulled over and was walking the three blocks to a convenience store when a man flagged me down, saying I shouldn’t leave my car there. I told him I had to—I had a completely flat tire (it was dark and cold, I was wearing a dress and heels, and had no intention of changing it myself). This stranger changed my tire for no other reason than he was concerned about me in that neighborhood—and he told me he had been trying to redeem himself. I gave him a ride to the bus stop, and we both had faith in humanity. —Paige A.
The nicest thing a stranger has ever done for me: prayed. —Jay M.
It was Christmas Eve morning and I was a small boutique owner … needless to say, a very busy and stressful time. In addition, I was hosting Christmas lunch for my husband’s family. I had no time to shop for groceries except for 5 a.m. that morning. The only grocery open was Walmart. So, off to Walmart I headed in the dark of night. I looked dreadful as I didn’t see any reason to dress up at that hour. I looked pitiful wearing an old jogging suit, hair swept back in a messy ponytail, no make-up … you get the picture. As I was in line to pay, I noticed the checkout lady’s Christmas ball earrings. I told her how much I liked them. She said, “Would you like to have them?” in a consoling voice. I insisted that I couldn’t take her earrings. She said, “No, honey, you take them” as she kindly handed them over. I did take them and I wear them every Christmas to remind me that the most unlikely people may be in need of kindness. —Janet R.
My husband and I attended a Gaither Vocal Band concert a week ago. During the break I walked down from our second-floor seating area to get a drink. There were long lines everywhere, except for a table where several young men were handing out bottles of water. I walked over and got behind a small group of people. When I got to the table I pulled out my card to pay the $1 charge, only to realize they asked for cash only. As I turned to move away, a sweet little lady pulled out a dollar bill for me which I took after several reassurances that it was all good. Her only request was that I pass it on. It’s amazing how such a small gift can mean so much. I will definitely pass it on. —Barbara S.
I was seated at a restaurant waiting for my meal and was told a gentlemen paid for my meal and the other seated customer. Surprisingly thoughtful and generous. —Laura M.
I volunteer at the Atlanta Veterans Medical Center as a greeter at the main information desk. One morning was particularly busy and I made eye contact with an elderly veteran. I asked if I could help him with anything. He asked if I would do him the honor of accepting a gift from him. Before I could explain that I appreciated the kind thought but really couldn’t accept anything, he pulled out a pink keychain he had made. He made keychains as a kind of therapy and wanted me to have one as a thank-you for volunteering with a smile on my face. After nine years I am still volunteering and proudly use my keychain every day … and smile when I think of him and his service to our country. —Cindy M.
One day during a lengthy period of illness I had to bring my car in for service. It was Ash Wednesday and I had a dress on, but my hair was tousled and tiredness definitely showed in my face. I was waiting for my car and a woman came up to me out of nowhere and looked me straight in the eye and told me how beautiful I looked. Then, she was gone. She wasn’t a saleswoman and didn’t take a seat to wait for her car … she was just gone. I was dragging that day, but after that I felt joy inside. You never know what people are going through in their lives, so I try to never miss the opportunity to be kind to people I know and people I don’t know. —Barbara K.
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