Good Samaritan
April 29, 2010 9:07 AM   Subscribe

How do I repay a good Samaritan for her help?

My car was recently damaged while parked on the street. The driver didn't leave a note but a woman who heard the accident wrote down the license plate number and because of her note I was able to track down the person and get some money to fix my car. I was hoping to give her a token of my tremendous gratitude. How much should I spend and what would be a good gift?

I don't know this woman, she's a piano teacher, and she lives about 2 blocks from my house.
posted by Groovytimes to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Flowers or a plant, but more importantly a note--perhaps including an expression of the hope that
as her neighbor you may someday be of some kind of help (hopefully not because her car is swiped!).
posted by emhutchinson at 9:13 AM on April 29, 2010

Maybe bake her a cake. Or cheesecake. Mmmm, cheesecake!
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, flowers or plant or other nice treat. Also, pay it forward the next time you have the chance to help someone else out.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

If there's something in particular you're good at, do that (e.g. MexicanYenta's suggestion of baking a cake). And get a bunch of her business cards and hand them out to people who might need piano lessons.
posted by Etrigan at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2010

Flowers may not be good (if she has an allergy) and a plant is a kind of obligation (unless you can tell that she is a gardener). Consumables (yes, she might be vegan or gluten intolerant or diabetic, but it's easier to throw away a plate of cookies than a plant).

For myself, a nice note would be plenty. I feel very uncomfortable being repaid for something I did out of a sense of civic engagement. I may be a minority in this view.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2010

Someone once rescued my wallet from being dropped out of my pocket onto the street in my unsafe neighborhood after a late night cab ride, and ended up calling my parents because my phone kept dying and my ID was from out of state. They totally saved me. I had a bouquet of seasonally appropriate irises delivered to their house. I tried to pick a flower that wasn't too smelly or too pollen-y, that didn't have romantic associations, and that would last at least a couple of days. I think it cost me about $40, which is how much money was in my wallet, that wasn't stolen due to their good deed.

On previous occasions when I've gone out of my way to help somebody else, I've received various forms of thanks, including a gift certificate to a movie theater, which I guess is probably the thing I enjoyed the most, but really I didn't want any thanks apart from an acknowledgment that their were glad I had helped. It's really important to say thank you and mean it.

As for the cash value of whatever you give her, I'd say think about what you would do for her if you did know her. Would you take her out to dinner? Just drinks? Would you treat her to a spa day? Think about how much those sorts of things would cost and then gift appropriately.
posted by Mizu at 9:26 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does your local newspaper (i know, i know) have a "good news" section?
You can write a little anonymous letter to the column.
posted by jara1953 at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2010

You should write her a note thanking her for her vigilance, and say that what most would consider to be a small act of kindness or civic duty made your life so much easier and put a bright lining on something really crummy that happened. Tell her she has inspired you to be more aware of your surroundings and the needs of your fellow man (or something).

So basically, a note that says "thanks and I'll pass it on" in a flowery way. I think a gift would be weird in this situation. It's not like she chased the driver down.
posted by phunniemee at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Agreed with paying it forward. If you are a baker or a cook, ask what he/she likes dislikes and cook a one pot meal (pot roast, casserole). Or the cheesecake idea above!

Definitely write a letter.
posted by TheBones at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2010

When a guy found my wallet I wrote him a note and gave him a $50 gift certificate to the nice restaurant in the neighborhood.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2010

This happened to me in a supermarket car park - the driver was going to leave but the young kid collecting the shopping carts pushed a whole row of them in the way to block the escape, which resulted in the driver leaving a phone number (after the kid wrote down her number plate).

I got him a cinema voucher, enough for 4 tickets, so he could either go with friends or go twice with his girlfriend.

And yes, pay it forward too.
posted by essexjan at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2010

Why not give a donation to a homeless shelter in their name? Many homeless shelter's run donations that are the cost of a night for a man, woman, or family (usually around $25). This way, you can pay it forward almost immediately and include a note. like Phunniemee said, saying that their concern for fellow man has led to you to consider others in need.
posted by Tavern at 10:45 AM on April 29, 2010

When a guy found my wallet I wrote him a note and gave him a $50 gift certificate to the nice restaurant in the neighborhood.

This is what I do - gift cards to restaurants. But I usually do $35, which is about enough for 2 people at an Olive Garden type place.
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2010

I found someone's USB drive and returned it to their office. They sent me a thank you note and a $5 giftcard for a nearby coffee shop. I thought it was a nice token, not too weird or excessive. Anything more than that would have made me feel uncomfortable.
posted by pluckysparrow at 10:53 AM on April 29, 2010

There was a period of time when I was constantly finding wallets. After returning them, all I really wanted was a sincere "Thank you" and I hope that they would do the same for some other unfortunate person in the future.

Getting an actual gift for doing what I consider the right thing kinda squicks me out.

Since she is your neighbor, I would think a thank you card would be appreciated and sufficient.
posted by Julnyes at 10:57 AM on April 29, 2010

Best answer: A card and "A donation has been made in your name to the YourTown Symphony / Chamber Orchestra / Opera Company / Music Festival."
posted by teg at 12:17 PM on April 29, 2010

A card and "A donation has been made in your name to the YourTown Symphony / Chamber Orchestra / Opera Company / Music Festival."

Excellent suggestion! Maybe find out if there is a program for young people and earmark it for that.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2010

Response by poster: I decided to make a donation in her name to a local music charity.
posted by Groovytimes at 11:51 AM on July 23, 2010

Good for you! I am sure they appreciate the gesture.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:33 AM on July 26, 2010

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