Random Acts of Kindness you have done?
March 4, 2009 3:19 AM   Subscribe

What "random act of kindness" have you done recently? I'm looking for ideas!

I've been getting kicks out of doing things for the neighbours in my block recently like taking round half a pie, or babysitting for nothing.

I now want new ideas of what i can do, not just for them, for the guys who clean the street outside and the bus drivers - everyone.

What did you do recently for a stranger which brightened their day?
posted by greenish to Human Relations (75 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
At the paintball park the other day, I bought a kid lunch after he came up short.
posted by Netzapper at 3:33 AM on March 4, 2009

Be a considerate driver, use signals (especially at 4 way stops!!) and let people in if they're crossing busy traffic and it won't hold you up too much. Random smiley is also good, as long as it's not creepy smiling. I remember being really pissed one day, I don't even remember why I was pissed anymore but I do remember this nice older woman drive by and look over and smile. I must've looked sad or something and she noticed it, all she did was smile and that seriously made my day better.
posted by BrnP84 at 3:39 AM on March 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

On Monday, I used my snowblower on the elderly neighbor's driveway before he could come out and shovel.

I also gave a ticket to last night's Mega millions to the porter at work. Wonder if he is my boss now.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:43 AM on March 4, 2009

If I'm in a place I know well, I routinely keep an eye out for people who look lost and offer directions.
posted by valkyryn at 3:58 AM on March 4, 2009

Blessing someone instead of cursing them.
posted by watercarrier at 4:01 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I haven't done it yet, as I tend not to shop for lots of items.

But, a number of times since I moved to the Pacific Northwest, people have allowed me in front of them at grocery store checkouts when I've had a small handful of items and they've had whole cartfulls.
posted by Netzapper at 4:09 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Toronto Star Random Acts of Kindness Page is linked from the front page of the online edition of the paper. Updated every weekday and often puts a smile on my face.
posted by carabiner at 4:16 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

There was two two-seater seats on the train with one person in each (including me), and I gave up my window seat so a couple that boarded the mostly-packed train could sit together. I am a hero. Fuck you, Gandhi.
posted by Mach5 at 4:27 AM on March 4, 2009 [8 favorites]

let people in if they're crossing busy traffic and it won't hold you up too much.

Please choose things that aren't vehicular. My day is regularly ruined by motorists who think they are performing random acts of kindness. Also, a story I told in a previous thread.
posted by gnomeloaf at 4:31 AM on March 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

Hold doors open for elderly people and women who have strollers.
Also help women with strollers to get them up and down stairs.
posted by PowerCat at 4:33 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I now want new ideas of what i can do, not just for them, for the guys who clean the street outside and the bus drivers - everyone.

Talk to them. People who work in service occupations are often treated like, well, servants. Acknowledge that the cleaner exists, is a person, and is worth spending five minutes chatting to. I've known people who clean/serve for a living (not just a temporary job), and dignity in their work is probably the best thing you can give them. A casual chat will honestly mean a lot.

Other than that, just do little things like holding doors, smiling and saying hello, helping people who look lost, and so on. Like lubricant, it fills in the little cracks between our lives, and lets us all get along so much better.
posted by Sova at 4:42 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, I agree with gnomeloaf: don't stop for people to cross the road. If you want to be a good driver to pedestrians, drive slower and drive less.
posted by Sova at 4:44 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I used to walk up a street lined with parking meters on the way to work. Every week or so, there would be someone digging through a purse or pockets for just one more quarter. If I had an extra one, I'd ask if they needed an extra quarter and ask that they do something nice for someone else later.

I had an extensive commute for a while and kept a bag of individually wrapped cough drops to hand out to anyone with a cough. Having individually wrapped ones was important, people are nervous about accepting candy from strangers.

My new years resolution a couple of years ago was to let tourists know when they'd accidentally gotten on the express train which would take them right by their presumed destination (train: uptown A, destination: Natural History Museum).

I once was walking to work in the rain and gave my umbrella to a woman obviously dressed up for a job interview because I was almost at work and was wearing a raincoat.

When I worked in a hospital in the evenings I'd go get something from the vending machine after the cafeteria closed. For some reason, every few weeks, I'd run into a couple of little kids trying to decide what to get. They'd be different kids every time but the scenario was always similar. They'd be about to get into a fight because they had enough for one thing and each kid would want something different. I'd give them enough change to get one thing each. This was a research hospital and if someone in their family was a patient, it probably a really bad situation.

