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mazingerz88's avatar

What is that extemporaneous act of kindness you did that you will fondly remember for the rest of your life?

Asked by mazingerz88 (22181points) July 3rd, 2011

Here’s hoping you will share an act of kindness that you did and one you are really proud of doing and will never forget for as long as you live. This is not to earn praises for any of us, just sharing a little story that might make us think and reflect and maybe even inspire another to go and perform a sincerely kind act or service towards those who need it.

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22 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

A woman at work, who I didn’t particularly care for because she was often snotty to me and other people, and was kind of lazy and didn’t do her share of the work and was often caught flirting with our boss (who was a disgusting pig) looked kind of angry on this particular day. So I walked up to her and said, “Hey Jean, is everything OK, you look like you don’t feel well, is there anything I can do, can I give you need a neck rub?” She didn’t actually look sick on this day, she looked pissed off. But because I didn’t mention the fact that she looked angry, I just said that she didn’t look like she felt good, she almost wept. Later that day she came up to me and said, “That was so nice of you, that you were concerned about my well being.” Then she started being nicer to me and to everyone else. Before that day, she was really rude to most of my co-workers. Still to this day I never knew why. Turns out that on this particular day, the guy she was dating had said something mean to her. I have a feeling she was the type of person that tended to “hurt others before they get the chance to hurt you first.” But when I busted that stereotype for her, she started being nice. The douchey boss, kept on being douchey, though. You can’t win them all.

woodcutter's avatar

An animal control officer and I were chasing the same dog one day last summer and I got to him first. Now he lives with us, in fact he’s under the computer desk right now.

Kardamom's avatar

@woodcutter THANK YOU FOR TAKING IN THE DOGGY! If there’s a heaven, and I’m not saying there is, you are going there for sure!

I’ve always enjoyed my personal relationship with Dog.

woodcutter's avatar

I hope that dogs can get in too, if there is such a place, cats too.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

About thirty years ago, when I was 18, I remember driving back to the gas station after discovering the clerk gave me too much money back. He thanked me and shook my hand. He was responsible for missing cash on his shift. I felt like I did a nice thing then.

I can’t think of any other nice things I’ve done since.


When I was in high school, there was a shy skinny kid in one of my classes who got teased and bullied a lot. I felt bad for him, so I became his friend that year and protected him from the bullies. I used to be a shy fat kid myself in elementary, and got teased a lot too, so I knew what the boy was going through. In junior high I shed the pounds and got fit (swimming became my passion), and by the time I got to high school I was one of the “jocks”, quite athletic though academically inclined as well. I didn’t use my “jock” status to bully like some of the other guys did——rather, I became empathetic to those who were geeky and ridiculed. So when I met that shy kid that year, we became good buddies, though I was more like his bodyguard (lol). At the time, it wasn’t anything special, but looking back now, I’m glad I acted on that, being able to help a kid who always got teased just because of his small size and shyness. Bullying was hardly addressed in those days. That’s why I’m proud of what I did, and I will always remember it for the rest of my life.

Sunny2's avatar

I used to be kind of shy about speaking to strangers, but now I’ll talk to almost anyone. I make a habit of complimenting ladies about how they look. I mention a hat I like or something else they are wearing that I think is nice. I’ll tell a guy I like his sweater or shirt or something I admire. I don’t look for stuff to compliment, but if I notice, I say so. I never would have done that before. I always get a smile and a thank you and it makes me feel good too. It doesn’t measure up to the “I’ll never forget” criterion. If I remember any that fit that category, I’ll be back.

ucme's avatar

Years ago I worked for an Alzheimer’s day care centre. It was a charity run organisation designed to give respite to families of sufferers. I was a care assistant there for 3 years & while it was a job, I still look back on it as an act of kindness to those in need. There was this one guy in particular, he was only in his late forties. Prior to his illness he’d been a successful architect & to cut a long story short, we kind of bonded.
To the point where i’d go beyond work hours & spend the day with the fella. His wife said he’d been the most enthusiastic & positive in the time we spent together than he’d been in years. I considered it a privilige to have had such an effect on someone in need. A very brief time in my working life, but an extremely rewarding one.

