let’s talk about kindness at work

Inspired by last month’s update from the person who covered her coworker’s vet bill: We talk a lot about bad behavior at work, so let’s talk about kindness this time. What’s a time you saw a colleague go out of their way to be especially nice to you or to someone else? Please share in the comments.

{ 636 comments… read them below }

  1. Toby*

    Back when I worked at a big chain bookstore, we had our inventory one year on my birthday. I asked for the day off ages in advance, but our store manager refused because I was one of the only people who had done inventory before (there was a lot of turnover then and I left not long after). They would order food for us sometimes, since these were over nights, which was usually pizza. But the assistant store manager instead got my favorite salad from a local restaurant (and even got me a small tofu version while getting chicken for everyone else) because she knew it was what I often brought for overnights. It was something small, but it at least made me feel appreciated by her, (not so much by the store manager though).

    1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      Ouch, inventory. I’ve never been on the team that does it myself, but I like to ensure that they are prepared for the situation by distributing chocolate covered espresso beans.

    2. JSPA*

      I literally didn’t know taking birthdays off was common, though a long thread (now in the process of disappearing?) suggests that it is, at least in some places and jobs.

      But “how people do or don’t take birthdays” is irrelevant to the act of kindness! its much the same kindness whether it’s “working on your birthday sucks, so here’s your fave salad” or “working on a day you took pains to have off sucks, so here’s your fave salad.”

  2. Alan*

    I was up for a promotion, a promotion that goes through a very high-level committee. People typically wait years after applying because the committee will turn you down until you’ve gone through the cycle a few times. When my boss called to tell me that I got the promotion, he also mentioned that upon hearing that I had been turned down (I think it was my first cycle), my great-grandboss had marched into the committee room and told the committee to move me up. And they did. I don’t exactly know why he did that, but it was one of the kindest things anyone has done for me in my career, using some of his capital to get me some recognition.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      Something similar to this is happening right now. My promotion has to be approved at 3 levels. This is a new promotion process, so quite a few people are putting themselves up for it. But word got around that there would be rejections of completely qualified people because it will be expensive and because upper committees want employees to know that they have the power to reject us, even if we’re qualified.

      So the first level pushed me through right away. The second level rejected me, though they didn’t give a reason with any specific detail on why I was rejected (again, I suspect it was just to show they could). The head boss of the second-level committee, however, pushed me through to the third level with her resounding endorsement. That felt nice.

      We’ll see what the third level thinks in a month or two. It’s not a fun process.

  3. my cat is prettier than me*

    At the position previous to my current one, my boss got angry with me for taking the afternoon off to be with my family when my grandfather died. She pulled me into her office to lecture me less than 24 hours after his passing. Needless to say, I have some workplace PTSD. A couple of months ago, I got a call from my mother that my father was having a medical emergency and would be having brain surgery that afternoon. I told my current boss what was going on and he was incredibly kind. He told me to take all the time I needed and asked me to let him know if he could help in any way. My dad ended up being okay, but my boss still came to my desk and talked to me for a while about his experience caring for his mother when she had dementia (which my father also has). It was such a stark contrast that I was nearly in tears. It made me feel like my boss really values and respects me.

    1. Sharpie*

      I know none of my siblings’ bosses, but both of my sisters and my brother were able to have time off work during the last few months of mum’s life, and they could spend some precious time with her without the pressure of work. Things like that are valued by other family members too.

      I’m glad you’ve got such an understanding boss now. I’m so sorry about your dad.

    2. Alan*

      When my dad died I went and told my project manager that I would be taking a few days off. And he said “No problem. You can make it up on the weekend.” This from a man who prides himself on his Christianity. I did not come in on the weekend and he never mentioned it again.

      1. Dog momma*

        ..and that’s the problem.. he PRIDES himself. The Bible tells us to have compassion.. see The Good Samaritan,& to be humble.

        1. Marzipa*

          Not a Christian myself, but I also seem to recall both the Old and New Testaments very clearly warning the powerful against abusing their power and also warning how easy it is for the great and wealthy to become arrogant and to mistreat the poor and those in humbler circumstances. And I KNOW that both are also very clear on the subject of the dangers of hubris!

    3. Other Alice*

      My company did something similar for me as well. A couple of months after I joined, right after I finished training, I went to visit family over a long weekend and my grandfather had a medical emergency. It was a very stressful time because we went from planning my mum’s birthday to trying to arrange 24/7 care as we were told he wouldn’t be able to live independently any more, to finding out that actually he had days to live instead of months. My brain was in a fog and I didn’t know what to do, so I called my boss and asked can I work remotely for a few days, should I contact the clients just in case I need to take time off for the funeral soon, what should I do. He was extremely kind and told me not to worry about it and just take the rest of the week off. He took care of clearing my leave with HR and all, I didn’t have to do a thing. Even now I tear up thinking about it because it was such a kind and compassionate thing to do. My grandfather died two days later, and as awful as that week was, it was such a relief not to have to worry about work on top of it.

      1. On Fire*

        Several years ago, a colleague’s husband wasn’t feeling well, went to a doctor and learned he had leukemia. I don’t know the details, but the med team was sufficiently concerned that they started treatments either that afternoon or the next day. The wife requested time off to accompany him to treatments. He was going to be in some kind of isolation; it was a whole deal. Grandboss immediately said, “Effective immediately, you’re working from home. Do what you need to do. Come back when you can.” Thankfully, the husband made a full recovery and the wife retired a year or so later.

        Same grandboss put another divisional director on WFH status when she was having serious health problems, with strict instructions to not do anything stressful. And another colleague was WFH during his mother’s last few weeks of life. To be clear, we were NOT a place where WFH was a thing; he was letting them focus on their/their loved one’s health without using sick leave.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          At one workplace, my grandboss had some horrifying form of cancer or other, and we could all see he was struggling. The higher-ups put him on some kind of leave with the tacit understanding that he was not going to come back, but that the least they could do was keep him on his current health insurance while he was alive to need it.

          1. UpstateDownstate*

            That’s very thoughtful. It’s so unfortunate that affordable health insurance is tied to employment. Sigh…

          2. Niki*

            I worked at a place where a relatively young employee found out while working her notice period that she had terminal cancer – she had quit to go travelling for a year. When she found out, the company reinstated her employment and kept paying her while she took a truncated trip, and kept her on the books so that her family would receive the life insurance benefit (5x her annual salary) they offered when she passed

      2. my cat is prettier than me*

        It (my grandfather’s death) was a couple days after I returned from my honeymoon, so it was rough. We had decorated his wheelchair in flowers for the wedding.

      3. Name Required**

        I also was the beneficiary of my managers’ kindness when my mother began ailing, then died coming up on a year ago. I had to leave suddenly, which they approved without a second thought, then after she died and I had to stay to deal with her affairs for six weeks (non-US context!), I was told to take all the time I needed.

        But what perhaps mattered most was when my very busy, extremely overworked, leader of a unit of 25-odd people, yet wonderful grand-boss asked if I wanted to meet, just to find out how I was doing. We spoke for over an hour. It was so kind of her to reach out and take the time out of her schedule. I will always remember that.

      4. SusieQ*

        My FIL committed suicide weeks before our first baby was born. He lived a plane ride away. I called my boss, he told me to do whatever I needed to do, did I want him to swing by and take the garbage out (he had given me a ride home once)? I was out for 10 days, never needed to contact HR, came back to work for a few days. One of the days I was back in the office, there was a surprise baby shower that he’d planned (and rescheduled). I will never forget his kindness. (Side note – doc gave full approval for me to fly, I had an uneventful pregnancy).

        Fast forward to ~10 years later, baby now 10 years old, had an adverse reaction to medication; my husband had just had surgery and couldn’t help with anything. My boss (different job) told me to take care of my family, take care of myself and she’d manage anything that came up. I still tear up when I think of her kindness. Sadly, we are surprised by humanity… but I don’t think we should be, it’s much more common than cruelty.

    4. TechGirlSupervisor*

      My husband got very ill when I had just started a new job less than 8 months prior. I was concerned because I didn’t have much leave at the time and my youngest at 12 months had just started at the daycare.

      I told my boss that I had to leave, my husband had to go to the hospital. He told me not to worry about anything at work and to come back when I had the capacity to work again. It was such a relief to be able to just leave and not worry about my work that week. I returned the next week after my husband stabilized and I stayed with that company for over 6 years, in no small part because of how awesome the local management was.

      1. Nativefloridian*

        Some places are just awesome like that. I came in on sheer autopilot the morning after putting my cat to sleep. Apparently I looked awful (it had been a week-long saga), and the universal response was “Go home, it’s okay”. I hadn’t even been there a full month, I had *no* leave built up. HR helped me fill out the negative leave form, and assured me that pets are family too.

        That was over five years ago, and every family emergency since – from unplanned vet visits to deaths in the family – nothing but sympathy. I’ve never been guilted for taking time, it’s just not part of the work culture. There are other places that pay more, but I’m not willing to roll the dice on the culture I have here.

    5. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      I also have had a history of bad bosses. And one really excellent boss. My aunt died on my first day of vacation. Literally, my mom got the call when I was on the airplane. The funeral was scheduled for the day I was supposed to come back. I was worried because I was covered under the bereavement policy, but I wasn’t sure how my boss would react to me asking for another day off after vacation. My boss let me take the entire day off even though I technically could have gone to work after the funeral, and he told me he felt terrible that she died on the first day of vacation.

      *My cat is also prettier than me. Not fair.

      1. UpstateDownstate*

        I’m so glad to read stories of bosses who handled leaves like this with kindness – thank you all for sharing them. I work in a creative field and it’s not really known for ‘kind’ people at all but they do occasionally pop up and I myself try to be one of them.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        *All cats are prettier than me. It’s just a fact. Even my friend’s derpy cat who has a face like he walked into a shovel is prettier than me at my most done-up.

        Sorry, gotta go, one of my cats it being impossibly adorable.

        1. JSPA*

          *to my eyes, pretty much all cats are prettier than people. (But people don’t have cat breath and murder mitts, so there’s that.)

          Relatedly, my little kindness is having had coworkers who’d put together a small selection of cat pix taped to the edge of people’s desks or lab bench shelves, if they were having a hard day.

          This wasn’t strictly pre-internet or cellphones, but it was essentially so (email was on PINE, attachments were a headache) which means it took a lot more effort back then to round up and print out new cat pix.

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      My old job was extraordinarily kind to let me bust out of work if my husband was having an emergency (I had already planned to retire early to be his caregiver because I knew I wasn’t holding up my end that year). “Becky! Mike emergency! Be back as soon as I can!” (I think I used up all but one day of my PTO that year on that).

  4. Sanibel Island*

    My car needed some major repairs, and it was going to be a pretty heavy hit to my bank account. My current job offered a couple of options, such as letting me borrow a company car while it was being repaired. They also offered to pay for the repairs, and garnish my paycheck until it was paid off so my credit wouldn’t take a hit. I declined both, but knowing my company has my back is a really nice thought.

    Unrelated, but this Saturday is my birthday, but seeing other birthdays celebrated at my office (singing, cake, card), I hope I get my spotlight next! (I’ve been forgotten at past places, so here’s to hoping I don’t fall through the cracks again).

    1. Orca*

      Similarly, my last job was terrible for soooo many reasons, BUT, when my house and my partner’s truck were damaged by a (slightly freak for our area, but getting less weird year by year unfortunately) tornado, they both got me a cash grant from an emergency fund the larger company had available, AND let me use a company truck for several months so my partner could use my car. It was a real lifesaver and one of the only positive experiences I had there in six years, haha.

      Happy almost birthday!

    2. Merci Dee*

      My birthday was Tuesday, the 19th. Our department is relatively small with 8 people, so every time someone’s birthday rolls around, we pass around a card for everyone to sign. The notes that everyone else wrote in my card this year were incredibly sweet, to the extent that I was fighting tears at my desk as I read through them. I try to make a point of helping the others in the department to the extent that I’m able, even if that means giving them the name of someone else who has more knowledge about their issue than I do. And it was wonderful to know that others were noticing and appreciating my efforts. I feel like I have the best group of coworkers that I could ask for, and I’m glad that we all work well together.

    3. All the tea*

      Happy birthday! Sadly I’m such a birthday tart that I organise my own work celebration! This year I’ve got a ‘work twin’ so have an excuse to go overboard!! I hope your workplace delivers for you.

  5. The Prettiest Curse*

    During the time I was being bullied at a previous job, I wound up literally sobbing on the shoulder of a colleague during a staff training. I HATE crying at work so found it completely excruciating. She was so lovely about it that I will appreciate it forever.

    1. kiwiii*

      Similarly, in my first or second week at a new job, my mom was doing a great job of stressing me out, and I was having some pretty intense difficulties not associating a coworker’s blunt communication style with her. I had a one on one with said coworker, where I was supposed to be learning something pretty difficult and just burst into tears, and she was incredibly kind and we commiserated about our moms.

      1. Edina*

        Oh! This sparked a memory. Horribly bullied at one of my earliest jobs, by an extremely abusive boss. I was one of the only women there, the other woman was this extremely tough-ass, experienced woman who I was totally intimidated by. She found me secretly crying in the bathroom and I was so mortified–and she told me “We have ALL secretly cried in the bathroom, even the men.” It was just so kind, I still remember it decades later. We became really good friends after that.

        1. Edina*

          ps (adding a ps to my comment—and we later together stood up quite a few times to the Bullying Male Boss, which was excellent!)

        2. Workaholic*

          this reminded me of one of my 2nd job stints. i worked in a cold call center trying to sell tickets to a charity fundraiser basketball game. I’m an introvert and didn’t know st the time. one day (of only been there about a week, maybr only 3 days) it was the same struggle, but then I got a really sweet older lady. she said no thanks, but God bless and somehow it was both sweet and the last straw. I told coworkers I needed a break and ran to the bathroom to cry. After 10 minutes I still couldn’t stop so walked to my bosses desk and quit. I then went to pick up my stuff and leave. one coworker asked what was wrong, and when I told her she called an all-hands smoke break, dragged me and a couple others outside, hugged me, told me the job was sh*t and don’t waste a tear. She’s the one that informed me I wasn’t shy but an introvert “shy people can’t talk. You choose not to, but when you do you talk a lot, and you talk well” She also spent time building me back up, and hugged me while I cried. Seriously, I was a workaholic and that was the first job I’d ever quit. I was devastated and horrified and embarrassed at being unable to handle the job and quitting. (and no two week notice. just “I can’t stop crying, I quit” and that was it)
          I actually forgot the experience, but her words stuck with me.

  6. In the middle*

    I’m a teacher. Ive been at schools where our faculty has arranged housing and supplies for families after devestating fires. Currently, we’re gathering money to support one teacher (medical bills, heating issues) and another (family medical emergency). We regularly feed and cloth our students. I buy books and supplies for kids. I’ve had one student our entire department “adopted” from k-12. We bought her books, winter clothes, year books, food, went to her club sports games, paid for her extra curricular fees. I went to her graduation-her own parents didn’t show. I guess this is just to say…. if you’re not a teacher you may not have any idea what all we are doing to try and keep these kids alive and loved.

    1. Emmie*

      You are an amazing person, and so are your coworkers. You’ve changed that student’s trajectory for the better. Thank you isn’t enough but thank you.

    2. Scout Finch*

      Teachers saved me. I was so raggedy that my 7th grade English teacher took me to buy school clothes. I was an unsupervised, willful child.
      Teachers always had my back. I lived to make my teachers proud. Because of them, I was in the first generation of my family (both sides) to graduate college That gave me so many more options in life. I buy gift cards for teachers now, so maybe they won’t have to spend so much of their own meager salaries. Lord knows I will never be able to repay the debt.

      1. Pam*

        My teacher saved me too. 9th grade English teacher. I had severe depression and PTSD from an abusive family (never hit me, so I didn’t realize they were abusive until years later). She was the only person that recognized it and walked me down to the counseling office where I could get free therapy once every other week. I kept up those therapy appointments all through high school. When I was at my lowest, that was what kept me alive.

        She wasn’t a great English teacher, but she literally saved my life. Thank you, Mrs. C!

        1. MEH Squared*

          I have a similar story. Emotional abuse at home, unrecognized mental health issues, and just a mess in general. I asked my English teacher if I could do an independent study with her to get out of an English class that was really not good for me. She agreed and I would just sit in her classroom for an hour as a refuge from the world in general. I was supposed to read a list of books, but she never made me do it or ask me about it. She was a terrific teacher, too. Thanks, Mrs. W!

    3. singularity*

      I’m also a teacher. I have a student who has a condition that made her recently blind and she’s having an extra hard time with it. Her parents don’t have the money for the surgery that would help her eyesight improve, so she’s been struggling. Me and an aid have been taking her down to the cafeteria everyday to get her lunch, because she’s scared to navigate the crowd on her own. Lately, I buy her food and let her eat in my room so that she bypasses the cafeteria entirely.

      Also, I had a student last year who was behind in credits because his parents made him drop off his younger siblings at their various campuses first, and he always missed the first block. I helped him sign up for credit recovery and summer school and had to talk his mom into taking her younger children to school. (She didn’t have a reason not to, she told me she didn’t like waking up early, and since her older son drove and had a car that could hold them, she figured it would be ‘no big deal’ and that the school would ‘work it all out eventually.’) He’s set to graduate this year and I can’t wait to see him walk across that stage.

      1. DeskApple*

        As a parentified oldest child who had to drop siblings off at FIVE separate campuses, you are a wonderful person and I wonder if you’re my 11th grade teacher who also did the same for me.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I told my husband, the teacher, that he had a permanent Open Couch ticket for any student he felt he needed to rescue. He told me it was against school policy, and I said, “You will know if you need to do it anyway.”

      3. Tea*

        “She didn’t have a reason not to, she told me she didn’t like waking up early, and since her older son drove and had a car that could hold them, she figured it would be ‘no big deal’ and that the school would ‘work it all out eventually.’”

        People like that should not have children

        (Maybe that’s harsh but one of my siblings has been struggling with infertility and child loss for years including a stillbirth and miscarriages so like, I’m a little salty about lazy AF “parents” like your student’s).

      4. In the middle*

        I had one like this! My 6th grade student was late EVERY DAY and missed breakfast because mom would not make two seperate runs to different campuses. There were buses, but I suspect the student didn’t actually live in the district. I fed that kid breakfast every day for a year.

    4. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Dropping in to say that Alice’s Kids is a resource that teachers and other officials (school counselors, resource officers, etc) can nominate kids to for needs that fall outside traditional help guidelines- fees for sports, clothing, etc. If you are a teacher or work with kids and this is coming up for you, check them out- I can’t guarantee that they’ll help, but they do good work.

    5. Rebecca*

      Fellow teacher here; thank you for taking such good care of your kiddos! And it’s not like we have a ton of spare money to do it…

    6. ope_sorry*

      I teach at-risk high school kids. Folks have no idea how hard it is for some kids just to get to school; some of my kids have had home lives that sound like a Lifetime movie (not the cozy Christmas ones, either). I once drove a student to get her birth certificate and her social security card because her mom was so ill she couldn’t leave the house. We have teachers, parents and community leaders who we call when kids need new shoes for gym, or a bra that fits, or gas cards so they can get to the job that helps pay their family’s rent. I am constantly in awe of how teachers figure out ways to get kids through.

    7. GoldenHandcuffs*

      Thank you for all you do for your students. I know so many teachers who truly love their kiddos and want nothing more than for them to succeed and they face so many odds in making that happen for them.

    8. American Couch Wizard Society Member*

      Thank you for all that you do. It is very hard to be a teacher these days and you are appreciated.

    9. Chirpy*

      I had a 7th grade English teacher who got my uncommon name right on the first try – because she actually either knew it, or took the time to find out. She was the only teacher who ever did.

      Another really horrible teacher at that school was the worst bully of my life (mostly making fun of my name), so this was even more appreciated. Mrs. E., you have no idea how important this was to me – it’s decades later and I’m still crying remembering this.

    10. Les Cargot*

      Two stories:

      We grew up in a family affected by addiction, so we weren’t all that well balanced. While in college, my kid brother became suicidal. One of his professors found out somehow, dragged him to her house, fed him a good dinner, and told him he had to come back every day for dinner. The dear lady kept him alive through sheer willpower. He’s now a college professor himself and still gives her credit that he lived through school.

      I’m a teacher myself now, first year, public high school. Recently some of the students went through those horrible high-stakes tests that determine whether they can graduate on time. The tests ran all morning. One of the science teachers decided they had had enough stress for one day and should do something fun, so she had them make “teacher appreciation cards” — kind to both the students and the recipients. Later that afternoon, two students walked into my class and handed me my very first teacher appreciation cards. (sniffle!)

  7. FlowerGirl*

    I recently had surgery, and when I arrived home from the hospital, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers from a local florist waiting for me from my boss and colleagues. I work remotely and states away from my team. It meant so much that they were thinking of me.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I got flowers from my work twice last year. Once as an appreciation gift from a PM after a tough deadline where I worked overtime. And the second after I got back to town from my grandmother’s funeral. Both times it was really thoughtful and much appreciated.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        After a particularly rough deliverable where I worked my behind off to get to the deadline (because other folks were late with their parts), the PM told me to take a Friday off and charge it to the project instead of my PTO. THAT Friday happened to be my birthday :)

    2. Alice*

      I had a major surgery and was re-hospitalized with comlplications – my co-workers arranged for a special delivery of my favorite “Fru’Fru’ coffee (vanilla white mocha – yum) to my hospital room. I was not in a local hospital (think Mayo clinic) so the extra effort to find a coffee shop that would deliver to me was very appreciated.

  8. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

    In August of 2022, I fell off a boat, landing on the mooring gubbins, breaking 5 ribs. My boss, realising I’d have to cancel my holiday to Italy, sent me pasta and sauces from a pretty high end pasta delivery service, saying that if I couldn’t go to Italy, it would come to me. I was VERY touched.

    Entertainingly, some months later, I discovered another box from the same place on my doorstep. I messaged my boss, thanking him – I was very surprised and slightly confused. I realised then what had happened (and he admitted it) – he was ordering pasta for his own family and forgot to change the delivery address. He let me keep the pasta and we laughed about it :)

    1. Kc*

      This is so nice!!

      P.S. I wouldn’t be sad if you happened to share the name of the fancy pasta delivery service!

      1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

        I’m in the UK, and this is a UK company, but if you’re in the UK, they are called Pasta Evangelists and are at (unsurprisingly) pastaevangelists (dot) com – their pasta is very, very good!

  9. Hungry Admin*

    many years ago I was poor temp*, minimum wage with a long commute. one day poverty-lunch disseapered from one of the fridges that never even got cleaned and an absolute gem from finance went out and bought me a proper lunch. Thay was a ray of light in an otherwise miserable part of my life. although the PAs there also let me get 1st dibs at conference left overs aswell

    *It was a temp to perm contract, but they actually lied about the permanent bit…

    1. ferrina*

      I had an office manager who knew everything about the office (in a good way). She knew who was underpaid and overworked, and made sure that we always got a heads up about leftovers and treats before the official email went out. It was very, very appreciated.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yeah, I always gave interns the first crack at any conference leftovers, even if it made the overpaid exec food hoarders mad!

      2. Set999*

        Had a similar thing when I was a temp. I told someone one day that I was upset that we threw away a bunch of food after a meeting. After that, I always got pulled to grab some (and then the rest was offered to the rest of the office).

    2. Pita Chips*

      A great boss I had several years ago:

      When I was diagnosed with cancer, he reached out to someone in the department who had survived cancer and asked if she was willing to talk to me about it. Talking to her really helped allay some of my fears. He also let me rearrange my schedule when I needed radiation treatments so I didn’t need to take FMLA and lose money from my paycheck.

      1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        My company was helpful in a policy for getting paid for time off for repeating medical appointments, which helped me get thru Chemo after my colon cancer surgery. But my managers weren’t very supportive. (I found the policy myself on the HR website, my managers were clueless to its existence and had recommended unpaid intermittent FMLA for the time off that I needed.)
        I am grateful to both my brother and his wife for tag-team driving/flying 500 miles out to support me after surgery 8 years ago for the Colon cancer and again recently for the Angio Sarcoma that I’m undergoing radiation for now (after surgery in November).

  10. AnonymousFormerTeacher*

    I was mid-20s when my childhood dog died. She had a stroke on a Saturday night, and the vet told me on the phone that there wasn’t enough time for me to get home because of her pain. She was my buddy.
    At church on Sunday, I saw a co-worker. She asked if I was okay, and I told her.
    At work on Monday, I lost it while making copies before school in the front office. I got to my first period, and one of my high school sophomore male students looked at me and asked if I was okay. I told their class about my dog. He asked if he could check his phone because his mom was texting him – not uncommon – and I said sure.
    35 minutes later, the principal and that mom walked in my classroom with that student’s new 4 month old puppy. My principal covered the rest of my morning classes, and I got to cry on, cuddle with, and play with a puppy – which healed a little bit of my broken heart.

    1. UnemployedInGreenland*

      I am sitting here crying after reading this. What a wonderful, kind thing to do. Sniff.

    2. Pigeon*

      And what a sweet reminder that, even though they sometimes get a bad rap, young dudes are capable of amazing sweetness

      1. AnonymousFormerTeacher*

        Having taught middle and high school, teenage boys are capable of such a wide range of emotions and behaviors that is often overlooked. They get a bad rap because they are overgrown children who don’t always make the most coherent choices, but there’s so much good in teenagers.

        He was a really kind kid, and a true leader in his class. I actually now work in the same, large corporate organization as he and many of his classmates do – I’m in my mid-30s now, they are late-20s, and they love to come find me. :) they like to see the picture of my new dog on my desk

        1. Nightengale*

          oh my golly yes

          I taught in a residential school for kids with behavioral challenges. The school was co-ed but mostly boys. I broke my arm and they pretty much fell over each other for the privilege of carrying and opening things for me.

        2. MEH Squared*

          Your original post made me tear up, but this comment makes me smile (through tears). I love everything about this. (And congrats on the new dog!)

    3. Magdalena*

      I’m so sorry but also what a wonderful kindness.
      This student added a sweet memory to an otherwise very painful day.

    4. On Fire*

      No onions, dust or pollen — I’m just crying. I’m so sorry about your dog but so proud of your student.

    5. House On The Rock*

      This is so beautiful – what deep and genuine kindness from all involved. I’m so sorry about your dog – I remember losing my first cat, who lived to be over 20, soon after I was married and it’s heartbreaking.

    6. allathian*

      Oh my, I’m really glad to WFH today with all the tears running down my face. This is beautiful.

  11. Grilled Cheese Saved My Life*

    I was having a bad day – I spilled water on my phone in my sleep, ruining it completely, and also leading to me oversleeping because I didn’t have an alarm. I forgot to pack a lunch and was frazzled and miserable. The anniversary of a traumatic event was a few days away and I was on edge and barely functioning because of it. I screwed up an experiment I was working on, so I had to start over. I kept brushing everyone off when they asked if I was okay because I didn’t even know how to begin explaining what was going on. When everyone went to lunch, I stayed behind to try and salvage my experiment.

    Well, 15 minutes later, my coworker opens the door to the lab and says “Hey, I accidentally ordered a grilled cheese and tomato soup with a Dr. Pepper from Panera [AN: my favorite meal, as I had told her a few days prior] and it’s up for grabs in the break room if you want it.”

    I fully burst into tears and gave up on trying to salvage my day. I think I was trying to prove that I, idk, was Super Strong and Could Withstand Anything?? But I was really just miserable, and her reaching out like that, and giving me an easy way to just. Accept some help. It really meant a lot to me.

      1. Tangentwoman*

        I am 100% the person who bursts into tears when someone does something nice for me when I’m really struggling and trying to keep it together. Such a thoughtful gesture from your co-worker; I’m glad it helped!

    1. FricketyFrack*

      I love that she pretended it was an accident. WHOOPS ordered your whole favorite meal, how did that happen? That’s so sweet.

      1. Venus*

        Agreed, and did it in such an obvious way that it was clearly meant for OP. Sometimes I’ll be oblivious to offers of help, such as an offer of a cookie, but ordering exactly what you like… even I would have clued in that it was a kind offer of support!

      2. Omskivar*

        My husband used to do that when we were broke college students and post-college grads; for example, if someone didn’t have money to pay for a sandwich, he would “accidentally” order an extra sandwich that he knew they liked. If they protested he’d say they might as well eat it because everyone else had their sandwiches and otherwise it would get thrown out.

        Then he switched to hosting our D&D game and making dinner for everyone who attended, so our friends would all get at least one good meal a week. We’ve been hosting for about 13 or 14 years now, I think.

  12. Llama Llama*

    Three years ago, my daughter was in the hospital for a three week stint. I was with her and my husband was home with our other kids. The first week my daughter was there my manager brought my husband and kids a bunch of food so they could get by without us. It was a very kind gesture and one less thing we had to worry about.

  13. Reality Check*

    It was the 90s and I worked as a PT bus girl in a restaurant. I was working 3 jobs at the time and I became pregnant. Two jobs fired me for that, my boyfriend dumped me, it was a nightmare. The restaurant let me stay though. Everyone there knew my situation.

    When I left for maternity leave, I said if a server position became available I would love to have it. (FT, more $$). I didn’t expect a position would actually open, though.

    While I was out, a server quit. The others covered her shifts on their evenings off, for several weeks, just to hold the job open for me. I was stunned at that act of kindness. They didn’t just preserve a job for me. They saved my sanity.

    1. Too many birds*

      What a decent thing for them to do.

      And holy shit, this country is fucking awful to mothers and caregivers.

      1. Zennish*

        Unfortunately, this country operates on the unspoken belief that you really only deserve help and compassion if you can pay for it.

  14. Chelle*

    I work directly with people who are employed by our customers, helping them install, configure, test, and troubleshoot our software, which typically takes 12-18 months, so you really get to know people. I traveled to one of these customers about every other week for a year, and one month decided to stack my two trips back to back and stay the weekend to save on travel time + I had some scheduling conflicts. One of the analysts knew I was going to be in town alone, and she also knew that I loved theatre. She bought me a ticket to a play in town that weekend with her own money so I wouldn’t be bored.

    In a similar situation, another customer was located in a town with a famous (and famously expensive) aquarium. Most people who live there have annual passes, which are very cheap for residents and able to be lent out. When the customer manager found out I was planning to go to the aquarium over the weekend and bring some family who were in town to visit, he started going around to people’s desks asking if they were going to use their aquarium passes that weekend until he rustled up the right number for me.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      That is so nice! I love when the customer/vendor relationship becomes person to person.

  15. Jackalope*

    I may have shared this before, but my first boss with my current employer was amazing. She reached a manager position maybe a decade before she planned to retire, and her goal was to get all of her people (who were interested) launched in their careers with our employer. Our position was entry level but many people didn’t have this kind of help and stayed there for years or decades. Not her people. When she had your twice annual review, she would ask what you were interested in for the future; if you didn’t know (as I didn’t when I first started) she would come up with suggestions based on what she knew of your strengths. Once you gave her something to work with, she would do everything in her power (including getting involved in upper-level politics that I never fully understood) to get you experience in that area. For example, someone told her that they wanted to get into training, and after that she had them help with training every month for the next several months (along with others, so we all got experience with it) so she could add that to her resume. By the time she retired, every employee she’d had more than a year or two (who wanted to move on; some people were close to retirement and this was just a job for them to coast through those last few years) had their careers launched and many of us are still working those positions she helped get us into.

    Also, at the time there was this strange idea throughout our (very large) office that if you had a problem or a question you could only ask the technical experts. She thought that was ridiculous, and so had us all ask each other and train each other in different areas. We became known as the “training unit” because we’d go to other units and teach them obscure skills. Other managers marveled at how good we were at our jobs, although they never seemed to connect the dots on the fact that we were allowed to answer each other’s questions and share our experience. Her actions helped us function like a true unit, not just a bunch of people all doing the same job in the same space but with no connections.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, that is just wonderful and amazing! Fostering collaboration…what a concept. And helping her employees’ advancement, what a boss!

    2. Tinamedte*

      Future goals if I ever end up in a position where I manage people! Thanks for sharing.

  16. arachnophilia*

    Years ago, I was a relatively new and low-level administrator at a private university, about 1000 miles from where I grew up. I got news at Christmas that my mother (who had cancer) had probably only a couple of weeks to live. I called my boss and told her I needed to go to my hometown to care for my mom, and she immediately said fine, take all the time you need. Simultaneously, my grandboss (a pretty high-level executive) and the next person under her took it on themselves to make sure that I continued to get paid (even though I didn’t have enough leave accrued, and I was non-exempt at that point), that I didn’t have to fill out any paperwork, and that I didn’t have to think about anything but my mom for as long as I needed.

    I was out of work for 6 weeks, came back to a negative sick-leave balance that was quickly corrected, and all of my accrued vacation intact. They also sent lovely flowers to the funeral, and gave me a ton of grace as I recovered. I will never forget just how kind everyone was, and how amazingly and quietly helpful they were. Until I became a manager myself and had to learn to deal with all sorts of bureaucracies, I didn’t realize how much behind-the-scenes work they did to make sure that I was able to focus on my mom for her final weeks, without worrying about my job at all. And yes, I’m in the US, where this sort of kindness is exceedingly rare.

    1. Grey Coder*

      Twice in the space of three years, I got “come now if you want to see your father before he dies” messages. (He pulled through both times, and mostly recovered after a lot of rehab and support.) Both times my bosses said, “Go, don’t think about us”. Two transatlantic trips of about two weeks each. I tried to take them as vacation but they made up a category so I didn’t have to lose my annual leave.

      1. Arachnophilia*

        Amazing, and I’m so glad your company did that for you. <3

        And I also keep thinking as I read all these posts – shouldn’t this sort of kindness be default and not something worthy of notice?

        1. nice HR (for real)*

          @arachnophilia this is my take as well. I’m so glad to see all these examples, but so sad that they are noteworthy instead of table stakes…

  17. Kris*

    When I was a teenager, I worked at a horse farm, and there was a “mean” horse there who was known for biting people. Let’s call him Bitey (I forget his real name). He was easily spooked and had probably been mistreated; I never knew the whole story.

    Since my job was to feed the horses, they all liked me, and Bitey would even let me pet him. Therefore, I was assigned to hold Bitey’s halter while the farrier (the horse foot doctor) tended to his feet. It was a hot summer day, and I didn’t know that standing with your knees locked can make you pass out. Sure enough I started to feel woozy, and then I passed out cold. I heard the farrier and his assistant yelling as I blacked out.

    When I came to a few minutes later, they told me that the supposedly “mean” horse had caught me mid-faint with his head, and gently lowered me to the ground! What a sweetie. Horse people love stories like this, and it was all anyone talked about for days.

      1. ypsi*

        Wow, that is amazing!
        You were kind to Bitey and he returned the kindness. People who think animals have no souls are so wrong.

  18. Kimmy Schmidt*

    My supervisor in grad school used to make sure I got first pick of any catered leftovers since she knew I was broke and living paycheck to paycheck.

    1. Beth*

      This happened to me also in grad school — the whole department where I was a student intern gave me (and the other interns) first crack at all the food, AND insisted that we take leftovers home. And they brought in food a LOT.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        These are such sweet antidotes to all those stories about C-suite greedheads who swoop in to scarf up or pack up all the free food in the conference room, leaving none for those who really need it. I wish more companies had supervisors like yours, Kimmy Schmidt and Beth!