I've never done this but, leave dollar bills in library books.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:01 AM on March 4, 2009

I forget where I learned the following practice, but I've been trying to follow it ever since: whenever I use a public restroom where there's a dispenser of continuous paper toweling, I try to leave a length of paper towel hanging from the dispenser so that the next person doesn't have to crank the little handle (or wave in front of the motion sensor) with wet, just-cleaned hands. I'd love it if everyone did this.

Re: letting people into traffic - please be extremely careful if you're doing this. I mashed up my car about a week ago by hitting a 19-year-old unlicensed driver who made a left turn right in front of me. He'd been waved through by a driver in the lane closer to him - that driver didn't see me coming in the center lane, and the 19-year-old didn't look.

This is a bit inconvenient for me, thanks to his mother's excellent insurance, but probably horrible for him and his family. I'm so grateful that his mother has good insurance, despite the fact that no one in that family seemed to speak English -- how do they do it?
posted by amtho at 5:11 AM on March 4, 2009

If you're a man, when you go for a crap in a bar, pub or club, leave the toilet seat up, then there's less chance some idiot will piss on it for the next person who needs a crap.
posted by biffa at 5:19 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Last week I saw a guy in a wheelchair trying to climb a sidewalk that was 4" higher than normal due to being encased in ice. I (safely) dumped my car at the side of an intersection and went to help him. Turned out he was also mentally disabled and partially blind, trying to get to a nearby store. I pushed him through a snow-covered parking lot that he never would have negotiated himself, and into the store. Afterwards I wished I made sure that somebody in the store was going to get him back to the bus stop when he was done shopping.

I also generally let people with particularly cranky kids / babies cut ahead of me in line at the grocery store. I know when I was out shopping and my kid started to cry because of tiredness / hunger / diaper, I would have very much appreciated being rushed out of a store in a hurry. Problem is when I do this generally if there are people in front of me they realise what's happening, won't give up their own cherished place in line and get pissed off that they now have a crying baby behind them.
posted by valleys at 5:25 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

sciencegeek's suggestion reminds me of a time when I added quarters to a stranger's meter as a meter maid was just a few spots away making her rounds. I felt pretty damn kind afterward.
posted by null14 at 5:37 AM on March 4, 2009

This falls into the kind-of-lame-but-nice category, I think: the Fed-Ex guy asked me to sign for / store a neighbor's package, so she wouldn't have to go to the management office (in another building) to pick it up.

I thought this was no-brainer neighborliness, but both he and she were beyond tickled that I did it.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:02 AM on March 4, 2009

Nthing the suggestion of blowing or shovelling a neighbour's lane. A snowy driveway is the last thing I want to face when I get home at night, and it's such a joy to see someone's has already cleared it. Now, if only I could figure out who did it, I'd leave them a bottle of snowblower oil on their doorstep!
posted by LN at 6:09 AM on March 4, 2009

I gave up my seat on a GO bus so a man and his little daughter could sit together. Of course this gave me a chance to move across the aisle to sit beside a really cute guy I'd been eyeing, and gave him a favourable impression of me. Alas, he turned out to be gay, but I guess that means my behaviour really was purely altruistic after all.
posted by orange swan at 6:14 AM on March 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

I bought a cashier at the local grocery store a dozen roses just after Valentine's. They were marked down to $2/dozen and I got so happy about it I wanted to buy everyone a dozen.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:20 AM on March 4, 2009

When I was in the northeast, I used to pay the toll for the next four or five cars in line at the tollbooth.
posted by Gorgik at 6:28 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I gave someone money for bus fare not too long ago. It was late at night, he was short so I gave him a dollar. Someone had done the same for me not too long ago.

In the NYC subways you'll often see strangers help parents up the stairs with strollers.
posted by brookeb at 6:29 AM on March 4, 2009

One very thoughtful random act of kindness- leaving clipped coupons in supermarket wagons for others to use.
posted by watercarrier at 6:49 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The other day I was locking up my bike when I noticed that the front brake on the bike next to mine was un-done. Usually this means that someone was trying to steal the front wheel. I didn't know if I should mess with it or not, so I left it alone. On my way into the building I saw a young woman walking out with a bike helmet. I thought for a second or two then followed her out and made sure she knew that the brake was un-done. She did, but I felt like it was a nice effort. I sure would want to know if my brakes had been messed with...
posted by wfrgms at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2009

* anonymously put change in about to be expired parking meters.

