What Was the Last Nice Thing You Did for Someone? March 16, 2009

What Was the Last Nice Thing You Did for Someone?

Mojoey shares an awesome story, an excerpt of which is below:

The homeless man spoke to me again, “Please, is there anything you can do? I’m starving.” I was conscious of the fact that I was stuffing a chicken strip in my mouth as he asked. The guilt hit me like a physical force. I Immediately offered my lunch. He jumped off the divider and ran to my window. I handed him what was left of my lunch. He actually said, “Are you sure? This is your lunch.” I told him that I could get more. He smiled, bumped my fist, and ran across the street with my delicious lunch held to his chest. As I turned the corner, I saw him noshing away in the shade of a sign…

This happened after a woman driving a car plastered in Christian bumper stickers didn’t give the man anything.

Does anyone else have similar stories (of giving to someone who needs it more, I mean, not necessarily of Christians not doing good)?

(via Deep Thoughts)

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  • beckster

    I volunteer weekly for the boys and girls club. Very rewarding work.

  • first: that is an awesome story.

    A couple of years ago I was on the way to the grocery store and saw a guy near the highway with a sign saying he was hungry.

    So, when I was there I bought some cans of black beans and some chili (and a spoon and a small backpacking can opener, just in case) and ran back to give him the bag.

    That’s the only one I can remember. I know I do good things on occasion, but since we don’t make a deal out of it, we just sort of treat them like no big deal. It even feels weird to tell the story. Lao Tzu said (I think) that the truly virtuous person doesn’t tell others of his virtues.

    This is NOT a comment on Moejoy. Awesome thing to do. Especially awesome was your lack of hesitation.

  • Richard Wade

    Walking down the street after lunch with my young daughter I had two apples in my coat pockets. A homeless woman asked us for spare change and I immediately handed her the two apples. She seemed surprised and pleased.

    I bought lunch for a local handicapped man I’d seen around my town and listened to his story. He’d been injured in a motorcycle accident that left him with great difficulties walking and speaking. Once I learned how to understand him, he was pleasant to talk to.

    I discovered that a store clerk had given me five dollars too much in change. I went back to the store and had to convince him he’d made the mistake and to take back the money.

    My friend was between jobs and was short of money. I slipped $20 into her purse and never told her.

    I picked up a wallet dropped by a man and chased after him. That same day I warned a woman that her wallet was sticking out of her purse behind her and could be easily snatched.

    I found a cell phone on the street and called the last number dialed. The friend of the owner sent him over and I gave it to him.

    I’ve found many lost dogs and cats and gotten them back to their owners.

    I do things like this all the time and I assume most people do also. I hope I’m not wrong. I don’t think things like this have anything to do with religion or non-religion. A person just cares about others or they don’t.

  • beckster

    I always assume good from people. I have lost my purse no less than five times in the past three years and it always has found it’s way back to me with all things in it.

    It frustrates me to hear my conservative relations and friends lamenting on how horrible the world is now, (no morals, decadent behavior, blah blah blah) I find that most people I have encountered in my life are quite moral, but then my definition of moral has nothing to do with what gender you are attracted to or how often you attend church services.

  • Polly

    I generally tip 20% or more, does that count?

  • debg

    In a fast food drive through several months ago, I was parked behind a car that had no less than 11 (yes, I counted them) Jesus bumper stickers plastered all over the back of it. The second thing I noticed was the two young children flailing loosely in the back seat of the car – obviously not strapped into a car seat of any kind.

    Now, I’m not perfect, and perhaps I owe some of it to my belief that we only have this one shot at life and so we’d better take care of it, but I wouldn’t leave my driveway without my 2 year old daughter in her car seat. I was tempted to go up to this woman’s window and ask her if she believed that Jesus was going to stop her children’s heads from shashing through the glass in a collision. I would have then informed her that as an atheist I do not have his holy protection and my kid has to wear her seat belt!!