  19. TechWorker*

    I used to work with my partner and someone let me know he was feeling sick at work, he was lying on a sofa looking pretty bad. Firstly my colleagues were like ‘yea don’t worry take him home’ and when I was stood there thinking ‘shit how am I going to get him into a taxi’ my boss was like ‘hey I can just drive you home, let’s go now?’. Priorities in the right place. (We then had a very scary 1am visit to A&E when he was in so much pain he was rolling around on the ground, but he was fine in the end)

  20. Amazing Amy*

    I worked for a law firm for about seven years, and became close with a group of legal assistants. After finally ending a long-term, toxic relationship, I confided in one of the assistants over the weekend. She apparently shared that with a couple others in the group (in a caring way) because when I got back to the office on Monday, there was a lovely bouquet of flowers on my desk from one of the other assistants with a note that said something to the effect of “You are a badass – we are proud of you, and better things are on the way.” It felt amazing to be so cared for in such a vulnerable moment. That was nearly eight years ago, and I still have that note.

  21. Golfer_girl*

    I had just returned from a cross country trip to say goodbye to my father who we had placed in hospice. I found a small vase with a flower on my desk from my co-worker. It was a small gesture that I will never forget.

    1. The Provisional Republic of A Thousand Eggs*

      While my mom was in the hospital with something that turned out to be terminal, for several months, in a different country (I’m in Europe, so that’s very nearly coast-to-coast for you North Americans), my manager told me to just see a doctor and go on sick leave for depression or whatever (here in Finland we have unlimited paid sick time) instead of burning through all my vacation time (I’d taken regular vacation days while it still looked like she’d make it). And after I returned from my mom’s funeral, I, too, found a bouquet on my desk, and my manager kept trying to push compassionate leave and/or more sick leave on me, until I explained that work was actually the thing that kept me sane. (I had to explain this more than once, too.) He was a good one. Unfortunately the company faltered about a year later.

      (Speaking of compassionate leave, another manager actually granted me one day of compassionate leave when one of my guinea pigs died. Everyone at work knew how much I love my little fuzzballs. She was a good one, too.)

      1. The Provisional Republic of A Thousand Eggs*

        … um, while my mom was in the hospital and I was there staying at her house and visiting her daily, otherwise I guess what I wrote makes little sense…

      2. Catherine*

        Sorry about your mum, and your guinea pig. We lost a guinea pig the other day. My poor husband found her in a bad state in the morning and had to get an emergency vet appointment (he wasn’t working at least) but by the time he got there all they could do was put her to sleep. My boss said I could go home (got the call just as I got to the office) and work from home that day because my husband was in bits, plus we had to tell our son when he got home from school.

  22. Former TV Girlie*

    I worked for a Big Tech company that is notoriously stingy with vacation days, making it extremely hard to take a vacation, balance doctor’s appointments, care for sick children, etc. About 6 months into my tenure, I was moving from Big City to Suburb, and needed to take a day off to, you know, move. My manager told me she would cover for me and that I should absolutely not file the day as a day off, because moving is stressful and vacation days are meant to be for taking care of one’s self. It was a little kindness, but in the context of a company that’s not very nice to its people, it really meant a lot.

    1. Problem!*

      I had a manager do that for me too. We were moving for the military so it’s not like we decided to uproot and move states because we wanted to, we didn’t have a choice. My company made sure I could take my job with me and work remote and also not use up all my vacation days moving cross country (which is NOT enjoyable in any sense).

  23. Ann Onymous*

    A friend was a post-doc at a university and was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness just a few weeks before their contract was supposed to end. Their supervising faculty member extended the contract for another semester so they could stay on the university’s health insurance and also gave them as much PTO as possible so they could continue to have an income. It was a stressful time for my friend, but thanks to their supervisor, work and insurance didn’t add to that stress and they are now well on the road to recovery.

    1. CV*

      An acquaintance, who was a grant-paid employee at a research university, sadly had a cancer diagnosis, to which he eventually succumbed. Although he wasn’t able to work at all the last 9 months of his life because of the treatment and symptoms, the PI kept paying him in full, even though this meant he had to scramble from a budgetary standpoint and get the research done even though he was short one person (and no money to hire a replacement).

      1. basically functional*

        Speaking as a grants administrator, this is really nice, but also probably illegal.

  24. AnonForToday*

    Last summer, I was unlucky enough to have a chronic medical condition flare up while I was not just on business travel, but attending the most important event of the year for my industry. While there were no obvious physical symptoms, I ended up laid up alone in a hotel room for most of a week.

    Said condition is often misunderstood and stigmatized, so while I told my supervisor (also at the event) what was going on, the rest of our team only knew I was sick. Nonetheless, Every. Single. One. of them made a point of reaching out personally to offer practical help, e.g., picking up soup or medicine. My grandboss, who my supervisor briefed on some but not all of the details, waited a few days, and then contacted me to express concern and tell me to take all the time I needed to recover.

  25. Overwhelmed but grateful*

    One time long ago, I was a very new employee, fresh out of graduate school and living paycheck to paycheck. Payroll had sone kind of glitch, which would certainly be worked out, but could have resulted in a delay in pay. My boss offered to personally loan me the exact amount of my paycheck until it was resolved. It never came to that, but the offer was well above and beyond.

  26. Wordnerd*

    CW child loss, infant loss

    In Feb 2016, I started a new job in a university student support office, and my sister in law was expecting. The baby was born prematurely in March, and two days after coming home from the NICU in April, the baby died at home. I got the call when I was at work. My boss and colleagues comforted me, told me not to worry about a thing, and sent me home to take care of my family (who lived three states away).

    I had not accrued much time off by then, but my boss never even spoke to me about how much time I needed to take or had accrued. I pretty much just wandered back into the office the next week. They’d supervised my staff, taken care of student timesheets, and even sent a plant to the funeral, which must have taken some investigating, because I didn’t share the date or the name of the funeral home.

    I still remember the hug my boss gave me in my office when I got the call all these years later.

  27. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    It’s a really small thing but one day early in my career, when I was sooooo broke, someone stole my lunch out of the office fridge. (The first and only time I am aware of that happening in the 8 years I was there.) I was in tears. I was so hungry, had been looking forward to the meal and didn’t have the money to buy another meal that day. (I also have a medical condition that makes it somewhat unsafe for me not to eat.)
    A coworker that was usually brusque, a little mean and generally not my favorite person (mutually) pulled out an extra frozen lean cuisine and gave it to me. It was such a huge kindness to me, though it took very little effort or investment from her.

    1. oranges*

      This is such a lovely example of nice vs. kind and why ultimately, “kindness” is far superior.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think often what feels like a very small kindness to the giver can be absolutely enormous to the receiver. All the more reason to choose to be kind.

  28. Miss you Dad!*

    A while back, I received an incredibly thoughtful gift basket from my colleagues right before a very busy period at work. They’d asked our office manager to send it as a way to pamper me during my upcoming week off. What they didn’t know was that my week off was for a minor surgery and the gift basket would have been a lovely way to recover. What no one anticipated – myself included – was that the week would take an incredibly difficult turn. I found out my father had cancer, and in a whirlwind, we navigated treatment options, made the heartbreaking decision to stop treatment, arranged hospice care, and said our final goodbyes. While there was absolutely no time to indulge in the lovely gift, knowing my coworkers cared enough to send it during a time they thought I just needed a break, became a small bit of light in that incredibly dark week. It was a powerful reminder of the support and compassion I have at work.

  29. Guy Buttersnaps*

    I love this thread! One day when I was very pregnant, I had a horrible headache. The strongest medication my doctor would allow me to take was regular strength Tylenol. I didn’t have any with me, and there was none onsite. I had several interviews lined up to do that afternoon, and so would not have time to run to the drugstore. When I got back to my desk after the first interview, there was a box of regular strength Tylenol on it waiting for me. One of our outside salespeople had gone out and bought some for me. And he wouldn’t accept payment for it!

    1. Genevieve en Francais*

      Oh this is bringing up all of the kind things people did for me when I was pregnant at work. Mostly by letting me nap whenever I needed to that last month. I was part of our front office coverage, so sneaking away meant other people needed to pick up my part of that, and no one ever bothered me about it.

  30. Not on fire today*

    Sometimes it’s the smallest things.

    I worked in a high stress, low paid social service government office. Someone put a note and a chocolate in everyone’s mailboxes. The note said,

    You are gold. Do not
    set yourself on fire to keep
    other people warm.
    -Sade Andria Zabala
    A Haiku on Self-Love

    We all talked about the Self-Care fairy for weeks. No one knows who it was or acknowledged doing it.

      1. Not on fire today*

        I love that our long-ago office mystery person will make your office mates (through you) feel loved. Today is a good day!

  31. It's the Little Things*

    My husband is a teacher and he’s had a string of really terrible principles over the past 7 years. Bullying, gaslighting, racism against one of his friends at the school, you name it, he’s been through it. This year the school has a new principal and he had very low expectations given what’s been going on. The other day he came home and when I asked him how his day was, he answered “The principal brought the teachers SCONES!” in an amazed voice. I was confused and when he saw the look on my face he said, “No principal has done anything for the teachers in the past 7 years. She took the time to go pick up scones for us, and paid for them out of her own pocket. Wow.” The little things that can make such a difference.

    1. anonanon*

      I’m a teacher too, and one year during our marathon parent teacher conferences, one of our bosses wheeled around a cart to our classrooms to bring us snacks and chilled soft drinks/water because the day was too hectic for most of us even to leave our rooms and go down to the faculty lounge to collect a snack if they had been set out there. It showed such an understanding of how busy and challenging those long conference days can be and I felt so appreciated and supported.

  32. Becca*

    A few years ago I applied for a job internally, with a team where I knew the hiring manager semi-well. Some internal developments meant that halfway through the process, my application/potential transfer ended up being a lot more politically loaded than it had been when I applied. The process included a panel interview, and when things started getting dicey the hiring manager used his discretion to remove folks who would be negatively impacted by my potential move and replaced them with folks who knew me and my work well and would benefit from my transferring. I ended up getting the job and avoiding a lot of the fallout from the situation by transferring—and I was really happy with the position, my new team, and a big raise.

  33. JennG*

    I had an incredibly bad year including losing a child and my husband being relocated 5 hours away. I approached my grandboss to ask if I there was any way I could work remotely (this was years pre-Covid) 3 weeks a month and come back down one week a month. He approved it immediately and told me that the company valued my work, appreciated the terrible experience I had just been through, and had my back. I still think on him fondly, and it has been a model for how I treat people around me who are going through similar situations.

  34. DisneyChannelThis*

    When I broke my foot during a transit strike, my coworker and I made an arrangement where she picked me up and dropped me off at my apartment, and I’d pay for downtown parking (which added at least 30min to her usual commute of park and take the train in, driving in city rush hour traffic). That was a kindness in and of itself, but she also made sure I had groceries and helped me get the bags into my 3rd floor walk up. She was such a kind person.

  35. CzechMate*

    When I was a child, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She worked for a local non-profit organization and, while the money wasn’t staggering, she was the family breadwinner. After she received her diagnosis, it became apparent that the amount of time she would need off would exceed what was covered by FMLA.

    My mom had at that point been at the nonprofit for over a decade and had won numerous professional awards for the work she’d done in our local community. The board voted unanimously to grant her full-paid leave indefinitely. At the time I didn’t fully understand what this meant, but now it’s just staggering to think what a difference that made to my family at the time.

  36. Badmin*

    We had a secret santa at work at a (toxic) nonprofit with a small staff. It wasn’t really an option not to participate as it was a big part of the holiday party ( I was also in my early 20’s so didn’t have the capital to push back and didn’t know any better). The gift limit was $20 and my colleague (Leslie) went to another colleague (Ann) to say she couldn’t afford the $20 and Ann gave her the $20 for the gift so she could participate.

  37. GwenSoul*

    Not me but one of my coworkers had transitioned from presenting male to female publicly. Our 4 times removed grandboss (a C suite individual) made sure to check in with her regularly over about a year before they left to see how my friend was doing and make sure no one wasn’t giving her crap at work.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      The health insurance at my ex-girlfriend’s workplace didn’t cover gender-transition care, so the company just paid for it directly. A rare example of a CEO at one of those “we’re like a family” places actually walking the walk.

    2. stratospherica*

      Wow, you just reminded me – I worked for a local government in a foreign country (with middling understanding of LGBTQ+ matters on a nationwide scale at the time, and I worked in what I guess most people would consider a backwater) some years ago, and decided I needed to transition, so I told my boss and grandboss. They told me to just focus on the things I need to do like changing documents, and they’ll talk to everyone to explain what’s going on.

      Everyone made the switch extremely smoothly, updates were made, and one colleague even made it her own personal mission to get my pension and insurance documents changed. At the time, I think I was the second person in the country to change the gender on my insurance card without having had surgical intervention (through a loophole I could exploit by being foreign), all because this colleague went down a rabbit hole of finding any other kind of previous case where that happened. I remember that she always made it a note to talk about “correcting” my gender marker too, rather than simply “changing” it. I have incredibly fond memories of my time there.

  38. Thalki*

    A few years ago, I was dealing with an awful personal crisis that just kept spiraling. The new (bad) news tended to show up around the same time every week (think test results), and I was just a mess for the next hour or two. I started blocking the time on my calendar so I didn’t have to deal with anything.

    I confided some of the details to one of my colleagues, who is also a friend. He started blocking off his own calendar in the same period, so if I needed to come into his office and cry, he’d be available. It made me feel so much less alone through it.

    1. ferrina*

      That’s amazing! Having that support available is so thoughtful and makes such a difference!

  39. Turtle*

    I had just started a new job a month or two earlier and had an important meeting scheduled that day where I was leading a team of people through a big decision. My grandfather had passed away a week earlier (it was expected) but that morning I found out that my grandmother had fallen, hit her head, and wasn’t expected to survive. I left to be with my family several hours away and I texted my boss that I couldn’t make it in to work. She handled everything for the meeting in my absence, without bothering me with any calls or texts. My work also sent an incredibly beautiful large plant for the dual funeral. I still have the plant to this day, and it makes me happy every time I see it. It was an early indicator of how kind my boss is and willing to support her team.

  40. SequinPantaloons*

    my grand boss hand knitted a beautiful baby blanket for my second child and mailed it to my house while I was on maternity leave. it was such a lovely surprise and done with zero fanfare :) As a second child of the same gender, almost everything is a hand me down, so this blanket is one of the few items he has that was gifted for him specifically. She is also a thoughtful and supportive colleague.

  41. AnonHR*

    At my current, small company, we have a worker who suffered a medical emergency which will not allow him to work for more than the 12 weeks allowed under FMLA. We have set precedent before that others with huge leave banks can donate leave to others who don’t have as much in an emergency. Even though this worker had nearly four weeks of leave accumulated, he wouldn’t have enough if not for the generosity of the entire company. We were able to donate enough to cover his whole leave at 100% (he didn’t elect short-term disability, so that’s not an option). Some of his colleagues were willing to donate their whole leave banks – which I did not approve, in case *those* people have an emergency of their own. But knowing they were willing to do this for a colleague was heartwarming.

    **Please, before commenting that my SMALL company should have covered his leave, remember that some companies don’t have the resources to do this every time there’s a medical emergency.

    1. JustaTech*

      When I worked for Big State U there was a university-wide system for folks to donate their sick leave to people with serious, long-term illnesses. Usually it was specifically to give them 8 hours of “work” a month so that they could stay on the (very good) health insurance.
      A lot of people donated to people not just in their departments but in entirely different campuses and schools.

      The only thing I didn’t like about the system was that they would not let you donate after you’d put in your 2 week’s notice, so I was unable to donate my unused sick leave when I left.

  42. panoptigoth*

    My beloved cat passed away last year. You know the first pet you have as an adult? That one. Because I started right before the pandemic, she was one of the org’s wider known Zoom Pets and would frequently join meetings. When I came back to work the week after she died, I found our leadership group sent me a bereavement card, and the coworkers I share office space with raided my social media for their favorite pictures of her to turn them into stickers. So many people treated it like a real loss, it allowed me to process the grief more fully.

  43. Gift of Safety*

    A coworker in a different department noticed that I frequently had bumps or bruises. He approached me privately one day to tell me that he and his wife wanted to offer me shelter, that since he was in a different department no one would guess that I was at their place to find me. He and his sons would come move my things for me and I could be safe. I have never before or since had such a generous, beautiful gift offered to me. It’s been more than 20 years and I am still moved by the kindness of him and his family.

    I hope I was anywhere near as kind, when I explained that I lived alone and just have no spatial sense, but that I hoped he would always be as open to saving someone in need.

  44. Alexis Rose*

    Something I witnessed rather than experienced directly. I work on a team of nurses who do a lot of care coordination, not bedside nursing. So lots of phone calls to arrange logistics and stuff. A very new nurse was on the phone one day with a family member of a patient and soon the staff sitting near her could tell it wasn’t going well. She was flustered and we could hear the man yelling at her through the phone. She was starting to cry and clearly had no idea how to handle it. A senior nurse walked over to her, took the phone from her and said into it, “verbal abuse is not tolerated, we will call you back in an hour to discuss this, please take that time to control yourself” and hung up the phone. The young nurse was fully in tears at this point. We spent the next hour telling our war stories of getting yelled at, how we handled it and coaching her through some de-escalation tools, but also knowing when to just hang up. We handed that case off to another nurse (who also got yelled at, that guy was just a jerk) but the next time a challenging conversation came up the new nurse was equipped and confident and handled it beautifully.

    It was so lovely to see this group of experienced staff surround this young colleague and provide the encouragement that we’ve all been there, as well as tools, knowledge and confidence to take forward into her career.

    1. Anonymask*

      I have a similar story! In my first job out of college I was an admin assistant but the small company also made me do AR and logistics and ordering and and and…

      When I called someone to collect what they owed, the man on the other end of the phone started screaming at me about how I’m “just a stupid girl who doesn’t know how to read” and “you (redacted word that begins with r) I already paid and you’re just trying to double dip” and other such lovely things. I had the account up on my computer, showing no payment for months, and it being my first job I truly didn’t want to mess up (and why steal from the company that’s paying me?!?!). I did cry, it had been a long week.

      The dispatcher, a gruff man’s man who was very much a “handle your own things and show no emotion” guy, who practiced martial arts and was ex military, and who also preached that the customer was always right and should be respected, gently took the phone and then laid into the customer. And told him he was lucky that we didn’t tack on an asshole tax.

      He didn’t have words or tips to handle it again, but he did take that customer over specifically until “he learns how to behave.”

      1. Gem-Like Flame*

        What a great guy! He told that jerk that “he was lucky that we didn’t tack on an asshole tax.” I love it! (Heh..heh..heh…wicked chortle!)

  45. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

    About two years ago I moved cross-country to take my current job. The relative who lived nearby and was supposed to help me move in to my new house flaked on me, and the place I was moving to is a very remote, tiny village, so hiring help from the nearest town would have been astronomically expensive, especially on my budget. I posted a desperate message on the employee Facebook group to see if anyone could take ten minutes out of their day to help me carry a few larger pieces of furniture I knew I couldn’t move on my own.

    When I arrived at my new house, four of my new coworkers I had never met before showed up with a housewarming gift, stayed to help me unload my entire U-haul, and helped me put together some of my furniture. What probably would have taken me all day to unload on a dangerously hot August day only ended up taking about 45 minutes.

  46. HonorBox*

    A coworker had a stroke in the office one morning, and he was rushed to the hospital. We were all obviously quite shaken. Two people from a business across the street heard what happened and walked over to cover our phones for the rest of the day so we could all focus on our coworker and one another.

  47. PricklyPearOverThere*

    I was working in an hourly position with no paid time off or benefits when my sibling died unexpectedly overseas. She was young, and we were extremely close. Because of time differences and COVID restrictions, we had to attempt to handle affairs at a distance while grieving a very sudden, unexpected loss. My boss was so kind, told me to take the time I needed to grieve, and rearranged the schedule to cover for me. He and his boss also made a case to HR to give me paid bereavement leave, which was not a benefit afforded to hourly employees at the time. Their kindness and compassion was so important to me in a time when my whole world changed irrevocably.

  48. DisneyChannelThis*

    One more story, different job. I was new to the area, I had moved cross country and in a moment of weakness admitted to a coworker that I was struggling to find my footing in new city. She invited me to dinner with her and her husband, and they both made sure to tell me all the little things you normally take years to learn, which grocery has the best produce and when does it restock, where are the best running paths, what festivals to look forward to, and so on. They sent me home with leftovers and a whole list of things to explore in my new city. It really helped me out of a depression.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Back in the 80s and early 90s, my mom worked somewhere that had paid interns from other countries. (These weren’t college students but people coming from mainly developing nations to expand their skills.) Members of her office took turns hosting them at family dinners. It was a nice thing for everyone, as they were missing home (at a time when international calls were prohibitively expensive and postal mail was iffy in some of their home countries), and everyone learned a little more about each other’s culture in a relaxed environment.

  49. We Didn't Start the Fire*

    My and my partner’s house burned down, and everyone in my department was incredibly helpful and supportive. My boss gave me extra time to complete my self-evaluation for my yearly review and people volunteered to take over my job duties so that I could take an entire week off to deal with insurance stuff, settling in to new housing, etc. A colleague offered to take all of the clothing we salvaged and washed it a million times with baking soda and vinegar until the smoke smells were gone so that we wouldn’t need to wait for our insurance to pay a company to do that. Another colleague organized a collection on our behalf (partner’s colleagues also did this). I was overwhelmed by the kindness and consideration that people showed us.

    I think it’s easier sometimes to be kind when catastrophic things happen, but I’ve tried to use this experience to remind myself that kindness can always make a difference even in small situations. I know it sounds corny, but I think it’s true.

  50. Big Pig*

    I started a new job in January, in late February an old manager (and friend) from a previous job lost his child to am aggressive cancer. My current manager was so kind telling me to takw the afternoon off when I learned the news as I was very shocked and when I told her I would be taking the day off the funeral she insisted that it would be from bereavement leave not my annual leave. I was treated with so much compassion and I will be forever grateful.

  51. Anna*

    In early 2023, I received a very generous raise in pay (7%) to catch me up to average pay for my field. I work for a small non-profit, and I knew that a raise like that likely wouldn’t happen again for a while. Then I experienced 2023, which was truly a year from hell (death of my emotional support animal, an ectopic pregnancy, receiving several autoimmune diagnoses, my husband losing his job, having to move in with my parents to make ends meet, and both of his parents having separate near-death experiences). I’d taken a LOT of time off of work, without any negative comment at all from my bosses. They simply told me to take whatever time I needed, even if it exceeded my allotted paid time off. I did the best work I could over that year (and completed several large and important projects), but figured that things would probably stay right about the same when it came to my compensation since I had been out of the office so much and just received such a generous raise.

    Instead, at the start of 2024 I received a 13% raise. Instead of being upset at me missing so much time, my bosses were impressed that I had managed to exceed their expectations while also facing what I did, and they wanted to make my compensation competitive to keep me with the organization. Take that, imposter syndrome! Truly, though, I feel so lucky to work for an organization so focused on treating employees like human beings.

  52. Jennifer Strange*

    In the early months of the pandemic I was furloughed from my job at a non-profit. My boss told me that when one of the board members found out I had been furloughed she offered to cover my salary (this is the same board member who, when we met on my second day of working there, immediately invited me out to lunch to get to know me).

  53. Anon today*

    My very first job was the summer after high school, in admin for a law firm. At the end of my three months there, the rest of the admin staff took me out to lunch as a goodbye.

    I keep kosher, and even though I assured them I could easily find something vegetarian to eat anywhere, they booked the lunch at a kosher restaurant. It was expensive and out of the way. I was truly bowled over by the generosity, especially when I was with them for so short a time.

  54. Her name was Lola, she was an intern*

    I was recently diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and was off for surgery for four weeks. My coworkers took up a collection and gave me and my husband nearly a thousand dollars in food delivery gift cards, which has been such a help. The kindness keeps going; my boss told me that time off is “tell, don’t ask,” so I just update my calendar, and he’s made it clear that I can flex my schedule as needed and to travel as much as I want. Our director has contacted me several times to see how I’m doing and to see if there’s anything she or the company can do for me.
    It’s truly made a terrible situation so much more bearable, and working at such a kind place, along with my oncologist’s optimistic outlook makes me feel so relieved and positive about the future.

    1. Genevieve en Francais*

      This thread is another good deed! I was having a terrible morning and it’s truly lifting my spirits.

  55. Kepler*

    I work for a large-ish preschool that is part of/on the site of a religious organization. It’s a team of 6 of us in the office supporting 60+ teaching/support staff, and I’m the youngest in the office–each of the other five have children my age or slightly younger. I’m out at work as a gay trans man–my husband works upstairs in the non-preschool part of the religious org and everyone knows us–and had top surgery (double mastectomy) last fall. My colleagues and a number of teachers who knew were amazing about it, and hounded my husband for updates for the two weeks I was out (was I out of surgery, how was I feeling, did I need anything, “I had a reduction two years ago, the drains are the worst part, try X and Y to get through it,” etc.) The office even came together and got us a decently sized meal delivery gift card and my boss, who I’ve debated sending letters to AAM about near-monthly, actually sent us a huge gift basket of pastries and snacks on her own dime. For this one event, the whole school came together in full support and no one was weird about it.

  56. essjaydub*

    I’ve been an employee for nearly 50 years (retiring later this year!) so I’ve worked with the good, bad, and ugly over the years – but mostly I’ve been very fortunate to work with kind people. At my age I’ve lost both of my parents, as well as numerous other relatives, and been treated with so much support and kindness by employers during those times. This one stands out:

    I was at work when I got a call that my father had suffered a massive heart attack, and one coworker immediately put me in their car to drive me to the hospital while another coworker followed behind in my car. A former co-worker had since taken a job at that hospital; someone called him, and he met me in front of the hospital to quickly take me where i needed to go. He checked on my family and me numerous times as we waited for information, and then stayed with us after we received word that my father had died. I’ve never, ever forgotten those kindnesses.

    I lost both parents during my 20 year tenure with my current employer. The kindnesses showed to me by staff at all levels – CEO on down – was overwhelming, sincere, and so very meaningful. They showed up in mass at visitations and funerals. My family members all joked that my coworkers seemed to like me more than my family did!

    1. desk platypus*

      The added detail of a coworker driving behind in your car is very kind, the sort of thing that could have easily been forgotten about but having your own familiar transportation nearby took at least that off your shoulders.

      1. Roguestella*

        It never came to that but when I was very pregnant and working about an hour from the hospital at which I was going to deliver, this was the plan that my two co-workers had for if the situation came up! I appreciate it that they were willing and had thought of it.

  57. ThatGirl*

    It was a small thing, but it stuck with me – my husband had been dealing with his first-ever migraine for ~36 hours. He went to urgent care, where they decided since he didn’t have a family or personal history, he should have an MRI, and sent him to the ER. That freaked him out slightly, and he of course let me know he was on his way there. I was at work 25 miles away, and when I was telling my manager I needed to leave I started getting a little teary. He very kindly told me to take a minute for myself, breathe, and then go do whatever I needed to do.

    (And I should also note that the previous day, when my husband was struck suddenly with intense nausea as the migraine hit, his manager drove him home so he wouldn’t be on the highway in that condition.)

    1. allathian*

      Both of you have great employers!

      Your husband’s manager quite possibly saved his life. Thankfully I now only have migraines about once a year or less, but I had quite a number of them in my teens and early 20s before topical medicines were available, and I wouldn’t have been able to drive safely. I very rarely get nausea, but the auras at their worst can cover almost 90 percent of my field of vision, so I’m technically blind, and when the auras pass, I’m extremely light-sensitive.

  58. Harper*

    In 2015, I walked off a job because my boss, the owner of the business, was sexually harassing me. There was no HR, just him, so I had no recourse. I was unemployed for several months and it was a really dark period in my life. My husband and I were seriously strapped for cash and I went to interview after interview with no success. I worked with a recruiter and landed an interview for a management-level role at a beauty supply company, but during the interview, the Director and I both recognized that the recruiter had made a mistake and the role was not a good fit with my experience. The Director really liked me, though, and offered me a temporary job in their warehouse doing QC on outgoing shipments. He allowed me to work whatever hours I wanted and take off for interviews while I continued to search for my next role. I spent about a month sorting nail polishes, hair dye, and other beauty products. I worked alone at my own pace handling pretty things all day long, and it really, really did something for my mental health. When I landed a permanent job, the Director came out to the work area to congratulate me and give me a hug. I will never forget that man’s kindness.

  59. IrrelevantBlue*

    I work in a field that is very male-dominated, and was one of about 3 women in the whole department. On a training tour of the facility, I was told that a certain room that I needed to access was called ‘The Mancave’. This room had a sign on the door that said “Authorized access only, Dr. P. Ness”

    There was really nothing that I could do about it that wouldn’t ruin my career (except getting out of there ASAP). But a coworker noticed that I was upset about it, came back after hours, *stole the sign off of the door*, and gave it to me. It’s my favorite memento of that workplace, and that coworker and I are still friends 5 years later.

    In a truly surprising turn of events, it turns out that a Dr. Paul Ness actually had worked there, and the sign was legitimate (if 15+ years out of date) But it’s still one of the most surprising and thoughtful things that anyone’s done for me at work.

  60. Serious Silly Putty*

    I worked at a museum that ran daily camps when kids were off for winter break. My family was out of state, and my colleagues knew that, so they always took the Christmas Eve and Boxing Day camps so I could get home for the holidays.

    At another job we depended on our fiscal sponsor for payroll and HR. When I asked HR a question, it would be the least helpful answer possible. (“Follow the employee manual guidelines” or “fill out a blue form.”) But the payroll person was awesome, and would really try to help you: “You’ll have to fill out a the blue form, which has been digitized HERE. Then it will go to HR. The process should take about a week; if it takes more than that follow up with Sally.” Another time I forgot to submit the timesheets before we closed for winter break. She went into the timeclock system and pulled out the times herself to make sure my people got paid on time. Sure, these things were in the purview of her job, but radical competence IS a kindness!

    1. ferrina*

      2nd story resonates with me! I worked with a payroll/benefits person who is exceptional. She was good at her job, but went above and beyond to make sure everyone got the exact benefits they needed. She always had time to sit down with you and walk through all the options, and anyone going on parental leave got a personalized consult with her to look at exactly how much time they could take off based on their current leave accrual and state laws (we had a lot of remote workers). She never made you feel dumb, and genuinely loved helping people. She is worth her weight in gold!

  61. run mad; don't faint*

    This was just a little thing that happened many years ago. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, exhausted, horribly nauseated, and finding it difficult to focus and work. I hadn’t told anyone at work yet. But a colleague found me, very green and miserable, and wanted to make sure I was okay. I ended up telling her, stressing that I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. She understood. The next day, there was a tiny teddy bear tucked into my mail cubby. She had bought it for me after work the previous evening. She was just the sweetest person, and it really cheered me up at a time I felt awful.

    1. UnemployedInGreenland*

      O love your story! And it reminds me of one of mine. My first pregnancy was 9 months of 24/7 morning sickness. I had a really hard time keeping any food down and just the thought of most foods nauseated me. The only things I could eat were pasta, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. My dear co-worker was very worried about me. When she found out I could tolerate dairy, she would go down to the Hagen Daz store at Grand Central Station (we worked in the Pan Am Building – now the MetLife Building in NYC) and get me a chocolate milkshake. She is one of the kindest people I have ever known.

  62. UnemployedInGreenland*

    Here’s my favorite story about kindness at work.

    I was a very new employee at a law firm and in the middle of a lot of life stuff: divorce, 2 children, elderly parents, and commuting. I was barely making ends meet. I had $100 for groceries in my wallet which was in my backpack and I got on the subway. When I got to my office, my backpack was unzipped and my wallet was gone, along with my grocery money. I was really upset and my boss asked me what was going on. Then heard him on the phone talking to one of our vendors (he HATED talking to vendors) and arranging to go out to lunch that day. At 11:30 AM he told me to get my jacket, we’re going out. I was then wined and dined at a very fancy steakhouse for the next 3 hours. We got back to the office, slightly tipsy and feeling a little better about the world. When I got back to my desk, there was an envelope with $150 in cash and a note from all my co-workers telling me that they had my back. When I protested that this was more money than was stolen from me, my boss said “Well, you need to buy a new wallet too, don’t you?”

    Best co-workers (and boss!) ever.

      1. UnemployedInGreenland*

        It’s been over 20 years since that happened and I am still friends with most of that team and the boss and I text regularly and have become great friends.

  63. sparrow*

    When I was in college, I had a student job at the IT helpdesk. My boss was the best, and I learned so much from her about working with others and being professional that really helped me after graduation. When the funding for my student position was going to run out, she used part of her department budget to keep me on for my senior year. When my off-campus summer job fell through, she brought me on to work over the summer. When I was moving to an off-campus apartment my senior year, she gave me a bunch of furniture that had never been used (and I still have the couch!). I also saw how she developed the full-time staff; the helpdesk was considered a starter job for tech people, and she gave them professional development opportunities so they could launch into a different department or another, better job. I owe her a lot.

  64. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    When my first baby was born at 28 weeks, my boss rallied all my coworkers and half my company so I could have the baby shower that I wasn’t able to have. My boss asked her own brother, who’d had twins girls about a year before my own girl was born, to give me all their clothes – so I had oodles of outfits for my baby, most of them brand new. My whole office outfitted us with a playpen, a stroller with the baby carrier, diapers galore, a bouncy, a swing, even this cute caterpillar thing that she could ride (when she was old enough, she did!). And tons of other things that I can’t remember off-hand, but when I was able to bring my baby home from the NICU, we were completely prepared to receive her and barely spent any money! I think the only thing I bought was baby wipes! LOL. I loved my boss, and she became a very good friend after I left the company and continued being my mentor until she passed away at only 41 years old. I miss her every day.

  65. gmg22*

    My all-time favorite example of this: A longtime, widely beloved colleague had been through a lot of family loss/stress. On top of that he had a very beloved vehicle that was his only reliable transportation to work, and it conked out and could not be repaired. We very quietly passed the hat and collected enough money to purchase a pre-owned replacement of a similar model/vintage (this was a large workplace so collecting that amount was possible, plus if I remember right the big boss threw some matching dollars into the pot). It was then proudly unveiled to him in the form of a picture of the new ride and a large cardboard check similar to what lottery winners get, and we got a big group photo of him with all us giddy colleagues. <3

  66. Beancat*

    A company I worked at as a contractor (hired out receptionist) treated me like one of their own even if it wasn’t their name on the paychecks. When I was getting married, they asked me if I was going to have a bridal shower. I said I didn’t have any family where we live and wasn’t planning anything, especially since we were getting married on a cruise just the two of us. (It felt kind of wrong to have a shower when nobody was coming to the wedding, haha.)

    And yet, they all came together and threw a little surprise bridal shower for me, bringing baked goods and little paper teacups and setting up the nice conference room like a tea party with decorations. They even pitched in to give me a generous gift card to treat myself and relax before the wedding! (And possibly the kindest part: a coworker who knew I had anxiety gave me a subtle heads-up that something was going to be happening so I could mentally prepare.) For someone who didn’t technically work for their company, just AT it, I was incredibly touched.