* When I pay for students' meals I tell them that instead of paying me that they need to do something kind for someone else or give what they would have paid for the meal to a charity of choice.
posted by jadepearl at 6:58 AM on March 4, 2009

Like watercarrier, I also leave my coupons on items that I'm not going to buy (usually at Costco; those coupons are elusive!).

I also try to let people with fewer items or have crying babies ahead of me in line. I did this to two people in a row at Trader Joe's last week and the cashier must've thought I had a screw loose (actually I had an extra 20min before picking up my kids, but it sure felt nice).

Paying tolls or the Starbucks order for the guy after you is a nice thing to do, too.
posted by dancinglamb at 7:03 AM on March 4, 2009

I would look into opportunities to volunteer in your community. You can usually make those acts of kindness go a long way for yourself as well as the people you're volunteering with. I live in NYC which has a huge network of volunteer opportunities. I volunteer with the mentally handicapped and i do work in a community garden. You should do a little investigation in your community, and I am sure you can find some volunteer opportunities that work for you.
posted by orville sash at 7:06 AM on March 4, 2009

I flip up toilet seats in public restrooms whenever I can--I'll even go stall-to-stall if I can do it without looking creepy. And I'm always on the lookout for lost tourists. I work on Capitol Hill, so I see lots of them. Many times, someone looking at a tourist map is just figuring out their itenerary, so they don't really need help, but, man, I've saved some folks a lot of trouble by explaining the DC street grid (yeah, I know the map says the Air and Space Museum is at 7th and Independence, but that's a different 7th and Independence).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:18 AM on March 4, 2009

If I meet a veteran, I thank them for their service. In my state, you can recognize many veterans from their special license plates.

If I happen to talk to a police officer, volunteer firefighter, or First Aider. I say "Thanks for keeping us safe!"

This isn't exactly kindness, it is well-deserved acknowledgment. It always makes them smile, and spreads cheer. Especially for cops who have to deal with belligerent people everyday.
posted by valannc at 7:23 AM on March 4, 2009

Pick out a hungry-looking jock in the cafeteria, walk up to him, say "Cupcake?", smile and proffer one. Not really a sacrifice, I hate throwing away food.
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2009

I gave a cheese burger to a homeless person. He swore at me and threw it off the bridge.
posted by devnull at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2009 [6 favorites]

This falls into the kind-of-lame-but-nice category, I think: the Fed-Ex guy asked me to sign for / store a neighbor's package, so she wouldn't have to go to the management office (in another building) to pick it up.
I thought this was no-brainer neighborliness, but both he and she were beyond tickled that I did it.

This is a really nice thing to do, but it does require follow-through. I had an elderly neighbor sign for delivery of a laptop who then proceeded to forget about the whole thing. UPS didn't keep track of the address where it was delivered, so I had to walk door to door and ask if anyone had a package for me. Three days later her son brought it across the street. So I guess the moral is even when being very nice, know your limits? On a definite plus note, I got to know a couple of neighbors.

Also, nthing the suggestion to commiserate with service people. At my bank, I was apparently the first person to be surprised that they had to put up a sign telling customers to please not yell at them for asking for ID. It was like their day was a steady stream of assholery until I showed up and poked fun at it. Now they recognize me and we say hi and chit chat. It's nice. Little gestures FTW.
posted by dosterm at 7:39 AM on March 4, 2009

Showed the Japanese tourists how to find the Sagrada Familia.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2009

Pay for the car behind you in the Starbucks (or whatever) drive-thru line. I've been doing this once a month for over a year and actually had someone pay for mine a few months back!
posted by njbradburn at 7:58 AM on March 4, 2009

One very simple thing I do if I'm in a store and it looks like it's a particularly stressful/busy/hectic/difficult day (i.e., during the holiday shopping season) is, after the clerk rings up my purchases and is handing me my change, is that I simply say, "I promise you that this day will end, and you will get to go home." I have never failed to at least get an appreciative chuckle, but more often than not it's an outright laugh and a bit more joking, and thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on March 4, 2009