  • Alice

    This is a great story.

    I try to buy lunch for one of the homeless people near my office once a month or so, even when my own times are hard.

    About 10 years ago I was a struggling single parent. I didn’t have any money or food to give one day when I drove past a homeless man with a sign on a street corner in the pouring rain. However, after driving a couple of blocks I did drive back and give him my umbrella. I think he didn’t expect it and knew that I didn’t have anything else to spare. He seemed very grateful.

  • Kate

    The other day, a girl from the campus ROTC was standing in front of me in line for one of the few ATMs on campus. When she was finished, she turned and walked away before the machine had returned her card. I immediately grabbed it and chased after her through the building. She was very grateful. I returned to the ATM, and had to stand in line for another 15 minutes, but it was worth it.

  • Secular Humanist

    I found a billfold with more than $200 in it lying in the middle of the road. I called the owner and he came and picked it up. When he tried to give me a reward I told him he could make a contribution to the Christmas Stocking Fund instead. I like to think he did.

  • cassiek

    I was a restaurant manager in a downtown area – lots of homeless people around. I made a habit of giving them coffee, soft drinks, cups of soup, etc. Quite often I’d buy them sandwiches or something more substantial out of my own pocket.

  • Sock

    You people are wonderful. I wish I had similar stories to share.

  • Kate’s mom

    Yesterday my husband and I were driving back to NH in the pouring rain. We stopped at McDonald’s in Fredricksburg, VA for a bathroom break. As we pulled in, I noticed that a man was walking down the street in shorts and a t-shirt carrying crutches. He had a “boot” on one injured foot and just socks on the other foot. He looked quite cold.When I came out of the bathroom, he was digging pennies out of two plastic bags he was carrying and attempting to pay for something he had ordered.The bags appeared to hold some clothes. It looked as though he had just be released from the hospital. The kid behind the counter looked exasperated as this man dug for more change.
    When I realized what he was doing, I pulled out a 5 dollar bill and slapped it down on the counter. I said, “This should take care of what he wants to order!” The man smiled at me and said, “Thank you! Have a wonderful weekend, Ma’am.” As we drove away, I was only regretful that I had not given the man a 20 dollar bill to help him out even more! I just did not think of it. I just cannot believe that this man was let out without shoes or a jacket!! It was only 42 degrees outside with a chilling rain.

  • Ender

    I once heard a story about a Samaritan helping out a stranger… 🙂

  • The other day I saw a lady and her young child walking across a bridge. It was a really cold and windy day, and the kid’s hat flew off. They went after it but it kept blowing down the street; eventually they gave up. They walked off and the kid was crying. I ran into the street, trying to be cautious not to get hit by cars, and grabbed the hat. I ran and caught them a few blocks up and the lady was thankful. The kid stopped crying and smiled at me.

    It was nice and I think most of us like doing little things for other people. I like knowing other people feel good, especially when it can seem at times that not a lot of people care that much any more.

  • Apsalar

    A few weeks ago, I went to Boston Market to pick something up for dinner. There was a man sitting on a bench outside, and as I walked by, he complimented by coat, and he said if I had any change when I left, he’d appreciate it. I didn’t actually order anything because the line was long and it seemed the employees were a little disorganized. As I was walking away, I told the man thanks for liking my jacket, and I gave him $10. He shook my hand, and we chatted for a few minutes. He asked if I’m originally from California (I’m not), because he said a lot of local women won’t give money out like that, and he asked if where I’m originally from is a cheaper place to live. He said he hangs around at Boston Market because they usually give him a sandwich. I’ve thought about going back since then and seeing if he’s there again, and giving him more since I won’t miss it and I’m sure he could use it, maybe even for a bus ticket if he wants to get away.