    I love my current workplace, but man do I miss those coworkers. They were all lovely people.

    1. Anne-on*

      I love this!
      When I was engaged I was working in a small department in a very large and fairly impersonal corporation. I was easily the youngest person there by a decade. I came into our weekly all hands meeting to find that they’d arranged a bridal shower with cupcakes, games, a gift card, and champagne for me! My boss also drove 3 hours to the church to see me get married which was incredibly sweet of her (she lived in a different state than our headquarters). The same teammates also sent lovely baby presents including multiple hand-knitted items when I had my son two years later (though I was on a different team by then).

  67. JojoMojo*

    I had terrible seasonal depression when I lived in Chicago’s arctic tundra, so my coworker and I would shift who picked up the slack. I got to wallow during the winter while she was an A+ team member, and I grinded while she enjoyed her summer.

    1. Kes*

      That’s awesome. Not even just kindness, sounds like both sides benefited from it and made sure the work got done well in a way that worked best for everyone

  68. I'm just here for the cats!*

    This didn’t happen to me but to someone else’s team. A team one something so they got to have lunch on the company. Subs were ordered for everyone. But there was one person who for whatever reason didn’t want that (he was a perpetual complainer. nothing was good enough). The manager used his own money, went all the way across town and got him sushi, which was one of his favorites. It was incredibly kind. The employee still complained.

  69. edj3*

    I was in treatment for breast cancer not quite five years ago, and the fatigue from radiation was kicking my butt. I’m normally the Energizer Bunny but not then, I was dragging and not really keeping up with all deadlines.

    I owed one of my business partners some information that was key to his own workflow and I was late. So I went to his desk and told him I was sorry and that I’d have it for him the next day. He told me three times in that conversation that there was no need for the hurry, I should take my time.

    I finally realized what he was saying and more important, what he was doing–basically telling me hey, take care of YOU, work will be here later.

    I nearly cried.

  70. ElinorD*

    someone I know lost everything in a house fire. Everyone was away at work and school, so no humans were hurt, but they lost several beloved pets and absolutely everything they owned. When he returned to work, my friend found a couple thousand dollars in cash on his desk so his family could go to Walmart and get toothbrushes, underwear, and pajamas. They were all so overwhelmed with things they had to do and replace, but at least they had incidentals to get them through the every day.

  71. aarti*

    Several years ago my mother was dying. She was semi estranged so I had a lot of mixed up feelings. Anyway it was on the weekend of a big event where I had a lot of work to do. My boss assumed, as did I, I would work the event, so go see her on Saturday and come back for Sunday. My coworker pitched a fit to my boss and demanded I get the time off, saying she and the others could handle it. So I went to see my mom the whole weekend.
    She died Sunday night. It was my last time to see her.
    I have never ceased being grateful to my coworker. I was too young to understand how to advocate for myself.

    1. ferrina*

      Hooray for this coworker! Even if you had decided not to see your mom (I come from a complicated family), trying to work when that is going on is so hard and shouldn’t be a given. Glad this coworker stepped in and ensured you had space to take care of whatever you needed.

  72. davethetrucker*

    I worked for an international organization based out of a country where all the nationals are super-wealthy. I had told my boss about my daycare lady’s cancer diagnosis, and how we were giving her cash for Christmas. He whipped out a Benji and said he would like to contribute. I sure he got credit for it by putting his money in a separate card. She is an artist, and she made him a set of coasters as a thank you. When I gave them to him, he was so surprised. How did she know he’d given the money? I miss that guy. Terrible manager, terrific human being.

  73. AAM fan*

    I had a very dear friend pass away. Unbeknownst to me, one of her childhood friends was close to a coworker with whom I did not work closely (they were based in another office). Between social media posts, the coworker connected that it was the same person who had passed and mentioned this to their friend. The friend apparently responded with enthusiasm and said that yes, they had heard of me from our mutual friend, and then went on to list every nice thing our deceased friend had said about me. The coworker wrote me an email expressing their condolence, and paid forward every compliment. I was so overcome to receive a written correspondence detailing how much my friend loved me after her passing that I had to leave the office for a moment to collect myself, but I kept (and reread) that email often.

    1. beep beep*

      Aw, man, this is the one that got me. Glad it’s the end of the workday so I can go wipe my tears in private.

  74. t-vex*

    I was in the midst of a long breakup that ended abruptly when he assaulted me before work and then showed up in my office at the end of the day. My boss and HR were so lovely. They lent me an unmarked company car, helped me find an attorney, and gave me all the time I needed to get everything straightened out. They also upgraded the security system and protocols and took all their cues from me when explaining the changes. I could not have asked for anything better. (And I’m happy and healthy 5 years later, thanks in no small part to their support.)

    1. t-vex*

      This are the same people that sent a lovely bouquet to my home when my mother passed last month, and a few years ago when my dad was sick allowed me to work remotely from his home out of state for a short time.
      If anyone needs a model for how to treat employees humanely this is it.

    2. Lokifan*

      oh, wonderful! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing well after all that, and that their support made such a difference.

  75. MsMaryMary*

    I’m going to make two posts: one where coworkers were amazing to another coworker, and one about me personally.

    It was before I even worked there, but at OldJob a well-respected colleague died suddenly and left behind a young family. His coworkers created a scholarship fund that was very generously funded, with annual fundraisers. The fund outlasted the company where everyone worked when it was started.

    At the same company, a direct coworker I’ll call Juan had to abruptly move to southern Texas for several months* to take care of his father after a heart attack. I bought a card and sent an email to our team asking for donations to buy Juan some restaurant gift cards, since he was a notoriously terrible cook. Word spread. Juan and his wife were a company couple and both very well liked. I received hundreds of dollars in donations. More donations than were reasonable for the restaurant or two in Small Town, Texas. I ended up getting a very large Walmart gift card as well.

    *The company also let him work remotely from Texas for months, decades before COVID made that common.

  76. Generic Name*

    I was working in a small 6-person office. The boss was a major asshole, and I had been desperately looking for another job. One day, I noticed my keyboard was pretty gross, so I used some canned air to clean it out. Boss came out of his office and started making fun of me for how I spray off my keyboard “all the time”, and his toady came out of his office to join in making fun of me. I was mostly confused and just looked at them with a “WTF” look on my face because to my recollection that was the first time I had ever dusted my keyboard. Very weird. Moments later, my coworker and friend emailed me, having witnessed the whole thing, basically confirming that boss was off his rocker and she had no idea why he was being so weird about me using canned air on my keyboard. It was such a small thing, but it made me realize I wasn’t crazy and boss was just a giant ass. Years later, she is still a friend.

  77. Mouse named Anon*

    A former company of mine was going through some payroll issues. Basically for 3 straight paychecks they forgot to deduct my insurance from my check. I had my entire family of 5 on their. And while it was a good deal for insurance, not deducting it for 3 straight paychecks, would probably mean I wouldn’t get a paycheck at all (because essentially I would be getting it deducted 4x on the next check). Now I know I probably should have “Saved” everything but still it would have been a very large headache to deal with. Especially since I alerted HR/Payroll 3 FREAKING TIMES about it. My CEO even tried to just get HR to waive the fees as a one time courtesy. But for whatever reason they wouldn’t. My boss was really upset on my behalf. So he and the CEO decided to give me a bunch of overtime on my next check to make up for it. Technically this probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but my boss had the CEO’s blessing. The CEO was pissed at HR so he said screw it.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I changed jobs within the same network and the new job came with a bit of a raise. My first paycheck was the same to the penny. When the second was also the same, I Emailed my boss who asked me to give it one more cycle because Payroll was in the midst of some kind of upheaval. Third paycheck: no change. I told him in our 1:1 that week.

      Three days later he forwarded me the Email chain from Payroll. He notified them of the mistake. They said it wasn’t a mistake. He told them it was. They acknowledged that it was and said they would look into it. He told them there was no reason to look into it – they just needed to fix it. They said they would reimburse me over the next three months. The final Email in the chain was from the boss saying “Here’s the amount you owe her. I don’t care if we’re in the middle of a pay period. You will cut her a check for that amount this week.” He cc’ed his boss and the Grand Overseer of Payroll. I had a check the next day.

      1. Mouse named Anon*

        That’s amazing. It’s amazing what just getting your boss involved can do.

        I forgot to mention that for some reason the rep at the broker my company used for insurance kept emailing me threatening to cancel my insurance if I didn’t cut a check to them. It was all such a shit show.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I had something similar happen, only it was with PTO. Because of emergency surgery I used a bunch of my vacation time along with all my sick time in early January. I thought I had 13 days total of vacation time and only used like 5. Turns out that because I worked the academic year and not the full 12 months I didn’t get all of the PTO. Even though I was told when I was hired, and it said that on the employee portal. My manager went to bat for me because I was 2 days short for Christmas and I was going to be the only person who would be working on our team. SHe was more angry then I was. There was nothing that HR would do about it. So we fudged it over and I “worked from home” those days. basically I just logged in at some point and sent an email to my boss and didn’t actually have to do anything.

      1. ferrina*

        The PTO solution is such a great one. I used to work with a team that basically had no work for the week between Christmas and New Years, but we were still supposed to be in office. So the managers decided that we would all “work from home” for that week, by which they meant “check our emails every other day and the manager would text if anything actually came up.” That company was notoriously stingy about raises and bonuses, so this was the manager’s way of partially making it up to us.

  78. Never Boring*

    Once I broke my leg really badly, requiring multiple surgeries and a year on crutches, less than a month into a new job. My car was a stick shift and I couldn’t afford a newer one, and my doctor forbid me to take public transportation because of the external hardware (and I was too weak to manage it anyway). A very kind coworker solicited assistance from others in the office and found someone who was willing to drive me to and from work because I was on her way anyway! We are still friends nearly 30 years later.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Still friends with the person who found someone to drive you or still friends with the person who drove you?

  79. CaffeinatedPanda*

    I work in a place where people occasionally use the “we’re like a family” line – and yes, we have some of the toxicity that often goes along with that, but there is also some of the genuine good that people intend it to mean. We’re also in a field that people definitely don’t go into for the money, and sometimes tend to treat as more of a “calling” than a job.

    I came to this as a career changer after a brief period of unemployment, taking a huge pay cut from past jobs in order to do work that I cared about. Financially and in terms of new work skills needed, it was sometimes a rough adjustment. As December of my first year approached, I was stressed by multiple things including the fact that I didn’t have much money available for Christmas shopping. My daughter was 7 at the time, and not being able to do as much for her as I had in the past felt rotten.

    On Christmas Eve, there was a knock on my door. By the time I answered, all that was there was a package with several toys related to my daughter’s favorite show. There was also a very sweet note from “Santa” to me, saying that the work I was doing and the choices I was making weren’t going unseen. Nothing was signed, but I had my suspicions based on who I’d vented to, and it was confirmed when I came across an old shipping invoice in the paper that had been used as filler – it wasn’t for someone I knew, but from social media I recognized the name as my coworker’s mom.

    I’ve never forgotten it and since I’m a crier, I’m actually tearing up now thinking about it. That note and the fact that someone would care enough to do something so kind did a lot to help get me through that first year.

  80. hmn10134*

    Just this week I had a dear family friend pass away. I was teary at work on Monday and told a coworker why. She had a small flower arrangement sent to me at work a few hours later. I’ve been on a team with her for just two months. Her kindness made me cry again.

  81. Cyndi*

    The best manager I ever had in retail was a nursing student, because he always let people call off sick with no questions asked, and never made you find your own cover. I never appreciated this more than the time I was doing the blood drive at my day job and gave him a heads up the week before–“hey Fergus, I might be a little off next Wednesday, I’ll be fine to work but maybe shouldn’t do any heavy lifting or use any machinery if we can help it.” He asked if I was sure I’d be good to work and I said yeah, sure, I’ve given blood before, I know how this goes for me.

    So of course that was the one time that donating blood absolutely hit me like a truck. I threw up in front of a bunch of coworkers, nearly passed out, and had to be helped to the bathroom. At which point I remembered I had to be at my other job in an hour and texted Fergus, probably not very coherently, that I couldn’t come in after all and oh my God I was so sorry. He covered my shift himself and, most saintly of all, never even said “I told you so.”

    1. Magdalena*

      As a nursing student, he probably really appreciated you being a blood donor.
      Thank you for doing it. Many people cannot but as someone who works in a hospital I feel a lot of gratitude for those who do.

  82. Jay (no, the other one)*

    I’m a doc and for a while I worked with my best friend’s husband. We covered for each other and never took PTO at the same time. When my BFF’s father died, she wanted me to come to the funeral. I told her I didn’t think it was possible and that I would ask because it was so important to her. My boss said “Of course. We’ll figure it out. You do what you need to do.”

    Every boss I’ve ever had would have given her husband the time. No one else would have given it to me.

  83. I'm just here for the cats!*

    Here’s my own story!
    When I had emergency surgery after working for only 4 months at a new job. I had 2 diffrent teams I worked on. The one team sent me a get well card to my home. When I got back to the office, the other team had one sitting on my desk. It was so lovely.

    Also, my former manager had a loaf of homemade bread and pumpkin butter for me with a huge card she and her kiddos made. This was fall 2020 and I didn’t see her in the office much because most people were remote. It was really sweet.
    I’ve also gotten other messages from coworkers, including just little thank you notes and free coffee.
    I think its the little things that matter the most.

  84. Problem!*

    At my first workplace we learned that it was one of the janitor’s birthday so some people ran to the grocery store and got her a birthday cake and decorations and had a little birthday party set up for her when she got to our section of the office. She cried. She’d always been cleaning up after the office workers birthdays for years but no one had ever had a party for her (and no she didn’t have to clean up her own party). It was almost no effort on anyone’s part but it made her so happy.

  85. Holli*

    I had been dumped the night before, and it was just a really hurtful breakup. I couldn’t take the day off because I had a deadline. I went to my boss’s office to explain that I would be shut in my office and he might hear crying, and a coworker overheard. She found me on Venmo and sent me $20 to buy wine on the way home. We’re friendly, but not friends outside of work, so it was just so comforting that her kindness wasn’t contingent on anything other than proximity.

  86. Juicebox Hero*

    My brother died suddenly last summer, on a week when I was on vacation. My boss let me take that week as bereavement leave so I wouldn’t lose my vacation time.

    Similarly, when my mother died right in the middle of my busy season, she told me to go home and take as long as I needed and they’d handle things at work for me (which they sort of did XD). All my coworkers and bosses showed up at the wake and they clubbed together and gave me a $100 gift card to a grocery store.

    For as malfunctional as this place usually is, I’m lucky to have good people for coworkers.

  87. Ayla K*

    An employee got ill at work and her manager insisted she go home for the day. She didn’t feel safe driving by herself with how she was feeling (dizzy and lightheaded), so two other employees on her team jumped up and insisted on taking her home. One of them drove her car back for her, and the other drove behind them so he could take the first employee back to work after they both made sure she was settled safely at home and had what she needed. Her commute was pretty long, so that team wasn’t very productive with work that day and a few cases piled up, but their manager was downright teary with pride and gratitude. I still think about that as one of the most obvious examples of human kindness at work.

  88. Magenta Sky*

    One of our cashiers had a husband who was an armored car guard, who was shot and killed in a robbery. (And that’s several other tales of amazing people, too.)

    Aside from being put in indefinite paid leave (she officially retired as soon as the armored car company got the insurance payout settled), our owner’s son, who said he can’t deal with funerals, offered to run the store (with other corporate volunteers) so that any coworkers could attend the funeral if they wanted.

    (She had more coworkers at the funereal than her husband.)

  89. Manders*

    Our floor custodian experienced an apartment fire – his downstairs neighbor got off 3rd shift, started cooking a meal and fell asleep. Everyone got out of the building unhurt, but 4 apartments lost everything. Everyone on our floor was so supportive – he got tons of donations of clothing, kitchen stuff, furniture, and we raised a lot of money for him as well. He was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone.

  90. practical necromancy*

    Many years ago I was young and going through a rough breakup, which meant moving out of a shared house and losing my roommates. It was my first time living alone and I didn’t have the budget for a couch right away (due to some medical bills), but was planning to save up and use lawn chairs in the meantime. My amazing coworkers decided this was no good, and handed me enough cash for my dream couch and a few other housewarming gifts. It was one of the hardest times in my life, and they helped me realize I still had an amazing community around me. I don’t think I would have bounced back so quick without them. I still have the couch and I still work with them.

  91. hypoglycemic rage*

    My father died in 2016 (when I was in my mid 20s), unexpectedly. At the time, I had a pretty low-level position as a library shelver. My grandfather (my dad’s dad) was a very well-known patron (for good reasons, not bad ones).

    My dad died on a Saturday and I went to work on my usual Monday (routine helped). The director offered to let me go home when she found out. But my coworkers sent me flowers and everyone signed a card (which I still have). Several of them also came to my dad’s memorial service, even coworkers who didn’t work at the library anymore at the time. This was also right around Father’s Day, and coworkers would also shelve the FD books so I didn’t have to.

    I am no longer at that library, and I know things like flowers and a card are pretty common for loss, but it still means a ton.

  92. Genevieve en Francais*

    I was an admin in higher ed and was asked to arrange “a couple lunches” for a brand new program that ran for students the week after winter break. Well, that turned into my single-handedly adminning the four-day program for almost three hundred students, a bunch of faculty I didn’t usually work with, and a butt-ton of alumni I had to coordinate for simulations. I worked stupid hours for months and even almost every day over break (which is usually sacrosanct for staff, the whole university would shut down between Christmas and New Year). It was an insane project and a Big Fucking Deal. It was featured all over because it was a pretty new thing in the field.

    My usual faculty (who were the main content creators) were kind but, as usual, scattered and last-minute, and so that made things more stressful. And some of the not-usual faculty were just downright hostile because they were ticked about being roped into this. The whole thing was a great resume-builder and all, but I hated the whole experience and had a lot of panic attacks about things that were really beyond my control and above my pay grade. And it was seriously misrepresented/underestimated when I was asked to take it on in addition to everything else I was already doing.

    Long story (somewhat) short, although I was paid hourly and so compensated for some of the extra time (I didn’t log all of my extra time, although in retrospect that was a mistake on my part), the union contract and structure of the school meant that there was no way for me to really get any kind of a bonus, promotion, or big raise (this effing program became my problem every year after this, too, which ultimately motivated me to leave faster, honestly).

    So my boss somehow managed to get me the staff award for service to the school. She wrangled all of our lovely but deadline-averse faculty into supporting my nomination and I got the award despite the fact that I was a lowly admin and this award had never before gone to anyone with my job title before (it usually went to directors or administrative deans). I was actually pretty demoralized at first because it felt like a paltry reward for all the blood, sweat and tears. I had to go to a gala with a bunch of attorneys, pretend like I enjoyed working on this project, and give a thank you/acceptance speech. That almost felt like more a punishment. But then I found out the award came with cash – enough that I was able to pay off my student loans. My boss essentially orchestrated the whole thing so I could get a bonus. She was the best and no boss I’ve had before or since has been as wonderful, both on a day-to-day basis and in cases like this.

  93. EngGirl*

    This could arguably just be good management, but early on in my career I made a mistake that had some pretty far reaching consequences for my company. I found myself in a meeting with the CEO (it was a small company) and everyone else who had been involved in the project. The CEO lost her damn mind yelling about the issue and started issuing ultimatums and threats to fire everyone if it wasn’t resolved within a day. I kind of just stood there and took her wrath while panicking and trying not to cry (I was in my early 20s, new to the company and the role, and the mistake was truly an innocent one).

    Not only did none of my coworkers rat on me or point fingers, my boss pulled me aside afterwards and brought me in to his office along with his boss. They both took the time to make sure I was ok, compliment me on my professionalism in dealing with the situation, assure me they knew that the mistake was completely understandable, and then told me that the CEOs behavior was unacceptable and not something that I should ever have had to deal with. They were very worried that my norms would be skewed based on the interaction and wanted to make sure that I knew it was not ok.

  94. Anonymous in WI*

    Years ago, I worked in a female dominated industry. One day, our admin found out at a scan that her very wanted pregnancy was ending and came back to the office, thinking she could compartmentalize and get through the day. Not surprisingly, she totally broke down within 15 minutes.

    Within moments, every woman in the office was in her cube with hugs, stories of their own losses and later success, treats from desk drawers, tissues, just anything that could help. We sent her home and covered the phones, telling her to come back when she was ready. I’ll never forget that moment of support and solidarity

  95. StressedButOkay*

    My mom had to have major surgery and stay at my apartment (no stairs) to recover. Her office LOVED her (she’s retired now but if she runs into someone she worked with there’s a lot of hugging and showering of praise). They not only sent her flowers but it seemed like they just kept delivering food to my place almost every day. The flowers were the official from the office gift but everything else, Honey Baked Ham boxes, donuts, gift cards for delivery – I was literally running out of room in my fridge and freezer! – had been bought by other employees, I’d never seen anything like it.

  96. NotRealAnonForThis*

    Might’ve shared before.

    My daughter had a sudden onset, severe illness that had us in an ambulance from local hospital to regional Children’s Hospital at midnight on a Friday night. By Tuesday the following week, I’d requested my laptop (had been left at work after a LONG work week, and being able to use something with a bigger screen was going to be necessary, plus it would let me work during “boring” stints as there are only so many Disney reruns you can watch), and my husband would pick it up. I was staying with our little girl, our other child was freaking out long distance with his grandparents, and my husband was pulling his hair out running his “toddler stage” business and being a husband and daddy. My boss said he’d have my laptop run down to me instead of sending my husband out of his way.

    Boss and grandboss bring it – along with breakfast for me, coffee, restaurant gift cards, a gas station GC to help defray the cost for my husband, and a couple of misc gift cards for the patient and her sibling for some fun things. And they made certain I understood that I did not need to work a full week right now, it just wasn’t needed. They handled HR (who just wanted to put me on FMLA immediately…which is unpaid, and the part of “toddler stage business”? I’m the breadwinner. We would have lost our house…) and kept things sane for us.

    Did they “have to” do any of that? No.

    The patient is thriving and its as if the illness never happened.

    I still work here.

  97. JellyBean*

    In a recent standup, I was asked to provide updates for a committee I’m on. I punted to others as I’d been out of office for the previous meeting. The person who gave the updates proceeded to describe a major contribution I’d made recently (that I’d sort of forgotten about!), being sure to give me credit. It was such a lovely gesture, and reminded me that we can all amplify others and make sure good work is seen and recognized.

  98. Rainbow Nebula*

    During the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, our Office Manager took the initiative to help a patient with transportation problems (the patient had no driver nearby and the public transportation she used was closed down due to Covid). Office Manager personally picked up the patient and drove her home from her monthly treatments for several months. On top of that, Office Manager grocery shopped for this patient weekly during that time (due to lack of public transportation, again). The patient would give OM a list and money and OM would do this during our office hours, which we totally supported, because we have known this patient for a long time and she was really in need at that time.

    1. Gabrielle*

      This one really heartens me. It is what healthcare could look like, if we had a much better public support system.

  99. Jeff Vader*

    I had moved country for a new job and my new landlords were… difficult. I’d signed the lease, booked the movers, sorted everything out then the landlord decided as I wasn’t from their country (Belgium) that he needed an additional security deposit or he wouldn’t give me the keys. He told me this, via text message an hour before I was due to meet him to get the keys. The moving van had collected my stuff and was on its way down to the house.

    I hadn’t the money available – moving is expensive.

    If i couldn’t come up with the extra money in an hour I’d have to find a short term storage, send the movers there and stay in a hotel until I had the additional money – while paying rent. The cost of doing that would basically mean I’d take months to save the money for the security deposit – and I’d quite possibly have to give up the house as the cost of living like this was nuts.

    My then manager found out what had happened and gave me the additional money on the spot. I’d known him for 3 days and he handed me a chunk of money.

    He could have shrugged his shoulders and left me to sort out the mess, but he stepped up and helped.

  100. NoIDon'tLoveCheddarBiscuits*

    I relate to so many of these “I was so broke and a tiny bit of kindness (often involving food) went so far” stories. My most memorable one was first day of training at the soon to open new Red Lobster in Times Square. I was a deeply broke college student who had been struggling on 1-3 jobs for NYC living expenses and paying monthly student loan payments (take out by my father so they were due while I was in school but a condition was I had to make the payments). I finally landed this full time waitress gig. The uniform required, among other thing, all black shoes. I had around $10 to my name, so I figured I could get away with the closest thing I had – black and white sneakers – for the week of training before we would open and start making tips. I arrive to training early and the assistant manager says no way – I have to go buy black shoes or I have to leave. Panicking and humiliated, I explain my situation, and he handed me $40 and sent me to Payless saying I could keep the job if I got back in time and paid him back our first day open. I’m sure he was not doing much better himself with NYC costs and he had no idea who I was or whether I’d actually pay him back (I did). He turned out to be a pretty difficult boss and was not well-liked but even more so given that I will never forget his kindness.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Oh gosh, does this one bring back memories. I bought at least three pairs of black shoes for job interviews over the years there because I was broke and couldn’t afford anything else. I about cried when they went out of business.

      I hope that was a good job for you (difficult boss aside)!

    2. Mouse named Anon*

      Brings back memories for me too! I worked a brief stint at Cracker Barrell in college. Back then they required a short sleeve button up shirt with buttons on the ends of the collar and pants with out any pockets on the bum. I got in trouble bc I had no buttons on the end of the collar, and apparently the faux pocket I had on my khakis was out of compliance. I went to the dollar store and bought buttons and glue to fix the shirt issue. I basically said eff it to the pants and no one ever said anything again. I left shortly after because they refused to give me thanksgiving off. I hadn’t seen my family since August (which was alot of time for little ol’ college aged me).

  101. Mary*

    We were in a meeting with our boss one day when she was called out by another team member. It turned out that our Intern’s father had died unexpectedly at their home 7000 miles away. Within an hour my boss had send the intern home with one of us to pack, booked a one way flight with her company card and drove her to the airport to make her first connection. She said she would cover the cost if the company objected, but they never raised an issue, but she knew the intern could not have afforded it herself.

  102. color me purple*

    I used to be a high school teacher. Because of my role, I got to participate in the graduation ceremony every year. This was a school with a lower graduation rate and many students are first-generation high school grads, so the ceremony is a Big Deal. One of my colleagues loved being the person who choreographed graduation, and she overheard me grousing about how I didn’t have my tam or hood from law school because they’d been in a box in my basement and destroyed when some water came in. (I’m not the type to show off rank or degrees, but the whole color-coding of academic regalia is fascinating and hilarious.)

    On the day of graduation, she said she had something for me. She got hoods for all the teachers with advanced degrees – in the right color! I was super touched that she remembered and that she’d gone out of her way to do this for everyone.

  103. Umami*

    I have a direct report who is in her first fulltime position and doing a great job. She has had some personal challenges this first year, is married and has a young child, but she always comes to work with a great attitude and is very dedicated to serving our population as our information desk receptionist. We have a new leader for our institution who is my grandboss, who recently set up an email address to give employees an opportunity to share what they would like to do as they advance in their careers. She said she was interested in a particular role, and when he replied to ask how far into getting her degree she is, she mentioned that she had a balance at her last university and was saving up money so she could pay it off before taking more classes. So she signed up for some classes at our institution that would help her in her role. She updated grandboss about her classes and how she was still shooting for paying off the balance before the fall semester, and then she came to see me last week so excited because he emailed her back to say he had paid the balance so she could get her transcript and start classes as soon as she felt ready! I think it was about $2000!

  104. Yep, still miss him*

    October 2020 – I work in public health and our lives were quite stressful. The health of my last surviving cat (age 17) took an abrupt and severe downturn and I knew he would have to be put to sleep. The vet agreed that he could have one last weekend with me before my major source of comfort during a trying time was gone forever.
    My coworkers got the name of the vet and donated directly to cover all costs, including the cremation. They also passed around an envelope so that I could buy all his favourite foods and treats and spoil him stupid(er) during that time and bought me food from my favourite restaurant so that I didn’t need to cook or go shopping and could spend all my time with my fluffy idiot.
    It was such a comfort and so lovely of them to do. :)

  105. MsMaryMary*

    My dog died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, but he’d had health problems on and off for a year before we figured out the root cause. My coworker knew he’d been sick, since I’d work from home after a late ER visit or leave early to pick him up after a surgery. So I told them when he’d passed.

    One of my coworkers offered to buy me lunch, and I choose a soup place nearby. Three coworkers came back with two quarts of soup, several sides of bread, and a bouquet of flowers. ❤️

  106. Filosofickle*

    There was a period of time when an injury meant I couldn’t safely drive myself to work, and taking transit was a bus-train-bus route that took 2.5 hours each way. Event though I was a temp and had only worked there a few months, two coworkers volunteered to give me rides. While I was along their route, diverting off the interstate to my home and back added 30-40 minutes each way, which is a LOT to ask and they had kids too so it wasn’t like they didn’t have a pressing need to be home. I felt so bad, I only let each one do it a few days each when it was absolutely necessary but I was so touched by their generosity.

  107. CheesePlease*

    Years ago, an employee at my company got diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. It went from “just going to get checked out for this weird symptom” to hospice in a few short weeks.

    This employee was an immigrant, and members of their immediate family still lived in the Philippines. The job was in the US. Management and employees worked together to raise funds for the family to fly out and stay with this employee before they passed.

    1. Lokifan*

      that’s SO lovely. I’m walking up. I’m so glad the employee got to see their family (and vice versa) and not be alone.

  108. Irish Teacher.*

    After my dad died, I got the loveliest e-mail from a colleague and for weeks afterwards, she was really supportive in a quiet way, checking in with me and offering to cover my classes if I needed a break. I have that e-mail saved because it was so lovely.

    The secretary also told me that if I needed extra time off, I didn’t even need to provide evidence.

  109. Optimus*

    I will never, ever forget how work became my safe space after I lost my first pregnancy and then after my brother passed away. My family (except my wonderful spouse) had too many Feelings and Opinions about how I should feel about both events. After I lost the pregnancy, and returned to work, what I really remember is how some folks I worked with – two of whom were men, older than me, and usually pretty gruff – came to sit with me, separately, see how I was doing, and then tell me of their own experiences. They weren’t making it about them, to be clear, they were basically letting me know I wasn’t all alone and that as hard as it was, the hurt wouldn’t be forever. Then a couple years later after my brother passed away, so many people from work showed up at his service – they didn’t know him, or my family, just me, they were there to support me. It’s been almost 20 years and I still am in close touch with several of those folks and have never forgotten that feeling of being cared about and supported. That workplace was kind of bananas sometimes, but what a great team.

  110. Bitte Meddler*

    Back when I worked in retail, my favorite co-worker was a woman with a young daughter. Co-worker’s car was a beater and regularly broke down. I couldn’t afford to help her repair her car [see: retail wages] but I *could* afford to add her to my cellphone plan. The thought of her car breaking down in the middle of nowhere with her daughter was scary, so I wanted to give her a way to call for help.

    Years later, long after I’d left retail and rejoined the white collar workforce, she was still on my plan. She’d given the phone to her daughter who, by then, was a young teenager. Which explained why my cellphone bill suddenly jumped up a few hundred dollars one month. The daughter was talking, texting, gaming, and streaming nonstop. :-D

    Thankfully, AT&T was understanding and removed those charges, and they put limits on the phone so Daughter couldn’t run up the bill again.

    A couple years after that, Co-Worker got a job that not only paid really well, but also came with a phone, so I removed her from my plan.

    1. Lokifan*

      That’s so lovely (and hilarious about the daughter!). I love that you found such a useful way to help even on low wages yourself

  111. Government Worker*

    My first government job out of college was incredibly toxic (talk about a workplace full of bees!), and it really affected my work like for a long time after. My next government job was just sort of okay, but in my third one, I got to work with an AMAZING director. She believed in me more than I believed in myself, and after less than a year of working for one of her programs in a fairly entry level position, she created a new position from scratch with a combination of programs for me that really played to my strengths, and came with a raise that was life-changing for me. I wasn’t even considering leaving but she didn’t want me to get bored, so she figured out the best way to challenge me. I would have worked for her forever if I could, but she ended up leaving our agency. I used the position she created for me as a springboard and am now in a position I could never have dreamed of as a newly graduated worker with PTSD from a toxic workplace, or even just a generic government drone putting in the same day over and over again. I still use her as a reference, and have told her many times that her believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself has changed my life.

  112. LTR, FTP*

    I worked at a crazy dot com startup where hijinks occurred regularly. This one mansplainy entitled dude and I had a stupid argument for like the zillionth time… and when I got to work the next morning there were flowers on my desk, with a card that said “I’m sorry for being an asshole” which I hung on my wall and appreciated for the rest of my time there.

  113. JayTee*

    We recently had a long term employee of 35 years pass, after a year undergoing treatment for cancer. Even though we knew it was coming, it was a surprise and very devastating for many.

    I work in HR, so I’d been working with the employee to get an early payout of their life insurance and pension. To help the employee’s family in the week before their passing, my manager convinced our executive to let us run a staff 50/50. We raise over $3000, and the person who won donated their half of the winnings back to the employee. It was such a lovely gesture to see, and was greatly appreciated the employee and their family.

  114. NMitford*

    I had a job with an absolutely miserable boss and grandboss. At that company, it was traditional to give large-ish going-away parties when someone left the company and invited people from other teams with whom the departing employee had worked. When I left, my boss and grandboss booked a small, windowless conference that barely held eight people and only if you inhaled as you squeeze your way around the table. No one outside our team was invited.

    I had worked closely with the sales department in my job, many of whom were out in the field, but they all collectively felt that I deserved to be recognized as a I left. Their admin assistant at headquarters stalked the conference room calendars in Outlook to figure out where my “party” was being held. Fifteen minutes into the party she burst through the conference room door carrying an enormous flower arrangement and a bottle of champagne, looked at my boss and grandboss with withering contempt, and handed me with a card from the sales team with a generous VISA gift card inside.

    I will never forget that.

  115. Your Social Work Friend*

    I worked a job that was 8 kinds of jacked up and because of what I did, remote work was rarely an option. I commuted an hour one way–without my asking, my boss gave me WFH 2 Fridays a month. When my long term boyfriend left me and I had to move back in with my parents and I had to go into work the next day, I shared with him because I was off my game. He made up and errand of looking at new properties (we were really moving locations) so he could buy me lunch. When my dad was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor and my mom needed help with his surgery day, I was given several days of “work from home” where I intermittently answered emails from a hospital waiting room and he told all my staff to go directly to him for any issue. Really jacked up work place, he caused me several problems later after he left, but he was a good guy.

  116. ICodeForFood*

    About 8 months after I started at my current company, my car (with me in it) was totalled on my way to work one morning. (My wrist was broken, but otherwise I was OK… which, for that kind of accident in a small car, was a pretty good outcome.) I called my boss, before the police and the paramedics got there, and said something like “I just had a car accident, a pretty bad one, and I don’t think I’m going to make it in today.” And he said that I shouldn’t worry about getting to the office, just do whatever I needed to… and he asked if I needed anyone from the office to come get me and take me home or to the hospital or anything…

    1. ICodeForFood*

      Oops… hit enter before I finished.
      I wound up taking the rest of the week off to deal with the car, the broken wrist, and my insurance. And he never took it out of my PTO time.
      I’m tearing up while typing this even though it was 11 years ago, because it was such a kind way to handle that situation.
      Unfortunately, he was forced out of the company the following year. But he was a great boss, and a great guy.

