Showing goodwill and trust in complete strangers

This morning, after work, I ran to the library to get some books. While there, I realized that I hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours and that I was really hungry (go figure). I couldn’t think of a single thing in my house which I wanted to eat so I decided to stop at my sister’s favorite diner for some grub.

I had never been to this place before but my sister and her boyfriend keep telling me how great the food and the prices are.

I got 2 poached eggs, 2 slices of thick homemade toast, a big side of hash, tea and OJ.

The food was superb. It was, by far, the best meal I’ve had in months. The waitress was extremely pleasant and efficient.

The bill came to a bit over $7.00.

Then, I found out, much to my dismay and supreme embarrassment, that they only take cash.

All I had was a debit card and a checkbook. I was about to offer to leave my cell phone and house keys as collateral while I ran to the bank.

The waitress told me, “Don’t worry about it hun, just drop the money off the next time you’re nearby.”

Holy Crap! I’ve never been to this place before. This woman has no clue who I am, if I’m actually trustworthy, or if I even live within one hundred miles of this place. She has no idea if I’ll ever be back again. Of course I will. I was so grateful to not have to backtrack today, in the snow. The only reason I even left the house was so I wouldn’t have to listen to my sister whining about the lack of new reading material in the house. I will go tomorrow morning, right after work and pay my bill. I might even have breakfast there again tomorrow.

One thing I know for sure, I will definitely be going to this place at least once a week from now on. I love to sit and eat and read after a long night at work and now I’ve found the perfect place to do it.

It’s so rare these days to find someone completely willing to believe the best in a complete stranger. I was already in a good mood, since I had an excellent night at work and I’m finally over my cold. But now I have a massive case of the warm fuzzies.

That’s great! I’ve had a similar experience in the type of diner, but as a regular, not a first-time customer. I’m glad you found a new place to chill.

I do have a relevant story, though:

About two weeks ago, my fiance came down with sinus congestion/ general ickyness and body ache and had to leave work early. I told him I’d pick him up some meds on the way home, plus some gatorade for hydration and some chocolate because he needed a treat. We both go through this kind of genero-ick/cold-type crap at least once every winter, and I know from experience that in the early, head-focused stage, Sudafed or its generic equivalent is the only thing that is worth taking. When it starts dripping down to the chest, we switch to Tussin for a day or two and we’re all set. I was getting sniffly as well, plus I figured that our houseguest would get sick before the week was out just from being around us, so I wanted to get a big box (24 pills=12 doses=maybe 2 days for 2 people at the recommended dose, for 3 sickies you definitely need the 48-pack) so I wouldn’t have to wander out in the cold in a few days’ time.

Sadly, they were all out of the 48-packs of both the name brand and generic, so I picked up 2 24-packs, but it only came out to like a dollar more so I figured it wasn’t a big deal. I grabbed the other stuff I needed and went to the pharmacy counter to pick up the actual pills (curse those methheads!) in exchange for my little cards. I had my ID out and ready (again- damn methheads!) and cash to pay for it all since that store often has problems with the POS CC machine at the pharmacy. When I got to the counter, though, the tech said that I could only buy one box! The other employee there backed her up, even though I pointed out (in friendly tones- I used to work retail and I still ‘serve’ the public on a daily basis, so I didn’t want to give them any crap for just following regs they didn’t make) that I could have bought 48 pills if they were in one package, so why not 48 in the form of 2x24? No dice.

I was ready to back down and leave with the paltry 24-pack, just to get home and nurse my honey, when the woman in line behind me (she had just come up at the end of this exchange, I wasn’t holding anybody up) spoke up and said- “That’s ridiculous! Here- let me buy one of them for you.” and she did just that! I gave her the cash and after my transaction was complete, she had the tech ring her up for the second box, doing the whole ID/get written in the big book of Potential Meth Lab Proprietors/etc. rigmarole and everything. I was thrilled. It wasn’t much trouble for her, I know, but she didn’t have to do it and I never would have dreamed of asking. She made my life a lot easier and less stressful. The kicker? When she handed over her ID, the tech wished her a Happy Birthday! This nice lady gave me a present on her birthday.