  • Andra

    Hm, I donated some couple hundred euros for political detainees(students) in Iran, that’s about 2 months of my scholarship money. I hope it did some good. :/

  • When I lived in Toronto, I developed a chatting relationship with a homeless man who was usually at a corner on my way to campus. I’d try to give him some change most days and also would bring bits of food–granola and energy bars, pieces of fruit. After a few months, he headed back to Alberta since the oil companies were hiring again and he knew people there. I hope things worked out for him.

  • mark

    Nice story. I have been approached by many people on the street asking for help because they were hungry. In each and every case I offered to go with them to the nearest place that has food and buy then whatever they want to eat. Each and every time they said they were not interested unless it was cash.

    To all of you who actually came across a person who REALLY only wanted something to eat and you gave them something to eat, I say GOOD WORK!!!

  • Dallas

    I pulled into a service station and filled up my gas tank. At the next pump, a 30-ish woman was sitting in her battered car, sobbing. Her little boy sat next to her. I went over and asked if I could help. She said her car had quit and she’d coasted into the station, but the car wouldn’t start now. It turned out she was out of gas and had no money, so I filled up her gas tank for her. She was so surprised and relieved, she forgot to say “thank you,” but her little boy smiled at me as they drove away.

    When my friends had to euthanize their elderly dog, I sent a contribution in the dog’s honor to a local pet rescue group. The group sent my friends a card, and they have told me that card means the world to them. They have no kids; he was their baby.

    I came out of the grocery store one night and walked past a homeless man. It was a chilly night and he was wearing only a T-shirt and jeans. After I unloaded my cart, I walked back to the man and handed him $20. I turned quickly and left, but heard him exclaim with pleasure as I walked away.

    I gave $5 to another homeless man in San Francisco. He beamed at me and said, “I’ll be able to have dinner now!”

    I’ve had cats for pets all my life; they’ve always been rescues.

    I have a rare blood type and make a point of donating blood as often as I can.

    I worked as an AIDS volunteer throughout 1986. The epidemic was raging, gay men were being disowned, fired, or evicted all over town, and some terminally ill men were living in their cars. President Reagan had never once publicly mentioned AIDS. Early that year, I learned that a childhood friend had caught the disease, but because he lived 1600 miles away, I couldn’t do anything for him but call and write to him, so I joined a local AIDS volunteer group. I was a “buddy” to two gay men, and I took them to the doctor, to restaurants, to the movies, and to visit friends. I had a full-time job, but I made time to pick up prescriptions, grocery shop, and cook for them. They died at the end of that year, just nine days apart. They live on in my mind; I will never forget them–or my childhood friend.

    I care about people and animals. I always have. Religion or the lack thereof has nothing to do with it.

  • Ok. I have a similar story. I train kung fu in Detroit’s Eastern Market, which on Saturday is a bustling little farm market in the middle of Detroit that is over run by people from the suburbs. Which means it is one of the few places suburban Detroiters feel safe to go, and the homeless know it. So they show up with their signs.

    One day I was pulling of the exit from I-75 for Mack Ave to get into the Market, and was backed up. A homeless guy was sitting there with a sign bemoaning hunger and “god bless” if you can help. A guy ahead of me had some granola bars. The homeless dude wanted no part of said granola bars. Then the dude wrapped the granola bars in a $5 bill. The homeless dude eagerly leaped out his chair to snatch it up.

    I’m all about helping people, but living in Detroit makes it somewhat difficult to imagine actually giving any money to the homeless. I used to live in downtown Pontiac, adjacent to a homeless shelter, and have heard every story, excuse and plea imaginable, and I’m sure 90% or more of them are all BS.

    On what I do help with, I always leave change in donation buckets, which is a practice that probably gets a lot of money donated annually. I also give to various charities, notably cancer research.

  • AmberEyes

    When the winter was just starting out here a few months ago, we had a really nasty cold snap. In the middle of the night we heard this desperate knocking on our door. It was a homeless man, and he had no shoes. Feeling absolutely terrible for his situation, I ran upstairs, grabbed 5 pairs of woolsocks (and some shoes) and gave them to him. I then asked him if he needed a blanket, and when he said yes I again ran upstairs and got him a thick thermal blanket we often used for camping. My hubby also handed him a bag of food, and we sent him, warm and happy, on his way.

