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This is a question Random Acts of Kindness

Crackhouseceilidhband asks: Has anyone ever been nice to you, out of the blue, for no reason? Have you ever helped an old lady across the road, even if she didn't want to? Make me believe that the world is a better place than the media and experience suggest

(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 13:03)
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Helping an old lady UP the road
Southover Street is one of the steepest hills here in Brighton, which unfortunately I had to ascend quite often. It really is quite vertiginously steep, and you feel like you should have ropes, crampons and possibly a team of sherpas to help you.

One day, as I was leaving base camp (The Greys pub) near the bottom, I noticed some poor sods attempting to push their car UP to the next cross-street. They were clearly struggling, so I offered to help.

With Herculanean effort, since the street feels near-vertical even without the dead weight of a Ford Crappy, we finally managed to heave it up and turn it onto the side street. They thanked me, and I set off up the hill once more, feeling the warm glow of having helped someone.

I turned back to wave a cheery good-bye, and it was at that point that I noticed their granny, sitting in the passenger seat doing her knitting...
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 16:30, 4 replies)
Tanks and airports
As a wee Kranglet, there was one thing I wanted more than anything in the world: a remote-control tank. One that would trundle along with a rotating cannon that could fire little pellets at local wildlife. I would imagine the adventures I would do on with my remote control tank. Like how I'd defend my house from an invading army with nothing more than my remote control tank. I fell in pre-pubescent love with the idea of a remote control tank.

Two decades passed, and despite discovering the joys of firing a cannon in a process that rhymed with "tank", I was fundamentally tankless.

Until I found myself in the lobby of a Prague hotel, in proud possession of one remote control tank. I do have to question the logic of a company giving away said military toys to a bunch of people who would be catching a flight home. The boxes (or hangars, as I like to refer to them) (actually, where do tanks live?) were huge, and just about everyone in the lobby of the hotel had one.

I was catching a flight to Helsinki, and then one back the UK, and I really didn't want to have to deal with excess baggage charges, or just losing the tank.

A Czech middle-aged woman approached me, obviously intrigued by the sheer number of tank boxes in this particular hotel lobby.

"Where did all these tanks come from?" she asked, obviously assuming there was some sort of giveaway somewhere.

"A company gave them to us."

"Ah, my son would really like one of those."


And I went home and enjoyed my tank for about five minutes before it was consigned to a tank-shaped hole under my bed.

OK, those above two sentences didn't actually happen, I gave her the tank and felt a bit better - and lighter - for it. I still find myself pining for a remote control tank, though, but I like to imagine the look on the little Czech boy's face when he found what his mum had brought home for him. Before he inevitably consigned it to a tank-shaped hole under his bed.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 16:28, Reply)
Yesterday I asked a guy at work who I had hardly spoken too before for a couple of hints on winemaking as I heard it was his hobby
When I got in this morning on my desk I found...

A copy of First Steps in Wine Making by C.J.J. Berry
Two glass demijohns
Two rubber corks complete with airlocks
and a bottle of home made blackberry wine.

I still can't get over the kindness and generosity of the guy.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 16:21, 8 replies)
Aaaaahh, Vienna!
Some years ago I had a girlfriend in Vienna. She came over her to the UK quite often, and I would go and stay with her at other times. Christmas was coming, and I was going to spend it with her.

Due to work, I could only fly on December 23rd, so I knew it was going to be busy. I'd allowed a couple of hours extra time to cope with the delays that are all part of the "fun" of travelling at peak times. But, it turned out that my usual paranoia about lateness was for once insufficient, as the roads approaching London were fuller than a tramp's pockets at a free buffet.

Still some miles from the airport, and we're crawling at less than walking speed. I've got time between each 1/4 mile post to calculate our exact average speed and estimated time of arrival, which was always worrying. To the coach-driver's credit, he really pulled out the stops to make progress, but there's only so much you can do when the entire population of Britain seems to want to occupy the same patch of tarmac.

Eventually we arrived, still in time for the flight, though only at a dead run. Luckily I was travelling light - I was planning to spend most of the time naked, after all - and I tore into the departures hall.

...to be met by a scene of utter chaos. The hall was rammed, presumably in sympathy with the roads outside. Clearly it hadn't occurred to the airlines that if they sell N tickets, they need to be able to process N people in a given time. Such advanced mathematics was obviously way beyond them.

