I read through a lot of these types of lists, and, I have to say, this one really did inspire an upwelling of emotion that, frankly, I wasn’t entirely prepared for.
People are good!
And these 17 people, with their amazing stories of selfless and thankless giving, are some of the best:
“My ma has my kidney.
I can never tell her. She would have never agreed. And she would regret it forever if I told her now.
She thinks it’s someone who sold it to us. And that she was so lucky to have got a ‘donor’ within 3 months of needing it.
The amazing feeling of having done this for my ma is something I can never explain to anyone. No one knows about this – except my wife!”
2. New Shoes
“Many of you who live in San Francisco may know the homeless man whom walks around the marina and sells you his writings. One day he approached me and asked for money after showing me the literature that he had been working on. I looked down and noticed he was wearing shoes about 4 times too small. His heel was over the back of the shoes and dragging behind his shoe. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it was.
He was a similar size to me so I told the nice gentlemen that I did not have any money but to wait there for a minute. I ran home and grabbed a pair of white Nike Air Jordans that were brand new, I mean these things were sleek! When I came back and delivered them to him he almost started to cry. I saw him strolling around for about a month looking all pimp and for some reason to me he just seemed happier. I still see him every now and then….I think I’ll give him a new pair when I see him next.”
3. Secret Bonuses
“When my company was acquired for > $100m, the acquirer between signing and closing rescinded all the payments for employees other than the two co-founders.
I refused to sign the closing papers, took 30% of my proceeds, and forced the acquirer to create a package of ’employee bonuses’ which in fact weren’t bonuses and were paid by me.
The employees never knew. They thought this web leader ‘took care of them.’ In fact, in part because of these payments, only 1 person – one – left in the first 2 years.
The web leader was so angry about this, that while the deal went through (and has been very successful), they cut back my VP compensation at the Web Leader and paid me as a relatively low level employee and cancelled my bonus and all stock options. So this cost me another $2 million or so.
It’s all good.”
“I saved my mother from being burned alive from my father.
I live in India. Domestic violence was a common scene in my family since my childhood. Despite having a careless attitude towards studies, I used to score well in school exams (88-95% marks always), so my parents had huge expectations with me that I will surely clear IIT-JEE. But, I never prepared for JEE during my 11th and 12th class.
I had the habit of studying only a night before the exams. It was the night before IIT-JEE exam date when the above incident happened. My father doubted that I will never be able to clear JEE because I never did preparation for it like other kids do, so he drank alcohol and came barging at me in anger that I have wasted his money for nothing as I am not getting into IIT.
He was angry that why was I preparing the night before the exam and not months before. So he threw all my books at random and created a havoc. When my mother intervened, then he went after her.
It led to my mother drenched in Kerosene oil and at the verge of being burned alive. So I hit father and locked him in another room alone for the rest of the night. The next day he apologized to us and told me that I did the right thing.
I never told this incident to anyone and only my parents know about it, and not even my elder sister.”
5. Concerned Cyber-Sleuth
“I used to be very active on an Internet message board, mostly because I liked arguing with people online.
One night, at around 2 a.m., a young man posted a message indicating they were contemplating suicide. I honestly don’t remember what the exact message was, but we (us message board people) were all quite concerned. And it was clear that this was a teenager who was suffering from depression – not some terminally ill person or anything like that.
Thinking that the various messages of support / admonishment people were posting might not have any significant impact, I took a look at his profile. He had a link to a personal website. From there, I ran a WHOIS search to get more details. Unfortunately, his personal contact information wasn’t there. But there was contact information for his web host.
So I called them up. It’s 2 a.m. and the person who answered the phone was pretty groggy. I think the web host must have been a one-man operation. Anyways, to his great credit, the man did not hang up on me. I told him I thought one of his customers was about to commit suicide and gave him the domain name. I asked that he call the police and give them his customer’s address. That was pretty much all I could do, so I hung up and hoped for the best.
A few days later, the young man posted to the message board again – except it was his sister posting under his name. She didn’t say much, except that he was healthy and working through a few issues, and thanked us for looking out for him.
I pretty much forgot about the incident until now. Hope he’s doing okay!”
“This story didn’t happen to me, but to my best friend. And to this day I think I’m the only one he’s told.
He saved a girl from impending death, and re-united a family.
As he was waiting for the train to go into the city, he sees a shape moving on the track in the distance, and it lays down.
Confused, he runs there, and to his great shock it turns out to be exactly what he had feared. This young teenage girl was just laying on the tracks, waiting for a train…
He goes up to her and starts asking, what she’s doing, why she’s there. And the answers weren’t shocking. Just a young, lost, and suffering soul, waiting for the end. She’d run away from home for a few days and had finally gotten the ‘courage’ to finish it.
He finally manages to convince the girl that it was not all hopeless. He then accompanied her back to her home, and found her mom in tears as she saw her daughter. Then the daughter herself welled up.
He quickly explained the situation, and where he had found her. Clearly not overstaying his welcome, and after all the hugs and thanks from the parents, he left the renewed family together.
