What's the Nicest Thing a Stranger (That You Never Met Again) Has Ever Done for You?

(Photo: Daniel Lobo)

Redditor becauseisaidiwould posed this excellent question. There were many heartwarming responses written in the resulting comment thread.

Pollyannatoothpaste describes a deeply empathic man that she met on an airplane:

I boarded a last minute flight to my hometown not knowing if my brother was going to be alive when the flight landed. I was sitting in shock thinking about how this was going to be one of the longest hour and twenty minutes of my life and it must have been written all over my face.

This particular aircraft had two emergency seats then a space before the door (no window seat) giving the person who sat in the window seat behind a huge space for leg room. A guy sat down and commented how he loved to get that seat, extra leg room etc. Then he leaned forward and said, I saw your face when I was walking up the aisle and can tell you can really do with talking to someone to take your mind of something, so I'm just going to talk, at any point you want to talk about it you can, otherwise I'm just gonna chat to you.

I don't know if that guy will ever have even the tiniest bit of understanding of how deeply he touched me with his actions or his parting words. Six years later I still think about what a touching thing he did by just chatting to a stranger who looked like she was going through hell. My brother is alive and well but for the duration of that flight I had no idea if that would be the case.

TL;DR: Shot the shit with me on a flight to take my mind of the fact my brother might not be alive when the plane touched down.

Heliocentrizzl was hit by a car at the age of 12. A kind stranger decided to track down the criminal responsible:

When I was 12, I was on my way back home from school. I was riding my bicycle, and at this crossing, a car in a traffic jam made space to let me through. While crossing the road, I got hit by this driver, trying to overtake the whole lane, so he wouldn't have to wait out the traffic jam. The car hit me, scooped me up, launched me into the air, which resulted in a broken kneecap, a broken nose and a broken rib for me.

The driver fled the scene, the driver who let me pass took care of me till the Amber Lamps arrived, and made sure I stayed awake.

Now that's not where it ends. The guy who took care of me was so mad about the driver fleeing the scene, that he actually put some advertisements in a few national newspapers, describing the car, and where the car might have possibly been damaged. After 3 days, the guy turned himself in, claiming that the advertisement lead people to figure out what he did and threaten him.

So a random stranger spent quite some money on getting an advertisement out so the guy who ran me over could be found. I never heard of that stranger after, but I'm pretty sure the driver wouldn't have turned himself in if it weren't for the ads.

Amanasro describes surviving a carjacking in Kenya:

I was carjacked at gunpoint, bled dry of my valuables and dropped in the middle of nowhere. After the carjackers drove off in my car, I picked myself up from my prone position and went to a nearby lit house (it was night). The family that lived there believed me when I told them my story, let me in, gave me words of comfort, fed me and made me tea, called the police for me to report the crime and called me a cab (which they paid for) to the police station and absolutely insisted on giving me a bit of spending money to tide me over until I sorted out my stuff.

That's probably the nicest thing a stranger has done for me.

bland3000 tells a more ordinary but nonetheless touching story:

When I was about five in the mid 70's, I was sitting on one of the mechanical horses that rock back and forth outside of a Woolworth's (i think) and playing while I was waiting for my mom who was in the store. Some lady walked by and put a quarter in to make it go. I was over the moon. It is a moment of pure joy that I've remembered vividly. I still even remember what that glorious kind stranger looked like.

What's the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?

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When I was about 17 I was in an unfamiliar town trying to get to the train station and I got off the bus at the wrong place. So I asked a guy who was out painting his fence for directions. He told me I was way off track but gave me directions and said I could call a taxi from his phone if I wanted. I couldn't afford a taxi so I said no and started to walk towards the train station.

After walking for about 30 minutes, the guy pulls up and said he felt bad about me having to walk all that way, particularly as it was getting dark. So he gave me a lift the rest of the way which was a good 15 minute drive.
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While driving my VW on the freeway in the 1970s, it suddenly wouldn't go over 40 mph, so I pulled over to the shoulder. I popped the back lid and stared at the engine for a few moments, like I'd know what was wrong, lol. Another Beetle pulled up behind me. Looked like it'd been worked over with a hammer, dings all over, front lid held down with a coat hanger.

I can still see the driver in my memory, his terrible acne and that he looked like a mechanic from his uniform and greasy hands. He listened to the symptoms, took a look and said, "This plug wire melted through on the engine." He rummaged around in a big greasy box in his back seat, replaced my plug wire, got into his car as I was thanking him and drove off. I never saw him again.

I didn't have 2 quarters to rub together that day, couldn't have gotten towed, couldn't have paid a mechanic, couldn't have bought a plug wire. Whoever that Road Angel was, he saved me.

I must thank several other unknown angels who've been kind to my son and given up their first class seats so he can fly in more comfort (he's a Marine).
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When I was interviewing for grad school at Yale, my connecting flight to New Haven, Connecticut, was canceled due to a big snowstorm and I was stranded in White Plains, New York. A gentleman rounded up a bunch of us stragglers and drove me all the way to my hotel. He wouldn't even let me pay for the rental car, saying that he'd be going anyways, so why not try to help out some people?
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I don't know if it's the nicest of all, but here's one I will never forget. I was eleven or twelve years old. My mother's car broke down on a two-lane highway near a small town in ..I don't even recall what state. She and I stood on the side of the road, hoping someone would come by. Twice, a police car passed us without stopping. Finally, a Volkswagen stopped and three long-haired guys got out. They pulled Mom's car to a mechanic shop with their Bug, called the mechanic at home to come fix our car (it was a Sunday) and stayed while we waited for the repair.
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