Desultorily, I joined the very back of the enormous, snaking queue to my check-in desk, which appeared to be in a different time-zone somewhere on the horizon. I was just behind a very smart and up-market family; a tall, suited man, his elegant wife and two perfect children. Their expensive, stylish clothes and polite, if slightly superior mannerisms clearly marked them out as native Austrians returning home. I slouched into place behind them, looking like a shelf-collapse in a clothes recycling centre, resigned to be missing my flight and possibly two weeks of booze and shagging.

The departure time for the flight was approaching, and the queue had hardly moved. The father barked at a passing flunky, and demanded that he do something about it. German is a great language for being angry in. He said it was vital that they make that plane, though my German isn't good enough to catch why. Whatever, it seemed to work, as the airline person said he'd see if he could get them on.

"How many are in your party, Herr RichUntPowerfulPerson"?

"We are five." he replied, brusquely. With shock I realised that there were only four in his family, and he'd included me.

I had not spoken to them, or in any other way made contact. He'd simply seen an opportunity to help a stranger, and taken it. We made it onto the plane by running across the tarmac, and it was pushing back from the gate before we had even reached our seats.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 16:03, Reply)
Chased around Piccadilly Circus
At the top end of Piccadilly near Piccadilly Circus, there is a moneychanger's shop which used to have a 24-hour Western Union terminal. My girlfriend was in Australia at the time of this story, and I'd finished work around 2am and wanted to send her some money urgently to keep her unwholesome landlord away from her door.

Sitting on my bottom for years to work in the picture business had made me fat and lazy. So I withdrew my whole day's allowance from the bank opposite, and waddled over the road, almost breathless having walked from Greek Street, to fill out the forms on the public side of the thick glass window in the moneychanger's shop. At that moment, out of the darkness appeared a skinny little man who looked like he'd not eaten, but he probably owed someone a lot of money for whatever made his skin look like the Moon's crust. My hands being occupied with pen and paper, he saw his moment and, before I could register his nearness, he whipped away my wallet with my girl's safety-money inside. And then he ran. Oh crikey, did he run!

It was like a flipping Keystone Cops film. The scrawny guy sprinted up toward Piccadilly Circus with me following him shouting, "Stop! Thief! That man has stolen my wallet!" It was worse than The Goodies. None of the road maintenance folk around the statue of Eros seemed to care; and I was too slow for the thieving little gazelle.

But a huge, dark figure overtook me: the guy who was behind me in the queue for Western Union. He was tall, wide, and very VERY quick. As the thief approached a bus stop in Regent Street, the gravitational field of the big fellow appeared to suck the crim into his iron grip as the brave stranger fought the little man for my money. Never have I seen a face so frightened as the skinny fellow's mug. He released my wallet exactly as the tall guy, in deep West African tones, instructed him; and I remember telling the snatcher never to come back, because his face was on every CCTV camera around. I may even have said to the criminal, "You've been let go tonight, you thieving bastard; now, fuck off."

The fellow who caught the thief talked to me on the way back to Piccadilly. He wouldn't accept a penny of reward. He told me he was a professional footballer who played "for a team around here", and he was sending some money to Ghana, last-minute, for a family wedding. But in the early hours of that morning, with his exceptional speed, strength and bravery at the service of a stranger, without even being asked, he saved my girlfriend's house and her dignity; and prompted me to stop getting so fat, and start running four miles a day. Brilliant man. I've no idea who he was.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 15:52, 7 replies)
Was I conned? You decide (but obviously, yes.)
I normally ignore people who ask me for money in the street, but recently a tearful young lady approached me as I ambled through Islington at about 11.30pm appealing for money for tube/bus to get to South London. Some sort of vaguely plausible but not likely explanation was provided for how she'd found herself in this situation.

On this occasion, however, I'd just finished a book exploring game theory, Nash equilibria etc etc, and this made me analyse the possibilities thusly:

1) It's true and I don't give her money OUTCOME: I'm an arsehole
2) It's true and I do give her money OUTCOME: I'm a nice-ish person
3) It's false and I don't give her money OUTCOME: I'm a sensible person
4) It's false and I do give her money OUTCOME: I'm a gullible fool

I rapidly concluded that 2 was good, 4 was fine, and that 1 and 3 were bad. So I gave her a tenner. (don't worry, I didn't explain this out loud).