- don't be a pain about divvying up the dinner check and just dropping down more than I owe and/or saying "I've got this, you get the tip"
- shovelling out my 80+ year old landlady's car
- sending postcards to near strangers saying hello
- including some real sentiment along with birthday greetings "I'm glad I got to know you this year" or "Thanks for teaching me how to __________"
- looking the other way at people's awkward social machinations and just being happy to see them when I see them
- driving someone to get their car far away on a snowy day
- told the random person complaining about their computer at the post office "I can probbaly fix that for you, for free" [may only work in small town America]
- sharing my muffin with the guy next to me on the plane [I'm always drooly at other people's tasty food on long trips]
- sharing the bounty that regularly comes into my life
- for myself: doing all the dishes/laundry before going on a long trip
posted by jessamyn at 8:26 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

My guitar teacher is going through some medical issues and financial straights and his glasses recently broke. I found an optician in his town, bought a gift certificate for a new pair, then sent the cert anonymously to his home.

I helped someone who was lost yesterday.

I listen when my friends want to just talk about their problems.
posted by jdfan at 8:28 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you see one of those "How am I driving?" toll-free numbers and the driver's doing a good job, call the number and say so. You'll cheer up both the driver and the customer service rep who has to answer that phone number and listen to irate motorists all day. No one ever calls when the driver is using turn signals and being courteous; they only call to complain.

I used to have a job answering a "How am I driving?" line, and actual compliments always made our day.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:54 AM on March 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

My desk phone at work is very similar to our state's equal rights for employment/unemployment line and I get between 5 and 15 calls a day from people looking for something to do with state labor rights or unemployment. I spent about 2 hours one day making a list of the 97 possible phone numbers they might want (unemployment, food stamps, welfare, it goes on) and actually take the time to listen to their problem and send them to the right place instead of just telling them they have the wrong number. Truthfully, while I know it is a nice thing to do, it also makes my day to know they finally might get to the number that might help them.
posted by mjcon at 9:20 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

When I worked at Starbucks someone came through the drive thru and said they wanted to pay for the person behind them. When that person got to the window I told them the person before them had already paid for them so they paid for the person behind them. It continued for 4 cars.
posted by ad4pt at 9:23 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I give Reese Cups to homeless people. They probably don't enjoy it as much as a quarter, but I've gotten a few surprised thank you's.
posted by kerning at 9:25 AM on March 4, 2009

I frequent a mums' forum where one of the posters has a child with a paralyzed arm. I created a blog for her to help her raise funds for surgery in the US.

More randomly, I was on a bus the other day and overheard the driver say she was thanked only once all day. I always thank the bus driver.
posted by Dragonness at 9:42 AM on March 4, 2009

I made muffins last night and gave a few to some coworkers this morning. I make sure I always give tourists directions. I pick up random litter. If someone is short on change, I make sure to pay the difference.
posted by kaizen at 9:43 AM on March 4, 2009

Before I got EZPass, I used to pay for the car behind me.

Thanks for this thread, and giving me more ideas...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2009

There was this coffee shop that I used to go to all the time, cause I worked a few doors down, and I knew all the people who worked there. One time I got the idea to do something nice and pay for a bunch of people's coffees, so I dropped an envelope with $40 and a (anonymous) note explaining what it was for in the mail slot after hours. The next morning when I went by, the barista showed me the note. I played dumb and asked if she'd followed through on it. "No, I kept the money. But isn't that a neat idea?"
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2009 [7 favorites]

1. I often pay the bridge toll for the car behind me (when I am around toll bridges).

2. Recently I was behind a mom who was trying to buy some hot chocolate for her kid, using a credit card, that bounced. Obviously she was struggling, so I told the barista to add her bill to mine, and also bought her a cup of coffee.
posted by Danf at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2009

Sometimes if I notice my waitperson discouraged, sighing over (what I assume is) the tip on the table next to me I'll leave an obnoxiously large tip and leave before they see it.

Curb other dog pooh that's near my own dog's pooh that's getting curbed.

My elderly mom walks on popular walking trails, picks up trash along them and recycles what she can, then throws the rest in a proper trash can.

When we visit the beach we pick up beach trash and throw it in the garbage.

