It’s hard not to get cynical about the world these days. But every once in awhile, someone proves you wrong by displaying a small act of kindness, which sticks out like a sore thumb by contrast. These folks are paying it forward—advancing a kindness to strangers because someone was also kind to them. It’s a generosity economy, where you hope one act of kindness multiplies into a hundred.
These small favors often go unnoticed by the world at large, but occasionally people capture the awesomeness in a photo. Being a bro to your fellow human is its own reward, and we hope the recipients of these kindnesses make sure to keep the chain reaction going!
15 Mermaid babysitter
Engaging with the imagination of a child creates its own kind of magic, but you must be the kind of adult that doesn’t mind feeling or looking ridiculous to play along.
When the child that this babysitter was in charge of us insisted she was a mermaid, the babysitter stepped up and just assumed the role. She texted, “Well, insisted I was a mermaid because of my hair and I had this thing in my closet.”
Now go take a look at this little kid’s face. Her grin is almost as big as her head. It’s the kind special event that she’s probably going to remember forever, perhaps exaggerated by the course of time. “When I was real little, a mermaid used to come over and take care of me. I was the only one who knew, but I saw her transform right before my eyes.”
For promoting a little more faith in a imagination…well done!
14 I’m not a cop!
No doubt the person that bought this vehicle quickly realized how much it resembles a cop car. Perhaps he or she bought it at a police auction, knowing that it was formerly a cop car but getting a great deal in the process. Or maybe the owner simply liked the make and model, and only figured out the resemblance when no one would pass on the freeway.
Regardless, this driver knew what to do. Everyone knows that uncomfortable feeling when you are driving near the police, and even though you’ve done nothing wrong, it makes you feel uneasy.
The driver hand wrote a message on the back of his bumper, “I’m not police, UR free to pass!”
Whew. Thanks, bro! It’s the little things!
13 Free tickets
This movie fan spotted this in the lobby of a movie theatre, and writes, “Somebody keeps leaving tickets outside this theater, tucked into their respective corners. The note on the far one says "FREE TICKET."
Judging by the movies on the posters, this happened pretty recently, as “A Quiet Place” was just released in the United States. This is some amazing generosity. Most tickets in Los Angeles are minimum $14 just for a matinee, with prices not much better throughout the rest of the country.
Blowing $42 on complete strangers for recently released films take a special kind of person.
If he were a saint, we would name him St. Flickus the Lavish, who feared not the cobwebs in our wallets and flung open the doors of cost-prohibitive cinema. Somebody call the Pope and get this guy canonized.
12 Fancy fish
Sure, fish may not be as cuddly as kitten or puppy, but fish owners become attached to their pets nonetheless. And it must be hard for someone when their pet fish dies while they were away.
Recognizing the loss and genuinely sharing the empathy of the situation, the pet owner’s cousin honored the request to give the fish “a proper flushing.” And boy did she go above and beyond.
On the right: an honorary decorative placard with drawing of the fish with a couple of tridents and a short inscription, “R.I.P Fish 2008-2108 Beloved father pet and friend.” On the left, a miniature wreath of flowers held up by legs made of paperclips.
Sometimes, even human people don’t get this kind of send-off, so we’re sure the owner of the fish was touched.
11 No TP
There are situations that would put anyone in a state of instant, crippling anxiety, and not having any toilet paper in a public restroom is one of them. The awful thing is most people don’t realize there isn’t any toilet paper until it’s too late. You know, when you’re fully committed, to put it delicately.
This reddit user posts, “Thank you unsung hero for paying it forward.”
By conspicuously placing an empty TP cardboard tube in between the seat and the rim, thus obviously propping it up, he or she has saved countless others from being trapped in an embarrassing emergency.
It’s a visual message that required no words. But we’re sure everyone got it. “Why is this here? Ooooohhh.” And on to the next stall.
Thanks for doing us a solid!
10 “Matt Damon”
There are some stars that would rather get their toenails ripped out than fraternize with the public. And then there are those that realize that the public is how they got there, and react accordingly.
This excited fan screamed “MATT DAMON” when she thought she saw the celebrity, and he offered to take a picture with her. Only it wasn’t Matt Damon. It was Mark Wahlberg. Those of us who are movie fans wouldn’t think they look anything alike, but hey, we guess some people need glasses.
She then texted, “He didn’t correct us at all LMAO.” With so many stories of celebrities being jerks, it’s nice that Mr. Wahlberg offered some generosity by letting her have her magical fan moment with “Matt Damon” without spoiling it. It’s like Wahlberg is saying, “Fine. I’ll be Matt Damon. Just keep smiling.”
9 The reverse fan selfie
What kind of celebrity actively seeks out selfies with his fans? In this case that celebrity would be Gaten Matarazzo, the adorable curly-haired kid made famous on Stranger Things. In this Instagram post, he writes, “I’m starting a new thing. Every fan that stops me and asks me to take a picture with them, I will ask them to take a picture with me because they mean as much to me as I mean to them. This guy was awesome, I couldn’t resist having him be in the start of my new trend.”
The person who curated these posts and put them altogether remarks, “Protect this child at all costs.”
We definitely think his heart is in the right place. Even at a young age, it’s easy for fame to get to your head, so it’s nice to see him consciously trying to give back as much as possible.