So B3tans, what do you think: Is there any cure and will I ever be able to behave like a normal fucking person?

***EDIT: Yes, of course I know it was a scam. And I knew this at the time. The point was I was rethinking about decision-making focused on outcomes rather than likelihood, following reading about the subject. I didn't think this was a "great plan". I was trying an alternative way of thinking for real - with my money. It actually happened this way. That may make me a cunt apparently, judging by some replies.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 15:28, 40 replies)
I got an extra £20 in my investment account...
...for no readily apparent reason. Must have been a random AXA kindness.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 15:27, 1 reply)
knickerbocker glory!
When I was a young lad of 11/12ish staying in Devon my parents left me to my own devices a lot. I went out for a long walk on my own and come mid-afternoon was rather peckish to say the least. I had something like £1.20 on me and went into the only food serving place within about 10 miles, a small country pub.
I asked what I could get with my money and it was just enough for a bowl of chips. Result! I handed over my little heap of coins and sat down. The waiter brought over my chips and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Then just as I'd finished, he brought over a huge knickerbocker glory. I stammered that I couldn't afford it and he said 'oh it's OK sir it's been paid for by that gentleman over there... oh, he's gone'.

I don't know whether my marvellous treat was paid for by some friendly ninja or whether the waiter was sparing me the embarrassment of having to thank him but I was really rather happy with my free knickerbocker glory.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 15:07, 5 replies)
A father's lesson
Whilst on a family holiday in Cyprus, at the tender age of 8, I decided I'd test out my new snorkelling gear at the hotel pool. It was quite a large pool, though fairly empty at the time, with maybe a few other kids playing in the shallow end.

Now I was a decent swimmer so straight to the deep end for me! I had a bit of a paddle with my head just beneath the surface, looking around the bottom of the pool and finding nothing particularly interesting, as it's just a white tiled floor, but then I noticed it!

Catching my eye was a shiny gold ring in the corner of the pool, and I immediately dived down to retrieve my prize! It was quite heavy for it's size, and had something engraved on the inside, which I couldn't understand.

I raced out of the pool to show my family my treasure and thought about what sort of things I could buy when I sold it.

My father took a look at it and commented that it looked expensive and he also struggled to read the foreign tongue imprinted on the inside.

'We'll have to hand this in' he said.

'But why!?' I yelled, 'It's mine, I found it!'

'It belongs to someone else and they've lost it, so we should hand it in' he replied.

'But I want to keep it, I'm the one that found it!' I whined.

He left a note at the hotel reception with our room number, saying that his son had found a ring in the hotel swimming pool. I remained in a foul mood for the rest of the day.

In the evening we received a phone call saying that there was a man downstairs at reception that they think the ring may belong to. They repeated the engraved words so we knew this was the right person.

I didn't want to go but my father said as the one that found it I should come along too.

Waiting for us there was a young German man holding a bottle of champagne, probably around late 20's. He'd been married for 2 weeks and was on his honeymoon, the ring was his deceased father's that he'd been given for his wedding, and the engraving was the words chosen by his mother 40 years ago.

I've never seen anyone so grateful as that stranger that day, and no rubbish I would have bought from the profit of that 'treasure' would ever top the memory of seeing the relief on his face when it was back in his hands.

Ever since that day, if I ever find anything I'll go out of my way to try and return it to its rightful owner, and thank my father for teaching me to look beyond greed and do the right thing.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:53, 5 replies)
my car broke down in a multistory carpark
on the corkscrew up bit...

some guys got out of their pickup and pushed the car UP 2 stories so I could get a space...

(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:48, 4 replies)
Could someone do me a "random act of kindness"
by removing the word random from this week's question?
Obviously, this would not be in anyway random, but it would be in keeping with the general theme so far.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:45, 3 replies)
Last Tuesday night I drove past a railway crossing aka level crossing. Over here in the US there's nothing to prevent somebody getting drunk/addled/dopey and driving down the tracks. And a very nice middle aged lady in a Toyota had gotten distracted in the dark and done just that. The car was obviously where it didn't belong. I stopped, told her to get out of the car first then call the police. I then took the railway's contact number from a nearby sign and called them to get them to stop the trains. I stayed there with her until the police came and had her car (undamaged) pulled back onto the road. She was very grateful.