  117. Juicebox Hero*

    During the COVID shutdowns, we were all in office as essential workers (municipal government) plus our jobs just really can’t be done remotely. At one point, the big boss had half the employees coming in on alternate days. We’d either have to use vacation or sick time for the days we were off, or not get paid for those days.

    The whole town council donated their salaries so that we could have our days off with pay and not have to use up all our PTO.

  118. anon for this*

    I had just started a new job, and I told my manager on my second day in post that my mum was in the final stages of cancer, and that I didn’t know what the next few weeks or months were likely to look like. At 4pm on the Friday of my second job, he was over at my desk explaining something and I glanced at my phone and said automatically, “Oh, I have to take this” and as I picked up the phone I just remember his face being momentarily like, “the fuck you do??!”

    I went over to his desk two minutes later to say that it was my dad calling to say my mum had died, and would it be OK if I left now. He was absolutely brilliant over the next few weeks, totally willing to follow my lead on how much time I needed off and when I wanted to work, and letting me ease into the job in the middle of completely numbing grief. Genuinely still so grateful, especially given I was a brand new employee who he barely knew, and he was being decent purely for being-decent reasons.

    There is still part of me that thinks if my dad had just been calling to ask what time my train got in or whether I wanted Chinese or Indian takeaway for tea, I would have had some MAJOR apologising to do.

  119. Other Duties as Assigned*

    When I was working on my MBA, I had a part-time job as a commercial radio announcer. My normal schedule was what we termed a “turnaround” one: 6:00pm-midnight Saturday and back on at 6:00am Sunday morning and on until noon. In between, I’d go home and try to catch a couple of hours of sleep. I also filled in for full time announcers during the week and those times had the added duties of producing radio commercials.

    One year, Saturday/Sunday was Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. I came in Christmas Eve to be on the air and learned from the announcer on before me that there was a commercial for a local supermarket chain that needed to be produced for the next morning. This was odd: there was never commercial production on Saturdays since the copywriters and sales staff didn’t work weekends. Moreover, why didn’t the announcer before me just do it? She explained that what had happened was that the station sales staff had (perhaps foolishly) promised the store that their commercial would include audio of the person who won their year-end drawing for a new automobile, which had been held that morning. The station actually sent a person to the drawing with a tape recorder to get the winner’s reaction. Unfortunately, the winner was not at the drawing to be recorded: it was Christmas Eve after all.

    What my colleague had done in the meantime was to leave a cryptic phone message with the winner to call the station’s call-in line “for an important message;” that way, we could get the person’s reaction over the phone. However, with it being the holidays, there was no assurance they’d even get the message. I asked what the options were and my colleague just said I’d have to figure out something, since it had to run the next (Christmas) morning.

    Happily, the winner did call late that evening. I quickly put the call through the call-in system (off the air) and recorded her response when I told her she’d won. I then included her response when I produced the commercial after midnight once the next announcer took over the on-air duties.

    I returned to be on again at 6:00am the next (Christmas) morning and a few hours later, the commercial played as scheduled. I breathed a sigh of relief that everything had worked and went back to being just a groggy announcer cheerfully playing holiday music on the air.

    About 20 minutes later, the Vice President of sales for our entire multi-state group of stations walked into my studio. I said: “What brings you in?” He said, “Well, that Food Center commercial.” I thought I’d somehow messed up and was going to be fired on Christmas. With some trepidation, I asked, “Problem?” He said, “No, no problem at all. That’s precisely what we promised the client. They’ll be thrilled and it will likely mean a lot of future business from them. I just wanted to come down to personally thank you and to wish you a Merry Christmas.”

    Wow. In the grand scheme of things, I was pretty close to the bottom of the food chain: a part time weekend announcer with so little status that I was scheduled for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Still, a Vice President of the company thought it important enough to thank me in person that he left his family on the holiday, got in his car on a bitterly cold morning and drove to the station to do so. He could have called in by phone and it would have been 90% as good (or even waited until he saw me after the holidays). His gesture of appreciation meant so much to me in that moment. I learned more about how to treat employees from that episode than from all the business management classes I’ve taken. It remains one of the fondest memories of my entire career.

    1. L*

      My father was a pilot for Delta Airlines, and our whole family was about to fly out . . . somewhere (i was about 8 years old and am 70 now, so don’t remember exactly) but i DO remember being in the concorse heading for our gate when a gentleman approached, who not only greeted my father by name, but my mother and every one of us four children. After he left, my dad explained that he was the president of the airline.

  120. Zellie*

    Several years ago, I was just a few months into a new job when my brother called to tell me that our mother could no longer live by herself. It was a crisis situation. I went to tell my manager that I had to leave immediately to go find assisted living for my mother and I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but I was mapping out a week. I was unsure of what the response would be. She said go. Take your laptop if you’d like, but go take care of your mom. I had to extend that trip by a couple of days. Still not a problem. I even got an email about mid-way through that week asking if I was doing okay. My co-workers were worried and just wanted to know that I was doing okay. The rest of the organization could be terrible in so many ways, but I’ll never forget this. Literally, the best group of people I have ever worked with.

  121. morethantired*

    I got a really bad flu and missed two days of work in a row, which was super unusual for me. The owner of the company sent a delivery to my apartment of hot matzo ball soup and a bunch of other delicious things from the deli nearby. It was so nice to know that not only was it okay to take sick time if I needed it, but that they genuinely cared about me as a person.

  122. Essentially Anonymous*

    Early in my career, I worked in an essential role that included covering every holiday. At that job, that included the week between Christmas and New Year. When I got promoted to a position that still required coverage during that week but it was rotating coverage instead of every day, I thought I had it made!

    That’s when my new team members told me they knew I had never had the opportunity to take that week off to spend with my family, so if I wanted, they had arranged to cover it themselves.

  123. ldub*

    I was 19 and a server at a small local restaurant for the summer, and my grandfather was dying. He was in the hospital for about 6 weeks, and my summer was mostly working doubles, which meant working the lunch shift, going to the hospital during my break in the afternoon, and then coming back to the restaurant for the dinner shift. One evening I was assigned a section upstairs, a full flight of carpeted stairs from the kitchen, and I was particularly failing a couple at one of my tables. Every single (fully reasonable) request from them went unanswered. An empty water glass, salad dressing, a fork– I forgot every single thing until the next time I went to the table, realized my mistake, and apologized profusely. This went on for their entire meal. When I brought them the check at the end, I started to apologize, and one of them put her hand on my arm, looked me right in the eyes, and said “You did fine. Thank you.” I don’t think her partner agreed (FAIR) but I have never forgotten that act of kindness, and I think about it every time I talk to a harried service professional, who has a whole life outside of the job they are doing, with all of the good and bad and stressful and sad things that life brings.

    The second act of kindness from this summer was when my grandfather finally passed away, I was scheduled for a dinner shift on the day of his funeral. Since I wouldn’t have to miss the funeral itself, the owner refused to move my shift. The woman who had trained me, a lifelong server with the plate burns on her arms to show for it, found out and took my shift without a second thought. Her name was Celeste and I think of her often, too.

    1. Yay Celeste!*

      So glad Celeste was there to help you out! That was cruel of your manager. I once went to work after a funeral and really regretted it. I had no idea how drained I would be, and it wasn’t even for a close relative! Never made that mistake again. Now I always take the full day off for a funeral, and I’m fortunate to have a job with enough flexibility to do that.

  124. FUR MOMMA*

    A few months ago, I had to put my dog of 16 years down. My entire team was so supportive. They insisted I put my out of office message on and direct everything to them. My boss told everyone that they shouldn’t count on seeing me the whole week. I only asked for two days. They sent flowers and food to our house. I was back in the office after two days, but everyone tried to take as much off my plate as they could. They even told me that I could leave at any time. I needed the distraction of work, but the fact that my team was so understand about the loss of my pet re-assured me that my personal well being was important to the company. Even months later, no one judges me if I shed a tear when talking about my dog.

  125. Immortal for a limited time*

    I work in the public sector, where bureaucracy often gets in the way of progress (and sometimes common sense). Some leaders navigate that better than others, and our director makes things happen for staff quietly and privately. They’ve gone to bat for me numerous times, and one year forfeited their own annual COLA increase to ensure the rest of us could have ours. Only a few of us present at a budget meeting were even aware that had occurred. The next year, the bureaucratic machine rolled out a new pay plan that would have significantly reduced the salary band for directors, yet ours focused on what could be done to ensure staff salaries weren’t affected. Another year, I met all criteria for a promotion and our decision-makers approved my pay increase, but my director only later confessed to me that they had to raise hell and yell at someone in that agency when a lower-level HR person tried to deny the raise on a technicality. This is someone who doesn’t raise their voice at work, ever, and to know they fought that hard for me behind closed doors was both surprising and gratifying. Over my career I’ve learned that the best leaders are the humble ones who eliminate obstacles their staff don’t even know exist.

  126. Ex-Teacher*

    One school I taught at, the seniors pulled an amazing and kind prank for the end of their senior year.

    The seniors set up a toll booth at the faculty parking lot, the proceeds were donated to a local charity. The faculty, in turn, all donated generously and they raised $2000 for charity that day.

    A far better senior prank than most of the ones I had seen.

  127. Ferris Mewler*

    I was working part-time as a library assistant and had just become pregnant with my second child. My husband and I didn’t have insurance so I had gone to a crisis pregnancy center to be able to confirm the pregnancy and apply for Medicaid. I was still in the process of applying when the pregnancy center called to check up on me. When I told them I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to go to the doctor because I hadn’t been approved for Medicaid yet, they told me they’d seen an anomaly on my ultrasound that I needed to get checked out. I was freaked out and called an OBGYN but they told me I’d need over $200 for the appointment without insurance, which I couldn’t afford. My library coworkers saw me upset and when I explained what was going on, they used their party/birthday fund to front me the money for the appointment. I paid them back over time, but I’ve never forgotten it. Still my favorite job I’ve ever had, for many reasons, but that was one of them.

    1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      Please let us know the update, if possible. Hoping Medicaid came through for you.

  128. MsJaytee*

    I was working a temporary contract, and had already been off sick a couple of times when we got the news my gran only had 24-48 hours left. Everyone at work was lovely, let me leave straight away, have the rest of the week off and agreed another three month contract that day.

    I was going through a bit of a ‘if it can go wrong it will’ time, and three weeks later I was getting to go to work, I was already late because of a doctors appointment. I got a call saying my cat had been hit by a car and was at the vet, she had to be put down the next day, again they were great, let me have the two days off without a problem.

  129. NMitford*

    Another story from me… At one job, a long-time, well-known employee died quiet suddenly of an aneurysm. Like, she was there looking fine on Friday afternoon and on Monday morning we got the shocking news. The company chartered buses to take anyone who wanted to attend to and from the services, which were out in the suburbs and not accessible by public transportation, which was what most employees use.

  130. Falling Diphthong*

    I freelance. At the last minute, I had to drop out of a project where I was slated to have a large role because it turned out I got to have cancer surgery instead, surprise! Though I’m sure this was hell for their schedules, the two people I connected with were nothing but supportive, assuring me there’d be a (reduced for health crashed hours) role for me whenever I was recovered enough to return to work.

  131. One day more (without a name)*

    Coworker had a daughter with significant physical and mental disabilities. Coworker’s spouse was the fulltime caregiver to the daughter but they passed away suddenly. Coworker’s extended family planned to temporarily move in to help care for daughter. CEO of the company and about 5 staff members spent a several days finishing coworker’s basement to accommodate the extended family members, company paid for the materials as well.

  132. Ghostess*

    I work in admin/finance, which means doing all the behind the scenes things that people don’t usually acknowledge. Part of that involves organizing the logistics for our annual retreats. At our most recent one, I went out and got thank you cards for a few folks who had gone out of their way to participate. Then, at the end of the sessions, when we were doing thank yous, my manager said We have something for you”
    She had gone out and gotten a thank you card for me, and everyone had written incredibly touching and thoughtful messages, and then – because they all knew I would be mortified to have so many people perceiving me – she addressed the envelope to my dog and said “This is for [dog’s name], but since she can’t read you’ll have to read the messages instead.”
    It was the first time in years (maybe ever???) that I actually felt fully appreciated for all that behind the scenes work, and especially for how everyone knew that I am TERRIBLE at being the centre of attention, and the only way to make a fuss of me was to pretend it was for my dog (who I never shut up about).

  133. lambchop*

    My first professional job payed for me to relocate from a large city to a smaller one a few hours away, where they were headquartered. It was a tight timeline and I didn’t have great credit/couldn’t find an apartment I qualified for, so I ended up getting involved in an incredibly predatory rent-to-own scheme because it was literally the only house I could find to rent. On my second or third day in the office, the rental company drafted 2 months of rent from my bank account without notice and refused to fix it – I was living paycheck to paycheck so the $1000 overdraft basically meant I wouldn’t be able to buy food/gas/pay bills until my next paycheck, and also be hit with overdraft fees until that happened. I was living in a new city totally alone and broke down crying in my boss’s office from the stress of it all. She immediately transferred me $1500 of her own money and told me to pay it back in chunks whenever I could, so I could get out of overdraft and have cash for other expenses – she was literally a shoulder to cry on at a really tough time. I ended up leaving that job a few years later, but am now going back for a new role that won’t report to her, since she’s become one of my closest friends!

  134. urguncle*

    I was young (26) and inexperienced, and I’d been recruited to start as a customer success manager at a tech company from a very very small company where I’d been doing similar work. I was making $34,000 a year in 2015 money, no health insurance, and struggling to stay afloat. In the interview, I asked for 40% more than what I was making and thought I was being ridiculous; $48,000. The director hiring me doctored the paperwork before she even sent it anywhere else so that I’d be hired on for $10,000 more. When she offered me the job, she told me there was no way she could sleep at night knowing I was getting set up for years of lower earnings.

  135. Ann O'Nemity*

    When I was student worker at university, my boss (an academic professor) would always bring in huge lunches and share with me. She’d joke about having eyes bigger than her stomach, or being indecisive about what to bring. Then she’d send me home with the leftovers. As a clueless young person, I didn’t think a lot about it. In retrospect, I’m positive she saw me struggling financially and wanted to make sure I had enough to eat for lunch – and dinner.

  136. Christmas Cactus*

    When my husband was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer we knew he did not have much time. I was a mess inside; he was our breadwinner making three times my low salary ((at a church’s central office) and our daughter was not yet 17. Right away my boss took me aside and let me know that taking days off for his medical visits was fine, even if on short notice. A month later, he was hospitalized. I would visit him in the evening, make the long drive home, then back to work in the morning. I was exhausted but it was the start of our busy season at work; the constant work helped me take my mind off things for a few hours.
    The doctors had given us their estimate of how much time was left and my boss came up with a plan to reduce my work week that would help me use my available vacation and sick leave less quickly and delay the use of FML to keep me eligible for medical insurance. We never put it into action.
    Just as the busiest work time started my husband suddenly died and she and my colleagues seamlessly took up my work for me. When I returned to work my boss was understanding if there were moments or days I was not up to my best. She was supportive of times I needed to leave work to attend counselling for me and my daughter.
    Perhaps the kindest thing she did was several months later. She refused my leave request to take off the day that was both my birthday and our wedding anniversary. She said that knew (rightly) that I would spend the day mostly alone and crying and that would do me no good. Instead I went to work and the entire department (all five of them) took me out to a long lunch. It definitely kept me from a pity party. I will never forget the kindness.

  137. Regina*

    One of my bosses went out of her way to learn the favorite breakfast and lunch orders of everyone in our small office location (usually around 6 people), and would buy everybody food on days where we were stressed out and things were going wrong, or on days when somebody had something to celebrate – a promotion, baby’s first birthday, a milestone wedding anniversary.

    It was a hugely toxic place in plenty of ways, but she was awesome, and I still remember two decades later how supported and seen we all felt when some random work disaster left us all scrambling to catch up and being yelled at by angry clients, and then suddenly your personal favorite lunch would appear on your desk, like a little message of, “Today sucks; I get it, I see you, and I know you’re working hard.” Absolute mental game-changer.

    1. CzechMate*

      Ahh, I had a coworker like this once. We worked down the street from a Brazilian bakery, and when things were really stressful, my Brazilian coworker would go over and order a giant box of churros (pronounced shoe-HOs in Portuguese) for everyone. Brazilian churros are small fried balls filled with dulce de leche and are absolutely *to die for* when fresh. The thing is, churros weren’t even on the menu–this coworker would just ask the baker if he’d be willing to whip up some fresh churros for us. He would pay for this out of his own pocket. Such a lovely man, I miss him.

  138. Graduate Pete*

    I just ‘graduated’ from 3-month check-ups for my cancer to 6-month check-ups (yay!). When I mentioned it to my coworker, she brought in celebratory donuts (including my favorites) to share with everyone. Sometimes its just the little things that remind you there is a whole lot of kindness out there.

    1. Random Bystander*

      Congratulations on the “graduation” (I did that graduation about a year ago myself).

  139. Britpoptarts*

    This job was pretty terrible in many other ways, but I won’t forget their kindness toward my pet. Murphy had been having health issues that his vet couldn’t nail down, and needed regular meds (oral, from a syringe). He was also pretty clingy. They did not object when I asked to bring him in to dose him, as there was no way for me to WFH, I’d run out of hours I could take off due to my own illness earlier in the year, and he’d need to be dosed twice during the workday. His pet carrier sat under my desk, and when he felt frisky, he’d bop around on his harness/leash or quietly sit in my lap. He recovered from this medical issue (a persistent ulcer, if memory serves) but passed shortly after, so the time with him meant all that much more.

    The thing is, Murphy was a ferret. A lot of people know nothing about them and aren’t keen on small furry pets. This very conservative business took my affection for him seriously, treated him kindly (whenever they even knew he was in the office, as he stayed under my desk most of the time and ferrets aren’t noisy anyway), and reduced a lot of the stress I was feeling over his illness by allowing him to come to work with me.

    1. lambchop*

      I also had a ferret for years (named Murph!) – they’re the best little guys! I’m so curious how you dealt with his bathroom habits in the carrier/at work – mine was mostly litterbox trained but would still go in his carrier without fail!

  140. Now NP Sue*

    I was a pretty new nurse, and one day I got pulled to a floor I didn’t usually work on. They gave me what should have been a relatively easy assignment, but midmorning one of my patients died suddenly (and unpredictably – not something I did, to be clear!) and I ended up with a ton of paperwork to do, not to mention the trauma that comes from that happening. It was the first time I ever lost a patient during my shift. One of the other nurses on that floor went to my usual floor and asked what I liked from the cafeteria, and came back with a soup and a cookie for me to have while I did the paperwork and talked to the organ donation people, etc. My (usually horrible) manager let me leave at 3pm instead of 7. It was a super difficult day but those things really did help.

  141. anon for this*

    I was in an abusive relationship and one morning, before work, my then-boyfriend told me I had to move out of our shared apartment. This was especially ridiculous because I was the actual person with the lease. He had poor credit and a criminal record, so he struggled to find apartments on his own. But he was bigger than me, I couldn’t make him leave, and it wasn’t really sustainable for me to continue living there with him anyway.

    I had been flaky at work in recent weeks because my home life was such a mess and knew my manager hadn’t been impressed with me. I thought by asking for time off, I would be fired for sure, but I needed to move all my stuff and cats to a new place and I just was not in a place emotionally where I could do real work. I tried to keep my request for time off very professional but when my manager asked if I was alright, I broke down and spilled a lot more than he needed to know. Instead of being fired, he told me I needed to take at least two weeks off and it wouldn’t count against my PTO balance. He also offered to help me move and offered to let me stay with his family in case I didn’t have a place to go. He was entirely genuine– I didn’t need the assistance and had another place I could go, but I could tell he genuinely would have left work with me to help.

    It was just so kind, I’ll never forget it.

  142. anonanon*

    I recently lost my dad and it made me really appreciate the culture of my workplace. I already appreciated that when someone isn’t feeling well or life is happening or whatever, we are strongly encouraged to go, take care of ourselves, and work would figure out work coverage. When I was reeling from the first shock of the news, I knew the one thing I didn’t need to worry about was work. I emailed my direct boss about how I was hoping to handle things and the time I’d need, and she helped me do everything the way I wanted to (in terms of when to tell people, days off, etc.) While I was out I got a text from big boss with sympathy and offering any support I needed. Several colleagues helped me to push back a deadline for an external communication I was partly responsible for. That all made it easy, when I got back and found myself totally overwhelmed, to ask to leave early one day and take another day off to rest and recover. I’m still only a few weeks out and definitely not back at 100% yet, but I’m not worried that anyone I worth with or for is judging me for that. This is how all workplaces SHOULD be–it’s things like this that make me want to work here for the rest of my career, even though that kind of thing is increasingly rare these days.

    1. River*

      I am so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. May his memory be eternal.

      This is amazing to hear that your workplace totally has your back and has fully supported you and taking the time off that you need. You are in a good place and I hope your workplace continues to sustain this supportive culture.

  143. Bruce*

    Both times I lost a parent and also when I lost my first wife my managers let me take way in excess of the “official” bereavement leave. They left it to my judgement. I realize many jobs would have a challenge doing this without a formal policy change, but the standard bereavement leave in the US should be increased, companies should expect to have to cover for people for more than 2 or 3 days.

  144. MJ*

    My previous boss is so awesome. He is generally a kind, good person that advocated for me and other staff, but the two events that particularly demonstrated this:

    * I once had an anxiety attack at work because of personal life things and I ran into him on the way to a larger department meeting, before I had fully calmed down. He talked me through it a bit and sent me back to my office to gather myself, telling me that it didn’t matter if I came late and he would make appropriate excuses for me. He sent me a follow up email an hour later because he was leaving for the day, couldn’t stop by my office before he left, and wanted to make sure I was okay.
    * When my husband and I got COVID and couldn’t leave our apartment, I discovered that I was out of my meds. He actually went to the pharmacy for me and left it at my door.

    My former grandboss was also incredible for accompanying me to the hospital when I had a bad reaction to a medication and I almost passed out. (I didn’t learn until later that was the cause, so at the time it was this terrifying, random thing.) She stayed with me until my husband got there.

    This is all to say, I’m very lucky to work where I do.

  145. Mobie's Mom Now*

    I was really struggling with a job – the training and probation was a year, so I’m guessing that’s not uncommon, but it’s never had so much trouble grasping concepts and catching on to things, and that just made it worse. One morning, I arrived at my work station and logged in and did my usual check of emails, etc. When I turned my chair back toward the opening/doorway to my little cube, I noticed a sheet of paper folded over something on the desktop near the door – it had not been there when I arrived. I owned the paper to find the “Eat the Frog” story, and it had been folded around a little medallion on a string. The medallion was etched with “you can do hard things”, and it made me cry. To this day, I don’t know for sure who left that for me, but it was so helpful to me! I appreciate so much that someone saw me and noticed I was struggling but believed in me enough to encourage me like that. I kept the medallion near my computer screen as a reminder – not only that I CAN do hard things, but that people beloved in me, too. There were so many lovely people at that job that I miss, but that was such a concrete moment of kindness to me.

  146. TootSweet*

    A co-worker’s husband was hit by a car while crossing the street. His broken bone put him out of work for six months.* One day, gift cards began randomly showing up in my co-worker’s mail slot: for the local grocery chain, Target, maybe some others. This was a very small organization, and the C-suite knew everyone at a personal level. Co-worker and others suspect it was the COO leaving the cards; we never knew for sure, but the guy truly was a mensch.

    *There was no hope of a settlement from a lawsuit. The injured man had chosen “no tort” insurance for himself and my co-worker, years before, in order to save money. In addition, he had crossed in the middle of the street, rather than at a crosswalk. It didn’t matter that he was walking, rather than driving; in PA, they look at your car insurance for this sort of thing. A couple things to keep in mind if you live here.

  147. Decidedly Me*

    I was a contractor in a job (where I likely shouldn’t have been a contractor, but that’s another story) making peanuts and working 60 hours a week just to make ends meet. Myself and 2 others were part of a specialized team that had been created within the company from a larger pool of contractors. We pushed for a raise, but they wouldn’t budge and one of the other two left as she couldn’t take it anymore and had other contract work. The other person remaining also had other work she could fall back on, but knew it would leave me alone in the role. So, she remained for me, as a support system, until I found another job. She also covered for me when I was interviewing, since there was no way I could have given my schedule and I couldn’t afford to lose any hours. Once I finally landed a new role, she left the company alongside me. I don’t know how I would have handled being in that role by myself with no other choice but to continue, so her kindness meant the world to me.

  148. Crystal Smith*

    When I was 24, I joked with a coworker about how I’d just moved into my first solo apartment, and being without roommates for the first time found myself with exactly 4 of all my kitchen stuff – just 4 plates, 4 forks, 4 cups, 4 bowls, etc. I thought it was funny that I finally had a dishwasher, but never bothered to use it because even if I used every single thing I had the thing was never even half full. She commiserated about how it can be hard to get started out on your own, and I thought nothing more of it.

    A week later she texted me for my address and dropped by my apartment with a full 8-setting set of dinnerware that a family member of hers was giving away. I was so, so touched! She left the company years ago and we didn’t keep in touch, but 10+ years on I’m still using those dishes every day.

    1. Anne-on*

      This reminds me of my very favorite boss. I bought an apartment as a young single woman after a nasty breakup and my boss gave me a bottle of very nice wine, a giftcard to home depot (‘for the not fun things you need to buy’), and a gift card to Williams Sonoma (‘for the fun things you should buy for your new home’).

  149. Bruce*

    My wife was widowed before we met, when her late husband was sick the other teachers at her school pooled their vacation days to help her stay home with him and then have more time after he died. This was wonderfully kind, but IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN NECCESARY.

  150. Layoff dream scenario*

    My boss at my last job, a somewhat chaotic and dysfunctional startup, let me know one day that she had been starting to get the feeling from our CEO that layoffs might be coming and that it would probably include my position – not even something that had been formally discussed, something that she was starting to guess was likely because she knew the CEO well. She said she was telling me this not only because she wanted me to have time to start planning accordingly, but because she just learned someone she used to work for was hiring for a position I’d be a great fit for and she thought it would be smart for me to apply and wanted to put in a good word for me. I took her up on that, was able to start part time with this new job while still working at dysfunctional start up, and then after just a couple of months I was laid off just as she predicted, got my severance and had been making extra income from this part time job for two months, and already had a new job that I was able to make full time immediately. My boss absolutely stuck her neck out for me and her kindness not only kept me from being blindsided and jobless, but turned a situation that would have been financially devastating into something that transformed my financial situation (bringing in extra income from the part time job for a couple of months, being able to save my severance payment because I didn’t need it to survive, and plus the new job pays much better). I am absolutely astonished by her kindness and how different an experience I would have had without it.

  151. Samsally*

    When I was doing customer service on the phones, I’d gotten a call from a customer who was… needlessly mean, let’s say. The problem was a very minor error on a Very expensive item, and I was accused of ruining her wedding and told “well obviously you wouldn’t understand having never been married”. I was being cried at, screamed at, and just generally treated Very poorly. The first instance of kindness was a manager who wasn’t even a sales manager literally taking my headset off my head to try to calm her down. (I was unable to talk around the tears at that point.) Unfortunately the problem was ongoing and my actual manager insisted I call her back with “solutions”. I powered through, got her a bunch of exceptions and a massive gift card as an apology. Finally I thought it was done…. but no. She called back five minutes before my shift was going to end and demanded to talk to me again. My coworker who got the call took one look at my face when she told me who it was and said “I got you.” Got back on the call, told her I was gone for the day and in the most sugary sweet voice offered to take the gift card back if it wasn’t going to work for her.

    Truly my hero.

  152. Bebe*

    When I was 23 to 25 years old, my family went through a really long stretch of just…crap. It was a 2 year cycle of death, diagnoses, and divorce. My 42 year old uncle dropped dead one day, and my aunt went into a debilitating depression; 4 other relatives died; more were diagnosed with cancer. 3 older cousins got contentious divorces. My sister (who is my favorite person and only sibling) was diagnosed with a scary and unpredictable chronic condition. A lot of the burden for caring for others fell on my mom and dad, so I also stepped in to help. My life was work, caregiving, and insomnia. So I stayed in my first post-college job as a receptionist for much longer than intended. It was boring and I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I could do it in the zombie mode I was in for most of those 2 years.

    One day at the tail end of all this, my mom called about something and mentioned that a relative’s dog had died. Now, I liked this dog, but my relative lived in a different state, I didn’t have any special tie to the dog, he was older and it wasn’t a surprise, so normally it just would have been sad in the way these things are always sad. But for some reason, it was the the last straw. I started snot-crying, loudly, at the front desk. Just heaving, full body, sobbing, the kind where you can’t catch your breath, you’re crying so hard. The kind usually reserved for horrific tragedies — or the kind that has been building up for two years until you just can’t hold it back any more.

    My manager had been extremely generous through all of this – she basically just let me have unlimited bereavement leave after the 2nd death, was totally understanding when I was distracted, etc. She (and some other people) saw me having my breakdown. She hugged me, helped me calm down, asked what had happened and did not even blink when I told her about the dog, then told me to take the day off and go be with family. When I came back the next day, there was a note on my desk that said “We are so sorry to hear about your cousin’s dog. He was a good boy.” signed by all the admins and the FedEx guy.

  153. K*

    This happened literally this week. I’m a software engineer and was working on a releasing a feature that should’ve been very small and easy to release. Product was annoying me by making me do due diligence on it, even though it should’ve been a real nothingburger of a feature. If people read our docs, it should not affect them in any way. There was one specific concern that I dismissed many times, because if people were doing it, they were specifically ignoring our docs.

    Well. Not only did the feature cause something to break due to that exact problem, but it turned out to be one of *our own* company’s apps that was using *our own* stuff wrong. It took down a couple applications and was a huge mess.

    The product person who had warned me about this exact scenario sent me a message telling me not to beat myself up, he loves working with me, I’m an excellent communicator and had immediately jumped on and solved the problem when it occurred, and he doesn’t blame me in the slightest. Even though I repeatedly had ignored his warning that this exact thing would happen. It was totally kind and unnecessary and made me cry, and will make me much more forgiving of others’ mistakes in the future.

  154. HistoryBoots*

    I still have this note from 6 years ago tucked away in a folder. When I first started in my current supervisor role, I inherited a longtime employee who had been in her role since the early 1990s. She knew her stuff, but had a resting neutral face and had gone through some upheavals with the previous person in my role (the previous supervisor had been demoted for harassing staff, including this person). I had no real clear sense of how I stood with this person – we were professional but not warm – so I wasn’t sure if she was effectively just tolerating my decisions or if she thought they were good, bad, or what, or what she thought of me as a person.

    That week, a few months into my time in that role and a few weeks before our busy season really kicked off, there was a day where it felt like absolutely nothing was going right, mostly for stuff outside of my control. I can’t even remember what all of the little problems were, but then something that was a bit bigger of a setback happened. Think, something we were waiting on for weeks from a different department that we needed to start the next step of our work, we got notice that they hadn’t even submitted the request and it’d be another few weeks before we could tackle that work, and I had to find out another workaround in the meantime.

    I was quite thrown by this and knew I was upset, so I told my team and then I took an early lunch, thinking I can figure out a way to mitigate the impacts of the delay on my team when I got back. When I got back to my office, that staff member was in a different meeting, but she’d left a note on my desk. It was a drawing of two bears portaging a canoe above their heads (we’re very Canadian so this was a lovely detail). She’d labelled the bears with my name and “the team” and had written “Don’t worry, [OP], nobody can ever say that you never did your best. We will help share the load.” And from that day on, I knew that she could see and appreciate what I was trying to do for the team. It really warmed my heart!

    A thoughtful note can make all the difference.

  155. Dante's Disco Inferno*

    I had just started up a research center with a colleague and was transitioning out of my dept role when I got some very concerning lab results. I texted another colleague who immediately put me in touch with the chair of hem-oncology who fast tracked further testing and treatment for leukemia. I was treated at my work’s clinic and the support from so many colleagues was overwhelming. Through my treatment and recovery, my center colleagues carried on the work and supported me through low energy, chemo brain and frequent absences. The first 3 months when I returned to work full-time, I was still working through cognitive challenges-I have idea how often they had to explain and reexplain things to me. I’m eternally grateful to all of them.

  156. River*

    One of the staff in my company took in a homeless customer. They had been living with them for a good 3-4 months before this staff member told anyone. They are still living with the homeless customer. Nothing bad has happened and in turn have helped the homeless person get a job with the goal of them being able to get on their feet and move out on their own.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Yes sometimes people just need a help up. My cousin who is the assistant manager of his department has had a few employees live with him. One had moved to the city and was having a hard time finding a place to live and was commuting like 2hours one way. The other was living in his RV.

  157. Simply Anon*

    I was going through a terrible series of life events and was severely depressed. I called the company EAP over lunch to help me find some resources. I must have been too honest because within 5 minutes I had Security Guards and HR at my desk thinking I was a danger to myself.

    That HR rep kindly helped me tell my manager I needed some off, helped me get approved for FMLA leave, walked me through the process of getting back on my feet when I returned and continued to be an advocate for me as I recovered. And no one ever heard a word about it; it was never brought up by my manager at all.

    I will never forget her kindness in what could have been a career-ending incident. I’m 100% fine now, and thriving.

    (The EAP confidentiality breach … is a whole other thing)

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      THIS is so great. That HR person is one of the good ones and knew what they were doing.

      As someone who works in mental health care the EAP probably has protocols for this, and something you said triggered them. Just like if you were talking with a counselor or 988 help line they would send police or if known, your emergency contacts. Sometimes security is trumped by privacy concerns. I am so very glad that you got the help you needed without any problems.

  158. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    At my last company, the women’s bathrooms were frequently out of soap. I bought a bunch of hand soaps and quietly made sure there was always at least one at the sinks.
    A few weeks before she laid me off, my grandboss said in a meeting, “whoever’s bringing in soap is an angel, we’d all be spreading giardiasis around like a Christmas fruitcake.”

  159. Teacher372*

    It’s is very nice to read these comments. I’ll be returning to this post for good news of kindness.

    I am a first gen college graduate and went on to get my Masters. Unfortunately, I graduated during the Great Recession and couldn’t even get a job at Walmart. I ended up getting married and had exactly $0 to my name when I moved in with my spouse. We did the best we could, he was working as a teacher and a first gen college grad. I ended up getting part time work at small church, but the hours would sometimes be cut based on donations. I didn’t even belong to the faith of the church and my spouse wasn’t religious. The pastor knew we were a struggling young couple and that we’d skip meals to make the grocery budget extend if all the food pantries were bare (frequent with the high unemployment in the area). He’d save food from meetings and funerals and get extras from peoples gardens and farms and pass it along to me so I’d have something to get us through. He helped us for three years until I found full time work.

    I’m not generally overwhelmed by many people of faith, but he was a generous and kind person who saved us those early years time and time again.

  160. learnedthehardway*

    When my mother died, one of my clients sent a donation to the hospice. That was totally unexpected and very kind of them. I’m not even an employee.

