Heroes don’t always wear uniforms. Sometimes they are just ordinary folks like you and me. These 23 people share their stories of everyday heroes, helping us all see there is still good in the world.
1. Dear John
I talked a guy out of jumping off our antenna array when I was in the Army in Korea. He’d gotten a “Dear John” letter from his girlfriend and had climbed to the top. It took about 30 minutes, but he finally came down. He lives in Chicago now, and we still talk via email sometimes.
2. Electric shock
I stopped two of our crew members from climbing into a live high-voltage (4160 volts) trench. They mistakenly shut off the wrong side of our terminal and were about to climb down into the trench to do maintenance. I was about 100 yards away when I noticed that there were still lights on in that section, indicative of power being present. I laid on my service truck’s horn and sped over to them just in time. To say they were grateful is an understatement.
3. Bystander effect
I was standing in a crowded train, and a woman sprinted into it just as the doors closed. They closed on her arms and, no matter how hard she yanked, she couldn’t get them out. Having taken many social psychology classes, I recognized the bystander effect at play (in emergency situations, the personal responsibility each person feels to intervene is inversely proportional to the [number] of people present). Without [receiving any] help from the people standing within a ten-foot radius, I ran over and pried the doors open until she could remove her arm.
One time, a girl around 16-years-old ran into the craft store I was working at. She screamed bathroom and then fainted. I picked her up and ran into the bathroom, where I splashed water on her face. Eventually, she woke up confused asking for her mother. I called an ambulance because I didn’t know what else to do, and no one at my work would offer any input or help. It turns out, she was severely dehydrated and had a low sugar attack because she was Diabetic.
5. Fight and flight
I stopped a guy from [hurting] his girlfriend. He had pinned her to the ground and was rubbing her face in the ground. She kept [on] saying “Rudy, stop it.” I grabbed Rudy and [dragged] him off of her. He got up and ran a few blocks. As he ran, police cars came flying by and picked him up. I didn’t know him or the girl.
I adopted my cousin’s daughter because social services took her into care at birth. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding too.
7. For my brother
I was driving a scooter while my younger brother was sitting behind me. I used to be a very skinny and not [very physically] strong, and my younger brother was like 7/8-years-old [back] then. So, we were in the midst of a traffic jam, and my scooter was behind a car. What I didn’t realize then was that I was in the blind spot of the driver, so he couldn’t see me in the rearview mirror of his car.
For some reason, the driver of the car put his car in reverse and started it. Everyone started getting out of the way, [but] I couldn’t because his car was almost touching my scooter. So, I pressed the horn, but he couldn’t hear because the windows of his car were closed. He continued backing up while I was stuck. After some time, we were in such a position that his car was pushing against my scooter while I was trying to keep the scooter in a standing position. All I could think about at that [moment] was my little brother. So, I used all my strength against the acceleration of a car because giving up would mean that my brother would get injured. Thankfully, after some time the car driver realized what he was doing because everyone around us had started banging on his car and shouting at him. This [was] for me [one of] the most heroic things I [had] ever done, and it taught me how strong love can make you.
8. For the love of coffee
A pigeon got into [the] local coffee shop down on the corner. The other patrons were looking at it and encouraging it to come down from the shelf where [it] had gotten himself. The poor thing kept walking toward the little street-facing window at shelf level and pecking at it trying to get out that way. It didn’t seem to understand that to get out of the store the way [it had] come in would mean flying down off of the shelf and exiting through the door.
I spoke up,”If you guys have a ladder, I’ll go up and get him.”
The coffee shop owner produced a ladder from the back, I went up, got the pigeon, and set him free on the sidewalk.
They gave me a free cup of coffee.