Another one I really remember is being on a bus in New York about 30 years ago. A very pregnant lady got on the bus; I got up and gave her my seat. She was clearly stunned by simple courtesy...
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:43, 1 reply)
i work in marketing
the sub human excuses for blame trailing gobshites that i have to share my office with are incapable of organised acts of kindness let alone random ones.

i balance this out by always opening doors for strangers, helping people with heavy loads on the tube, giving concise accurate directions to lost tourists...

non of these examples are really that random. still makes me happy tho.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:42, 2 replies)
Having had it done to me
When I've had a couple of pints in the past and have been feeling happy, if it catches my eye I've been known to compliment strangers on an aspect of their clothing.

I always thought it was a nice thing to do, but then suddenly freaked out that it might actually be a bit too weird.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:27, 2 replies)
I've been sick the last few days
and my four year old came up to my room to see me. He asked if I was well and when I said no, he gave me a hug and said "It's ok I still love you."
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:20, 1 reply)
Bees are people too
I have a lot of respect for bees. They work hard, they look badass, they sound like summer and - according to Einstein - pollinators are quite important for our survival.

Last summer I found a huge bee on the windowsill in our spare room. He was moving, but couldn't fly. Hive bees don't eat the pollen they collect, so they can't survive if they don't get back to their hive. I had an idea.

I mixed a spoon of honey with some warm water, put some paper towel on a plate and poured the honey water on top. I carefully lifted the bee and put it on the plate, and left it in a sunny spot on our wall.

The bee clicked soon enough, and started drinking. After half an hour or so he started buzzing and lifted an inch or so off before falling back. Another half an hour later, he gingerly took off like an over-laden star cruiser, and headed towards the sunset.

I've tried this a few times since, and have about a 70% success rate. Go on, give it a go. You'll feel all warm inside.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:09, 20 replies)

I'm a great believer in it even if it does sometimes seem to work slowly. Every little kindness, every act of petty nastiness, does seem to come back, one way or another. But every act of kindness increases the net happiness in the world, every mean act decreases it.

A simple example is driving. Whilst I may be one of the most paranoid drivers on the planet - I drive thinking that everyone around me is either trying to kill me or trying to get me to kill them - I'm still unfailingly courteous to other road users. In rush hour, stuck on a side street trying to turn into the main flow of traffic? I'll stop and flash you to move in. (2 cars max - I'm courteous, not a fucking saint...) But little things like that can brighten someone's entire day which means they arrive where they're going slightly less stressed and less likely to be mean to the first few people they deal with as the traffic wasn't a cunt that day. Though I have to confess that the people who acknowledge me with a little wave or nod brightens my day as well.

The same holds true of giving up a seat on a train or a bus to someone who needs it more than me. Holding a door open for the person who's just behind you so it doesn't swing back and they have to push it open themselves.

It's the little things that help us all rub along together.

(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:59, 9 replies)
Glastonbury 1994
To the poor, gullible fools who dared to imagine that my battered 1982 Ford Escort would get them from Cumbria to Somerset without incident: I make no apology, you were clearly lunatics of some description and there seems little doubt that you deserved everything that followed.

To the utter bell-ends who thought it was funny to drive past the steaming, gasket-less remains of said vehicle, laughing, hooting and giving the V's: I hope your first festival shit culminated in you tumbling backwards into the long-drops, and having to be fished out by the emergency services several hours later.

To the 4 random crusties who helped us push my car a full two miles on to the festival site, for no better reason than they saw us in trouble and wanted to help: I hope each and every one of you had the best weekend of your lives, you utter fucking legends.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:44, 2 replies)
A stranger once asked me for a lift
I said "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it."
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:35, 2 replies)
I clicked "I like this!" on someone's story once.

(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:27, 4 replies)
A pie, a pint and a kind word
An urban legend from a Scottish hack told to me in a dingy newspaper howff through the mists of a lifetime of hauf and haufs.

This aged hack - an alcoholically unreliable witness - swore he had encountered a dingy pub in a less salubrious part of Edinburgh. Outside was a sign saying: "A pie, a pint and a kind word, £1."

Behind the decrepit bar sat an old crone, balefully staring at a dark interior of red lino and formica. "Uh, a pie, pint and a kind word, please," said the hack.