linguaphile's avatar

Last year I got a message on Facebook from a classmate from high school that I did not get along with at all back in the day. We were like oil and water- she was Miss Popular, most well liked by our classmates and most of the teachers loved her. I was more on the fringe of the popular crowd—not exactly accepted by any crowd but not exactly rejected. I think I went through my entire senior year with this girl glaring at me with hatred and I had no idea why. Her hatred and her friends’ helping out did undermine my self esteem.

Well, we ended up on a field trip where we slept at a YMCA. The boys who tossed our sleeping bags on the bus somehow overlooked hers. Nobody in our class would share their bag with this girl (shock!), and me… I shared my idiot sleeping bag, which conveniently was tugged away from me in the middle of the night. Over the years, I’d often tell that story as a parable to “Help Others, but Protect Your Sleeping Bag.”

So when she started messaging me last fall, I was leery. She found out from mutual friends that I was visiting nearby, and begged, begged to meet me. Oh hell, curiosity finally got a hold of me and I met her. Right away, she talked about how a spiritual advisor helped her identify a blockage in her path to self-fullfilment, which was being cruel to me, then she apologized profusely for about 10 minutes… and explained it was for only one reason- a teacher told her she preferred me over her because I was more literate and this poor girl had only been in America from Puerto Rico for 3 years. She hated me for being literate and preferred, simple as that. We talked about life, sleeping bags and are good friends now.
SO my gesture of kindness of sharing the sleeping bag turned, 20 years later, from a “you poor dumb fool” moment, into wow… coooool.

Bellatrix's avatar

I took all my stuffed toys (I had lots) to the local children’s home. They were so, so grateful. They put away all the toys that were in very good condition (most were) to give to the children at Christmas and the others were put out for the children to play with. I felt humbled. I wish I had done it a long time before.

Mariah's avatar

This isn’t too heroic, but it makes me feel good.
A good friend of mine lost his mom to cancer in the 10th grade. We were both band geeks, and our conductor was a very sweet woman who always told us we could come to her with personal problems, and whenever a band member was going through a hard time, she’d arrange something nice to try and lift their spirits. I received flowers that the band pooled money to buy when I was very sick, for example.
The conductor was trying to figure out what kind thing we could do for my friend. I happened to know that my friend loved shooting videos, but didn’t have his own camera (he was always borrowing mine) and I suggested that we raise money to get him one. I rallied the band and we raised enough money to buy him a pretty nice camera. He was so thankful and happy; it gave him a fun hobby that he really enjoyed to focus on while trying to deal with the death of his mom. It’s a pretty helpless feeling, trying to support a friend through that kind of loss, when you know that nothing you can do can really make a big difference. I felt good about being able to get him that camera, though.

Jeruba's avatar

It wasn’t extemporaneous; I thought about it first and in fact considered it from every angle.

A coworker of mine was in a very tight spot financially and I wanted to help her out without anyone’s knowledge so she would not be embarrassed. It was about two weeks before Christmas, so I bought a single Christmas card. I addressed it to her by hand, writing upside down—a trick l I taught myself in college to disguise my handwriting—and taking care to spell her city name wrong so I wouldn’t be suspected. I put the cash inside and signed it “A Friend.”

A few days later, my manager came to see me, all excited, and said, “Somebody sent some money to R., and I think it was somebody here. Do you know who it was?” She then proceeded to run down the likely names, never once mentioning mine, and concluded that it must have been L. I didn’t agree or disagree, but L. was about the least likely person I could think of, maybe just because I didn’t like her myself and I felt vexed that she was about to be credited with my deed. It also bothered me that apparently my manager didn’t even consider me a possibility. —This is an unbecoming revelation, I realize, but it’s the truth. (I still wonder if my manager was trying to catch me with that, since she knew how I felt about L.) Still, I did my best to give nothing away.