    (Major contrast to another client, who expected me to go to a meeting during my mother’s funeral service. I don’t do business with them anymore.)

  161. Bitsy*

    I was working overseas in a public-facing job. I’m a single woman, and I’d been trying to date online, even though this was a religiously conservative country where American-style “dating” isn’t really a thing, and could be easily misunderstood.

    A guy who I talked to on one of the dating sites got very pushy very fast, so I blocked him. But he turned up as a patron in our facility one day, realized who I was, and started harassing me online. I got scared, since he knew where I worked, and I knew that I couldn’t report harassment to the local police without endangering myself.

    Nervously, I went to tell my local coworkers what was going on, so they could help watch out for this guy. They were so instantly sympathetic and supportive! “We will protect you!” “Don’t worry!” “Oh, I’ve seen that guy! He smells like an old man!” “I will talk to him in our language and tell him that what he is doing is wrong!” A native of the country, who’d always been rather stand-offish said “If he bothers you I know people and will have his visa cancelled!”

    I was so relieved that I was surrounded by supportive colleagues who would do what they could to keep me safe. And the guy never came back again, as far as I know.

  162. A Simple Narwhal*

    TLDR: I forgot my wallet and parking pass so I had no way of leaving work’s parking garage, a random coworker happily gave me the cash.

    This is a small dumb one, but at an old job we had a gated parking garage, and all building employees had a pass to get in and out. If you didn’t have a pass you would have to pay to exit the garage. Well one day I get to work and realize I forgot my wallet, which is what I kept my pass in. Fortunately there was a well known workaround method, which is that we all had access to validate a guest’s parking ticket for up to two hours, so if you forgot your pass you could validate your own ticket, leave the garage, drive around the block and re-enter to get a new pass, rinse and repeat every two hours. It’s annoying but it worked, and when you were a young 20-something trying to make ends meet, you weren’t going to waste money on parking. (Plus I literally didn’t have any money on me that day.)

    I was fine doing that all day, except right at the end of the day. I got pulled into an unexpected meeting and I missed the two hour mark. Fun fact: turns out the two hour mark was extremely strict – it was validated for exactly two hours from when you entered the garage to when you exited. So if you entered at 10:02, you had to leave by 12:02. It didn’t matter if you validated the ticket before then, there was no allowance time for exiting (which most garages offer), and there was literally no amount of free parking available. If you drove in and immediately left, you still owed money.

    So I find myself unable to leave the garage – I think it was only $2, but I had no wallet, no cash, no nothing, and as it was after hours there was almost no one around. I’m stressing out as to what to do when one of my coworkers walks into the garage. Fwiw I’m someone who NEVER asks for money – it makes me deeply uncomfortable, and now I had to ask(/beg) a coworker I didn’t know very well to spot me. I thought it would be a horribly embarrassing experience, but she was so nice about it – with zero hesitation she immediately gave me the cash, told me it happened to everyone at least once, and then told me to call her if I had issues leaving the garage.

    It was such a small dumb thing, but I was so grateful to her for this small act of kindness. I repaid her the next day and got her a drink from the local coffee place as thanks, and I made sure to always keep some cash in my car, just in case!

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      This reminds me of the super nice guy I had only met breifly who gave us a ride home when my car battery died. we were the only 2 cars left in the lot. He would have jumped us but the car was iced over and couldnt open the hood. This was 11:30 at night. He did not live in our area and actually had to go the other direction. But he gave me and my mom a ride home. I think we baked him cookies and brought them in.

  163. ThursdaysGeek*

    In 2017, I was talking about the solar eclipse with a co-worker, and he invited me and my spouse to his cabin in Idaho that was at the epicenter of totality. We had a great visit. Next month, another co-worker has invited me and my spouse to her house in the Dallas area, so I’ll also get to see that eclipse (if it’s not cloudy).

  164. Seashell*

    I had a co-worker who passed away unexpectedly. I didn’t know her well, but she was pleasant to work with. She was divorced with teenage/young adult kids. Her children were still awaiting the proceeds of her life insurance, so no one was able to pay to get the funeral arrangements started. Someone started a collection at work, and with contributions from the office, the funeral home was willing to begin handling the funeral.

    After that, I told my spouse, “Even if we’re divorced someday, you better make sure I’m taken care of in that regard.”

  165. Hornswoggler*

    An act of kindness by my husband, many years ago.

    He was in charge of a specialist staff of the equivalent of 55 full-timers, who travelled around a lot for their work. He had recently employed a young man, let’s call him Ludwig, who was brilliant at his job but came from a humble background and had few resources.

    One day, Ludwig came to my husband in a terrible state because his old banger of a car had finally died on him. He thought he would have to resign and go back to bar work because he couldn’t afford a new/old car.

    Husband: How much do you need?
    Ludwig: Two hundred quid, but I just haven’t got it.
    Husband: (writes personal cheque for £200 and hands it over) There you go. Pay me back when you’ve got it.
    Ludwig: tears of gratitude.

    Ludwig is now literally known internationally in his field. He still lives fairly nearby and we see him often, and often get ‘perks’ from knowing him (think VIP access, merchandise etc). Ludwig is utterly devoted to my husband and will literally be grateful for ever.

    NB and of course Ludwid DID pay him back.

  166. Marshmallows*

    I am very sound and texture sensitive and most of my colleagues are very kind about it. Those little things mean a lot when you struggle with stuff like that because so many people are really mean about it. So I get plastic stir sticks for coffee so I don’t have to deal with the wooden ones (wood sticks – and paper – is one of my texture aversions… so I don’t use chopsticks and can’t drink out of paper milk cartons or use paper straws). If we have popsicles as a treat someone will de-stick my popsicle for me. When we eat out or order food no one judges me for being “picky”. They check with me as though “of course we are going to accommodate your dietary needs”. They try to warn me if there’s going to be an unavoidable loud noise. And try not to make unexpected loud noises around me if it’s not necessary. I don’t fault them if they do, of course, I know that I’m extra sensitive and things that aren’t loud to them are quite painful to me. They also are nice about letting me take calls/meetings from my desk instead of the loud and echoey conference room. I haven’t had to get an official HR accommodation for this stuff because my colleagues are kind people that want everyone to be comfortable. When we do talk about or if they tell a new person about it, it it’s always in a “matter-of-fact” way that helps it to feel like it’s ok for me to just be me there.

    1. Kathenus*

      Great that your team are so good about this. I don’t have any sound-related sensitivities, but I have always had the wood one for popsicle sticks, unpainted/unvarnished chopsticks and wooden ice cream spoons. Not as bad but similar for paper straws, although for me it doesn’t include milk cartons or other paper. I still remember how happy I was as a kid (I’m old now) when one company had plastic popsicle/ice cream bar sticks that could also be used to build stuff – first time in my life I could get those items comfortably.

      I never put it together, but just this morning had a conversation with a coworker about a texture aversion I have with food items like clams/oysters, sushi, and some similar things. Probably some relationship between these in my brain somewhere that I never connected. People are definitely complicated and interesting, that’s for sure.

  167. Sea Turtle Jamboree*

    About a month before my father died of terminal cancer, I went to the office on my birthday, which I hadn’t thought to take off in advance. After about a half hour, I was in tears and realized I was going to be that way all day so told my boss I was taken a sick day and left. As I walked out of the building (still in tears) I ran into a coworker who asked what was wrong. The next day I came in to find a handmade birthday card on my desk signed by all of my office friends, as well as a few people I’d never met before! It made that whole week just so much easier and brighter to get through.

  168. Yes And*

    I’m sorry, but can I just say that I hate how many of these stories boil down to “Capitalism almost broke me, but someone stepped in to make sure it didn’t”? Like, good on all those helping souls, but that is NOT HOW IT OUGHT TO BE. The system should not routinely fail people who are actively working to keep it running, as all of the people in these work-based stories were. (It should not routinely fail anybody for any reason – capitalism produces enough to hold up everybody – but that’s a whole other level.)

  169. Marshmallows*

    I have a tiny purple doily that I made on my desk that has a purple thumbtack on it. The thumbtack got moved by someone one day and I was very upset about it (I know it’s a tiny thing that doesn’t matter, there’s backstory but it’s too much for one post – the thumbtack was important to me). After several days and some tears we did find it and so I have it back in its home with its matching doily. One of my colleagues does pottery and made me a little jar to put my doily and thumbtack in so they would be safe on my desk. It looks sorta like an acorn and we call it the acorn of sanity and it holds my emotional support trinkets.

  170. pally*

    I work at a small company. Less than 20 people.

    We have good PTO. No separate sick leave.

    However, when someone is very ill or is caring for a loved one who is very ill and find they cannot work the full 40 hours each week, management makes sure that the paycheck keeps coming – at its full amount. All they ask is that a timecard be submitted each week. No matter how many (or few) hours are worked. This is irrespective of how much PTO one has accrued.

    Nothing of this is mentioned in the Employee Handbook. Management just does this.

  171. Medium Sized Manager*

    In college, my dad passed away on my second shift ever with a general minimum wage job. My coworkers happened to be friends with my friends (perks of going to college in a small town), and they quickly called in the troops to take care of me. The owner, who was known to be a hard person to deal with and didn’t know me from Adam, told me that my job would be ready whenever I was ready to come back with no rush on when that was. It was a very meh job, but that kindness has stuck with me for a long time.

  172. Dragon Toddler*

    I was pregnant and had a toddler in daycare. One day in October, I dropped my toddler off at daycare, only to find out that it was the day they were celebrating Halloween, since Halloween was on a weekend. I had forgotten to bring a costume for my daughter to dress up in, but the daycare employees assured me they had extra costumes. Except, something about forgetting the costume made me feel really sad. I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work to cheer myself up and ordered a drink that usually comes with whipped cream, which I like to eat off the top of the drink. By the time I got through the drive thru, the whipped cream had melted into the drink (or they forgot it). I got to work and was relating my minor misfortunes to my supervisor and coworker and just broke down crying, thanks to the pregnancy hormones. My supervisor and other coworkers encouraged me to go home and get a costume and bring it to daycare. They practically pushed me out the door. I was the most junior position and hadn’t really had an office job before, so the thought of coming in late for something like that hadn’t even occurred to me as a possibility. I was thankful that they clued me in that it was okay and insisted that I do it, and I did feel better after snapping a few pics of my daughter in a dragon costume and coming back to work :)

  173. CatMouse*

    Not me, but my mom. when she was going through chemo for breast cancer (she’s fine now), she was still well enough to work as a medical office assistant, mostly doing filing and digitizing files as this was a time when they were moving everything online. As treatment progressed and she had dips in energy, the staff would let her nap in a patient room for the hour or two she needed. Did wonders to keep her spirits up as she’s one of those people that needs something to do all the time.

  174. ConstantlyComic*

    My first job was pretty toxic, due in no small part to the maintenance foreman, who had worked for the place since it opened and took that as carte blanche to do whatever he wanted (which he did because no one ever stopped him). When he retired and one of the other maintenance staff (who we saw as one of this guy’s cronies) was promoted into his position, a lot of the staff assumed it would be the same thing all over again–fortunately, we were very wrong. Not only was he actually good at and willing to do his job once his former boss wasn’t holding him back, he took it upon himself to start planning and grilling for staff cookouts once a month. That job still sucked by the time I left, but the cookouts went a long way towards mending the rift the old foreman had made and improving morale.

  175. Catsforbrains*

    At a previous, well loved job (since dissolved) there was a culture of giving folks tiny gifts to mark the completion of a difficult project. We’d leave post-it illustrations, wind-up toys, stickers, neat rocks (I once ended up with a salt crystal on my desk with a note reading in part “yes, I have licked it to confirm, but that was a long time ago and it’s clean now”*), or snacks.

    It was a great way of bringing each other back to a baseline of camaraderie and always made me feel seen for my hard work, and I could look back on reminders of support from friends and team members who cared about me in the middle of difficult projects.

    * I’m 90% sure the person who did this told me about AAM will read this post. ILY, Amanda!

  176. Ashley*

    My first job out of college was poorly run, underpaid, and just over all an awful fit for me. I was already existing at 50% anxiety all the time, but I had also just been broken up with the night before. Calling myself a WRECK is an understatement (I should have taken a mental health day, but I was guilt tripped for any PTO/Sick time). I wouldn’t talk to anybody about anything unless it was directly work related, a salesman friend did not get the memo, he came over and tried to make some joke to me (I don’t even remember it now) and I rudely told him to leave me alone. When he came back from lunch later in the day he slid a cup of watermelon sorbet from a local ice cream place across my desk, without saying a word. I cried; it helped me remember people do care about me. He even remembered I didn’t eat dairy and made sure to get the vegan option. I don’t know why this memory is what sticks out so much to me, rereading it makes it not seem like a big deal but at the time it made me feel so comforted.

    He actually died later that year; he left work early because he didn’t feel well and had a heart attack at the light to leave the parking lot. Corporate wouldn’t close the store for 2 hours on a Monday morning for the funeral so that everyone could attend. That was the breaking point that made me realize I had to stop giving all my energy and mental health to a company that wouldn’t even let my friends attend my funeral. RIP Marty

  177. Coalea*

    Years ago, I was having some medical issues and needed to go for a colonoscopy. I’m single and had no family or close friends in the area. A colleague who I was friendly with (a good “work friend” but not someone I socialized with outside the office) kindly drove me to and from the appointment and called to check on me once I was recovering at home. I was super stressed by the medical issues and it was such a relief to have the added stress of sorting out transportation taken care of!

  178. The Weekender*

    My job (at the time) was about 40% travel. I was living 1700 miles away from family, but had one older cat.

    I had a great cat sitter, usually. At one time, she was unavailable so I boarded the cat. I was gone for about a week and checked in often at the vet. I was informed a few days in that my cat wasn’t eating. This was weird, he was a pretty happy cat and generally healthy.

    I was based in California and was working with our team in New York at the time. One of my coworkers who was traveling with me, had her husband (back in CA) go and visit the cat to make sure he was OK. The cat, who had never met the husband, was super friendly and so happy to have some attention. The vet folks thought he was a familiar friend based on how friendly the cat was to him.

    Husband reported back that the cat seemed OK and after that, he did start eating. It was such an act of kindness from them both — I mean, who goes to see someone else’s cat at the vet? I remember crying and being so relieved to know the cat was alright and how great these people were to someone they didn’t know very well or for very long.

    I think the cat was just lonely and I made sure he was in a situation where he received more attention during future travels. My work friend became my real friend and 20 years later, now living on separate coasts) still talk/text often and have several standing lunches at trade shows across the US where we both will be. Wonderful, amazing people.

  179. fka Get Me Out of Here*

    I’m an accountant and one of my main duties is interfacing with the external auditors during the year-end financial statement audit (we’re a private company, so the audit takes place March-April… so, we’re smack in the middle of it). My grandmother passed away in early March, which has hit me much harder than I expected, so my work is definitely not at 100%, and my boss has been nothing but kind about it. He immediately approved my bereavement leave for this afternoon and tomorrow (the funeral is Saturday but I have to travel some and there are some pre-funeral… events, I guess, tomorrow). We had our check-in today and he told me not to worry about work while I’m out and not to check emails (or if I do happen to, to forward them to him), and he sort of stuttered over something about not being good with words in times like these. I assured him that his actions have meant far more than any platitudes and that I really appreciated it. (At my last job when my other grandmother passed away, jerkboss gave me the day before the funeral off, but made a huge fuss about me making sure I had everything done ahead of time. That grandmother had passed while the other one was in the hospital, and I was juggling my job and supporting the hospitalized gran and trying to grieve.)

  180. badsneakers*

    Not my story exactly, but- as a young man my father was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which is more or less bipolar disorder with symptoms of schizophrenia. He functioned very well with the right medication. At one point he had an outburst at work and realized that he was going into a episode of severe anxiety. His supervisor let him leave work to go to the doctor and the next day, after the doctor had put my dad on medication that made him too drowsy to drive, the supervisor drove my dad home and they talked about what he was going through.

    This was in the 1980s when mental illness was still very stigmatized and the ADA was not yet in effect. That supervisor helped my dad keep the job that let my parents stay in the same community for thirty years and raise two kids.

  181. LeighAnneZ*

    I was working at a department store had just been promoted into a management position with no experience or training. Then my mom passed away suddenly and, a couple weeks later, I got an infection so I was sick too. This was all in the space of 1 month, I was sick, I was grieving, and I was overwhelmed.

    A couple of coworkers I was close to, knew about all of this. When my birthday popped up the next week, they pulled me aside after the morning meeting and suggested I go check the breakroom. They had bought me a birthday cake and made sure it had my favorite colors on the decorations. I just plopped into a chair and sobbed for a little bit.

    It was 10/12 years ago now and I did eventually move on from that mess of a job but we still follow each other on facebook and run into one another occasionally around town and stop to chat.

  182. The Provisional Republic of A Thousand Eggs*

    Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and most people didn’t have computers at home, and those few who did certainly didn’t have their own printer or (gasp) internet access, the company where I worked had to lay off most of us. (Seriously, they pared the staff down from several dozen to Boss, Admin Person, and two software developers, one of whom also served as sysadmin.)
    Boss allowed us to spend as much time as we wanted at the office as a matter of course so that we could use company computers and printers for job hunting. Free printing paper and free internet and also free coffee!
    Now this could be counted as simply good management, since there was a nonzero chance of the company being able to hire at least some of us back and Boss wanted to preserve some goodwill, but it was incredibly helpful for us.
    (It took the company years to get back on its feet, and I’m pretty sure everybody had found new employment by then and none of us were hired back, but still. Boss did have his problems, but I remember him fondly because of this.)

  183. Other Alice*

    The food stories reminded me of this one that my friend told me ages ago! She worked with a team of about 12 people at a satellite office, and every month they would go out to lunch together. A new temp worker joined, Tom, but when they invited him to lunch he said he couldn’t afford to eat out because he was struggling financially. The supervisor offered to pay for him but he refused, he said it was fine and he would just eat a sandwich at his desk while everyone was out. The supervisor wasn’t having any of that, she talked with HR or whoever and got approval for a small budget for teambuilding and morale, which she announced was going to be used for their monthly lunches, which were now going to be paid by the company so everyone would be able to join.

    Except… The company had refused the supervisor’s request. The supervisor had talked to the other employees, and they all agreed they didn’t want to stop the lunches but they also didn’t want to exclude Tom or burden him financially. So they orchestrated a conspiracy where the supervisor was pretending to pay for everyone with the company card, but she was actually paying with her own card and everyone else was quietly paying her back later for their share. It went on for the entire time Tom was there and he never knew.

  184. Michelle Smith*

    I had a terrible day at work. I can’t even remember why, but I was in tears it was that bad. I got back to my desk and my paralegal had left a chocolate chip M&M cookie on my desk with a sticky note that said something like she hoped it would help me feel better.

    I wrote her the most generous recommendation letter for law school. No one before or since her was so incredibly thoughtful and I know that kind heart is serving her clients well.

  185. AnneCordelia*

    I had just started a new teaching job at a small Catholic school, and it was the first week of school, so they didn’t even really know me yet. I needed a major, expensive car repair, which I did have enough savings to cover, but still it’s a hassle. I was complaining about this to a fellow teacher, while we were in the office using the copy machine. The school secretary pulled me aside and asked me if I needed an emergency advance on my paycheck. I didn’t, but that was so kind!

  186. LoraC*

    I mentioned this before and I think this goes beyond kindness. Shortly after I graduated, I struggled to break into an industry with very little experience and finally landed a junior level role at a company. I was hired at the same time as a much more experienced woman who was a pretty big name in the industry. Like member of Industry Society and regularly held training seminars for workers in the industry. She taught me in basically everything.

    But a few months in, our manager told us the company was going through a major reorg and a lot of our projects were being axed and there was no longer enough work for the two of us. He didn’t explicitly say it was a layoff, but it was a pretty big hint.

    Senior coworker took me out to lunch and we talked about the possibility of a layoff and I mentioned how hard it was for me to just land this job. After we returned to work, she quit on the spot. Just walked out with no notice.

    She knew I would struggle to find another job, but she could easily land a job anywhere and took the bullet for me. She managed to get hired elsewhere in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile I stayed, and survived the reorg. The company slowly recovered and over the years I went from a junior into a senior role. The company never did have enough work to justify hiring another person, so her leaving basically guaranteed my staying.

  187. Sherman*

    Some years ago one of my coworkers (3 of us held the same position while supporting about 10 higher level employees) was going through a rough time caring for her aging mom and let her sister move in with her to assist w mom during the day. Sister accidentally left the gate open one morning and one of coworker’s beloved dogs got out and got hit by a car. The dog did not survive. Coworker was extremely upset and let us know she needed to go home and handle the situation. One of the higher level employees she supported the most arranged an Uber home for her (most of us took public transpo into the office and it would’ve taken over an hour to get back home midday with less frequent trains running). Her birthday was also that week, which she came in for despite feeling awful about the death of her dog. Some of us had planned to go out for a quick birthday lunch, but my higher level boss pulled me aside, handed me his credit card and told me to make sure we took her somewhere nice, lunch was on him and to not worry about coming back within our allotted hour.

  188. Ipsissima*

    When I was in over my head as a first-time manager, I had the sweetest assistant manager. For about six months, I was perpetually exhausted, barely able to make it to work, let alone keep up with the increasing demands from my boss. This lovely woman brought me homemade meals, picked up extra hours, and asked for more responsibilities so I could have some actual time off (I was working 10+ hours five days a week and 6-8 hours the other two days). She pushed me to see a doctor about my exhaustion (it turned out to be something like long covid but about a decade before covid actually happened). When I gave notice after being hospitalized, my boss really piled on the guilt about the time frame (I gave two months’ notice, later shortened to six weeks). I learned later that she met with him after overhearing that conversation and pretty much ripped him a new one, heedless of her own job security. That job was complete bananapants, but it gave me one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

  189. Erin*

    I had a string of reasons to need to be out of office several times over about a 6 week period – nothing major, but just a lot of little things in a pre-work-from-home time that meant I was coming in late or leaving early or taking an extra long lunch. I was still getting things done, and hitting targets, but I felt frazzled. So when it was my daughters’ day to present in class, I went to work instead, feeling like I couldn’t justify being out AGAIN. My wonderful boss looked at me with furrowed brow and said, “doesn’t your daughter have that thing? Why are you here?”
    I tried to explain, and she very gently picked up my bag, pushed it back into my hands, and began propelling me to the elevator, giving me the “trick to juggling multiple balls is recognizing that some of them are glass. This is a glass ball, go!” lecture.

    I watched my daughter give her speech, and I’ve never forgotten that boss or her kindness in helping me prioritize.

  190. Great coworkers*

    Years ago we had an epic rainstorm on a Friday night and my house flooded. I had 20 inches of water throughout the entire first floor of my townhouse. And no flood insurance so all repairs had to come out of pocket. The entire first floor had to be gutted, including floors, kitchen cabinets, walls, appliances and furniture. When my coworkers found out on Monday they took up a collection and gave me a very generous sum of money. But what meant even more was that one coworker/friend took off work on Tuesday and came to the house to help cut out the damaged wallboard and do whatever else was needed. And then he came back to work more on Saturday. Also, both of our admin assistants came after work one day and helped pull up flooring. And one then asked if she could come back and do more on Saturday. I didn’t have many friends in town so the help was very valuable to me.

  191. OceanGirl*

    Before Christmas 2014 I was working as a temp for a popular outdoor company. My husband was working nights as a custodian. One of the permanent employees was selling a house and asked us to come and clean before they handed over keys. She not only paid us (=Christmas presents) but got us and our 3 girls food because “she was hungry.” She was one of the kindest people at the company and always looked out for me.

  192. BirdGlass*

    When my family member was threatened with deportation because of new immigration laws put in place by our country’s far-right government, my employer made up a job and hired them so that they could qualify for citizenship. Their own employer would not help and change the contract in a way so that they would qualify, so I explained the situation to my boss and he immediately used his capital and pulled strings to fix it. I am sorry that so many people in the same situation do not have the privilege of solving it like this, but I am forever grateful for the help we got.

  193. DJ Abbott*

    I had a history of short-term jobs and was a little desperate to get a good job and turn that around. I ended up in a small business where the owner was the most horrible person I’ve ever met. She would go far out of her way to hurt people, and was somewhat abusive and very inappropriate towards her staff. Getting along with her was a huge challenge.
    One of my colleagues was a woman who had worked for her a long time. Colleague was very reserved, never talked about her personal life or feelings. Some people might have thought she was unfriendly but in fact, she was always supportive. For five years she was always there when I needed support with our boss or anything else. Even after she moved out of town and kept working with us remotely, she was always there for me. One time I called her on my way home from work when I had discovered our boss was doing something illegal, and she was supportive.
    Always kind and supportive, she was the best colleague I ever had. <3 We both ended up in better jobs because of our experience in this one.

  194. PoorHigh-TempTemp*

    I was a long-term temp among many in a big corporate data-entry office just after university, and very poor. I’d been ill and missed three days of work already – so, three days of pay – but struggled in on the Thursday. I was not well enough to be there, as evidenced when I burst into tears when someone closed the window next to me. I’d been relying on the cold winter air to balance my high temperature. I was sent home, and told not to come in on Friday. My manager paid for my taxi home out of his own pocket, and when I came back the following week, I found he’d also fudged my timesheet for the previous so I’d get three days’ pay and meet my rent. Justin, if you’re out there, thank you, you’re a properly decent human and I’ll never forget how kind you were.

  195. Vote for universal paid parental leave!*

    My son was born 5 days before the date when I would’ve become eligible for paid maternity leave under my large state institution’s extremely inflexible policy. I still qualified for FMLA, but would’ve had to take the entire period unpaid, had not my office banded together and donated enough leave to cover all but a few days of my leave period! My postpartum experience would’ve been exponentially more stressful without their generosity, and you can bet I’ll be paying it forward when an opportunity arises.

  196. Ladybug*

    2020 was a rough year for everyone, but that was also the year my father – my last remaining parent – passed -and- my divorce happened. I went from having lots of nearby family – both my own and my former in-laws – to having zero nearby family. My employer is closed for two weeks for Christmas and New Year, so it was just me and my cats. Alone. I put on a semi-brave front, but the holidays that year were very, very difficult for me.

    One darling co-worker decided that she wasn’t about to let that happen again, and I’ve since spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas with her and her beautiful family. The women in her family all have L-names, and I have an L-name, so we joke that I’ve been adopted into the family just because of that reason. But I’m there because she has an enormous heart, and I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to spend the holidays with just my cats (although they’re sweethearts!)

    I know that at the workplace, saying “we’re like a family” is often seen as dysfunctional. This is one of the times when it’s definitely not!

  197. Sara W*

    My grandfather passed away not long after I had started my first full-time job. My coworkers knew I needed to fly home on a quick turnaround, so they took up a collection and gave me the money to put toward a flight instead of doing the normal flower purchase.

  198. Someguy*

    My company has yoyo-ed between being a small cog in a large corporation and being a small private company (several dozen heads, give or take). During one of the independent phases they hired a new HR person (there no longer being a corporate to handle it.) She was very grateful for the job – she had just gone through a nasty divorce and was trying to start her life anew. As is not unusual in the US, you had to work for X number of months before you would be vested and the health care benefits would kick in.

    A month or two after starting, the boss came in and found her distraught – she had just been diagnosed with cancer. Management basically said: we’re sorry to ask you to work at a time like this, but we need to get you on the health care plan as of right now.

  199. EmF*

    When everything shut down in March 2020, my parents were travelling in Spain. They were fortunate that they had a place to stay (no electricity in the place, due to the circumstances, but still!) but they were evidently going to be there a lot longer than anticipated, with limited Spanish. I was frantic with worry and catastrophizing, mostly about what would happen if their medications ran out, but also because Spain was one of the areas that was making big news as Coronavirus Central and we just didn’t know anything. I felt so helpless.

    My big giant employer does various healthcare related stuff and a person two departments away offered to contact a friend of theirs in the Ireland office to see what sort of information we had about getting Canadian prescriptions filled in the EU*. Irish person, who’d never spoken to me and didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, spent a whole day finding me resources and information. My folks were able to get home before their medications ran out, but I am so, so grateful to the person who helped me in one of the most terrifying times of my life.

    *Not simple, because it is technically cross-border drug trafficking, hooray.

    1. Zap R.*

      No one navigates bureaucracy quite like an Irish person with spare time and a righteous cause.

  200. All is not lost, perhaps*

    My friend recounted to me this week a kindness that her boss paid her over 20 years ago. At the time, my friend had a small baby and her husband was out of town. She was exhausted and working a full-time desk job. Mid-afternoon one day, her boss (a man with no children, by the way) caught her nodding off at her desk. He tapped her on the shoulder, told her to go home and have a good nap before picking up her baby at daycare, and told her he’d clock her out on time at 5 p.m.

  201. Tobias Funke*

    I was working a crisis involving two teens with developmental disabilities who were being abused and neglected. I was caring for them while waiting for emergency care to become available. The teens did not know me very well and were scared. One of the teens’ teachers, who had been the teacher of both of the teens at some point, accompanied me with the kids all afternoon and evening.

    Her presence – totally voluntary, totally unpaid, totally unsolicited – made one of the most difficult days of my career (still one of the most difficult of my career and this was 11 years ago) so much more manageable. She put the teens at more ease than I would have been able to because of her existing bond with them. She did not have to do that for me or for the teens. And she did it anyway. She drove all over hell and creation until 10:00 at night to be there to introduce them to emergency care along with me.

    I am forever grateful for her kindness to the teens and to me. It is easy to NOT do things like that. And she chose to do it anyway.

  202. Sleepiest Girl Out Here*

    I lost my mother after a really long battle with cancer. At the time, I worked at a massive health insurance company with a two-day bereavement policy. I had already used all of my time off and sick days for her appointments. My boss pulled me into a meeting and told me that I would be working from home for the rest of the month.

    In additon, it was a system where a customer service team where we would pick up tickets and assign ourselves. My boss and team decided that I wouldn’t be picking up tickets for the rest of the month so I was pretty much off for an additional two weeks. I just had to show up to meetings and spent the rest of the time binging TV.

    It was a monumental help and probably helped my mental health for years after. I left pretty soon after, it just wasn’t for me, but I stay in contact with the whole team.

  203. getaway_grrl*

    I am fortunate to have a lot of these experiences, including some that are happening right now, but they might be recognizable and I don’t want to get my boss and grand boss in trouble. :)

    So, instead, I’ll go back 30 years to when my husband was terminally ill. He had been referred to hospice and I had quit my retail job (mid-shift, but that’s another story and I had a very good reason). My husband’s employer, upon learning what had happened with my job, immediately offered me a position working just enough hours to qualify for their health care plan so that I could be home as much as possible. And they kept my husband on the payroll for another month (he was salaried), and eventually dropped off a check that included two weeks of vacation pay that they had “found” (he didn’t have any left) and an incentive bonus. His bosses really did love him and they were wonderful people. We had a gap of time between when he stopped working and qualified for SS disability, so this money enabled me to pay the bills and feed our kids.

    Meanwhile, my former coworkers at my retail job, who were wholly supportive of why and how I quit, reached out to ask how they could help. Easter was coming, so I asked if they could put together baskets for our kids. Oh my goodness, did they deliver! I am not kidding when I say my kids were ruined for all future baskets. And they brought me a basket as well. The Easter grass in mine was made of cash. I’m still in touch with a few of those former coworkers and I still say thank you when I see them.

  204. AMH*

    When I left my last job, where I had become the de-facto operations, office and administrative manager, my boss/the owner was sad but reasonable about me leaving. What I didn’t know is that, because he was in contact with my new workplace (for legitimate reasons) is he sent a letter of GLOWING praise for me to his contact there. I left for really good reasons that I don’t regret, and he was a lot of those reasons, but I still teared up when on my first day they told me what he had done.

  205. Frodo*

    I worked in a bookstore for almost five years. The author, James Patterson, gives out a monetary gift to booksellers who go above and beyond in their duties. Coworkers fill out a form on his website. Unbeknownst to me, a woman at my company (who I barely knew) filled out the form nominating me for the award. She had seen me doing Storytime with the preschool age kids and thought I was so engaging (her words). Anyway, I won the cash prize and burst into tears when I found out! And my kid got a brand new drum set that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford.

  206. Zona the Great*

    When my ex-fiance just up and walked out one day to be with someone else, my boss told me she wanted me to come to work only to make sure there were people around me who cared about me. She knew I moved far from home with the Ex and had no one. She also knew I’d be totally useless at work and didn’t care one bit. She just wanted to be sure I was looked after.

  207. Heffalump*

    In 1994 I was working a several-week temporary assignment. My 18-year-old cat got very sick, and I knew the end was probably near. The assignment had several months to run. I told the guy I reported to at the client company that there was a good chance that I’d have to have my cat euthanized during the assignment, and if so, I’d need to take a day off. He said, “Take a couple of days off if you need to.” When the time came, I called the temp agency to say that I’d be unavailable for a couple of days, so they could pass the word on to the client company.

    I’d been in direct contact with 10 or so people at this company. Of course I didn’t know them very well, so there was no guarantee that they’d empathize, but they did. One woman said she loved her cats as much as she did her husband–not in the same way she loved her husband, not more, but as much. Another woman gave me her contact information and said that when I’d adopted another cat, she wanted to hear all about it.

  208. commenty commenter*

    I broke my ankle a few years ago and my team gave me a delivery service gift card for several hundred dollars. I’m a single parent and couldn’t drive for almost two months (my right ankle) and it helped so much being able to cover meals when I couldn’t balance on one leg long enough to cook, or was in too much pain to even get up.

  209. Peon*

    There’s no one story I can point to about my coworkers, because there are too many; the people are the reason I stay. We’ve supported each other through divorces, weddings, funerals, births, miscarriages, and more. We’ve raised money for charities, collected school supplies for kids, made warm hats and scarves for homeless veterans, made cat toys for feral kittens. Sometimes it’s little things, like passing on hand me down baby clothes for a new grandma having a rough time, or giving someone a lift when their car is in the shop. It’s what *I* think of when a work place is described as “like a family”.

    1. Camp staffer*

      I love this, because this is also my experience at my current and former workplaces, and so often commenters here discount this perspective. There are places where coworkers and bosses genuinely care about each other and have each other’s backs and enjoy spending time together, so yes, they are “like family.”

  210. Elle Woods*

    A friend’s dad worked for a suburb. Employees worked there for nearly their entire careers because they liked their jobs, loved the people they worked with, got paid well, and had great benefits–including the opportunity to roll over unused PTO from year to year. Some employees had been there for 25+ years and had accumulated upwards of 100 days leave.

    One summer, an employee (“Bob”) who’d been on staff for just over a year suffered a heart attack and had to be on leave for nearly three months while he underwent rehab. Because he was new, he didn’t have much leave accumulated. Bob’s colleagues worked with HR to give him enough of their accumulated PTO so that he wouldn’t go unpaid during that time nor would he use up what little PTO he had amassed. (This was in the late 1980s/early 1990s, before the passage of FMLA.)

  211. Zap R.*

    Grandboss is not a fan of Prominent Local Sports Team. We work in an industry that means he occasionally gets swag from Prominent Local Sports Team. Which means I get swag from Prominent Local Sports Team because Grandboss knows I’m a superfan.