He still keeps in touch with the girl, and they are FB friends so he sees her pictures smiling and with boyfriends. She is happy as ever :)”
7. A Son’s Love
“Every month, I send my parents gift cards for the local grocery store. $200 usually. It’s not a house. It’s not a vacation. But they are broke. Even though they need it, they’d never take it. My father is your standard Anglo-Saxon-American ‘I don’t take nothin’ from nobody’ types.
They know it’s me. They never ask (any more). I never tell. I lied to them implicitly the first time they asked. ‘Guys. Seriously, I make okay money, but not enough to send you gift certificates every month.’
My stepmother grabbed my hand a few months ago and said, ‘Thank you.’ Deceptively (damned convincingly, to boot) I asked, ‘Huh. For what?’ Her, ‘You know. Thank you.’
8. The Best Boss
“This was not something I did, but it was a great kindness, though illegal and risky for the person who put it into action.
Many years ago (in the ’70s), a woman in my mother’s state government office group was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She could no longer work and it was just her and her high school-age kid, no other relatives or support system. She did not have long term disability and the health insurance at that time was nonexistent.
Her immediate supervisor gathered everyone together and stated that he was going to carry her on the payroll until she died. For it to work, everyone had to keep their mouths shut and not let on, and they’d all have to work harder to make up for her absence.
For a year and half, until she died (and she managed to hold on until her son graduated high school), she was on the payroll. It never got reported, either.”
9. “Just a simple meal”
“Once I was eating in restaurant with my father, and there were two beggars outside, a father and a daughter, and I feel compelled to help them, maybe because I have been close to my father as a daughter and saw that how the beggar was helpless to feed his daughter. I decided to ask my father for some money, to give them but before I could do that, two boys waiting for their takeout, ordered food for them. And I was shocked, because both the boys seemed like typical rich spoiled brat, with their flashy bikes, and flashy clothes, the one who can care less about people, let alone beggars.
They just ordered a meal for them, not too skimpy and not too extravagant. Just a simple meal, and walked away calmly away with their take out. No waiting for thank yous or words of gratitude from the beggar. I know this is not act of kindness of done by me, but I thought it deserved to be shared, as they may not come here and tell someone. But I also learned not to judge people from how they looked, because you never know whats under all that wrapping.”
10. Education Angel
“A few years ago, while working with a NGO in Education Sector I discovered that one of the kids there was exceptionally talented and self motivated. I felt that this kid deserved better mentoring and schooling. While discussing with the kid’s parents I realized that they tried getting admission for the kid in many good schools in the city. The kid performed well but they could not clear the selection process meant for parents. Most of the school authorities felt that families with a slum background and modest educational background of parents would not be able to complement efforts of the school.
I went ahead and gave selection interviews (as guardian) for that kid assuring the authorities that I will be responsible for his educational grooming. The kid got admission and is being awarded for the best academic performance for over 3 years now.”
11. “What ABOUT Karen?”
“I have served on a particular committee, call it X, for a few years. It’s a volunteer organization but the committee has a certain amount of prestige attached to it and I am very friendly with the chairs of the committee and of the whole organization.
A couple of years ago the chair of the whole organization called me and said, ‘I want you to be vice-chair of X.’
It would have been very easy for me to say yes, but there was a longtime fellow committee member (much longer service than mine), call her Karen, who had made very strong contributions to the committee’s work (stronger, I felt, than my own), and who was currently in the midst of cancer treatment, and I knew it would mean a lot to her, and that she’d be really wounded if I got the vice-chairmanship instead of her. So I said, ‘What about Karen?’
The chair said, ‘Well, what ABOUT Karen?’
I said, ‘I think Karen deserves this much more than I do, and I know it would mean a lot to her to get it.’
The chair said, ‘Are you sure? I think you’d be great.’
I said, ‘Tell you what, call Karen and offer it to her, and if she turns you down, then I’ll take it.’
Karen is now in remission from her cancer and has served the committee with distinction as vice-chair since getting the call. She never found out, and never will, what I did.
Writing it all out like this makes it seem really stupid and insignificant. Maybe it is. But it felt really good.”
12. “Safe target”
“Years ago, I had a friend who was in a very abusive relationship – physically, emotionally, the whole megillah. She didn’t have the courage to end it with this monster for various reasons – she loved him (or thought she did), and she feared what he might do if ‘he got really mad.’ Being her friend, I wanted to help. To intervene. To rip the guy’s balls off and feed them to him with a sledgehammer. But she made me promise to do nothing or she’d never speak to me again. She had no problem standing up to me, because I was a safe target, but she lived in perpetual fear of this scumbag.
His favorite pastime was to go binge-drinking with his college buddies on a Saturday night and then drop by her place unannounced to take out his frustrations and inadequacies on her. Knowing this was a semi-weekly routine for him, I hid a nanny-cam in her apartment to ‘catch him in the act.’ Once I had him on video beating the crap out of her (again), I mailed all the information I had and the videotape to the local PD precinct anonymously.