8 Protect your bald spot, bro!
Summer season is baseball season, and most people in the south can tell you how hot it can get a baseball game in Nashville, Tennessee. The sun takes its toll on all of us during a three or four hour baseball game out in the stands, and even harder on those with growing bald spots that could get potentially scorched.
From the looks of it, this gentlemen’s bald spot is in the direct line of the sun’s path for this hour of day. The guy in the back generously (and anonymously) places his hand in the right position to cast shade over the vulnerable bare skin area. Perhaps, he has a bald spot himself, and know all too well the stinging punishment of a sunburn at the top of the head.
Not today. Not on his watch.
7 Tim Hortons: 228 coffees in a row
If you don’t know anything about Tim Horton’s, it’s Canada’s equivalent to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Actually, most Canadians we know would reel in horror at Tim Horton’s even being compared to those businesses, so let’s just say they are their own thing, and an institution.
Sometime in 2012, someone wandered into a Tim Horton’s, ordered a coffee and paid for the coffee of whoever would wander in next. What happened next is the stuff of legend. The next customer took the offer, and paid for the next person. The subsequent customer did the same thing. And so on.
By the end of the day, 228 people paid it forward, which has to be some kind of record.
The staff started calling out what number of “pay it forward” they are on, and the owner said, “I think that's what helped keep it going because nobody wanted to be the one who broke that streak."
Just goes to show you—Canadians are awesome.
6 St. Pizzaman
This one is a pay-it-forward story in the truest sense of the tradition.
Mason Wartman sells pizza for a dollar a slice. Customers started adopting the tradition of paying for a slice for the next customer. In order to keep track, Wartman places a post-it note on the wall that represents a piece of pre-paid pizza.
If someone is really hungry and doesn’t have the money, they can just redeem one of the Post-its for a slice.
According to the source, Wartman’s pizzeria feeds about 40 homeless people a day. We can imagine, too, that most of his regulars make steady contributions to this wall of generosity. This is a true collaboration between his customers and his business to help make the world a better place, and an awesome example of the power of paying it forward.
5 Popsicle sticks
Reddit user bovadeez has a girlfriend who struggles with anxiety and depression, and wanted to come up with a creative and thoughtful way to help her deal with it. So he took a bunch of popsicle sticks, wrote positive and inspirational messages on them and left them for her in a jar to pick out when needed.
He color-coded them into different categories so she could pick what “flavor” of inspiration she wanted at the time.
He even left a few blank if she wanted to record a favorite memory or nice thing of her own.
He remarks, “This will hopefully help to regain control in some aspects and push her to take breaks and become more focused on herself.”
Dude, it’s touching. And we’re not crying, it’s just totally dusty in here. Soooo much dust.
4 She's just looking out for you
The lucky boyfriend writes, “My thoughtful girlfriend brought me some treats today.”
On the box of apple pastries his girlfriend warns, “2 = snack. 3 = diabetes.”
So yes, of course she wants you to eat the treats she brought you. But not all at once, please, she’d like to keep you around for the long term. It’s a two-fold kindness—one that loves you enough to buy you sweets for work, and two that loves you enough to warn you against over consuming said treats she just bought you. She’s trusting you man, don’t blow this.
Of course, the solution to the temptation is another way to pay it forward—just eat two of them and give the rest away. No everyone has a little taste of happiness. Hopefully, with no accompanying diabetes.
3 Car wash
This son of a successful businessman writes, “My dad has run a car wash for over 30 years. He found this in the mailbox the day after Christmas.”
Of course, he’s referring to the $20 bill and the accompanying notes, which says, “Friend and I argued over the best car wash in town. Argument ended when we realized we went to the same car wash. Lunch on me. Merry Christmas.”
It seems really weird to us that the same guy that would get into a heated and petty argument about who has the best car wash in town would also be the same kind of person to donate $20 out of the kindness of his heart.
Maybe he’s just the kind of guy that feels passionate about everything.
But the end result is unexpected generosity, which this world can use a little more of—so way to go, man!
2 Redbox snacks
Redbox, the video-rental kiosk business, has a business model that is on the wane, but as of now still has thousands of users across North America. People still appreciate the convenience of using an automated machine to rent a wide selection of DVDs or Blu-Rays and like that they can return them at their leisure.
But when you do return them, there’s nothing stopping you from including a little message or money for the next movie fan. When this Redbox customer received their movie from the machine, it came with a little extra: four $1 bills along with a little handwritten message that says, “Snacks are on us tonight!”
No one expects strangers to give you free money. Even four bucks can make the whole day go a lot sweeter! We hope the recipients felt inspired to return the favor to the next stranger.
1 Ho Ho Ho
College students are notoriously stressed out, especially right before the holidays. It’s suddenly cold and finals are coming up, and on top of all that, you have to figure out travel plans and gifts for the holidays.
This cop, full of holiday spirit, dressed in a Santa hat, filled a bag full of candy canes and went to the local university library to hand out the sweet treats.
The topper was that he announced it by saying, “Ho Ho Ho from the Po Po Po.”
A candy cane may not seem like much, but when you’re knee deep into theoretical calculus or a twenty page paper on 17th century theatre... it can make the difference between life seeming like a nice place vs. an unending chore of rolling a heavy boulder up the hill.
Plus, it makes the cops look good. Everyone wins.
References: boredpanda.com, buzzfeed.com, funsubstance.com, lolpics.com, imgur.com, pinterest.com, reddit.com, themetapicture.com