At the next staff meeting, R. spoke up and said, “Someone sent me a cash gift, and if that person is sitting at this table, I just want you to know how much I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.”

This was in about 1995, and I haven’t told anyone until now. I guess I am still a little bit ashamed that my manager’s comments bothered me, because they made me look at the secret pride I had taken in the act. If it had been truly and genuinely altruistic, I wouldn’t have minded that she thought L. did it. So I have mixed feelings about this—not sorry that I did it, but sorry that my feelings weren’t as pure as I meant them to be.

A further realization after the fact was that my discretion was not just out of consideration for R.‘s feelings. I also did not want to have to endure her gratitude.

What I treasure about this is the somewhat painful lesson it taught me.

Kardamom's avatar

@Jeruba I love you soooooooo much! You’ve just given me something to think about, and possibly plan. The anonymity of it was the best part.

Coloma's avatar

Well..I am against feeling ‘pride’ in acts of kindness of generosity.
Truly humble people do not need to toot their random acts of kindness horns.
Good deeds done in silence and kept in silence are truly good deeds. minus any self aggrandizing need to tell all who will listen.

Therefore I won’t share much, but…what I will say is that the kindest acts I have been privileged to bestow have come in being present with people and animals as they go through their dying process.

The most recent was my kitty “Marley” who died after a short, but terminal illness.

I know he felt my love those last days, and he literally reached out for me physically whenever I was leaving his side.

The love and connection was palpable, I knew, he knew, and through that knowing their was a purity of love that transcended the species gap.

It was beautiful.

Schroedes13's avatar

For me, this moment occurred in the summer of 2001 in Oradea, Romania. I was on a trip there working in orphanages just playing with children and showing them that people loved them. I remember walking to this particular orphanage and being told that we only had 1.5 hours here and so try to make efficient use of the limited amount time we had. As we walked into the play yard, many of the orphans, seeing a large group of foreigners, started clamoring around us. As the translators started to tell the children that we were here to play with them, you could see they faces begin to light up. When the speech was finished, small girls dashed forward and started pulling the females in our group away, probably to play house or some other childish activity. Also, some young teenage boys had a basketball and were motioning some of the guys in our group to come over and play at the hoop.

I thoroughly enjoy sports and so I was immediately drawn to the basketball game. After about 5–10 minutes, I had to tie my shoe lace, so another one of our guy members who was watching the game came in to replace me. I moseyed over to a bench and sat down and tied my shoe. As I was sitting there, I saw out of the corner of my eye a young boy. He was probably around 4–5 years old. I could see him staring at me and slowly making his way along the fence towards me. I tried not to stare back at him in case it might frighten him off. Over the period of a few minutes, the boy made his was over to the bench. Initially, he sat on the very edge of the far side of the bench. With some sly moves, he began to inch closer and closer. Finally, he was sitting right beside me. It was pretty awesome. We just sat there watching basketball for a bit. I put my arm around him and then he shuffled right up onto my lap and just sat there embracing me. I put my arms around him and just held him. I still can’t tell you anything I thought about during that period. I just sat there with him, holding him tightly.

As all good things do, this too came to an end. I saw our leaders motioning us to start heading back to the doors. I stood up still holding the boy and carried him over to the door to the orphanage. As I tried to extricate myself from him, he only held on more tightly. Finally, it took a staff member from the orphanage to pull him off and hold him. He began to cry loudly and it took out of me just to walk away.

As we walked out, I remember one of the translators talking to some staff from the orphanage and then he came over to me and told me that there were no male staff at this facility and I may have been one of the only men to have held him in his life. It brought tears to my eyes and I will never forget it. I never saw or heard from the young boy again, but all I can hope is that somehow my time spent with him will allow him to realize that people do care for him, even when he feels completely alone.