    Also, I dislocated my knee a few weeks before the Christmas party one year and one woman in the office helped me change into my dress and get my brace back on over my tights while another ferociously guarded the washroom door.

  212. KLink*

    A couple of years ago, my then 12 year old son’s epilepsy made an unexpected reappearance. I was super worried about how this would impact his high school life and we had a flurry of appointments and scans.
    In a dept meeting, someone asked how everyone was doing. I decided to forgo my normal “fine” and just tell them how I was, which was not great.
    This person then went to my other friends on staff and took up a collection to get me a gift card for a float center which I had raved about. (Have you tried this? Isn’t it amazing?) I almost cried in the mailroom. It was exactly what I needed and I will never forget it.

    1. Don’t make me come over there*

      I love going for a float! Sometimes you just need an hour of zero sensory input.

  213. Sigrid says hey*

    My husband was away on a business trip to Europe when I received the news that his father had unexpectedly passed away. I had no way to reach my husband so I reached out to his boss. His boss’s response was for me to not worry, that he’d get ahold of my husband with the news.

    About 45 minutes later he called me back to tell me that my husband would be on arriving that about midnight that same night, and would I be home for the next hour or so? Within the hour there was a knock on the door, I expected it to be a fruit basket or some flowers. It was not a gift basket, it was two plane tickets, return tickets to our home city, business class, on a flight leaving first thing the next morning. The return ticket was undated and they were issued by the travel service used by the company for all business related travel.

    When we returned from our time at home for the funeral my husband took a thank you card and went to speak with his boss. His boss had “absolutely no idea” that we’d received any travel assistance from anyone at the company and there was no way to arrange for us to reimburse them for the cost of tickets “that never existed.”

  214. It's not just a headache*

    I have chronic migraines and typically need to leave work early at least once a month, if not take a whole day to recover. At all of my past companies, I was required to submit a letter from my neuro to “prove” I actually had the issue and there was a good reason for my absence. Most of the time, people have just never believed me and it’s a huge stressor.

    I now work from home for a company in Canada. Earlier this year I had a really bad case of Covid and submitted a doctor’s note stating I needed a few days off. My boss told me that that wasn’t needed and they thought it was super odd I was even provided it from the doctors at Urgent Care. They believed me and know I wasn’t just skipping work because I felt like it (and to be honest, I think it helped that I totally lost my voice and they heard how bad it was).

    Just this week, I had a bad migraine and had to log out a few hours early. I messaged the manager I now report to, and his response was that I don’t need permission to log out early. As long as I let them know when I need a full day, logging out a couple hours early is not an issue.

    I can’t tell you how much relief this shift has been for me – being a migraine sufferer for more than 20 years, I’ve had such a hard time trying to convince people that it’s a “real issue” and that I do occasionally need the time off to recover. The stress is overwhelming and it makes starting a new job scary. It’s a company kindness that I hope to carry into other roles and companies in the future.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      This is so wonderful! I too suffer from chronic and fairly regular migraines. My husband it turns out also gets migraines but very occasionally like once a year. I work in healthcare and recently ran into my husband’s doctor. I had to thank him and tell him how much he changed my life by diagnosing my husband with migraines. The day he was diagnosed my husband came home and said “you go through that 2-3 times a month!? I can barely handle once a year!”

  215. Katydid*

    I worked for a large medical clinic in the IT dept and during my two week notice I ended up having to have a procedure. It was a GYN procedure and as most people know, sometimes you can feel fine afterwards and sometimes not so much. Well I felt awful, but if you used even an hour of PTO during your notice period, you lost whatever they were going to have to pay out. My boss just told me to go home and he would punch me out at the appropriate time. It was maybe like an hour and half that I would have needed, but I never forgot that.

  216. LMJ*

    When my sibling passed away, on top of everything else they did, work gave everyone admin time if they wanted to attend the funeral. We were a staff of around 70 at the time and, on top of my entire department, well over half of them showed up to show their support, including our CEO.

    Those people could drive me insane at times but seeing a wall of my colleagues there to support my family and I during one of our hardest times still makes me catch my breath.

  217. poostdoc*

    In grad school we had a tradition of celebrating big milestones (passing qualifying and comprehensive exams, thesis defense, etc…). My friend and I had been the ones leading the charge– we would badly photoshop a funny and congratulatory card (often with many puns about the project), print it out, and get friends, cohort mates, and office mates to all sign with nice messages. We made sure to reach out to people to celebrate during the pandemic, but it wasn’t the same.

    But I was the first person to defend my PhD in person after quarantine lifted and had a card signed with thoughtful notes from every person in the department, including faculty. Apparently multiple people had noticed how much we had done in the past and separately made sure that I would have a great card. :)

  218. nona*

    Y’all inspired me to get out a ‘just a little note’ card and write a message to a coworker who needed emergency surgery earlier this week and is still home recovering. Thanks for reminding me that it is the little things that can make a tough work situation better.

  219. EverythingBetterWithCookies*

    There was a mass shooting in my town (we were all fine, thank goodness— partner and I work remotely and the kids were home sick from school that day) and my organization sent me and my family a care package of soup to heat up, and some great bread rolls and cookies to bake. It was such a lovely, practical gift, especially when I was too worked up to cook, and it gave the kids a great little project to focus on.

  220. Chrysoprase*

    Years ago, a few days before Christmas, I left the office early to catch a flight home to my family. It turned out that the bus to the airport I’d been counting on wasn’t actually running. I was a low-level, low-paid worker at the time and I just couldn’t afford a taxi all that way. The plane ticket alone had wiped out my bank balance, and now I was going to miss it and miss Christmas. Panicking and miserable, I wandered back to the office like a lost dog – I was new to the city, and I suppose I had some vague hope that a coworker might know of a different way to get to the airport. The first person I ran into was our head of HR, who took in the tearful state of me and asked what was wrong, and I explained my situation.

    He called a cab for me there and then and put it on the company account. I made my flight.

    It was a horrible, dysfunctional workplace and that HR manager was, in many ways, shockingly bad at his actual job, but that was a genuine act of kindness and I’ll never forget it.

  221. Bluebell*

    Many years ago I had a medical crisis and was in the hospital for a month, followed by a month of recuperation at home. My work did quite a few nice things for me; one that sticks out was that the 15 person department I was in sent me a compilation of favorite movies to watch, with entries from each person. This was so long ago I got it as a paper document, and it’s still stashed away somewhere, I think!

  222. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

    My boss at OldJob owned a six storey (three main floors, one full size finished attic, two finished basements) Victorian semi-mansion that he bought for cheap.* When one of our coworkers’ house burned down in a brush fire, boss converted the attic into an apartment for her family and let them stay there rent free until the insurance came through and their new house was built. The rental market was awful in that town and would have eaten up most of their savings, even after what insurance would have covered.

    After the coworker and her family moved back home, boss decided to also convert both basements into apartments (two per basement) and rent them out at a fraction of market rate as short term housing for families who were struggling or in transition. He was generally a good guy and a kind person. And also a good manager who refused to take crap or abuse from clients and higher-ups. He always stood up for his employees and when our parent company made our division redundant, he worked his butt off to get us all transferred to new divisions.

    *Interestingly, it was a kit house that was originally ordered from Sears in the late 1800s and had been disassembled and reassembled multiple times in different places all over the town until it found its final resting place on a dirt road on the edge of town where my boss bought it for pennies on the dollar because all other buyers were too skittish about it having been essentially a Lego set.

  223. Kesnit*

    I was in the Navy, had finished my sea tour, and was about to transfer to a shore tour. I had turned over my Division, but my initial orders fell through and I was held over on the ship. So I would show up in the morning, hang around until the end of the work day, and go home. I had been having problems (for about a year) with my eyes, so decided to leave early one Tuesday to go to the eye doctor on base. He took one look in my eyes and sent me to the Naval Hospital. The hospital did an MRI and determined that I had a benign brain tumor (!) and admitted me for surgery.
    I had not told anyone at the ship that I was going to the eye doctor. So I spent several hours begging the nurses to call my ship and tell them where I was. Eventually, they told me that had been done. Days passed and I didn’t hear from the ship, which hurt. Yes, I knew I was leaving, but I thought people liked me enough to acknowledge that I was having brain surgery (!)
    On Saturday, I didn’t show up for duty. (No surprise. I was still in the ICU, having had surgery on Thursday.) Standard procedure when someone does not show up for duty is to “call all the hospitals and jails.” (That was actually delayed a few hours because the Command Duty Officer just assumed I had overslept or forgot, so called my house phone – this was before widespread cell phones – and left a message.) THAT is when my ship found out where I was.
    In the next few days, the Captain, XO, and Chaplain all came to see me in the hospital and were really apologetic that they had lost me for that long.

    My mother passed away in her sleep the night between Thanksgiving and Black Friday. My wife worked retail at the time. (Not a store that went all-out for Black Friday, but it was still Black Friday.) I called her store to tell her. She rushed to her manager and told him what had happened. He told her to go home and keep them updated for what time she would need off. There was no pushback from the store when we took a very long weekend soon after to drive 13 hours away for the funeral, even though it was December, so still Christmas shopping season.

  224. Sled Dog Mama*

    I’ve got two stories.
    A couple of years ago my mother fell and fractured two vertebra. She walked around for 5 days trying to convince my dad and brother that it was just a pulled muscle, on day 4 my brother threatened to call me if she didn’t go to the ER within 12 hours. When my dad called me that afternoon to tell me he was clearly distraught, any wrong move could have caused the fracture to slip and paralyze her. I immediately called my boss and explained what was going on. The only question he had was what time did he need to show up to cover for me the next day (we are not in the same office normally) and to please let him know that I had arrived at my parent’s place safely.

    #2 My infant daughter passed away some years ago. I don’t talk about much but last year a coworker’s brother passed away very suddenly. After she returned to work I told her about my loss and that if she ever needed anything, including just someone who would totally agree about how unfair it was my door was always open. A few months later there was some promotion where cardinal pins were being handed out as a memorial pin. She made to sure to grab one for me and we both wear them on our name badges everyday.

  225. Former Govt Contractor*

    This was 33 years ago. I had just graduated and started my first office job at a law firm only 4 months prior when I – a pedestrian – got hit by a car and suffered serious injuries. I wasn’t able to work for months. My new boss of 4 months, for whom I ended up working over 20 years, 1.) continued to pay me my full salary though policy was 66% 2.) represented me for free against the driver that hit me and 3.) did multiple other considerate, over-and-above things like having someone pick me up and take me home from work before I was able to drive, sent flowers after each of my many surgeries, and just generally made me feel valued and cared for and like I belonged there. I’ll never forget it.

  226. BCC*

    Not a direct answer to your question, but my husband and I were recently discussing our favorite interview questions to use and he had one that I immediately knew I would steal:

    “Tell me about a time you have helped a colleague.”

  227. FormerIntern*

    I was semi-homeless and working multiple jobs to keep myself afloat while applying like crazy for a full-time position after college. By accident I applied to an intern position at an amazing company. Somehow my resume got past the checks and balances, and I was asked to come in for a series of interviews with various offices. When I got there, I realized it was just for current students and let the lady in charge, Maria, know. Maria told me to go ahead and interview anyway since it was a great opportunity to get some practice. As I left, another employee who had overheard the conversation let me know that if I went to community college for a certificate in anything then I would qualify to be an intern. I went to one of my night jobs where I had access to a computer, immediately signed up for the certificate she had mentioned, and then emailed Maria to let her know I was now a student.

    I got the internship. It set me up for success in ways I cannot even describe. I was able to get an apartment and convert to a full-time employee. I wouldn’t have been able to do either of those things if not for the kindness of those two employees.

  228. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

    At my first hospital job, a doctor I got along with very well was fatally hit by a car while riding her bike to work. My supervisor knew the doc and I were buddies so she made sure that I found out from her, not just through the grapevine, and checked in on me periodically after to make sure I was doing ok. She also made sure I knew it was ok to go to the memorial service the hospital held – we had hourly productivity standards and doing an hour of non-billable stuff usually would have ruined your metrics for the day but we were all encouraged to go and a lot of us did. She’s actually the reason I’m in my career, she was the clinician who treated my grandmother after her stroke and was absolutely kind and respectful of her dignity during a very difficult time.

  229. Amanda*

    About five years ago, my father died after three weeks of sudden, horrible, and totally unexpected illness. He died during surgery that was supposed to get to the root of the problem. I was absolutely blindsided and in shock and reached out to a close coworker by email to let her know. She offered to tell other staff members at our small nonprofit what had happened and that I didn’t want to talk about it. I went back to work two days later and she had passed the word. People reached out with gentle, general condolences and that was it. I never had to tell the (long, painful) story until I was ready, many months later. I will forever be grateful for her for that.

  230. WantonSeedStitch*

    I used to be a member of the board of directors of a local professional association. I had just accepted the nomination to the board, and was participating in my first board retreat, during which we set plans for the coming year while staying at a hotel. The other board members were awesome, and we had a fun time going out to karaoke in the evening before heading back to the hotel, staying out way too late. Now, with staying out late and too many drinks, it was understandable that I felt pretty blah the next morning when I got up and went to the start of our retreat meeting. What surprised me, though, was that not only did I not feel better as the day went on, but I felt WORSE. Lots worse. Sooo much worse. One kind person on the board actually ran out to a nearby drugstore to get me some Pepto for the horrific nausea I was feeling Almost immediately after we voted to adjourn that afternoon and go home, I realized I was in trouble and dashed outside (wasn’t going to make it to the ladies’ room) to throw up. Someone even offered to hold my hair back if I was going to puke again. I managed not to, and in fact, I felt somewhat better. Then the board member I was riding home with let me sleep all the way home and drove in silence for two hours so that by the time I got back, I felt very weak but almost human. I’m just glad no one else on the board got whatever I had. It’s no surprise that years later, I’m still friends with those folks!

  231. McFizzle*

    I had just started at a school district (admin/tech, not working with students) for all of 2 months when my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced terminal liver cancer. She had raised me off and on until my mother died of an OD when I was 11, then took me in until I left for college (thank you Grandma!!).

    Policy stated that leave could be taken for immediate family members, but technically, she was my grandmother, so it didn’t apply to me*. My amazing boss worked with HR to explain my situation, and they made an exception. Thus, I could go back to my home state for 6 weeks to be with her in hospice until she passed with no repercussions. The situation was already so unexpected and distressing, and it was such a relief to not have to worry about my job security, nor any passive “retaliatory” tasks / demotion for being out.

    In June, I’ll celebrate 16 years of being with the district.

    *I would’ve quit to be with my grandmother! Zero chance that I wouldn’t have been with her.

  232. Jack-of-all-Trades*

    I worked for a very small firm that had 2 owners and 3 employees. A huge contract they had been expecting and planning for fell through completely unexpectedly and we were all left scrambling for new business. The owners quietly, without telling anyone, went without any pay for 6 months while working to get the firm back on it’s feet. (The type of contracts we work with often take years to negotiate and don’t pay out immediately.) They continued to pay us three employees our full paychecks monthly, and offered extra paid vacation days because they couldn’t afford a year-end bonus! I only found out because I work closely with one of them and had access to some of the information. I’m happy to say they got back on their feet and are doing very well now!

  233. Pretty as a Princess*

    I quit my full time job, which had been about 50% travel and in a very niche kind of scientific consultancy, because my spouse and I were burnt out with two high travel jobs and a very Little Person at home. A little over a year later, Little Person #2 was born.

    In this kind of work you develop pretty close relationships with people at client organizations and you often will encounter them again when one or both of you is in another job. There are people in my field I have known for decades and worked with in multiple capacities. So when I left, it was not unusual at all that a former client had asked for my personal contact information, so that she could put me on her holiday card list.

    About a month after Little Person #2 was born, a *handmade quilt* showed up in the mail from this former client, with Little Person #2’s name and stats embroidered on it.

  234. The Wizard Rincewind*

    My current workplace is staffed by incredibly kind people and I have a lot of stories about small acts of kindness. Here’s one:

    I’ve recently started learning the language of my people, which one of my coworkers speaks. He’s always encouraging me (though it’s slow going as I’m self-taught), emailing me and speaking to me and gently correcting me. No one else I know speaks this language and it’s so helpful and motivating.

  235. Anon for this*

    When my husband had to go to drug/alcohol rehab I had to last minute call his boss (who I had never interacted with) and say he’d be out of work at least for a week and I’d follow up when I had a more concrete return to work date. Later that week, I sent an email on my husband’s behalf explaining the situation (I know this isn’t usually recommended but it was my husband’s decision and they had a good relationship). His boss replied thanking me for following up, saying he was so glad he’s getting help and that he can take all the time he needs once his leave runs out. He also told me he’d mow our lawn, watch our kids or anything else I need while he’s away. His kindness and understanding during a difficult time meant so much to me.

  236. Betty4Cats*

    About 7 years ago, within a matter of weeks both my spouse and I were diagnosed with cancer (both of us breast, plus for her also colon). so we were tag-teaming with surgery, chemo and radiation for the next 8 months (all fine now). She was already retired but I was working FT (which extended my excellent employer plan to her rather than just Medicare).

    My office was fine with “take off as much time as you need” but I would have gone crazy just sitting around. So I became one of the first WFH employees when I felt up to it (no pressure from them) since chemo immunosuppression meant not going out (we even had to have friends come daily to scoop the cat litter!) My co-workers also collected several hundred dollars for a Grubhub type certificate so we could order in whatever food we thought we might tolerate during chemo.

  237. Cabbagepants*

    Goodness gracious, half of these aren’t heartwarming, they’re the capitalist dystopia.

  238. Anon In This Case*

    I worked at a bookstore for maybe a year in my early/mid twenties – I was a mess for a whole number of reasons (CPTSD not yet diagnosed that only manifested in oversharing on social media (because I had been trained essentially to publicly pour venom on myself since childhood – still not an excuse when people from work were following my personal twitter though – it was disgusting of me) and some neediness about making sure I was exactly perfectly what people liked (I thought they liked through the view of my abuser)

    Anyway I (deservedly almost certainly) got made redundant because of budget cuts (2009/10) and uh, it was just the last straw of everything and I attempted suicide. I was so ashamed and embarrassed and I kept apologising – it was not their fault or responsibility and I hated myself worse for it.

    Everyone was so kind – they signed a beautiful card for me with lovely messages I still have, took me out for dinner, bought a beautiful scarf and a colleague also bought me a gorgeous notebook – everyone stayed in touch for a while and was always so welcoming so maybe, maybe I wasn’t as terrible an employee as I thought? (Multiple managers offered to be references even before the suicide attempt so) and gave me the time I needed. And anyway, the grace was amazing. I never would have expected it but it was such a lovely group.

    Anyway I can’t work due to the CPTSD now but the kindness just…it makes me tear up even now in my mid 30s

  239. My Brain is Exploding*

    Just gonna say that I love this topic, as well as the “good news” threads. Thanks, Alison.

    1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

      I’m going to pile on with the thanks to Alison for these same types of posts. I’ve just remembered a great moment (actually weeks-long) of kindness by former bosses and HR during a medical emergency in 2005 that I feel compelled to send belated thanks for. I know I said thank you at the time, and I tried to do my very best work and ended up getting an internal promotion to a different department soon after, but I don’t think it can hurt. I have had lousy and wonderful bosses since then, and this kind of stuff has stayed with me to try to be a better, more understanding colleague and manager, myself.

  240. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    This is not on the same scale as some of the stories above, but I want to share it: I’ve worked in a very specific type of university student advising for fifteen years. Every year, after working with various students on their projects, a significant percentage give me a thank-you card, with a thoughtful, personal written message — even the ones whose projects don’t work out! Some of them aren’t even nineteen yet! I treasure these, and I keep all of them. Any time I hear someone bitching about “these kids today”, I think about those thank-you notes. The future is in good hands.

    1. Elizabeth Bennet*

      The cards that I treasure are framed and hung on the wall. Those have stories to remember and I smile when I see them.

  241. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    It’s one of the main reason I stay in my current job despite the under market pay. Of all the jobs in my career, my current team including boss is the best at prioritizing life.

    And by that I mean I have seen all of us go through things in our personal lives that impact our work and the entire team just pivots to accommodate. I missed almost a month last year for a FMLA and the team very quietly divvied up my work and when I came back gave me time to let them know when I was ready to take chunks back. This year someone else has had FMLA and the same thing. We have each others backs all the time.

  242. Deep Anon*

    I was up for tenure.
    For years, my colleagues had put it on record that I did outstanding work.
    Then, all of a sudden, they had grave concerns about my work and didn’t think I was suited for tenure. Right after I started hormone therapy for gender transition.

    One of them compiled a 25-page document about how terrible I was. (Except the “data” didn’t actually indicate that; it was just a rant.) Since it was peer feedback pertaining to my request for tenure, I had to print it out and include it with my own application materials.

    All I had was an unreliable inkjet printer in my own office.

    A colleague in a much wealthier department printed it on their extremely fancy printer for me so I didn’t have to suffer through all the inevitable malfunctions to print a hatchet job against myself.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      That was nice of the one colleague, but damn, your other colleagues are making me SUPER ANGRY. I hope like hell that you got tenure anyway, and that they had to shut up and deal with it.

    2. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

      That’s horrible of all your other colleagues and I’m so sorry you went through that! I hope you got tenure. I hope your transition has gone swimmingly. I hope you have a supportive queer community outside work. I hope all those dolts get their heads out of their posteriors.

  243. Suzie the Doozie*

    When I was in grad school, I worked as a temp at the corporate offices of a bank. I was living paycheck to paycheck and it was a struggle to manage school and work, but the bank staff were so kind to me.

    Well at this time, paychecks would get mailed to you directly instead of having direct deposit. My mailbox was in a spot where cars could park in front of it and if this happened, the postal employee was NOT obligated to put our mail in the post box. so, depending on where people decided to park, my paycheck could be held up for several days. The post office would simply not budge on this; they would not allow their employees to get out of the car and put mail in the mailbox.

    So one of my paychecks was delayed for a week and I was starting to get desperate. I called the temp agency and they refused to cut me a new check for at least two weeks. in fact, they were kind of snotty about it. (This check would have been like $500 – I don’t think it would’ve broken them.)

    The lead administrative assistant for the department at the bank, saw me crying and asked me about it. She was such a kind and well mannered lady, but she got furious. She called the banks accounts payable team and told him the situation, and asked them to take some action. So the banks accounts payable called the temp agency and said “we are freezing our payments to you until you make this right.” (The bank probably owed $10-$20,000 per week for temp health at that time.)

    Not five minutes later, I got a call from the temp agency, who was across the street from our bank, and they said, “could you please come over? We’ve got you a new check!”

    Lesson: ALWAYS be good to the Admin. She runs it all!

    1. CzechMate*

      Rules for life: always be especially kind to the admins, the accountants/finance folks, and the security guards. Their jobs are hard and they can do so much to help you out.

  244. Heffalump*

    When I was 6, my father, a Ph.D. research chemist, divorced my mentally ill mother after 17 years of marriage. He remarried within a few years. When I was old enough to understand, my stepmother told me that his employer had told him to take off as much time as he felt he needed, with pay. He took 6 weeks.

  245. Jonathan MacKay*

    Over a decade ago, I worked in a restaurant as a host, and had found my hours being significantly reduced. The servers I most frequently worked with were all gathered around a table, signing a card for something. I asked about it, and was told that it was a card for a mutual friend of theirs, someone I ‘wouldn’t know’. It wasn’t. They pooled their tips and gave it to me, as they had noticed the owner unreasonably cutting my hours. For that matter, I confronted him on a Saturday, and was given the brush off that business was down, so they couldn’t schedule me for my full hours. (At the time, the restaurant was my second job, and they were not handling the availability conflict well – the other job, a grocery store was far more accommodating.) I asked him point blank, why, if that was the case, was there someone new being trained in my exact role? I don’t even recall the rest of the conversation, but I did get my Record of Employment in the mail the following Monday, which would only have been the case if I had been fired before I even came in on the Saturday.

    The grocery store, on the other hand, when I gave my notice due to accepting a job nearly 900 KMs away in Northern Ontario, surprised me with a farewell cake and a gift card. The reasoning behind that aside from being reasonably well liked by management and my coworkers, the circumstances were unique enough that they felt it right to give me a send off on my last day.

    1. Heffalump*

      You might relate to (I don’t know if I should say “enjoy”) Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica, who was a restaurant host in the New York City area. The owner was a piece of work, and there are many AAM-worthy stories.

  246. Anna*

    Not my workplace, but my (then) spouse’s.

    He passed away unexpectedly and very suddenly at a young age. We were living on the opposite side of the country as both of our families due to his job, a move that was only possible due to the company’s (a large well known one) paid relocation. They reached out immediately asking how they could help. They let me stay on his health insurance for another six months on their dime, and most amazingly, paid all of the moving bills for me to relocate back to our original coast. I still can’t be thankful enough for what they did for me during that awful time and I loyally and faithfully still patronize them at every opportunity.

  247. JTP*

    I was pregnant with our second child, and still very new at my job (it was a temp position, so no benefits) when I had a rather traumatic second-trimester loss (water broke before viability) on a Saturday. As I said, I had no benefits, no paid time off. And I was coming off an extended period of unemployment (I was one month shy of qualifying for FMLA and was let go when I had my first child).

    So, I took the Monday off and went back in on a Tuesday. I was a hot mess. Only one person even knew I was pregnant, since the staffing agency told me not to tell the business I was placed at that I was pregnant.

    Well, she went to one of the managers, discreetly told them the situation, and got me approval to work at home for at least the next two weeks. The manager told me she would have given me time off, but I sort of wanted to work (to keep my mind off of it) and also couldn’t afford it, which she couldn’t have done anything about.

    I’ve since moved on from that job, but still keep in touch with that coworker.

  248. Mango Freak*

    My first year out of college, I chose a career-related job in another city instead of doing, for the second time, a 6-month work visa in London, on a program that only university students or recent grads were eligible for. I’d taken a year off college and done it once already, and fallen in love with London so I’d always hoped to find a way back, but I also wanted to get started on career stuff.

    I’d been in the new role/city a few months when I got a random email from a London-based mailing list. Just some monthly event I’d gone to back in the day, but it made me realize my eligibility window was now officially closed. I ran into a lovely coworker in the hall and told her I was feeling a bit down–that I was happy with the choice I’d made, but it still made me a little sad that now I didn’t know when or if I’d be in London again for any real length of time.

    The next day she called me into her office and handed me a bag. She’d gone to the nearby imports emporium and gotten me real crumpets, jam, clotted cream(!), and fancy tea. It was such a thoughtful gift when I was far from my hometown AND was processing one of my first real adult choices. Just her listening the day before had meant a lot, but the unexpected gift was magical.

  249. SereneScientist*

    This is probably a small thing in the grand scheme, but one way I knew my current org and department was right for me: in my first round through annual performance reviews after starting at my current org, my dept/program manager asked me what pronouns I’d like to be referred to in the official review documentation–I’d been using both they/them and she/her even before starting this role and had never been asked that question! It was a really nice feeling that someone in a position of (some) power cared enough to ask.

  250. Khai of the Fortress of the Winds*

    I managed a college bookstore for a corporation that had hundreds of similar stores around the country. I had family ties to the college and was on great terms with faculty and staff. The company owning the bookstore called me late one Friday afternoon to inform me that they were eliminating my entire staff as a cost saving measure. I immediately gave my two week notice and had to leave messages with my campus contact to let him know what was going on. First thing Monday morning the president of the college dropped in to make sure I was OK. A little later my campus contact came in, took one look at me and said “you look like you need a hug. Can I give you a hug?” Ten years later it still makes me feel good!

  251. Pīwakawaka*

    A few years ago I was dealing with an incredibly stressful health situation that included severe dysmenorrhoea. I was going through sanitary pads at a rate of a pack a day, I couldn’t use alternative methods because they filled or overflowed sometimes almost immediately (this problem is since thankfully resolved!!)
    My manager at the time was aware of my difficulties, because I had to have her on my side for medical accommodations and leave etc. One day, I was sorrowfully lamenting the incredible amount of money I was spending on packs of pads. The next day she showed up with a giant tote bag full of cardboard boxes – she’d gone to a women’s shelter she volunteered at and asked if they could help me. I actually cried, there were over 70 packs total and the relief off my minimum wage bank account was substantial.
    The problem was resolved before I ran out of those packs, and I celebrated by going to everyone in the office I knew would appreciate it and showering them with free packs of pads. There were a lot of happy women in the office that day!! Now that I can afford it, I drop sanitary products in the Women’s Shelter donation bin at my local supermarket in her honour.

  252. Elizabeth Bennet*

    When my mother-in-law passed away in 2022, the whole department signed a card (some 20+ people) expressing their condolences and it was mailed to me. I had not expected it in the least, and it was such a nice touch that was very comforting in a very sad time.

  253. Skye*

    So this story will out me to some colleagues who read AAM, and typing it out is going to make me sob, but oh well. I was a 27 year old working my first professional job in my field after grad school and decide I am finally in a place financially to fulfill my lifelong dream of getting a dog. I find a puppy I want to bring home, I make arrangements with my boss to go home on my lunch break every day to take care of her, and life is grand for a few months….until I’m told “oh, you need to start working on main campus two days a week.” Main campus was distinctly harder to leave during the day than my prior workspace on the edge of campus, I couldn’t afford to pay for a main campus parking pass AND keep the dog, using my edge of campus parking pass would mean it would take 2 hours in the middle of the day every day to go home and take my dog out, and for reasons related to my roommate I was not able to hire someone to drop in on puppy. I was absolutely crushed, I thought I was going to have to find her a new home, and I was already very emotionally dependent on this puppy. She was my life.

    A coworker that I knew (but not well) volunteered her retired husband to watch my puppy on those two days a week when I couldn’t go home to take her out. Until she was old enough to hold her bladder for 8 hours in a row, she went to their house in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays and ran around and played with him until I picked her up after work. Years later, my husband and I coincidentally bought a house in their neighborhood and she still remembered him whenever we ran into him on our walks. Coworker and her husband never did let me pay them in any way for this, not even when I tried things like giving them food or gift cards. I will never forget that they let me have my dream dog. She passed away last year very unexpectedly and traumatically at age 5, and I’m so glad I got to have her for those 5 years thanks to their kindness.

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      Oh this one gave me all the feels. What absolutely incredible people.

      I am so sorry that you did not get more years with your puppers.

      1. Skye*

        Thank you; it’s still so hard that she’s not here. She’s the best girl (besides our new puppy, who is also the best girl, but in VERY different ways).

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          They are all the VERY BEST DOG, aren’t they? We are on our third lab in the 23 years we have been married. One we raised from a pup, one was a senior we adopted, and one we secured from a rescue when she was about 3. Every single one has been the VERY BEST DOG in her own way (and sometimes the DUMBEST DOG IN THE WORLD in her own way!).

    2. Elizabeth Bennet*

      I bet this is her coworker’s story to all her friends:

      You won’t believe this gig my husband got. Y’know how much he loves dogs but I won’t let him get a pet? He takes care of this puppy twice a week at our house. He absolutely adores the dog and cannot play with her enough. At the end of the day, he is so exhausted he goes to bed early, so I get to watch my stories on TV in peace for the evening. It’s such a win-win-win – my coworker gets free puppy care, my husband gets to play with a dog and I get free evenings to watch TV.

  254. Death Cab?*

    I’m very, very certain that I’ll never have a boss as good as the first one I had at my career-starting job (I’d had other jobs, but not in my field). She was about five years from retiring when I started as an intern from a school placement program. I was by far the best-paid of my cohort – I was making six times what some of my classmates were.

    When my internship ended after 3 months, she let me have several weeks off to write my thesis, and then hired me full-time as a freelancer until she could get HR to build a position for me. This took a little more than a year, during which time I was paid a competitive rate, I had a desk, an email address, I attended retreats…basically, I was an employee in all but name (and benefits, unfortunately). By the time she retired, she had also pushed through a promotion for me, about two years into my time officially in the job.

    But the thing that I will remember forever was the day I was hit by a car on my way to work. I was unhurt but shaken – the car hit me as I was (legally!) crossing a street to catch a bus, and drove off before I could think to get their license plate. Unsure of what to do and obviously not thinking straight, I got on the bus and went to work.

    By the time I was seated at my desk, I realized I was starting to get sore, had the shakes pretty bad, and was wet all down the side of my body from the rain on the pavement. My boss hadn’t yet arrived, so I emailed her to let her know what had happened and that I had a couple of emails to finish up and then I would really like to go home.

    She responded almost immediately (the only strike against her was that she had no work-life balance) telling me that she would take me home if I hadn’t left by the time she arrived, or that I could get a taxi and expense it to the company. In the end, while I was on hold with the taxi company, my brother called about something unrelated and I was able to get him to come pick me up, take me home to change, and then take me to a doctor for a check-up.

    The other major kindness that this boss gave me was the experience, very early in my career, of what a good boss is like: what they can and should do for you, how they should treat you, and what you deserve. I’ve carried that knowledge with me ever since.

  255. Coelura*

    Ten years ago my 7 year old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia. He lived with me and would sometimes come into my WFH office and meet some of my coworkers virtually, so several of my coworkers knew him. My family was living at the hospital for a week, then we were sequestered at home for a month while he went thru the harshest round of chemo. My immediate team got together and figured out how to order two weeks of meals for everyone and had them delivered, all packaged up to go directly into the freezer. They did this twice so the whole month was covered. All of the C-suite executives had unique Pokemon card and Lego sets delivered to him in the hospital. Very few of my coworkers lived in the same city as me, but everyone came together to do their best in providing support and care during this very difficult time of our lives. Today, my grandson is considered cured & I still get occasional enquiries about him even though I no longer work for that fortune 100 company. I have always been deeply grateful for their care and concern.

  256. Too many birds*

    I was a fairly lowly employee at a large university. When I was 6 months pregnant and it was the middle of summer, I had to move buildings, as I’d switched from being a lecturer in one department to a lecturer in another. I asked a member of the maintenance staff in my current building if I could borrow a dolly to move my books.

    He proceeded to get another member of staff, and the two of them moved my entire office for me. It was so incredibly kind.

    1. Too many birds*

      p.s. I was having sciatica, too. They had no way of knowing how much discomfort I was in, but it made an enormous difference to me!!

  257. Library Frog*

    I haven’t had a car for over a year (there’s a whole backstory about why which I won’t get into here), but my coworkers have been giving me rides to and from work. They offered and have done it without complaint, and refuse to take gas money when I offer, and I just really appreciate it because our city doesn’t have good public transit and I can’t afford to uber every day.

    Also, a couple of weeks ago my cat had to go to the emergency vet. I couldn’t afford the bill but a coworker used her credit card to pay it for me, and said I could pay her back. Then she started a gofundme to raise the funds so I wouldn’t have to pay it back (or most of it, at least). This is the nicest place I’ve worked at and my coworkers and boss are all so sweet.

  258. Alter_ego*

    I love to bake, and I do so all the time for my coworkers. At my retail job in college, I would bring stuff in to share probably 1-2 times a week for a couple of years. Towards the end of my time there (I would be graduating and starting a full time job in my industry) I mentioned to a coworker and friend that I planned to take my first paycheck from my post graduation job and go to the King Arthur flour store in Vermont, and just go HAM.