My story is from about 25 years ago. I was sick at home with the flu and realized that I hadn’t sent a card or gift to my ex-mother-in-law (I love her) and would miss her (next day) birthday.

I called Berry’s Florist in St. Albans and spoke with the owner. I gave her credit card information which was declined (maxxed out).

Check by phone was something yet to be discovered - there were no debit cards with charge card logos.

She told me not to worry, and to come in to pay once I got over the flu.

There was no caller id on phones back then and I’d never done business there in the past. She believed me and she sent the bouquet.

My MIL loved her flowers and Berry’s Florist got a customer for life.

Back in the early 70s, a friend and I were visiting Boston. We went to get on the T and discovered they only took exact change. We only had bills (yes, it was that long ago), so we started to get off to buy something and get some change together.

The guy behind us, said, “Don’t worry about it,” and paid our fares. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a very nice gesture.

There was also a local mechanic. We were having a problem with one of our hoses, so took it in. When I came to pay up, he said, “It only needed tightening. No charge.”

I was floored. This was an auto mechanic.

You can bet I went back there when I needed work.

Ours is from Christmas two years ago. We go every year to a Christmas tree farm where they let you chop down your own tree. We had two small children with us, braved the wintry weather to pick out just the right tree, cut it down, and then had it hauled back to the barn on the wagon. As they were wrapping the tree in twine for us, we realized that they didn’t take debit/credit. And we didn’t have any cash or checks on us. MrWhatsit explained the situation and said that he would leave the rest of us there while he drove back to the nearest town (about a 15-minute drive, so half an hour round trip) to use the cash machine. One of the guys who worked there, an older gentleman that was somewhat hard-of-hearing, said that he was a part owner and that he would trust us for the money, just send it to him when we got a chance.

We were completely floored by this, and made sure to send him a note of effusive thanks along with our tree payment, the very next day.

Then this year we went back to the same place to buy our tree, and the very same elderly hard-of-hearing gentleman was driving the tractor – and actually remembered us. He said, “Oh, you’re those nice folks that sent me the money for the tree last year! Nice to know there’s still honest people in the world.”

They have our business for as long as they’re around, I can tell you that much.

I love reading stories like these, especially if I’m having one of my (thankfully extremely rare) hate-the-world days.

Several years ago, I got a flat tire and had AAA tow me to the closest tire shop which is a locally owned place. The owner is the son of the guy who started the business a few decades ago. The owner himself came out to meet me and asked me if I bought the tires from him. I told him that I hadn’t.

He said, “tell ya what. If you promise to buy tires from me from now on, I’ll fix your flat for free.”

I have bought tires from him ever since and have told everyone I know to go there. He has always had great prices and excellent service.

Wow, what a sappy bunch we are. I’ve always tried to be one of these people because I love doing nice things for strangers. For some reason, it always makes me feel better about myself than just being nice to the people I actually know. It’s nice to know that more people seem to feel this way.
And, here’s my tip for miserable people out there - if you’re feeling like shit and wish the world would just up and die, do something nice for someone you don’t know. The response you get will make all the difference in the world to you and has the added benefit of making someone else’s day too. Unless, of course, you WANT to continue wishing the world would just up and die. :smiley:
When I told my sister what happened this morning, she laughed at me and said, “I guess you’re just not used to North Country kindness yet, are you?”
She’s right. I’ve been up here less than one year. I don’t particularly like it here and I want to move back home to MA. But, I know I can’t and I have to stick it out here for at least another year. It’s experiences like the one I had this morning which just might make me decide I like it here.

Years ago I had a very sick cat. He had spent all day laying out in the summer sun and had gotten heat stroke. I rushed him to the vet where he turned off all of his symptoms. Once we got home he started up again, eyes rolling back into his head, falling down, back legs not working.

The vet had since closed and there wasn’t an emergency number, so I called the vet at home. She met me back at the clinic, where he again, turned his symptoms off. She sat with us for about an hour, waiting to see how he was.

Eventually, I was convinced that he wasn’t going to die in my arms. When I went to pay her, she wouldn’t take it. She was the best vet.