I never park my scooter in the extra space next to a handicap space and try to gently encourage my scooter friends to not do so as well. A friend who is also a quadriplegic told me once that it takes her lots of effort to get in her van, drive the van and then when she sees a car or bike parked in that space she needs for her lift - a car or scoot that are probably only there for a minute - some days she immediately gets discouraged and just goes back home.
posted by dog food sugar at 11:39 AM on March 4, 2009

It might seem small, but I try to give sincere compliments -- even to random strangers -- whenever possible. Might be something as simple as "Dude, that shirt is funny as shit!" or "Man what a great car for a day like today -- you're makin me jealous!" or "Whoaa that phone is sick!". (Conversely, avoid critical things such as "You know, that shirt is really cheesy..." or "I would've gotten the V8 model, but that's just me." or "I wish that phone had a decent camera." -- Even if it's an honest critique, it's not helping anybody and will just make them think you're a jerk.) You compliment other things, of course -- their children, athletic ability, whatever... But Americans, especially, seem to derive a lot of self-esteem from their possessions, and speaking positively about them makes them happy.

The danger, of course, is that if you're not sincere, a person may think you're talking down to them and be insulted.

Oh and I just signed up to help build a house (Habitat for Humanity) this weekend!
posted by LordSludge at 11:50 AM on March 4, 2009

A guy in my office buys donuts every Friday and never gets paid back, but the donuts are always eaten. Every so often I gove him a fiver, and once last year I did a "Jimmies Fund [har!] appeal" among my office mates to pay him back.

And I must agree that making eye contact and saying hello to people inservice jobs is a must-do. We all serve someone.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:03 PM on March 4, 2009

My old notebook died and the accessories for it wouldn't work on my new one. The old one is still reasonably popular so each time I would see someone in a coffee shop with the same model I gave them the choice of a free accessory (extended battery, docking station, power cable, etc) until they were gone.
posted by Ookseer at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have a local FreeCycle, it can be a lot of fun. I've made some people really happy with the stuff I've given away (a bed, children's books, a guitar), and have been made happy, too (a dishwasher, a microwave, a guitar).
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I gave a guy 20$ in casino chips at a blackjack table so he could buy back in. Actually I did it 2 or 3 times because he kept winning and giving it back to me, then losing again.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2009

When I worked at a library, a coworker pointed out that I might be the only human interaction another person (particularly an old person) might have that day. So, as I'm out and about running errands with my kids during the day, I try to be friendly to people who look like they want to chat.

I can stop and listen to that 92-year-old man in my neighborhood tell me, for the third time, he story of his travels with the Coast Guard. Yeah, it's not all that interesting by now and it takes 15 minutes and he's almost deaf so I end up shouting "HOW INTERESTING" or "YOUR WIFE MUST HAVE BEEN HAPPY ABOUT THAT" at the top of my lungs, but that's okay.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:01 PM on March 4, 2009 [5 favorites]

Recently, I was stuck in a hotel for over two months due to damage in my home. During that time, I tried to go out of my way to help brighten the day of other people. I would make a point to at least acknowledge all the staff; from trying to learn and remember their names, to nodding a hello to them in the hallways, to dropping by to say hi to the reception desk staff and exchanging pleasantries with the "kitchen ladies" who set out the breakfast bar every morning. The maintenance man once commented on how relaxing the music I was quietly playing in the empty pool area and that he loves that kind of music to read by. The next day, I created about 4 custom mix CDs of various instrumental music for him -- he was absolutely ecstatic and immensely grateful!

Yesterday, the rental office for the corporate suite where I am staying sent their bi-weekly maid. She was running late and hadn't ate yet and shyly asked me if she could eat her lunch here. Of course I said yes and when I noticed her eating standing up, I explained that it was okay to sit properly at the dining table and take the time to eat! I also had her come over to the fridge and pick out a beverage (since she only had an empty water bottle). Later on, I offered her some tea (explaining I was making some for myself anyway, so she wouldn't feel guilty) and had her sit for few minutes to enjoy it and chatted with her as a real person. It was obvious to her that those simple actions *really* made her day, which in turn helped to make mine.