    A month or two later, I get called into the office by the store manager, who gives me a card. Apparently, that coworker had gone to everyone we work with and said basically “hey, we want to get alter_ego a gift card as a thanks for all the baking. Literally no pressure, but if you want to contribute something, just Venmo me”. He expected to collect around $100. He ended up receiving around $750, which they put on a King Arthur flour gift card for my trip to the store.

    I cried. It’s the nicest and most seen I’ve ever felt

  259. Former Retail Lifer*

    Many years ago, I was a manager at a shoe store. My hourly rate was extremely low, but I made great money on commission. However, without that commission, my bills would not get paid. I had a sudden death in the family and had to go out of town abruptly, leaving behind a peak Friday/Saturday/Sunday shift (those were the money-making days). I got three paid days of bereavement, but at my hourly rate. I had mentioned to a co-worker that these three days without commission were going to kill my finances. He told our manager, who took up a collection from the employees. No one was in much of a position to donate, but I got between $1 and $10 from enough people that is basically covered my expected commission.

  260. Let's Go Fly A Desk*

    I had a grandboss who literally created a position just for me. I had been working as a limited commission police officer when I was injured during a fight with a suspect. The injury was bad enough to result in my medical termination. I had just recently married and was finishing my bachelor’s degree and was faced with the prospect of being out of work while trying to recover from my injury.

    I worked for a large department who could use their funds independent of the rest of the organization. My direct supervisor’s boss pulled funding to create a temp/seasonal job for me as his assistant so I could still earn an income while I searched for something full time. I worked for him for three months and he gave me a glowing recommendation when I landed an interview for a full time position in a different department. I got the job and have been here for the last six years. I will forever be grateful to him.

  261. GoldenHandcuffs*

    When my oldest child was born weeks early in an emergent situation, I was at work one day, left for an afternoon appointment and didn’t come back. My manager not only picked up all my work but also arranged for all the gifts from my work baby shower (that I missed) to make it to me. I never felt like I had to think about work during my leave. She also was very gracious when I came back as a new mom and was trying to balance everything. My experience at the same company with my second child’s birth was vastly different in how I was supported and it really made me realize how supportive and wonderful she was.

  262. metadata minion*

    I once had to be in the hospital under observation (My heart might have been doing a Thing. After a very boring and confusing five days, it was officially Not Doing the Thing.), which was kind of scary, but mostly just mind-numbingly boring since I had to sit there hooked up to the EKG monitor and not do anything. My lovely librarian colleagues came and visited and brought a bag of books for me with little recommendation notes from everyone. It was deeply appreciated as well as being basically the most librarian thing ever.

  263. Lady Kelvin*

    TW: (Young) Child loss

    My co-worker and mentor lost his 2-year old suddenly. He ran a high fever, they went to the ER and he passed before morning. Very tragic and sudden and the whole office had no idea how to react. Our supervisor did a bunch of research, sent out trainings and information on how to talk to colleagues who experienced child loss, and put together a meal train/support system to help him and his (6 month pregnant) wife. He told me a few years later that he didn’t realize the community he had at work until that happened, and couldn’t believe people had been so kind and supportive.

  264. Lorikeet*

    In 2018, so well before Covid and routine WFH, my overseas born colleague’s parent was quite ill and needed care. My bosses organised a work laptop, made sure all the access for all necessary software was enabled, and let my colleague WFH in her home town for 2-3 months, a city which is an 8 hour plane trip and a few time zones away so they could care for their parent.

    Mind you, this is also a workplace where said boss has been known to chivvy people out of the office at 4pm on sunny Friday afternoons to get started on the weekend. Having previously worked in seriously toxic offices before, I bless the series of events that landed me here and the people I am fortunate to work with.

  265. Office Drone*

    The husband of a friend of mine worked in a small specialized support department of a large academic institution. Think along the lines of IT at a university. He found out that the staff of his department was facing layoffs.

    Jake and my friend had already planned for him to retire within the next couple of years. He also knew that there was a junior staffer who very much needed to keep his job. When Jake found out his colleague was on the layoff list, he went to his boss and volunteered to retire early to allow the junior staffer to keep his job. The boss allowed it.

  266. FUR MOMMA*

    When I had to make the painful decision to put my 16 year old dog down, my entire team blew me away with kindness. My boss told me to take the whole week off and that they would cover everything on my end. The office even sent flowers and dinner to our home. While I didn’t take the whole week off, knowing that I could was very meaningful to me. My entire team stepped up to make sure that I didn’t have to worry about anything. They couldn’t have been more supportive.

  267. nora*

    I work for a government agency with about 250 staff. There are, I think, three Jewish staff other than myself, one of whom happens to be the highest ranked person at the agency (something like 5-7 levels above me). I am very openly Jewish and Israeli. My father passed away on Rosh Hashanah last year, three weeks before the war started. When I came back to work, I got a message from the biggest boss, saying he would recite kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) for my dad. After the war started he personally checked in on me a few times. I’m crying now just thinking about it.

    1. Too Many Birds*

      I’m so sorry. What an awful moment to lose your dad. May his memory be a blessing.

      (My dad died 6 days into Covid lockdown. We weren’t able to have a funeral or shiva or anything. It’s really hard when a major loss is compounded by global circumstances outside your control.)

  268. Hawk*

    A few years ago (pre-shutdowns), one of my coworkers became unable to work due to cancer. It was really, really rough. She was an immigrant from Asia, had no family, and her closest friends were a state away (hours). My coworkers stepped in, taking her to appointments, feeding her, and generally caring for her. It was amazing. I never expect that of coworkers (work/life balance), but she had nobody but her work community. She was able to return for a while after her treatment. Unfortunately she died a few years later.

    When I was going through the Low FODMAP process and entered a new phase of life without some foods, I was working in the same workplace. My coworkers made sure that at my goodbye party when I was transferred that I had something to eat (which didn’t happen at my other goodbye party at my other position). I left this particular workplace, but returned, and honestly it was my coworkers’ kindness that influenced it.

  269. Rural Library Director*

    As I was starting my current job, I signed my contract that allows for PTO to be accumulated over my first six months, but I couldn’t use any of it until my six month probation period had passed. In my third month in that office, my infant son needed some specialized outpatient surgery, so I arranged for my wife to take him to the appointment. I signed the contract, agreed with it, and had no strong objections.

    My assistant narked on me to the governing board, and they said, “You need to be with your son. I move that all language in his contract prohibiting the use of PTO be voided. All in favor?”


  270. It's Fine*

    When my childhood kitty died a coworker who makes all kinds of fun crafts gave me a little handmade kitty plush (it looks a lot like Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service!). I still carry it in my work bag to put at my floating desk even though she’s in a different department now. It makes me feel so nice to look at <3

  271. BeckyinDuluth*

    In the winter of 2021 my brother-in-law passed suddenly, and I moved about 5 1/2 hours away to live with and support my sister. Then, in March of that year I came home because my father-in-law was dying. I got COVID and was isolated while my immediate family was quarantined and my father-in-law passed during that time. Not only did my manager and department support me being so far away (our department doesn’t have a history of being especially supportive of that), I received a generous food delivery gift card from my department. In the midst of this really difficult time, that kindness meant a lot.

  272. Babka & Momo's person*

    I graduated college right before the ’07/08 financial crisis. I had no practical experience/internships and didn’t find an office job; I fell into service work in restaurants/cafes and stayed there for years, burning out. No temp agency would take me, because the financial collapse flooded temp positions with overqualified people. Then, I’d been working in the service industry for years, and no temp agency would take me because of that.

    I was a professional mess at that point, burned out from service work and stressed to high heaven. Interviews made my anxiety go to Level 10. I had no idea what my skills and weaknesses were. I didn’t know how to dress for interviews, write a resume, or write a cover letter. I was absolutely broke and couldn’t afford resume or cover letter help. I had absolutely no common-sense instincts (it would be years before I found this blog) and all these things combined made my self-esteem rock-bottom when looking for jobs.

    I randomly lucked into a temp job at a cool college, working in the ID card office, making IDs. I stayed at the temp job for a few months, then got what I thought was my dream job: a full-time project-management position, union with benefits, working for several deans across the college. I was through the roof with joy. I just had to go through a three-month trial phase and then I was in for good.

    In retrospect, there were red flags everywhere. I had five bosses, and they all had different ideas of what my duties were, and which were most important. (Spoiler: the work that boss wanted done was always most important.) One of my bosses would hide in her office from people she didn’t like and pretend not to be there when they visited. Nobody knew anything about the office (it was my job to know, but the previous person hadn’t left notes.) I had absolutely no idea how to act in an office and did my best, but I’m sure I was talking too much and vibrating with intensity like a golden retriever in a room full of snacks. I wanted so hard to succeed there.

    I had a great review halfway through my probationary period by my “ultimate boss”, but was let go a week later while Cowardly Boss hid in her office. Security walked me out of the building, and my bosses never gave me an explanation. The only thing I can think of is that my intensity for the job, and lack of experience, translated into a personality clash between me and one (or more) of my bosses. It remains a mystery to this day.

    I was absolutely crushed. Six years of struggling, and my one opportunity had failed.

    Then, one day a few months later, my old boss from the temp job contacted me and told me a job was opening up in his office, and that he would send me the description. I read it and called him back and told him I didn’t have the qualifications (Excel, etc). He persuaded me (!) to come in and interview anyway. I went to the interview, feeling like I was walking the plank, rehearsing a stump speech about why I could succeed despite all odds. He opened the interview by saying “So here’s the pitch for why you should work here” and gave me a very straightforward rundown of the perks and drawbacks for my career of taking the job. I was stunned. There were no normal interview questions. I accepted on the spot.

    He had to fight a lot of red tape to be able to hire me, because the office that fired me was in the same building. They finally allowed it, but made him promise that I “wouldn’t cause any incidents”. (Honestly, I have no idea how weird I came across. I have not had this issue in any jobs since.)

    For the first few weeks, I was desperately anxious. It seemed too good to be true. My mind would go blank when asked to do anything, and I spiraled about how I was going to be fired again. Then I started leveling out, and a month in I felt much more confident. One day he turned to me and said, “You know, when you started, you were on another planet, but you’re doing much better now. Just don’t go belly-up on me.” The fact that he spoke his mind was a relief.

    I spent four wonderful years there. He turned out to be a chill (and very blunt) boss, and my shoulders slowly came down from around my ears. Years of terrible service-industry bosses had warped my mind, and I became accustomed to sanity in the workplace. I went on from there to a project-management job, and then to a software engineer job, and now do technical project management for almost 3x what my original salary was.

    He and I haven’t worked together in almost 10 years, and he’s retired now, but we still catch up over text from time to time. He changed my life.

  273. Maggie*

    My first day back after maternity leave, I was so sad and felt so weird and adrift. I hadn’t talked to anyone but my immediate supervisor about my return and didn’t expect anything but when I got to my desk, my colleagues had got me flowers and a bunch of my favorite snacks and some tchotchkes for me. I was so moved and felt so instantly relaxed and comfortable. I never would have thought of it before but now I’m always sure to be celebrating a parent returning from leave as much as when starting leave because in many ways that’s the harder change.

  274. Buttercup*

    I have panic attacks that look outwardly like hysterical crying, and I used to work at a place that was really good at triggering them. A particular coworker had been witness to a couple, so I explained to her what was happening and why, and how embarrassing I find having this happen in a professional environment. From that point on, any time it happened and she was around, she would get physically in between me and others until I could get away to deal with it in private, or would find an excuse to extract me from whatever I was doing and walk with me until I calmed down. Having her as a coworker made working there much more bearable until nearly our whole department got laid off due to COVID. We both have much better jobs now, in much more supportive environments.

  275. Peche*

    I was estranged from my mother and when she died my awkward coworkers didn’t say or do anything, but one person brought me flowers, a card, and chocolate. She understood I was still grieving no matter what the situation. And she didn’t “but she’s still your mother” me either. It still means a lot to me.

  276. And thanks for the coffee*

    My daughter died in 1995 due to an auto accident. My boss and another coworker came over to clean my house. I’ll never forget it.
    Then the people in my department took charge of the post funeral food for visitors to our home.
    It was such a gift to be able to not worry about these things.

  277. Quoth the Raven*

    My previous job was awful in many ways, but a bright spot that made me actually almost sad to go was my team lead (who by the time I left was my manager). Every payday she bought me and the other couple of office staff lunch from a local Chinese place, and when I left she bought me a very nice seat cushion that still must have cost her a pretty penny despite the employee discount (it was a mattress warehouse, but the company sells all kinds of tangentially related stuff). I actually asked if she would be interested in coming with me to my new company but she wanted to stick it out since she has been there for years and years. She still texts me sometimes on holidays to wish me well! I miss her a lot and hope things have improved there, because she deserves way better.

  278. SparklePlenty*

    Many years ago I worked at a stellar nursing home. I took off three months of FMLA to care for my mother full time while she was on hospice. In addition to check-ins from my coworkers, my 102 year old friend called to wish us well and to tell me that she missed me and that I was such a good daughter. I’ll never forget her kindness and concern.


    I tested positive for COVID in the office in the middle of the day, 5 days before Christmas and 1 day before I was supposed to take a flight home to see my family for the first time in a year. I burst into tears in front of all my coworkers (very unlike me) while hastily putting on a mask and packing up my stuff. A few hours later, a vat of matzoh ball soup was delivered to my apartment. My coworkers told my boss about how upset I was, and he sent me his favorite deli’s ‘penicillin.’

    P.S. I tested negative on Christmas Eve and made it home in time for the celebrations!

  280. So grateful*

    My older child was diagnosed with cancer (treatable, doing well) less than a year after my second child was born. I didn’t realize that FMLA renewed on a rolling basis instead of at the start of the year like vacation and was pretty devastated when I thought i’d have to come immediately back to work since at the time, my spouse did not qualify for FMLA. My boss and grandboss called me a couple days later and were adamant that I take as much personal time as I needed, my job was safe, and hired outside consultants immediately to help my team. Although that time was unpaid, there was no interruption to benefits which was crucial since my kids were on my policy. My team also sent my family $1000 in gift cards out of their own pockets for meal delivery services/equivalent to alleviate some of the stress. I’m so incredibly grateful to work for such kind people. For reference I work for a F500 with thousands of employees – i think it’s not often that people can say they experienced such generosity.

  281. Still Sad*

    Last year, when I was six months pregnant, my baby died very suddenly and without any indications that anything was wrong. It was the single worst thing that my husband and I have been through. Both of our workplaces were incredibly kind and supportive which was so amazing during a time when we were so bewildered, sad, and adrift. My husband was only supposed to have a week of bereavement but they gave him two without him even asking and let him take days off here and there without fuss when he needed. I had a doctor’s note to support more time off for me and reduced workload when I returned but my boss proactively told me that if I needed more time or wanted to continue on reduced workload that there were options. It made such a difference for us and allowed us to work through our grief. (We are also in Canada where we have parental leave and benefits generally. Our hospital stay, for example, cost us zero dollars. It crushes me to hear about what Americans have to suffer with).

  282. Throwawaysuess*

    I got a call at work saying my friend’s husband had died suddenly, and asking if I could handle all the media enquiries (there was a lot of media interest in how it happened). I’d been in my job less than six months, and this happened two weeks before our biggest event of the year that I was organising.

    I told my manager what happened and he said “there are three things I need you to do: look after yourself, look after your friend, and if there’s time, do some work. Keep me updated.”

    For the next two days I spent most of my time in the office on the phone to Police, the family and media outlets, and doing just enough work to ensure that the event wouldn’t fall over. At the end of the second day, I told him that I would put in for PTO because I hadn’t exactly been working.

    I’ll never forget his response: “Well, I’ve seen you in the office these last two days, at your computer, so there’s no need to take PTO.”

    Three years later I’m still there, and when things get a bit hairy I remember his kindness in those terrible few weeks. I’m a much better manager as a result of learning from him.

  283. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant. For Halloween our office did reverse trick or treating — if you were participating you put a bucket on your desk and would go around and put candy in other people’s buckets. I did not participate but a lot of people put candy on my desk anyways. I didn’t want to be tempted with something I couldn’t eat so I gave the candy to a coworker who had a communal candy bowl. She asked why and I explained my circumstances. A few minutes later she puts some string cheese on my desk. She wanted me to be able to participate so she went to the canteen and bought me something I could eat. It was a small gesture but meant the world to a hormonal pregnant woman.

  284. Bike Bill*

    In my early 20s I didn’t have a license and biked to get around, including to work. One night when riding home I crashed my bike and it ended up needed to be taken to a repair shop to get fixed. The amount to repair it was a significant amount of money for me at the time, and I was worried about being able to pay the bill.

    While my bike was getting fixed, I walked to work or got rides from coworkers. One of them asked me where my bike was getting fixed up and I told them, thinking nothing of the conversation.

    When I went to pick up my bike and pay the bill I was informed that the bill had already been taken care of and that I could just take my bike home. I found out that the repair bill had been taken care of by a VP at my employer- not a guy that I was super close to but that had heard about my transportation troubles through the grapevine.

    It was such a a kind act, and one that I will always remember.

  285. M*

    This might sound like a small thing but it was pretty important to me. A coworker passed way unexpectedly, she was young (late 20’s) and over the course of our 10 years working together, we became close friends. We hung out outside of work, went places together, we went on double dates with our husbands. She’s someone I love and consider a wonderful friend.

    Obviously her passing was very hard on me at work, especially since everyone else knew her (small work place of about 26 people) and was experiencing grief just as much as I was. I kept my head down for awhile it was all too hard to listen to people talk about her, missing her… etc. It was just a lot all of the time, especially since I had to handle things with her position and yeah.

    About a week after she passed, I came into work and there was banana bread sitting on my desk with no note. I was a bit confused and put out an email asking who gave it to me. No one came forward, so with another coworker, we went on a bit of a hunt for the banana bread giver. Everyone kind of joined in, it was a bit of a joke, I was calling it my emotional support banana bread after awhile (and yes I ate it!).

    After a week of no one fessing up, we realized who it was and when confronted she admitted it. She was going to tell me it was her but when she saw me running around, laughing and having fun, she said she how happy she was to see me happy. So I guess it’s two folds, giving me the banana bread to begin with out of kindness of her heart and then giving me something smile and laugh about when I needed it the most.

  286. 2024*

    I can add to this one, my first time! Last Feb my beloved Fit was destroyed by a Jeep Cherokee. I was without a car for two months; a coworker generously took me back and forth to work every day for the whole two months. Bless her! I didn’t ask, she just offered. It was pretty much on her way anyway but that was still a big commitment, twice a day. Because of her, I kept my job.

  287. Midwest Manager*

    Over the past several years, I had been working f/t and taking college courses toward finishing my bachelor’s degree. It got to crunch time around Thanksgiving, with my last term ending just before Christmas. After several consecutive days of me sitting in my office sobbing due to stress, I finally approached my boss and requested an unpaid leave for the month of December to complete my coursework in time. He sat down with HR on my behalf and came up with a way for me to take PAID leave to accomplish my goal.

    Not only did I successfully complete my coursework, my coworkers surprised me with a celebratory gift basket and card signed by the whole team when I got home from the commencement ceremony. It was incredibly special and kind.

  288. VenaeInTheLife*

    My uncle died unexpectedly in 2022 – he had been around my entire life and basically became the second parent after my parents divorced. I took a day off to grieve with my family, but the uncle in question lived states away. One of my coworkers left a card and $600 cash on my desk when I returned, to cover the cost of the plane tickets to his funeral, which I hadn’t mentioned anything about but was secretly stressed out about.
    I was able to celebrate my uncle’s life with my extended family without going into debt (plus my workplace gave me bereavement leave for the funeral, which is technically against policy since he isn’t considered “immediate” familt).

  289. Swedish Fish Tuesday*

    I was working in a cross-functional role at a tech company, where everything needed to happen yesterday even though no one could give us the information we needed to advise. I was approaching burn out, which my manager recognized but I didn’t. In a 1:1, she insisted I take that Friday off but I didn’t want to waste PTO. When I called her in tears Thursday night about whatever the latest drama was, she told me she’d already entered me for a sick day the following day and she’d cut off my access if I logged on before Monday. I didn’t log in, and now I take mental health days when I need them.

  290. chellie*

    I have had a LOT of medical stuff over the past 2 years. 5 surgeries, radiation, many, many, medical appointments, to the tune of nearly $300K in medical bills. I have excellent benefits, including sick time (and no problems getting my bills paid), but for the last surgery I was going to have to use TDI, which was going to be a major logistical nightmare as well as a financial mess. My workplace gave me 2 weeks off, forestalling the aggravation, the financial burden, and allowing me to be able to take a vacation once I was healed.

  291. Tammy 2*

    I worked in an academic library and had a member of the public (not someone associated with the university) coming in regularly and making inappropriate comments, following me into the stacks, etc. Library administration could have trespassed him, but didn’t want to make the library seem “unwelcoming,” (actual quote: “Do you really want to be known as someone who would make a fuss over something like this?”) but my coworkers watched for him for me so that I could stay in my office, walked me to my car, swapped shifts/desks and generally did whatever was in the power to help me feel and stay safe. (He eventually followed me out of the building on a night when no one was able to walk with me, but a student stepped in when I loudly confronted him, which was also very kind.)

    1. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

      I am so glad that your coworkers had your back, and so sorry that administration didn’t.

  292. Mazey's Mom*

    I’ve got 2 stories.

    Way back when, my office was a glorified closet that barely fit me, a desk, a filing cabinet, and many stacks of folders everywhere that couldn’t fit in the filing cabinet. The only extra space I could get was to put in an extra filing cabinet into another room being used by someone else to store medical records. I went on a much-needed vacation and came back to the news that I have a new office – big enough for me, my desk, built in bookshelf, space for a temp, and 3 lateral filing cabinets – all thanks to my friend & colleague! Some of the powers-that-be took a tour of our larger space to determine how best to use an extra room we inherited, and my friend didn’t hesitate to give them a tour of my closet and reminded them that I’m the only person who does what I do in the whole department. While one of the walls in the new space didn’t go up all the way to the ceiling (leading to some very inadvertent and highly entertaining eavesdropping over the years), I was able to convince Maintenance to paint it in a color other than white and I got to pick out the carpet. Heaven.

    Then, a few years later, our small group got a new supervisor. My job didn’t really intersect much with the rest of the group but I was made a part of it because no one knew where to “house” me. The new micromanager knew nothing about my job, expected me to teach it to her in an afternoon, seemed a little put out by the restrictions imposed on what I could and could not share with her, felt threatened by the relationships and connections I had cultivated for years with my colleagues, and didn’t like how I looked at her. Yes, evidently I suffer from BRF: …itchy resting face! Push came to shove and I went to the MD who oversaw the division I primarily worked for, and said that I woke up that morning at 4 am and by 6 am I had revamped my resume and submitted it to 2 open positions elsewhere in our org. Within days I was given an office in another building (with windows and 4 walls that reached the ceiling!) and the MD was assigned as my new supervisor, who told me that (a) I had more clout than I realized and that I should be ringing my own bell more than I did and (b) to let her know if I had any problems, otherwise I was left on my own to do my job. Heaven again. Only left that job because she moved on and no supervisor could top her. Still true to this day.

  293. Anakalia*

    I had just stared a new job as the office assistant in the leasing office of my apartment building when I found out my husband and I were expecting. As the newest employee and the one that was forced upon her, the property manager not inclined to go out of her way to extend any sort of kindness or humanity my way.

    The maintenance and leasing teams observed the PM’s treatment of me and conspired to make a difference any way they could including:
    – Demanding my assistance with filing tasks in the maintenance office and sending me home to nap instead;
    – Taking on all physical duties when the PM was absent;
    – Walking my dog during the day when it became difficult for me;
    – Helped me take over the lease of a larger apartment from a tenant who had to break their lease, keep the lower rent, and avoid the ongoing renovations;
    – Helped us move into said new apartment after shampooing the carpets, repainting and making some minor upgrades all while documenting it was a mess when I got it so I could get my security deposit back;
    – Took care of my pets, cleaned my apartment, filled my refrigerator, and left flowers for us to find when we brought our daughter home; and
    – During my (unpaid) maternity leave, after my husband went back to work, someone would come by every day to take my dog for a long walk at lunchtime, so I didn’t have to juggle walks and a newborn.
    We had no family nearby and their support meant the world to me. I still tear up at the memory, thirteen years later.

  294. Momma Bear*

    Early in my career I did contract work. The head office far away messed up and we lost our main client. Things went bad for us quickly. Not one but two project managers sacrificed themselves (in succession) to give the handful of us left time to find new jobs and still get paid/have healthcare. The second person said, “I know you’re all competent and don’t need an on-site manager. Remote Manager will sign your timesheets. Without me, you have x time at the current rate of burn.”

    It wasn’t long before HR came around to talk to us about possibly transferring to another project before they closed that office. Someone who had managed me a few years prior heard I was getting laid off and reached out to have me fill a role on her current contract. I was able to transfer and keep my seniority and benefits.

    Their collective actions not only helped me at the time but set me on a path toward my current career. I wish we were still in touch so I could thank them.

  295. JustaTech*

    A few years ago I discovered that my (adult, younger) brother was maybe having a serious mental health crisis. At the time he was living with my parents in the next state, and they were gone on vacation.
    I was worried by some of the things he was posting on social media, and when I asked if he needed help he said yes (he never said yes).
    But I had an important training at work that day, so I told him to hang on and I’d be there by dinner. At work I was mildly freaking out, less about him, because if it was serious he’d go to the hospital, but what would I do with my parent’s dog? I couldn’t bring her home, I had a cat! And all that kind of useless spiraling.
    (Oh, and for some reason I had fallen back into “kids” mode and didn’t want to tell my parents because I wanted them to enjoy their vacation.)

    The kindness: first, the coworker who was leading the training heard me and said “oh, you have to go! Let’s do the training right now!” and she moved several of her own meetings to do our (legally mandated) training right that minute so I could leave.

    Second, one of my coworkers made me a note that said “What does your DATA tell you?” to remind me to not speculate too wildly. I recently found that sheet cleaning out my home office and the wave of calm it brought me was astonishing.

    (My brother turned out to not be as bad off as he’d sounded and we got in a screaming fight that ended with me choosing to start a 3+ hour drive in stop-and-go rush hour traffic rather than spend 5 more minutes in his presence. But the dog was fine!)

  296. Lizy*

    This was a while back, but it’s always stuck with me. I’m hard-of-hearing and long story short, I was without hearing aids for a good chunk of time. My direct supervisor offered to buy me new aids. I couldn’t morally take her up on it – I don’t think she realized they ran $2k-plus – but the fact she offered, without pause and without expecting anything in return, has always made me think very highly of her.

  297. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

    When my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, I ended up needing to leave work for close to 6 weeks to help support my mother, who had a host of worsening disabilities that required full-time care. I lived across the country, so I flew to be with my mom and say goodbye to my father, then returned to my home to pack up and get ready to leave my life behind for a few weeks. During the two days I spent in my town, I needed to get my car serviced. When I dropped it off, the staff said, “We’ve been told to take care of anything we find. You’re not paying for it.” Two former bosses had coordinated directly with the dealership to take care of all of it. These same folks then sent me a preloaded VISA card with several hundred dollars on it and told me to use it for whatever would make life a little better during that incredibly awful time. Over the two years after that, I ended up needing to take off about 12 weeks of work for full-time caregiving in addition to regular trips that also cut into work time. I know that it caused a lot of stress at work, but my direct boss and coworkers never said one negative thing about it to me. I would go to war for those people.

  298. Not A Girl Boss*

    My mom has worked at the same company, and with many of the same coworkers, since before I was born. With covid, her job went fully remove and everyone spread far and wide.

    When my stepdad died, her entire team of 15+ people showed up to the funeral, which required that they all spend a weekend day driving 1-5 hours and stand in the freezing rain just to spend 10 seconds giving her a hug in person. It was incredibly meaningful to her.

  299. PleaseNo*

    I had started in a new office of the same org. It was just me and another woman in an office of about 14 people, half military, half civilian. A few months in, (and I don’t recall how this was even brough up) a coworker made a comment to me that I would look better with more makeup. It was me, him, and this other woman in the vicinity. She heard him and went ballistic on him on my behalf, telling him how inappropriate and sexist and awful that comment was. I didn’t have to stand up for myself, which is what usually happens with the harassment, sexual harassment, intimidation, bullying, and sexual assault I’ve had previously.

    I was so surprised and grateful that I had an ally in the office. It meant a lot then, and it still does.

    She and I are still actively friends today though we live across country and she’s retired (I’m a ways from that still).

  300. Love to WFH*

    This story is from before the Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law across the USA.

    A friend had a new job in a cube farm. He didn’t know anyone well yet. The city government decided to start issuing marriage licenses to anyone who asked, and there was a line around the block of couples waiting to get married at the courthouse. You could see the line from their office window.

    He picked up the phone and called a local florist. Speaking softly, because he wasn’t sure if a bigoted coworker was going to get on his case, he ordered some bouquets to be delivered to the couples in line.

    Heads started popping up over the cubicle walls, with people saying “Oh, that’s a great idea!” and more calls were made to deliver flowers to brides and grooms waiting in line.

  301. ceiswyn*

    At the beginning of December 2022, my co-worker discovered that I’d never had a chocolate advent calendar. She promptly donated me hers.

    By the time December 2023 rolled around my co-worker had left the company… and yet I got in on the morning of December 1st to find that a chocolate advent calendar had been left for me at the front desk, with a post-it note saying it was from ‘the Xmas fairy’.

    It was the most delicious cheap trashy chocolate ever :)

  302. Not again*

    I work as a paralegal at a very small law firm. Some years ago, my then teenaged daughter was in residential treatment many states away from home for an eating disorder (she is healthy now, thank goodness). Although she was still very much in the throes of the illness, our insurance company informed us that they would no longer cover treatment because she was weight-restored. An attorney I did not directly work for learned of my daughter’s hospitalization and asked me how she was doing. When I told him she would be discharged that week due to insurance running out, he without hesitation responded that she should stay as long as needed and that he would cover the full cost, no matter the amount, no questions asked, absolutely no need to even consider repaying him. He called me a couple of hours later to make sure that I knew he really meant it. I didn’t take him up on the offer, but I think it is truly the nicest thing anyone has ever offered to do or has done for me. Knowing someone like that existed helped me through a really tough time.

  303. antiHERstamine*

    I had an uncle pass away while I was in the interview process for a job that I ended up getting. It would be a few months until we could have his memorial (mainly for weather-related reasons; he had wished for a specific outdoor venue).

    This job gave bereavement leave, but it was only for last-minute absences immediately after a death, and a delayed memorial didn’t count, even when I sent HR the link to his obituary. The memorial was across the country and my then-new boss told me to just go for the long weekend and we wouldn’t tell HR. I didn’t love everything this boss did, but I appreciated her compassion during a stressful time!

  304. Lurkers R Us*

    On the day when seniors came to school to pick up their graduation regalia, my daughter’s English teacher waited for each of his students in the cafeteria (where pick-ups were) and handed them letters that he’d written to each of them and wished them luck with wherever life took them next.

    My daughter had some terrifically kind teachers in high school but this really stood out to me (and to her).

  305. Marshmallows*

    One time when I was home sick for a few days, one of my colleagues put inspirational kitty pictures all over my cubicle. It was adorable!

  306. Dot*

    I had only been in my new job for a few months, and because I was on a short term contract, I didn’t have paid leave yet. There was a lot of work to do, and I often ended up staying a little late, or working through lunch – not because I was asked to, but I care too much. My little brother had a health crisis and almost died, and after being in the hospital up North a couple weeks, he was going to be coming down to a city near me because of a surgery he needed, but my parents weren’t going to be able to come down and stay with him. The city wasn’t somewhere I could commute to and from, but was close enough that I could go and stay there without it being a huge financial burden.

    My boss said to take as much time as I needed, and as much as I didn’t want to lose the income, I felt like I needed to go. I ended up being gone almost 2 weeks, staying with my brother in the hospital until he finally got the surgery. When I got back to work, my boss told me that they’d seen how much work I had been doing, so they felt pretty comfortable only putting me down for three days absent, less than half I’d been gone. And then, she and a couple of colleagues went and got me some beautiful flowers, just to cheer me up. The time with my brother was pretty traumatic and hard, and the generosity of my boss and my colleagues, especially since I was still so new, was pretty phenomenal!

  307. Molly*

    The stories of how managers reacted (good or bad) to employees missing work due to a death in their families brought up this memory. I am a biologist, but from ’89-late 90s, I worked for a furniture retailer part-time while my children were little. And I furnished and accessories the entire house at a discount. Unfortunately, it became increasingly obvious to me that the company was going under, so I resigned. Sure enough, a few months later it was gone.
    Not long after that, I read that a major liquidation company was opening a temporary store to sell the millions of dollars of inventory that were in their warehouse at the time of bankruptcy. I applied and was immediately hired.
    I agreed to start in three days. The day before I was due to start, my then 16 yo daughter was in a car accident (she recovered completely) and both her clavicle and her pelvis were fractured on the same side. She finally came home after 8 days in ICU and a few more in a regular room. She was then completely confined to the sofa in the family room (or a wheelchair) with a potty chair next to it for about 2 weeks. And after that, she still needed to use a wheelchair for a while.
    The day after the accident, I left a rambling message on the store phone saying I had no idea how long I would be out, so I was going to have to quit.
    About a month after the accident I went into the store to see if they needed any help…if they still were willing to hire me. I didn’t get more than a sentence out when the manager said: YES!! Of course I had job. That I did exactly the right thing as a parent and that he was glad I was there. He made me promise that I’d tell him of any time off I need for Dr appts etc.
    I worked there for quite few months, until they closed down the location. One of the best managers I’ve had, be it medical research or retail.

  308. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Back in the day when computers were these mysterious creatures, I worked in a school with Dave. Dave learned about computers in the early 80’s and could fix almost anything.

    Teachers would bring in their malfunctioning computers and Dave would fix them gratis. Teachers would insist on paying him, so Dave would tell them to buy his wife a gift card. Any gift card in his wife’s name. He was doing it for free.

  309. Going anon for this one*

    I worked for an environmental nonprofit. Among other programs, we reforested areas with native trees. To help fund this, we had a memorial tree program where for a fee we would plant and tag a tree in someone’s name. Then once a year there would be a ceremony where we would take people out to see their trees. While I worked there, my grandmother died. Everyone was very kind as to be expected. But I was surprised when several months later when we were planting trees, the director presented me with a tag with my grandmother’s name on it. The team that was planting was very concerned on helping me pick the ‘best’ tree to put the tag on. I went back out there a couple of years ago. The tag has long since fallen off, but the tree has gotten quite tall.

  310. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

    This story is more about my parents than about me, and more about their volunteer roles than work, but it still kind of fits.

    When I was 12, our house burned down to the ground. We were all safe, but nothing could be salvaged.

    At the time (and still), my parents were both leadership-level volunteers at their church. Not on staff, but volunteering a lot of time and at a pretty high level, so the relationships with church leadership were colleague-like.

    The fire happened on a Thursday evening, and on Saturday afternoon, a group of people from the church came to my grandma’s house, where we lived after the fire while rebuilding our house, and dropped off bags and bags of donated (mostly second-hand) clothing, toys, and books. A lot of it was for us kids — getting hand-me-downs for adults is less common, so while they had some things for my parents, there weren’t as many.