It was very rewarding to read later that he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years for multiple counts of assault, battery, and rape of several different women. And second-degree murder of the girl he was ‘dating’ before he found my friend. I haven’t seen my friend in years. With the help of law enforcement, she relocated and changed her identity to protect herself from this scumbag if and when he gets out.”
13. “The nicest thing I’ll likely ever do”
“At 25, I used all my money to buy my parents a house. They didn’t know it was all my money at the time.
I sold a tech company for a small exit in 2010. Everyone was extremely proud of me, but no one knew the exact amount I made, but everyone assumed I did really well. In actuality, I only made just over a hundred thousand dollars. I purposefully hid the amount because I wanted to use all the money to buy my parents a house, and I knew that my parents would never accept me buying them a house with the money from my sale. So with no one knowing, I drained my account (after paying taxes) and bought my parents a 1-story house in Texas (where I grew up). I did this because they had been living in a small two-story house that, in recent years, could no longer accommodate my sick and increasingly wheel-chair-bound dad.
Everyone assumed I had made a large amount of money and that this was one of many things I used the money on. In reality, this was my exit and my dream gift. This gift allowed my dad to live out the remainder of his life in dignity and it brought a tremendous stabilizing force to our family life. It stands as the nicest thing I’ll likely ever do.
Since then, I’ve made more money, my dad passed away, and my mom lives in that house, now full of great memories. We look back with great joy at those last few years with my dad, and I’m glad I could make it as comfortable for him as possible.”
14. Jazz Patron
“I owned my own business (a different one than the one I own now, not that you’d know anyway) and I was doing very well. It seemed like we were shopping for weeks on end for Christmas, and all we had (the wife and I) was one 2 1/2 year old son, who could care less about the money and time we were burying him in.
I had been frequenting a jazz club in downtown for about a year and had struck a decent patronage/relationship with the drummer. A few days before Christmas, a friend of his was telling another friend of his that his electric and gas had been shut off and that his kids wouldn’t have a Christmas this year.
I almost burst into tears about the whole thing, and feeling stupid about our extravagance and guilty for not having spotted the signs, I immediately left the bar, and went and paid his gas and electric up through the end of January, withdrew a thousand dollars and went back to the bar. When he was in the restroom, I dropped the envelope and receipts for his bills into his gig bag along with a scrawled note thanking him for all of the great times and conversations over the past few months.
Never told anyone until now, and after twenty-one years had forgotten about it. Thanks for the memories. Don’t tell anyone it was me, he would be very upset.”
15. Paying It Forward
“Just after college my wife and I were planning our wedding. Both of us did not have good jobs and had lots of debt from college. We both were living at our parents’ houses until we could get enough money for the wedding and an apartment. We had a hard time even paying for gas to drive the 30 minutes each way to see each other.
Then one day my mom found an envelope in her mailbox that had my wife and my names on it so she gave it to us. It didn’t have a stamp or address. Someone had just dropped it in her mailbox. Inside was $300 cash. No note, name or anything. That $300 went a long way for us at the time.
Now that we are on our feet, when my wife and I know someone is in need we drop $300 cash in their mailbox in a plain envelope. We have done this 3 times so far and we love it each time!”
16. Middle school is a rough time…
“In middle school one of the student clubs did a fundraiser for Valentine’s Day where you could have a carnation delivered to someone in class on February 14th.
There was a boy in my grade who everybody would always make fun of. He was kind of weird, and I didn’t really like him, but mostly it was just kids being cruel for no reason (as they do at that age). I paid for a carnation to be delivered to him, and I had someone else write the note so he wouldn’t recognize who it was from (not that it would have occurred to him to check the handwriting probably). He was surprised to get it, and carried it around the rest of the day. Some of the meanest kids seemed almost offended that he’d gotten it. I hope it cheered him up a bit to see their faces.”
17. “The only achievement I am actually proud of!”
“Gave away my first salary to sponsor somebody’s education.
I know it does not sound like much! I have not even met the guy. I don’t even believe he knows me!
But the fact is that during my diploma, my parents could not afford my education due to some financial troubles. I was not a merit holder who could get a scholarship. I came from a below-average earning family from India.
But somehow I managed (mostly because no one else got higher than 79%) the highest score as an external examination candidate for high school.
My diploma college, (not very famous at the time) was my exam centre and the Dean agreed to take me in without fee (I just feel it was my luck). All I was told was that some ‘anonymous’ gentleman took care of the money. I got the motivation I needed, worked hard, got merit, and was able to secure admission in one of the finest Institutes (VJTI) for my Bachelors.
So, when I had my first job (July 2012), I decided to do something similar and called the Dean. I met him and handed over the cheque. He said he was proud and would make an announcement but I asked him to keep it the same way, as it was for me.
That is the only achievement I am actually proud of! This is the first occasion that I am speaking about it.”
So… which of these really warmed your heart? Do you have a story of your own you’d like to share?
Do that in the comments! Please and thank you!