Similarly: I bumped into another car in a parking lot recently and got ready to be nailed on either repairs or insurance. I asked him to get a quote before we exchanged any insurance information. He went to a mechanic and the guy said “Oh, that’s easy” and buffed the dent out for free!

At the risk of this turning into a thread entirely about mechanics, I’ve encountered two very decent and honest ones.

One was with an old car, which had some fault causing a fuse to blow every so often on the circuit to one of the headlights. Because I knew about it, I double-checked all the lights before taking it in for its MOT (annual inspection). Surprise surprise, the fuse decided to blow when they came to test the lights. But rather than simply change it, they took the whole fuse holder block out and cleaned it thoroughly, suspecting that battery acid had been spilt in there at some point. All they charged me for was the replacement fuse, and the problem never reappeared.

Another one was only weeks after buying a new car, when I spotted what looked like a nail embedded into one of the tyres. So I took it to a specialist tyre-and-exhaust place nearby, expecting to be paying for a replacement. Instead, they spent some time poring over it, and then opted to extract it with pliers, with it becoming clear how acute the angle was and that there was no damage to worry about. No charge.

Mine was Christmas 2005.

My whole family was flying out of New York City to spend Christmas with my Grandparents. Our plane flew out the Friday before Christmas Eve and traffic in New York City was brutal as everyone tried to escape at once.

“No worries,” said my family, “We arranged a shuttle to pick us up three weeks ago! And we arranged for it to pick us up four hours early just to be safe!” Our flight was scheduled to fly out at 9:00.

At 5:00, the whole family puts on our coats and hauls our luggage out to the lobby of my mom’s apartment building. And we wait. And we wait.

At 5:20, we call the shuttle bus dispatcher. “No worries,” says the dispatcher, “The driver’s on his way.”

And we wait. And we wait. At 5:45, we call again. “No worries,” says the dispatcher, “Fifteen minutes.”

And we wait. At 6:01, we call again. “Hmm,” says the dispatcher. “I’ll call you back.”

And we wait. At 6:15, we call again. “No worries!” says the dispatcher, “Fifteen minutes.”

“Uh-huh,” says we. And we start calling around for cabs. All of them busy. No cars available for hours.

So we wait. At 6:30, we call the dispatcher. “Oh,” says the dispatcher, “The driver got into an accident. He’s been stuck in a ditch for an hour waiting for a tow.”

Well, excellent. Now, 6:30 doesn’t seem like a late hour to be leaving for a 9:00 flight, but the subway ride from my mom’s apartment to JFK is literally two hours long. IF, and this is a big if, we are able to catch a train immediately.

But with no other choice, we drag our bags to the subway.

And we wait. And we wait. Finally, at 7:10, the train arrives. We sit on it, worrying about the time, knowing that as soon as we get off the subway, we will still have to catch a bus to the actual airport.

Luckily, the train is exceptionally fast. We hit our stop at 8:45. We called the airline from the train and they said they would try as hard as they could to wait for us, but probably couldn’t hold the flight over 10 minutes. “Fine!” we said, “We’ll be there!”

And we get off the train… to find that the buses are not running. Now we are standing in the middle of a not-so-great neighborhood, with a lot of luggage, and absolutely no options.

“You guys going to the airport,” says a voice behind us. We turn around. A middle-aged man chomping on a cigar is standing there. “I can give you a ride.”

We look at the four of us and all our luggage. “I don’t think we’d fit in your car…”

“Oh, I have a bus. C’mon.” And he does. He has a VW bus. And we all fit inside! And he drives like a madman to the airport. And his van smells like weed and he’s blaring mariachi music. And we pull in at 8:55.

My mom tries to give the guy money. Sixty dollars, all the cash she had on her. But he wouldn’t take it. He wished us a Merry Christmas and drove away. And we ran through security (thank god for e-check in), and we ran to our gate and they were holding our flight, and the passengers were all glaring at us, but we made it.

I think that man was Santa Claus.

Holy crap, that’s an awesome story, truly.

For the record, I’m on your side, BUT that could have been a firable offense for the people who sold it.