Other things I've done in the past has been to regularly buy a Subway's lunch for one of the homeless guys that I would see every few days while I was working in another city on a work contract. The first time, I explained to him that I don't believe in giving money, but that he looked like he could use a healthy lunch. He smiled his appreciation and said that "anything is better than being ignored".
posted by Jade Dragon at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was in a toilet at work and I heard someone quietly crying. Nobody else was there except me and the crier.

I waited til she came out of the stall, hugged her, and said, 'Whatever it is, it'll be ok.' And she said thanks and then I walked out.

No need to know what it was; everyone has their moments.

The next day she'd left a thank-you card in my chair. We smile at each other now when we pass at work. I would do it for anyone, even a stranger in a public place.

"Everyone needs a hug" isn't just for Metafilter, but for life.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:00 PM on March 4, 2009 [8 favorites]

If I see someone looking for the bus/train/ferry/Citycat timetables I point it out to them. Usually it turns out to be a tourist or a newcomer.

Buy The Big Issue, and buy the seller a drink and chat with them for a while. Cheers them up tons!!
posted by divabat at 4:24 PM on March 4, 2009

Shared my umbrella with a lady going my way during a sudden downpour and we talked about the ridiculous price of cigarettes.
posted by peggynature at 5:21 PM on March 4, 2009

If I've finished with my train ticket for the day, I always try and give it to someone who's just about to buy a ticket. It sticks it up our transport provider and saves someone the price of an expensive coffee.
posted by WayOutWest at 7:02 PM on March 4, 2009

Oh! Oh, someone did something sweet for my mom once...my father had just been admitted to the hospital because he was feeling kind of unwell a couple days after a colonoscopy, and they were figuring out what was going on -- Mom was in the waiting room waiting while the doctors were opening Dad up to find out (incidentally - it was just a minor infection from when they removed a polyp, he ultimately just had to stay in the hospital for observation for a couple days).

While Mom was waiting, she and another woman waiting struck up a conversation (the other woman was waiting to hear about a family member who was more gravely ill, sadly). They bucked each other up a little, and at some point my mother said that she was hankering for a bottle of water from the vending machine but was just paranoid that if she left that that would be the moment that the doctors would come looking for her. The other woman chuckled a little. A few minutes later, though, the doctors called Mom and said she could go in and visit Dad.

Mom went in to go see Dad and the doctors for a while; leaving her coat behind in the waiting room. She was in there for about 20 minutes. When she came out, the other woman was gone.

But my mother found a bottle of water and a chocolate chip cookie sitting on top of her coat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 PM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

A couple of months ago, during a stinking hot day, I was driving along a main road to visit my mum when I saw an elderly lady struggling along with her walking frame and a small bag of groceries. I parked in the nearest side street and walked down to her, told her my name and said that she could look at my drivers licence for verification and that I would be happy to drive her home. She took me up on my offer which made me happy and she was pretty happy about it too.

I pay the shortfall for kids (and sometimes adults) who are buying iceblocks or wotnot and who don't have quite the right amount of money. Also, I always let people who've only got a few items in front of me in queues at the grocery store.

I smile and say hello to people who are walking directly towards me on uncrowded streets.

One day there was a huge rainstorm and I was waiting outside the shop I'd been in for it to clear a bit, and lady who was coming in to the shop asked if I'd like her umbrella. I thought that was lovely.

I'm a huge fan of random acts of kindness.
posted by h00py at 12:06 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I watched Anvil: The Story of Anvil, and then I bought an Anvil album.
posted by vbfg at 6:08 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

At a COSTCO I gave an elderly woman the shopping cart I had just yanked out of a row of them and she seemed pleased.
posted by qsysopr at 6:17 AM on March 5, 2009

It is not so random but we have been leaving larger tips lately. I also smile at people. Sometimes it's appreciated.
posted by snowjoe at 7:27 AM on March 5, 2009

When I get out of my car to walk into a supermarket and someone is just finished unloading their cart of groceries into their car and you see that glimmer in their eye, "What am going to do with this cart... walk it back or leave it between the cars?" I say, "Are you done with that cart? I'll walk it back for you. I need one anyway." Always creates a warm feeling for both the myself and the recipient.
posted by Muirwylde at 1:35 PM on March 5, 2009

When I dry my hands with a towel dispenser, I always dispense an extra sheet for the next person, so they can grab a towel after washing without touching anything else.
posted by nitsuj at 2:33 PM on March 5, 2009

posted by talldean at 5:12 PM on March 5, 2009

I take a lot of public transportation so I get the chance sometimes to cover someone's fare when they're a little short. Once I got to bring these two dudes the twenty bucks' worth of train tickets they needed to get to a job they were planning to take. I ran into one of them almost a year later not far from where he was working — I didn't recognize him, but he recognized me. That was pretty sweet.