    I’ve also been known to slip money into people’s bags when they aren’t looking if I know they’re in need. One of my coworkers was having a hard time paying her bills and couldn’t afford too much food, so I bought a $50 gift certificate to the local grocery store and slipped it in her lunch bag when she wasn’t watching 🙂

    I love helping people out.. it always leaves me feeling awesome.

  • I’m always finding things on the bike trail on my commute into or home from work. I returned one wallet by mail. Another wallet I found happened to have a hotel key card in it. I rode my bike to the hotel and left it at the desk. The attendant told me the owner hadn’t checked out and had been looking for it. On another instance, I found a ID/wallet and surprised a young lady when I rode up and asked her by name if she had lost something. Last week I found another id/key card and rode across town to drop it off with building security.

  • Winston

    The Williams College Secular Community is running a book drive for a local youth center. It feels particularly awesome to be doing good work as part of an organization for humanists, atheists, and so on: helps people realize we’re not so bad after all!

  • When I was in Thailand, there was a beggar who sat on the pedestrian walkway over Sukhumwit road. Passed him several times. One day I went to KFC and attempted to order some food… I ended up with three of the same sandwich (my Thai was very bad.) On the way back with more chicken sandwiches than I knew what to do with, I decided to give him one if he was still there. I tried to ask the guy if he liked chicken (?????????) but that didn’t work, so I just gave him it. He seemed very thankful.

    That was a year and a half ago, and I haven’t done anything nice since.

  • jake

    Hmmm. As one who calls himself a follower of Christ I find within myself a sense of duty to my calling and volunteer in the community around me as often as possible, even seeking out the less fortunate and giving of my resources.

    Your story is one of irony as it demonstrates the basic desire for goodness and equal opportunity we find within all of ourselves and even go out of our way to protect; also it exposes Christians for what they are… Self-righteous humans who give into their nature of selfishness as often as if not more than (by way of christian justification) everyone else, thus eliminating their need for a title of separation entirely. Jesus was a very interesting man with a message of self sacrifice and love and unfortunately I am bound to this bumper sticker junkie by both of our confessions of faith in him. Therefore, I find within myself a deep desire to apologize for this person’s actions and also a desire to thank you for your own. I think I would be far more apt to call you my brother than the majority I’ve met who call themselves christian. This after all is not a matter of faith in God or Creation, it is a matter of humanity. It is the matter which binds us all… That illusive fundamental known as Love.

    A rabbi once said that every time a person does a good deed they’re planting seeds in Eden. They are compensating for the selfish human nature bringing the world back to the way it should be. As a fellow human, thank you all for your seeds. Together we give this life slightly more purpose and in so doing make it slightly more bearable.

  • Eric

    I bled. Last week I gave blood to the Red Cross. I try and do it as much as I can. so far I’ve given them a gallon of the red stuff.

  • Skippy

    I stopped to get groceries on the way home from a doctor’s appointment and, while inside, it started raining really hard. I’d left my umbrella in the car, so, while running to the car, I got soaked. It was a time of day when there seemed to be a LOT of older people, and, since I was wet and heading directly home (with no frozen items in the trunk), I trudged back up to the store and walked about 12+ people to their cars.

    I live in an area where there are a lot of older people, who all seem to like to shop around the same time of day. I walked the elderly folks to their cars and helped them load their groceries. My teeth were chattering because of the cold, and I was THOROUGHLY soaked. My little umbrella could only really cover one person.

    Everyone was really nice and thankful, though, except one guy in a business suit who got persnickety ’cause I didn’t help him to his car first, and, “I have a meeting I need to get to, I can’t stand around all day.” I think he was peeved because I helped a few other people first and left him sulking under the store awnings.