The crone did not look at him but stuck out a wizened hand. After a moment he realised she wanted payment so he dropped a pound note (remember them?) in her hand. Wordlessly, she poured a pint of the least appetising heavy he'd ever seen. She then reached under the bar and produced a grey piece of pastry which she slammed on a plate in front of him.

Feeling aggrieved at her rudeness, the hack asked: "Hey, what about the kind word."

She looked at him.

"Don't eat the pie."
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:21, 2 replies)
Washing Machine
Those of you who either follow my occasional postings on here or, heaven forbid, know me in real life will know that my live/marriage(s) etc have their ups and downs. I shan't bore you with the details as they are not relevant here.

18 monts ago having moved out of my family home I was moving from a caravan into a tiny house. I had nothing. My first night in my new house I sat on a camping chair eating a lasagne out of it's plastic tray on a towel on my knee. I had no plates, a plastic fork, and the camping chair.

A few weeks later my GOOD friends have supplied me with the basics, so i had something sembling a house. I needed a washing machine. I posted on my facebook and twitter that I needed one - did anyone have one that they were throwing out?

Gary sent me a message asking me for my address. Now I've known Gary for years, since I was his manager. I've helped him through a few scrapes in time, but didn't expect what was coming.

He wanted my address so he could go in to comet and buy me a washer.

I didn't realise how much I'd helped him in the past, and he, without actually telling me before he did it so I could stop him, just bought me a washer.

One of the most touching things anyone has ever done for me

Cheers bud:)
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 13:00, 2 replies)
Mmm, strawberries
Was once in a traffic jam, with one of those laybys that people sell roadside strawberries in ("freshly picked" and all that) up ahead. Some poor sod who had clearly just bought himself a punnet was stuck in said layby with no-one letting him out into the traffic. Being kind, we decided to let said poor chappie out.
So, he pulls out, and is naturally immediately stationary. With his car stopped we see the driver getting out, and wonder what the hell he's doing. He comes back to our car, taps on the window, and gives up a strawberry each in thanks for letting him out.

Made our day, that did.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 12:35, Reply)
Once at a rave
A stranger asked me if I wanted my water bottle refilling. I woke up 26 hours later in a strange hotel room with a sore arse, my wallet missing and a phone number scrawled in lipstick across my chest.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 12:08, 2 replies)
just yesterday
picked the twins up from nursery and began the long, freezing walk home in the sleet and bitterly cold wind.
suddenly, one of the parents pulled up in her car and offered the three of us a lift. i don't even know her name. her daughter is in the same class as my nephews, but we've never really spoken.
it doesn't seem much, but being able to get a couple of cold, tired 3-year-olds home in warmth and comfort meant a lot.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:53, 13 replies)
An old lady at the cashpoint asked me to check her balance
So I pushed her
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:41, 3 replies)
Crap Little Monkey reminds me:
We didn't do Christmas in the Vagabond household, as I was far too punk fucking rock and non-conformist to enter into the capitalistic orgy of materialistic greed based on a festival created by a system deliberately designed to control people's behaviour through the vilification of sex and the legal endorsement of the subjugation of women, but then one day, a few years ago, I realised that I could actually choose to enjoy life instead.

So as a surprise for Mrs Vagabond, who loves all things frizzly, on my return home one Friday evening, I picked up a Christmas tree, loads of decs, and a couple of bottles of wine and some sachets of mulling spices.

As I waited for traffic at the side of the road, stood in my hat and overcoat, my tree over my shoulder and bags at my side, a car full of young men approached, and one of them leaned out of the window and gave me a big cheer! "Hooray for Christmas!" he cried, and the driver honked his horn repeatedly.

(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:20, 13 replies)
Once at a rave
I offered to fill up a stranger's water bottle as I was about to fill mine up anyway.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:13, 4 replies)
Back before christmass I was participating in the anual family "pick a christmas tree" day
My 1 year old neice was all wrapped up and wandering around, enjoying the fact that should could walk/totter along at a fair old pace. Soon enough though she lost her balance and fell over, the rush to help her back to her feet was squarely won by her older brother, who came along, helped her to her feet and gave her a quick kiss and cuddle to make her feel better. A wonderful act of kindness from a 3 year old.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:09, Reply)

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