My uncle leaves quarters on the ground where kids are likely to find them.

Back in the Dark Ages, I was being an antsy little shit as a tyke because I was quite sick, and the young kid waiting on our lunch table did everything in his power to keep things going smoothly for us. At some point I finally hid feverishly under the table (albeit quietly) and a few minutes later I saw a hand slide a stack of butcher paper and a small box of eight brand-spankin'-new crayons over to me without a word. This wasn't a family restaurant and the crayon box had a price sticker on it, so I think he must've had to run next door to the drugstore to get the crayons, probably out of his own pocket. I wish I could meet that kid again. (Uncle saw the crayons before we left and put a twenty under his water glass. Kindness begets kindness.)

Sometimes it's about what you don't do; uncle also taught me a general policy to avoid using the handicapped stall in public restrooms.
posted by jeeves at 11:38 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Leave some quarters in phone booths, they're like winning the lottery to some people.

Compliments are always nice, especially to strangers.

Talking to people who look lonely, just bored, or the more so to elderly ( The corpse in the library).

A neighbor ( I think) brought my recycling box in to the side of my house on a windy day. I thought it was long gone until I stepped outside. Made me feel good.

Let others know your dryer still has time on it at the laundromat.

Its been mentioned many times above, but let others go ahead in any lineup.

Compliment other answers on AskMeFi. Great story "Unicorn on the cob "!
posted by Taurid at 8:17 PM on March 8, 2009

I always, within reason, hold doors open for people. Now, it depends on the distance the next person is behind me, but if it's close enough to not seem sort of creepy I always do it, and frankly, when people don't hold the door for me, I get a bit cross.
posted by elder18 at 2:23 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

oh yeah, offer to take a picture for people who are taking pictures ( with their camera). eg. take a picture of a couple ( or family) together in one shot, rather than they take separate pics of themselves.

I'd like to add my thoughts to elder18....not as cross as I get when i hold the door open and the people ( sometimes 2 or 3 or more) walk right by me and say nothing!!!!! How rude is that????
posted by Taurid at 5:23 PM on March 9, 2009

I also offer to take photos of couples or families so they can all be in the shot. And whenever I use a vending machine I leave the change in the slot for the next person to discover. And I usually feed any parking meters I see that have expired, but apparently that is illegal in some places.
posted by shannonm at 9:19 AM on March 14, 2009

I work at a Starbucks too, near a big military base. This past Christmas, a woman paid for her drink, and went to wait to pick it up. Then a soldier in uniform paid for his frappuccino and went to pick it up. The first woman picked up her drink, came back to me, bought a $10 gift card, asked me to give it to the soldier anonymously, and left. I gave the guy his frappuccino and his gift card. It brightened my whole month.
posted by Quidam at 12:33 AM on March 18, 2009

Because we always cook more than we need (it's easier to cook for 4 than for 2, for us at least) we'll save one serving for leftovers and put another in a plastic Chinese take-away container and bring it down to our local Bar cause the manager/bartender works insane shifts cause he can't afford to hire more people.

That, of course, depends on the level of familiarity you have with your beerslinger. We've been going there for seven years now and the manager lives 4 blocks away, so YMMV.

I work with a largely volunteer crew, so I get coffee for everyone and have advil/asprin on hand for the occasional I'm-hungover-but-I-came-in-anyway person or general aches from the heavy lifting we do.

But in general, treat retail workers like human beings and you'll be doing your part to reduce the local Misery Index. Smile. Say please and thank you. Have your money out and ready. Ect.
posted by The Whelk at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2009

By happenstance I saw the cook from my favourite local restaurant and thanked her for always cooking up a great meal.

I try to be pleasant to all service people because the majority of non-service people either ignore them or treat them like shit. This has really helped me as well by lessening my social anxiety disorder.

I also, just this week, bought a Flickr pro account for someone I really admire.
posted by deborah at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2009

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