  • Hi and thanks for the link.

    I was dead poor once. I had only enough money to feed my wife and infant son. I went days at a time without food while trying to work. It was the kindness of a few strangers that help me form my belief that we are obligated to help people in need. Complete strangers gave me food, in some cases lots of food. One old lady told me that when I was able, I should return the favor. I’ve taken it to heart.

  • I donated four new jackets and about $90 worth of food to a local shelter for homeless people. I detest the way some presume people are homeless because they want to be, or because they’re lazy. I once worked in a shelter for homeless families and know better.

  • elianara

    I don’t have much to give, living pay-check to pay-check myself, but I try to find time to donate my time if nothing else.

    While working the other night, I directed one person to shelter for the night. Gave him one of the extra morning papers I had, gave him directions and wished him good luck. Couldn’t do much more, since I was working.

  • Tom M

    My ride to work used to consist of a fairly steep hill right after a stop sign. I was riding a moped and noticed traffic was unusually backed up. It turned out some hispanic men had run out of gas on the hill, and no one would help them move their car off to the side. Being on a moped (and not caring if I was late to work) it made it easy for me to quickly hop off and give them a hand. With their car out of the way, I offered them my cell phone to call for help with my very limited spanish, and was on my way.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    I have a rare blood type and make a point of donating blood as often as I can.

    I’m curious. I’ve heard statements like this before, but I don’t understand. Why is a rare blood type more desirable to donate? As I understand it, the recipient doesn’t need to match exactly with the donor, but just need the donor not to have any antigens (A, B, or +) that the reipient doesn’t. So the rare AB+ can only donate to other AB+’s, while the common type O can donate to everyone.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Twelve years ago I saw a little dog. I hate dogs, so naturally, I wanted to kick it. But because I’m a good person, I decided not to. That’s the last time I did something nice, and I’ve regretted it ever since.

  • Robert

    And that’s exactly why our Nation is failing. All of our businesses are outsourcing to overseas, and more people are beconming jobless. How the mighty have fallen.

  • Jon

    I’m curious. I’ve heard statements like this before, but I don’t understand. Why is a rare blood type more desirable to donate?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_transfusion#Compatibility

  • Omar Mashaka

    I was waiting at a red sign in beirut, lebanon, and looking at the side i noticed an old lady, like 70 something years old, who’s a bit over weight, trying helplessly to stop the bus whose driver just wouldn’t stop for her. I thought to myself should be standing there for another 20 minutes for the next bus. so i stopped aside, asked her if could offer he a ride. After a little give and take, she took the offer, and i dropped her at her destination which, thank god, was on my way home.

    got a lot of GOD BLESS YOUs from her for that.

  • This wasn’t the last good thing I did but your story reminded me of it. I was late for a bus back to my hometown and was running to catch it with my girlfriend of the time. We were starving though so quickly grabbed a pie each from the Piemaker and headed on our way, eating as we ran.

    The GF discovered that she’d been given a steak pie instead of a veggie one but we hadn’t the time to go back and exchange it so we kept going and passed a homeless guy. He was white as a sheet, emaciated, looked like he hadn’t eaten or slept properly in weeks, so we offered him the pie.

    “What kind is it?”
    “Steak I think”
    “Naw, I’m a vegetarian, cheers though”

    What was that old line about beggars can’t be choosers? :p

    As for more recent things I’m doing good deeds for my ex-wife every damn day and getting nothing in return. My suckerhood knows no bounds.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Jon, how does that wikipedia article indicate that it’s more desirable for those with rare blood types to donate? It doesn’t appear to disagree with what I said about the antigen requirements.

  • Polly

    Every time I do something good, like buying a sandwich for someone in need or giving money, I get a “God bless you” in return.

    One lady who I bought sandwiches for 2 or 3 different times actually asked me if I was religious. I replied, “No.” She said she’d pray for me. And thanked me too of course.