This kind of stuff makes me pause my “I hate people” mantra. Worth it, even for a few minutes. Great stories, especially TheMerchandise. Made me laugh. Thanks!

Moral of the story: Santa Claus smokes weed! :smiley:

This thread actually makes me kind of sad, in a nostalgic kind of way. My dad always used to tell me the story about why he bought tires from a local tire dealer, because they gave him credit when he first moved to town and was flat broke. We bought tires for all our vehicles there until the old man that owned it passed, and have been buying from Discount Tires ever since.

Long ago, I was walking down a major street & I see a guy in a cabover camper stuck in the middle of the busy intersection. People were honking and stuff, but nobody was helping. So I put down my bags and ran out to the truck, and pushed. (I don’t know how to drive.) (I should mention that at the time I was a young girl.) Somehow, we got him out of the intersection, and onto the side street where he lived. He took me inside & introduced me to his mom, a little old lady who was an awesome cook. They served me lunch.

Fast forward to ten or fifteen years later, like last year. I’m waiting for a light at 45th and MLK on my bike, and a guy in an SUV honks, says something out his window at me, and pulls over. He comes up and says to me, “Do you remember about ten years ago you stopped and pushed a camper that was stuck on Telegraph?” And I said, “Do I! Your mom made me turkey tails and rice, man was that good!” And he said, “I just wanted to stop and shake your hand, you helped me and nobody else would.”

I tell you what, that made my whole week.

^ Holy crap that’s insane – damn good memory of his!

The kindness of strangers always gives me a lump in my throat.

Many years ago, my car broke down around midnight in a very seedy area of Birmingham, England. I managed to limp it into a gas station, that was closing for the night. The girl behind the counter heard me on the phone to my dad explaining the problem, that required a part, and asked where I and my girlfriend were going to stay. I said we had sleeping bags, so we’d sleep in the car. She wouldn’t hear of it, and took us in a cab back to her apartment (in the projects) and let us sleep in her kids’ bunkbeds. In the morning she had gone, and left us breakfast and the keys, and a note asking us to return them in an envelope to the gas station, and she’d pick them up during her evening shift. Still chokes me up to this day.

While I was travelling in South-East Asia, the constant and consistent kindness from strangers was astonishing. I am ashamed to be me, from the culture I’m from, when I think of how sweet so many people were to me (acting as unpaid tour guides, taking me into their homes and feeding me, giving me huge discounts or free meals two and a half years later, just because I had helped out after the tsunami).

Great story from Dublin, though, to bring the tone down: a guy phoned into a radio show a few years ago to recount the following story. There was an episode of Oprah where she suggested that, just to be nice, why not pay the toll for the person behind you at the next tollbooth you’re at. So when he was at the Eastlink toll bridge, he did just that. After crossing the bridge, he realised he was being followed by the car he’d paid for, so he pulled over and opened the window with a big smile. The guy got out of his car, and threw a load of coins in through the window, shouting “I’m not a bleedin’ charity case!”

Just the other day, I had called a man that has an excavating and plumbing business.

We thought we needed a sump pump put in, in our basement, due to a very messy, damaging flooding event, due to a broken waterline.
We would have had to run a line several hundred yards, so it could drain properly, without making a mess of our yard, the neighbor’s property, and/or the alley.
Also we would have had to have a hole dug in our basement, to install the sump pump into, along with the new sump pump itself, and everything else that would entail.

After he came out to have a look around, and figure up an estimate, he told me that he’d give me a call later that afternoon.

He did.

He told me that I didn’t need a sump pump after all…he took it upon himself to track down our town’s water guy, and he talked to him about it, and found out that the problem was a capped drainage ditch down the road from where we live.
He had the ditch uncapped, and told me that it wouldn’t be capped again, according to our town’s water guy, who apparently didn’t even know that it was capped off in the first place.

He didn’t have to do that, you know.
He could have very easily kept this information to himself, and went ahead and did the work, and I would have paid for it.
He passed up the chance of probably a few thousand dollars.

I was elated, and I thanked him profusely, and I will recommend him to everyone in this area as one very, VERY honest business owner!
If I ever need any type of service that he could provide, he’ll be the only one I call, regardless of price.