Earthgirl's avatar

Schroedes That is such a touching story. It’s sad that there are so many childtren in the world in dire need of love and attention. The other day in the subway I saw a poster for foster parents in NYC. I’ve seen these posters a million times and haven’t thought about it much, but yesterday I was really giving it some serious thought. Your story is another poignant reminder. am I being called, I wonder?

Schroedes13's avatar

@Earthgirl you’re the only person who can answer that question really. I’ve worked in orphanages in Mexico and Romania. I can tell you that there are so many children that don’t have any opportunity to be part of a family and need love in their lives. I personally would love to adopt a baby from China one day. But for yourself, you have to make a massive decision! Good luck!

mazingerz88's avatar

@Schroedes13 If you don’t mind my asking, I have a friend who is wondering why Americans adopt kids from other countries when there is a lot of kids here that needs to be adopted. Is it because the rules here are stricter?

Schroedes13's avatar

@mazingerz88 I actually have no idea on why people tend to adopt from foreign nations. An educated guess might be because of the constant barrage of media that people get showing how worse off foreign nations can be and they translate this directly to a child’s life. I personally want to adopt from China because I have spent two summers there and I have a heart for the country.

Kardamom's avatar

@mazingerz88 The rules are more stringent here in the states. One of my friends was not allowed to adopt an American child, because she was over 40 and un-married. She ended up adopting a 4 year old boy from India, who had lived his whole life in an orphanage. Luckily it was a pretty well run orphanage and the kids were loved and socialized, so he didn’t have any of those PTS disorders or any bonding problems. She wrote back and forth to him and sent him pictures of herself and her dog and cat and her family and friends for almost a year, before she was allowed to go and get him. But by then, he was accustomed to “knowing” all of these people and he had seen photos of his new home and when they finally met, it was like he had known she was his mommy forever. He quickly learned English and now you would never even know that he had ever spoken a different language beforehand and they are very happy and he’s a smart normal kid.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Kardamom Thanks for finally giving a clear answer for my friend. It just doesn’t seem to make sense though. If the purpose of stringent rules is for the sake of the kid, why is it different if the adoption came from outside the States?

Kardamom's avatar

@mazingerz88 I think the rules come from the country in which the child is born, rather than the rules (for foreign adoptions) coming from the U.S. where the adoptive parent is.

I do think that some of the rules are not very helpful, because if that same over 40, un-married woman got pregnant and had her own child, there is no law preventing her from doing so, but they won’t allow her to adopt . It’s kind of crazy. There are plenty of crappy parents who go around having more and more kids and there are almost no laws regarding that. The parent has to be completely dangerous or neglectful to have those kids taken away from them. But my friend, who is a good, smart, gainfully employed woman was not allowed to adopt and American child.

Some of the countries, like India, have such a huge population, that they probably think it’s much better for the kids to be adopted to a single, over 40 woman in the U.S. instead of staying in an orphanage in India. The thing with China has to do more with the fact that in China, itself, the law says that a couple (living in China) can only have one child, so if that child turns out to be a girl (which is considered to be less desirable than having a boy) the family will often turn that child over to an orphanage so that they can attempt to have another baby, and hope that it’s a boy. So there is a surplus of Chinese girl babies that China wants to get rid of, so they make it a little bit easier for US couples to adopt them (not sure about the marital status or age requirements for kids from China, though).

Also, in the U.S. there are not a lot of healthy babies that are put up for adoption. Back in the old days, when some young un-wed mother had a baby, her parents usually persuaded her to give that child up for adoption (abortion was illegal at that time). But now, a lot of girls either have an abortion or just keep their babies (because there is less stigma than there used to be), or their own parents raise those children. So most of the kids that get put into the adoption arena are drug addicted babies from un-fit mothers, or severely handicapped children that the parents cannot take care of, or older kids that were ultimately taken away from bad parents, that may or may not have emotional or developmental problems. There are not a lot of healthy newborns available for adoption in the U.S.

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