  • I volunteer with my local sheriff’s office’s search and rescue squad. I’ve lost track of the amount of people we’ve pulled off the mountains here in Oregon, The one that sticks out in my mind was a father and his two sons who had gotten lost along the Rogue River while they were fishing. We looked for them for 12 hours straight. When we finally found them, the father was soaked to the bone because there wasn’t enough room for all three of them in the shelter they found. We brought them back to base camp and warmed them up with some hot coffee and hot chocolate. The man was about my size, so I pulled my spare set of clothes out of my pack and gave them to him to change into.

    I give over 500 hours a year to this county, and I’ve probably spent over $2000 in gear solely to help other people who get lost. In my opinion, two hands that help are better than 1000 lips that pray.

  • I bought hand warmers for a homeless man who I’d talk to every day on the way to work.

    I rescue all my animals, rescue strays on a regular basis and take in injured wild animals and try to heal them (or at least give them a warm, comfortable place to die)

    I buy school supplies, baby food, diapers, creams, clothes etc for a local outreach centre for homeless families.

    I don’t give money to homeless people simply because you never know if they’re legit or not but I do give them a kind word and buy them coffee and/or a sandwich.

    I like to think I’m living proof that you don’t need an imaginary friend to tell you how to be a good person.

  • Kevin

    I live next door to an elderly woman who lives alone with a small dog. Her daughter visits once a month. Other than that she is alone. I bake bread once a week. I always make an extra loaf for her. I spent all of last weekend cleaning her yard so that the city doesn’t try to fine her this year. I heard about the city trying to fine her $200 through another neighbor. I took out two truckloads of brush and bags of leaves. I ruined my hedge trimmers taming the bushes in front of her windows. I have never said a word to her other than “good morning.” She has never said a word to me other than “thank you.”

  • Joel

    It’s not much, but I saw a pack of cookies hanging precipitously in a vending machine. I then saw a note from a fellow co-worker saying that she purchased some cookies, but the vending machine failed to properly dispense them. I bumped the machine and retrieved the cookies, which I then delivered to her. By the way, I was freaking hungry and I didn’t have any cash to buy my own food.

  • When I lived in Texas, I kept bottled water behind the driver’s seat. At intersections where homeless people stood asking for money I’d give them a bottle or two, and sometimes if I had change I’d give that too.

  • Brian Macker

    1) I was in Penn Station eating at a fast food place with my dad and a bum came up to use and asked for change. We offer to buy him lunch and he gave us a look and walked away.

    Now when bums come up to and ask for money I say “No thanks” just as if they were offering me something. I like the surprised look

    2) As it was getting dark I was coming back from a long hike at Harriman state park with my family and there were some lost European hikers who asked me how to get back to their car. The parking they said they were at was on the other side of a mountain ridge. So I offered to drive them back to their car, all six of them. My wife and kids had to wait about a half hour as I did this.

    As I’m driving I notice something is stinking. The stench fills the car as I’m driving along so I have to open the windows. When we get their I make a point of figuring out the source of the smell as they get out of the car. It was the french guy sitting in the back of my minivan who smelled like he hadn’t taken a bath in a week. My car stank for weeks.

    3) Just the other day a bird was trapped in a stairwell that was surrounded with curved glass. It was flapping at the glass and pretty much trapped for good. The guy in front of me just ignored it. I went over scooped it gently in my hands and took it outside and let it go. As it flew away it squirted a little white present into my hands.

    Moral of the Stories: No good deed goes unpunished. I have more.

  • Ken

    I once worked as a “secret shopper” for Taco Bell. We would order food and take it from the store to inspect it for it’s quality and quantity. Afterwards we would throw it away. (How much Taco Bell can you eat in a day?) I would usually try to find some homeless folks to pass the food onto rather than dump it in the trash. They were often quite surprised at the offer of food from a stranger. Sad in a way isn’t it?