    The pastor’s wife and a couple of other friends went out and bought my parents each a brand-new “Sunday best” outfit — right down to shoes, pantyhose, socks, and underwear. Dress, suit, the works — and this was back in the days of dressing up for church much more than often happens now. My dad, in particular, is a hard-to-find size (he’s 5’2″, so thrifting or second-hand clothing is hard for him), and they knew that my parents wouldn’t get the same level of second-hand support as we did, and they wanted them to be able to feel normal and put-together that first Sunday back.

    I’ve left the church for a lot of reasons, but when I think about community and looking out for each other, that act of kindness is still one that strikes me.

  311. Lilac*

    I was doing an unpaid social work placement as a student at a well known organisation that supported people seeking asylum. It was still well and truly in the height of COVID knockdowns at the time and honestly I was pretty lonely and scared . Everyone there including the head of the organisation was just lovely. He’d come around with a snack cart in the afternoons personally as a treat. And my direct supervisor there was a reference for the job that I have now.

  312. Grandma to three cats*

    I got a call at work, telling me my husband had been taken to the ER with a suspected stroke. We were having a big event where I worked and when I got to my car, it was blocked in. I went flying back inside to try and get the cars moved. My lovely boss just handed me her car keys and said “Go.” Wouldn’t even talk about how I should get the car back to her.
    Turned out my husband was ok – he was having his first migraine (probably because of his not so nice boss). I so appreciated her kindness in that stressful moment!

  313. ChaoticDucksInARow*

    I was less than a year into a fellowship position when my supervisor had left for a new job and my grandmother passed away back in my home country. In my culture, funeral proceedings take 3-5 days and my grandmother passed at the beginning of a major holiday where nearly everything closes. Because of this, my grandmother’s funeral proceedings and her cremation had to be delayed by days, on top of her passing already being so heartbreaking and frustrating that she hadn’t been able to get proper medical care the last few weeks leading up to her passing due to our medical system and covid restrictions. All these complications led to it taking over a year for us to be able to bring my grandmother to her final resting place. And of course, family is always complicated. But my new supervisor immediately approved my request for bereavement leave, advocated for me to have the maximum amount possible, and made sure I didn’t have to worry about my projects as I flew across the world to say goodbye to my grandmother and attend her funeral. I was able to take three weeks off to attend all the proceedings and care for my grandfather who fell ill during the funeral. On my first day back to work, my new supervisor had arranged for flowers at my desk in memory of my grandmother. By pure coincidence, it happened to be a bouquet of her favorite flowers. I’ll forever be grateful.

  314. #TeamElected*

    My first full time job, I was making very little money working for an elected official. Essentially the way it worked was every office got exactly the same amount of money every year, and it was up to the elected to budget it among the staff, so raises weren’t possible because literally any additional money I got would’ve been coming out of my coworker’s salaries. On top of the pay, we worked long hours, often attending community meetings and events on nights and weekends, sometimes spending a whole Saturday or Sunday going from event to event in the district.

    The elected knew how much he was asking of us, and how little we got in return, and did whatever he could do to make our lives easier. He paid for an unlimited transit pass for me and my other carless coworker out of his own pocket, never denied us vacation time, covered our tabs at happy hours, and was always looking for ways he could help us grow in our careers. What impressed me the most about him then, and impressed me ever more now that I’m almost ten years out from that job was that he was always interested in hearing from us when we disagreed with him, even on matters of policy, and sometimes would change his mind in response to a well-presented argument by staff. So this is less about one little act of kindness and more about how a boss who goes above and beyond can turn a horrible job into an amazing one!

  315. An Omynous*

    Two small stories, as best as I can remember them.

    1) First job out of college, I was teaching in a small town in rural Japan. Eventually I got sick enough, was likely driven home, then took a day or two off. Coworkers would text me saying they left bags at my door (fever patches, CC Lemon and/or Pocari Sweat, and other things I can’t remember, maybe even food). Not the only small gestures they extended during my entire stay, but they meant a lot when I only had one other friend my age in town (also a foreigner).

    2) In Australia, at my first full time job after grad school I was on a team of about 6 people for 6 months. 3ish months into the job was my birthday, coinciding with some end of year holidays, and I was not having a good time/week/day when we had a team lunch scheduled. A combination of winter blues (despite the sun) and homesickness maybe, exacerbated during the lunch by someone spilling their alcoholic drink on me. But at the end of the meal, one of them went “to the bathroom” and came back with a dog shaped cake lit up for my birthday! Instant turnaround, I was so surprised and delighted they’d thought of me and went to great secret lengths (I had offered to carry the box, but was told it was “only shoes,” despite them holding the box horizontally and carefully, and no, I hadn’t noticed). Probably my most cherished memory of that job and team.

  316. CowWhisperer*

    I had a boss who was a grumpy guy. He was an older guy near retirement: kinda brash, kinda overbearing and man-splained way too much.

    One day, a very nosy and gossipy coworker noticed that there was a package of Saltines at our retail department’s desk. She (correctly) decided someone was pregnant – and started trying to suss out who.

    Grumpy Boss noticed her asking a lot of questions. Without missing a beat, Grumpy Boss said, “Oh, there’s my crackers!” and ate one. She blinked a few times and left.

    Grumpy Boss proceeded to bring Saltines to work for weeks until our pregnant coworker was far enough along to share her news.

    He wasn’t my favorite boss – but I appreciated his dedication to providing cover for a subordinate.

  317. DannyG*

    Many years ago I was a bone marrow donor to a young child. It was successful and, in due time I got to meet him and his family, who adopted my wife and I into their family immediately. Over the next decade we had many wonderful visits & vacations together. Then he developed some late complications and eventually passed away. I was at work when I got the news. I completely broke down at that point. As he was in many ways the son we never had of our own. My partner at work knew that I’d be worthless and sent me home, the department director arranged for coverage and bereavement leave (at the immediate family member level) so we could travel across the country to be with his family.

  318. American Couch Wizard Society Member*

    Thank you for all that you do. It is very hard to be a teacher these days and you are appreciated.

  319. RedinSC*

    My partner was laid off after his company was sold to a big giant organization. The lay offs happened on the 28th of the month, meaning, his insurance would end in 3 days!

    The HR director at my job pulled strings and moved quickly and got him on my insurance starting the first of the month! THat was just amazing. We didn’t have to pay out of pocket for COBRA for the next month. I was so surprised (not that she was great and worked hard, but that she made it actually happen!)

  320. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

    In one of my first HR management roles, I was getting great feedback from my superiors and everything seemed to be going really well, despite the organisation seeming to be a toxic mess I was positive I’d be able to turn the culture there around. I even got paid a bonus! But then four months in, I was unexpectedly fired. My manager forced me to send an email out to the rest of the leadership team telling them that I was leaving and strongly suggested that I say it was due to finding a new opportunity elsewhere, but I wasn’t about to lie on his behalf so I kept it professional, sent a neutral email saying I was grateful for the opportunity to have worked there and that it was my last day. Out of the six or so other managers, only one of them replied to wish me well. That stung, as these were people I’d been grinding and working overtime to help and support in their own roles since day one. My confidence took a big blow and I felt terrible.

    A few days later, my two ex-direct reports texted me and asked me if I’d like to come to a little farewell dinner with them. I didn’t know them very well personally as we’d not worked together for long and I am ~15 years older than them, but I thought it was really kind. That was 3 years ago now, and since then we’ve all stayed in touch, gone to several more dinners together, and supported each other through our ongoing career journeys. They were both made redundant not long after I was let go, but we’ve all moved on to much higher paying jobs with better conditions, progression opportunities and management.

  321. The Elusive Architeuthis*

    My mother was a faculty member at a large mid-tier research university that had a lot of international students. Her grad student was about halfway through his PhD and something got fouled up with his departmental funding so that he didn’t have financial support for a semester (both for tuition and living expenses). He was from a country and family that did not have a lot of financial resources for expat students and even one semester would have been absolutely impossible for him.

    My mom offered to pay for him out of her own pocket. (“as a grant, not a loan” as she put it). Fortunately somehow the department found the money for him. A few years later after she died he wrote very movingly to me about how much the gesture had meant to him and his family.

  322. Random Bystander*

    Many years ago, I had moved after my divorce with my four children (I had sole custody, but because ex was incarcerated for the crime he committed against me, I was not receiving anything in child support). I was working at a job that was located 1.5 miles from my house. The company that owned this location also owned another location 25.9 miles from my house. The job I was doing was processing applications for financial assistance with hospital bills, but for some reason my department (four employees, including me) was sometimes tapped to work the cashier window at the other location. Now, with four minor children and no child support, there were times when my checking account was literally less than a dime in the black … living as close as I did, if I had to cut costs by walking (to avoid use of gas until payday), it was doable.

    Well, another co-worker (we’ll call her Betty) had been the one who normally did that alt job on the occasions when it was necessary. She happened to live quite far from the work place, and in fact if she left from her home to go to alt location, it was *shorter* than her normal commute. Supervisor made the decision that it was not fair that it always fell on Betty and so all of us were going to have to go up to alt location and train. Well, another co-worker (let’s call her Ann) lived fairly far, but not as far as “Betty” and the difference from her house to alt location was 7 miles (one way). The other co-worker (let’s call her Dotty) lived even closer than I did to primary job location, but she was single and had a sister who lived near alt location, so during her training period, she just moved up to stay with her sister for the whole time. This, obviously, was not an option for me–no family in alt town plus the fact that I had minor children who couldn’t just be left alone while I did the alt job.

    So, I asked about mileage reimbursement because going to train for a week at alt location was going to be a major increase in costs for me. I was told that “no, there is no reimbursement, because you’re just driving to work”. OK, I guess I’m going to be eating one meal a day for the next couple weeks (kids were getting breakfast and lunch through school program).

    The kindness:
    So, I go up to the alt location and I’m doing the training. It comes time to go to lunch, and trainer (who I had just met that day–she and another individual were the ones who managed this job, but for some reason they absolutely needed two people every day) wanted me to go to lunch with her and I just said that I couldn’t eat at the cafeteria. She asked what I had brought, and I shook my head. She pushed, I became a little emotional and confessed I couldn’t afford to do this trip (round trip for five days) and eat lunch–I did not mention that I hadn’t eaten since supper the night before, that I’d asked and been told there was no reimbursement for the trips because no one else needed it (that’s when trainer told me about Dotty’s solution to the commute). So, she gave me a voucher for the cafeteria (these vouchers are normally given to people like the person who drives a patient to the hospital when the patient is having a procedure they can’t drive home after) so that I could have lunch, and she walked me over to the cafeteria and made me get lunch.

    She wasn’t done, though. Come to find out that she had a good friend who worked for the finance department, and she’d taken off to go visit her friend to ask about the policy. Turns out that there was a written policy because people were generally hired to work at one location or the other, not both unless very high level–for employees who were hired for a job at Location A who were required to work at Location B, that either they went to Location A and clocked in and drove to Location B (this would have either reduced my time at the alt job or put me into significant OT) *or* if leaving from home, that the employee was to be reimbursed at IRS mileage rates calculated by round trip to Location B minus round trip to Location A (in my case, 48.8 miles/day difference in length of commute). And, because this trainer went to the finance department, my supervisor’s supervisor was notified of the policy and how much it would cost to send me up to the alt location a day.

    The upshot was that grandboss decided that neither Ann nor I would be requested to go to Location B for coverage for alt job and I got mileage for the day that I did make that trip. Yeah, my supervisor wasn’t thrilled, and there was some grumbling about how gas was $4/gallon (as it was at that time) for everyone … but I was also the lowest paid person (9.95/hr; min wage then was 8.25 in my state) in the department (by over $2/hr to the next person), and I just flat out did not have any fat anywhere in my budget to trim (except for my own breakfast/lunch) to accommodate driving myself to location B.

  323. Leslie Santiago*

    During my time working as an Executive Assistant for a senior manager at a large international bank while living abroad, my mother was diagnosed with cancer – very upsetting and scary. I confided in my manager about it. Coincidentally, he had a trip planned to Israel, where he intended to attend mass at the main Catholic church in Jerusalem. Knowing my mother’s faith from a previous conversation, he asked for her address; he arranged for a prayer to be said for her at the mass and even sent her the church’s printed prayer card for the mass with a kind note. My mother was deeply touched by this thoughtful gesture, and it meant a lot to both of us. Thankfully she successfully battled the cancer and has been healthy for years. She still has the card!

  324. Anon for this*

    Going anon for this.
    A million years ago when I was in the Navy (junior officer), way before the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (i.e. if you were gay you’d get court martialed and dishonorably discharged) stuff, I worked at a big headquarters command and as such I always had to go to these evening bigwig functions (dress whites and all). I would never bring a real date to those, even if they were military, because it was pretty stressful. I had a friend who was a junior Marine Corps officer in a big Marine HQ who had the same type of functions, so we were always each other’s “date” for these things because we both knew how to behave in those situations. Once the function was done, we’d change into our party clothes and head out to town to party and blow off some steam.
    One night we were hitting all sorts of clubs and got a little off the beaten path and ended up in a place we’d never been before. We were pretty well into our cups at that point and were dancing when we noticed we were the only ‘straight’ couple there. THEN we each noticed a (clearly) gay enlisted couple from each of our commands. We got out of there as fast as we could and continued on with our evening.
    That Monday, we each got visited in our respective offices by the respective couples trying to tell us something about this past Saturday night and it wasn’t what it appeared to be, etc. My friend and I each said that we had no idea what they were talking about, we had been home all evening, and please have a nice day. I’ve never seen anyone more relieved in my life.

  325. It's Me*

    None of these are big things like covering vet bills, but they’ve stuck with me for literal years:

    1. When I worked as support staff making minimum wage in a hospital, my grandmother died (a week before my birthday no less.) She was ready to go, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but I was obviously still sad. Because of my job, I knew staff on every single floor, in every single unit, and thought I was covering okay, but one RN (in the middle of a slammed shift), stopped and asked if I was okay, because she noticed I wasn’t smiling like usual. It meant a lot that she would notice at all, much less take the time to ask.

    2. In my first admin-type role, part of my job was to print packets for our big seasonal meetings. It was not my job to set up the conference room, but I did anyways because I knew no one else would (nothing too strenuous, just making sure we had enough chairs, etc.) More than once, the head of the division would walk past the room while I was setting up, stop, turn back around, and come in to help. This man was in his 60s and made orders of magnitude more in salary than I made at the time (or make now!), but there he was, hefting folding chairs under his arms to help me tote them into the conference room.

    3. In a later job, I had a really cool unrelated side hobby product launch (think: getting a book of poetry published or something similar.) My boss, who I had known all of a few weeks, bought enough of my thing for every person we worked with to have one and threw a team party to celebrate. It wasn’t necessary or expected but they did it anyways.

  326. Zephy*

    I have two stories, one involving me and one involving my husband.

    Story one: At my first job out of college, I was working at a high school (we were basically contracted support staff). One morning a couple of kittens ran into the building while the students were filing in. Our work had exactly zero overlap with animal rescue, these kittens were old enough to get around on their own, and strictly speaking we weren’t even supposed to be driving a car while wearing company shirts much less leaving the worksite in the middle of the day. The boss would have been more than justified in telling us to let the kittens go somewhere off the school grounds, especially because one of my teammates had a severe cat phobia (she refused to enter our office, even with the kittens contained in a milk crate). Our PM let me and two of my teammates go grab kitten supplies and set the beeblins up in one teammate’s bathroom for the afternoon; teammate had a friend who worked for a cat rescue, they were able to find a home for them (together!). We got pics a few weeks later of the kittens, fat and happy in their new home.

    Story two: My husband went back to school at 30, in the middle of the pandemic, to reskill into a new profession (x-ray technologist). He had been dealing with gradually worsening back pain for about a year or so, and assumed he’d slipped a disc or something helping a friend move (to say nothing of spending 30 years with bad posture, and not exercising). He was eventually convinced to get his back checked out, about six months into his program. Turns out his spine was perfectly healthy, except for the golf-ball-sized tumor growing at the base of it. It took about six weeks to go from MRI to open-back surgery. His program director and his clinical instructor went all the way to bat for him – they got him approved to attend lectures remotely while he couldn’t drive (which was perhaps easier to do during COVID, to be fair); they let him make up the clinical hours he missed after the surgery by assisting in labs with the junior cohort during his second year; and the CI absolutely busted her ass to make sure he was accommodated once he was able to get back into clinic. He finished the program on time, with an almost perfect GPA and a near-flawless portfolio of images. The program held their own graduation and pinning ceremony separately from the college’s larger ceremony, and the PD made eye contact with him during her speech about how that year’s cohort had overcome so much and both of them nearly burst into tears.

  327. EAW*

    This was years ago. I was a junior research assistant at a small nonprofit working for a boss who was a nationally known expert in our field. Funding was tight and all raises had been frozen for a year or two, and then finally I got a raise. I later learned my boss had given up get own raise in order to give raises to the handful of junior staff under her – and she didn’t even want us to know. Oh, and did I mention she also got me started in what’s now my career field, and took me with her when she moved to a better job, and was a great mentor? Best boss I’ve ever had, and I’ve been lucky to have a few very good ones.

  328. Texas Teacher*

    I was teaching 2nd grade. One of my students was pulled out of school by his angry father along with the 2 siblings. Because of the way he was acting, the front office called the police. They got to the home and prevented the father from killing the family.

    My teammate was a relative of the father. When she found out what had happened, and that the Mom was afraid to get a restraining order. Teammate called her Aunt (mother of the abuser) and laid it out that if the family didn’t protect the wife and kids they could lose them.

    Teammate and Aunt convince the victim to get a restraining order and kick the abuser out. They hid the wife and kids in family members’ homes. The family denounced the abuser to the community. The Mom was a bus driver – while the abuser was on the run she was moved to an inside job. Her children rode the bus to the bus barn instead of going home.

    Our district had previously had 1 complete and one partial family annihilation. So they developed procedures to protect students, staff, and family members. This is one of many stories where the procedures saved lives.

  329. Caleb (he/they)*

    This is a small thing, but was extremely meaningful to me. I’m a trans guy. Most of the other employees at my (small, entirely remote) nonprofit are cis. About a year after I started T, I sent a message in the general conversation channel in Slack asking for advice on caring for facial hair. Four of my cis male coworkers (two in their 30s, two in their 40s/50s) responded with very thorough recommendations based on how they take care of theirs. Everyone at work is also really great about me using multiple pronouns (he/they)—like, better than some other queer people I’ve known. I know it’s small, but with the current state of the world and how much transphobia is on the rise, it just makes me really really happy to have coworkers who are so supportive.

    1. LilacsinBloom*

      That is so wonderful! Support like that can make all the difference in the world.

      It reminds of of a time back in 1984 or 85 when I worked in a law firm, my last secretarial position. There was one secretary who began the transition to female. No one made a fuss about it in any way, shape or form. It was just Jack is now Jane and we will help her however we can. We took Jane shopping so she could learn a bit of the ins and outs of how to dress for work. We ate lunch with her and listened whenever she felt like sharing any of the details of her experience, but no one was ever nosy. I hope Jane is still doing well. She was a lovely person.

  330. Oz Claire*

    I was not there to see this, but I was told about it later. A lovely lady from my office, who would have been in her late 50s at the time, got a phonecall at work one afternoon – her husband, who had been working a couple of hours’ drive away, had had a sudden massive heart attack and died. She immediately went into shock – so much so that she could not comprehend what the person on the phone was saying. She asked a colleague to help, and the colleague got on the phone and talked to the person at the other end. Afterwards, the colleague helped her call another family member, and two colleagues drove her home. The person who told me about this was the woman who lost her husband – the kindness shown to her in that awful time had really stuck with her.

  331. SMH ce*

    My family went through a hellish 6 month period where my dad went from healthy and working to paralyzed and in in a wheelchair to having a terminal cancer diagnosis and passing away. it was one gut punch after another. Throughout this time my coworkers and boss (I was working as a floor nurse on a seniors mental health unit) were completely amazing. They checked in, offered support, never questioned time off and would let me cry if I needed to. When I decided to take time off as the end was approaching there were no questions asked, just the reassurance that work would survive without me and they’d take care of the paperwork. it was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise atrocious time in my life.

  332. Lusara*

    My son had a brain tumor a few years ago (it was benign, he had it removed and he’s totally fine). I called my boss to tell her that I would be needing to take time off on short notice as we went through the process of getting surgery scheduled and the surgery itself. She called me back an hour later and said she was giving me an extra week of PTO and a $6k bonus to cover our out of pocket medical costs.

  333. Evelyn Karnate*

    When my dad died in September 2020, my workplace was fully remote. My boss asked me my favorite pizza and had one delivered to my house. A couple of team members arranged for gourmet ice cream to be delivered to my doorstep. My boss, who knew that my dad had loved the outdoors, asked whether he had a favorite national park or forest and then coordinated with other coworkers to have trees planted in his memory. Somewhere in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest — close to my dad’s favorite hiking and fishing spots — a small stand of trees is growing in his memory. I was touched by all of their kindnesses, but it meant so much to me that my coworkers honored my dad for who he was in life, even though they had never met him.

    1. Tinamedte*

      The thought of those trees gives me goose bumps of joy and awe. What a wonderful, perfect thing to do in honor of your dad.

  334. Karma is My Boyfriend*

    A light in an otherwise terrible job was my former grandboss, who eventually became my boss. Anyways, our town had a huge natural disaster occur at the beginning of one summer. A few other coworkers and I were affected, along with about 10,000 other residents. My house, while still standing, was declared a complete loss. so, when the disaster first occurred, I missed work for a few days without calling in, but my boss never said a word, nor made me use my PTO. Later, when it was time to get my belongings packed up (my closest family was 7 hours away), he let me use his BELOVED racing trailer, which he literally refused to let anyone else use, including other coworkers who had asked. He also came over and helped prep my yard for a FEMA trailer. We had a father/daughter/mentor relationship I think because I was the youngest person they had ever hired, and was about the same age as his daughter. So it was really great to always have someone in my corner.

  335. SusieQQ*

    I got sick at work one day and had to leave a meeting to go throw up in the restroom. I have no clue why that happened, I wasn’t sick or pregnant and was completely fine before and after. Anyway, I was hoping that the restroom would be empty but to my embarrassment there were some other folks in there. I was too ashamed to make eye contact so I just saw blobs in my peripheral vision and heard voices, but I don’t know who they were. I headed into a stall, locked the door, and sat down on the floor next to the toilet and waited for the inevitable. I was panting so hard that one of them asked me if I was okay. I said yes, but that I was going to get sick. And then it happened. It was _beyond mortifying_ to throw up at work where my co-workers could hear me. I thought that they would be grossed out, that they would think I was sick and want to avoid me, or think I was hung over and judge me for some perceived lack of responsibility. I was so embarrassed, but when I was done someone scooted a cup of water under the door and said “I got some water for you. I hope you feel better.”

    I never found out who that was. But I am still so touched by that person’s kindness in what was a terrible moment for me.

  336. Snow Village*

    I’ve got two:
    The first was when I was forced to quit my job as a stage manager at a certain, worldwide-famous theme park due to a manager who ravaged my mental health in ways I didn’t know were possible (and were illegal. He threatened me in anticipation of the legal action he suspected I would bring against him. I had a case, but all I wanted was out.)
    I could not go back to that place, but I had personal items in a locker.
    A few months earlier a direct report had transferred to another show. She knew the layout of the backstage, but the people there knew her and would ask questions–it wasn’t her show anymore, she had no business being there, and she was only a contract employee who could get in more trouble than most people for being where she wasn’t meant to be. As her (soon-to-be-former) manager the power balance was too weird to ask her for help, and I didn’t: she volunteered on her own to infiltrate enemy ground on my behalf, despite great professional risk.
    She got everything into a bag and snuck out to wait an hour for me at a train station to go pick it up.
    I can’t remember most of the details now, like why couldn’t something–literally anything–else be worked out, because trauma can mess with your memory real bad. All I remember is that I was trapped in a terrible situation with no way out, and she didn’t have to take that risk for me, but she did it anyway. Forever grateful. We are still in contact to this day.

    Second one:
    I live and work and am a citizen of a country where the main language spoken is not my native language. A coworker announced in a meeting something that I interpreted as, “Send out this press release.” So that’s what I did, only for it to be revealed that we were not supposed to. And the first thing she did was come to me: Why did you send out that press release?
    It was a terribly awkward situation that could have ended in me taking responsibility for a mistake that wasn’t mine, or childish finger-pointing, or maybe a reevaluation of my ability of work in this language without oversight. And that is when a third coworker who was not even a part of the conversation (but had also been in the initial meeting) interrupted to say: “She did what you told her to do. I was in that meeting, and you told her to send it.”
    I had never in my life had someone stand up for me like that before. It still gives me chills to remember it. I thanked her profusely and am still so, so grateful.

  337. Whale whale whale*

    When I worked at a science centre one my main roles was to organize themes Saturdays every month. My background is in whale research, so I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate whale day! That year it landed on my birthday. Even though I didn’t work weekends I went in and made sure everything was running smoothly with the 5 or 6 partners I brought in and helped with some hands on activities too. I was going to leave half an around before closing, but the lead staff scientist for the day kept finding reasons to delay me. It felt odd but I rolled with it. When we closed he told me I had to go to the staff room and there was a whale birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday! The staff working that day had gotten it for me. Most of them were part time staff and students. I was genuinely touched and might have shed some tears!

  338. Interloper*

    A tiny thing – my boss once overheard me say to a colleague that I was cold, and spent 15 minutes of a very busy day turning the place upside-down to find a spare uniform jersey that would fit.

  339. Switz4219*

    I worked for the credit department of a large bank, and the last week of August/heading into Labor Day weekend, my grandmother started going downhill. My father called us all Wednesday to let us know that it would probably be soon. I went into my grandboss’s office the next morning and told him I needed that upcoming weekend off to go see her; he said he’d see what he could do. I then said I was going whether the time was approved or not, but it would be nice to have him on board. He smiled and said he wouldn’t expect anything less.
    She passed away later that day, and he immediately came over to my desk to tell me to go home. I said I wanted to finish out the day because it was a good distraction. He said, “Okay, but if you change your mind, just leave; you’re covered.” Took me exactly one annoying customer phone call to realize I was an idiot and I left. I was out for I think 9 or 10 days, and he made sure it was all covered. I went on to work directly under him for about four years and we’re great friends now, and I maintain that the moment I said I was going whether it was approved or not was the moment he began to respect and like me.

  340. Linda S.*

    I’m a museum educator at a living history museum in the historic Hudson Valley region of New York State; our museum is “set” in 1750 and it includes a manor house, a gristmill, an 18th century barn and an activity center (where we demonstrate open-hearth cooking, processing and spinning wool and making 18th century herbal medicines.)

    I have scoliosis and arthritis; both cause me pain, but it’s very unpredictable and can range from mild to overwhelming. Several years ago, a coworker and I were in the activity center preparing for the day’s cooking demonstration when I experienced such a stabbing, searing pain in my hip that I couldn’t stand or walk. My coworker Iris (who at that time was just starting to work in the activity center) took one look at me and said “Sit down and tell me what to do.” We chose a simple 18th century recipe and I talked her through the steps needed to cook it over the fire. Slowly, the pain eased up and I was able to resume work – but Iris had been prepared to take on as much as she needed to in order to ensure that I wouldn’t hurt myself trying to do more than I really could at that point.

    So here’s a shout-out to you, Iris – I’ve never forgotten your kindness that day when I was most in need of it! And I hope you know much much I appreciate what you did for me!

  341. Bibliophile1315*

    During the early days of Covid we were told that our kids were going to be doing remote school work, and fortunately my husband was also being sent home to work remotely. at the time my company was adamant that we would be working in the office and there was no flexibility. I was incredibly stressed about how this was all going to work, to the point that I was barely functioning. two of my coworkers went to my manager behind my back and asked for an exception be made for me, my boss agreed, and I was given explicit permission to work from home as long as necessary…we all ended up working remotely, but that kindness of my coworkers advocating on my behalf was a bright light in a dark time.

  342. Big Fan of Dan*

    I worked at a children’s museum at the onset of the pandemic, and most of the staff were enthusiastic Plant People. The office was full of plants of all kinds, some of which were decades old. People would get attached to other people’s plants, which were usually propagated or bequeathed to the office when folks retired or resigned. Folks would leave detailed instructions for the care of their plants when going on vacation or parental leave. On 3/13/2020 we stayed late preparing all the office plants to survive the two weeks (LOL) that the museum would be closed to mitigate the spread of covid.

    Obviously we did not go back after two weeks, by which time we were scrambling 24/7 to retain members, find cash to keep folks on payroll, and pivot to virtual programming. If anyone was thinking about the plants, we weren’t talking to each other about the plants.

    Unfortunately, 80% of staff were laid off at the end of the July 2020, myself included. We had to arrange a day and time with the head of facilities to get access to the museum office to pack up our desks and return work laptops, etc. I remember driving over there and being overcome with sadness at the prospect of seeing all those dead plants.

    Reader, there were no dead plants. The plants were just as healthy as the day we closed! Apparently the facilities guy (let’s call him Dan) had been taking care of the plants the entire time without mentioning anything to anyone!

    Dan was always grumpy and never spoke more than was absolutely necessary, but it was the kind of workplace where everyone was friendly to him even if it was never reciprocated. He’d been there 30+ years and was never engaged in the plant mania in any way, but clearly it mattered to him that the plants were a big deal to us.

    I took home some of my plants that day as well as clippings from a few communal plants I was particularly fond of, and today they’re thriving in my home office several states away. I really loved that job, so it means a lot to me to have a physical reminder of that part of my life. Really grateful to Dan for making it possible.

  343. K*

    The last two years have been some of the most stressful and traumatic of my life due to family issues and physical and mental health issues, and the colleagues/teammates who I’d confided in to varying degrees were so kind and supportive of me, checking in and encouraging self care.

    Added to that was a tonne of work stress in the team I was in due to workload and staffing. I confided how bad things were to a friend who managed another team, and she pulled some strings to get me moved to her team, because it was clear I was headed for burnout with the work stress on top of the personal stress. I will be forever grateful to her. She’s also turned out to be an amazing manager, the best I have ever had, pre-emptively considering ways to accommodate my needs to make sure I can do my best work. ❤️

    Good news for the old stressed out team too, after a reshuffle in the department and allocating more staff to them, things are looking up.

  344. Tinamedte*

    At one point, I was working for a private company owned by two brothers. I had been there for quite a few years, doing good work for them, and we were on very good terms.

    From previous experience at that place, I already knew they had hearts of gold, but one of them still caught me by surprise with the size of his generosity once….

    During an lunch chat before the summer holidays, I talked about how I had promised my child a trip to an amusement park in a neighbouring country here in Europe, and that I now wasn’t quite sure how to travel there, haha. I didn’t want to fly bc of climate concerns. I didn’t own a car bc of limited resources being a single parent, and out of climate concerns.

    I said I guess I have to piece the trip together with varying trains, coaches, local buses etc? But even by car, it’s roughly a 12 hour trip one way, and so a combination of transportation would take … heaven knows how many hours. I was worried that we’d be so exhausted by the time we arrived that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the stay, and I’d probably end up with a migraine. And the cost for transport alone would likely kill my savings account.

    But I had promised my kid, so I *had* to find a way.

    The owner looked at me for a couple of seconds after I finished rambling, then said :
    “Why don’t you take my car. I won’t be needing it.”
    “That is beyond generous, but I can’t do that!”
    “Why not? You go ahead and take my car. Solves all your problems. I really want you to.”

    I ended up taking him up on his offer.

    The kicker? The car was a [well-known electric vehicle brand] — with free supercharging.

    So, my kid and I had a blast driving there in this great, fun-to-drive, luxurious (!) car for free (!) without any fossile fuel emissions, arrived happy and well rested, and really enjoyed our vacation.

    And I think being able to do this for me really warmed the owner’s heart, too. Everybody wins!

  345. Pope Hilarius*

    During the pandemic we all feared for our jobs at our company, we had no idea what was going to happen. I was the most junior member of my 3-person department, on a temporary contract, who had only been there a few weeks before COVID hit. My two colleagues had a long meeting with our bosses one day & then spoke to me afterward: they had presented a plan to management that they would both agree to go part time, if my job could remain full-time. They said they both knew I needed the money more than they did, and they’d be fine for a while. I was honestly so touched I didn’t really know what to say. Luckily it never quite came to that, but I was incredibly grateful to them.
    When my temporary contract was running out, one of them also helped me game my way to a permanent job: the most senior partner sent an all-office email with a series of word-game logic puzzles he was struggling with (seriously). Totally fortuitously I worked out the rule and sent him most of the answers, but I was stuck on the last one. One of my colleagues figured it out, gave it to me and told me I should tell the boss I’d give him the last answer if he gave me a permanent contract … which totally worked.

  346. McThrill*

    Back when I worked at a land-grant university, the entire management chain from my reporting manager up 3 levels to the department head would routinely remind everyone in our office (populated with a mixture of student workers, recently-graduated professional staff, and mid-career professionals) about how often we were entitled to paid breaks (15 minutes every 3 hours of work) and encourage us to get out, go grab a coffee, take a walk, or whatever 2-3 times a day. Anytime we were in danger of missing a deadline, management would renegotiate the deadline rather than have us work overtime, sick and vacation leave was never questioned, any leftover food from conference lunches was given to the student workers to take home as much as they wanted, and the management paid for masseuses out of their own pocket to come in once a month and give a free 15-minute massage (on the clock) to anyone who wanted one. They were the kindest bosses I’ve ever had and set a great example that has proven hard to beat in all my future jobs.

  347. Kat*

    I was working the job from hell. But, I worked with some absolutely amazing people, some of which I’m still friends with to this day

    my last year there my father’s cancer turned terminal. I lived at home with him and took care of him while working full time. I also had to coordinate nurses and home care, and did a lot of his home care myself including changing diapers.

    I found myself one day running low on plastic shopping bags. we were using them to dispose of the diapers. and where I live, if you go shopping you have to use reusable bags or at the time pay for plastic (now plastic is banned and you have to use reusable). I sent an email to my entire office asking if anyone had any spare bags I could steal from them that I would be incredibly grateful to have them.

    the next day I came in and my desk was covered in bags. there had to be 500+ bags.

    and then the nicest thing was one girl spent the evening crocheting a bag to store the plastic bags in for me and eve. checked around to see what my favourite colour was and made it from that colour wool. it was so pretty and absolutely so kind.

    my father passed two months later, and it took me another couple of years to go through all of the plastic bags I received, but I still have that teal crotched bag holder the one woman made for me. it was something so simple, but so thoughtful and so kind.

  348. I get to read books and talk about them with nice people, it rules*

    I teach at a university, and while my colleagues are brilliant and deeply kind – I have many stories about them! – something that always strikes me is how kind students are. A lot of discourse about university students is about them being lazy, entitled, etc, and maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’ve experienced vanishingly little of that and an overwhelming amount of kindness (both towards their peers, and towards myself and my colleagues). One example: I was teaching a first-year class, having just learned that my mentor, who had been ill for a while, had died. I kept it together for the first few minutes, but then stumbled over my words and stopped and explained why. These brilliant students – in their first term at university! – basically took over the class and ran the discussion themselves, and kept checking in (then and afterwards) to see that I was OK. I’ll never forget it: I’m tearing up again remembering!

    1. Cat Lady*

      I also work in higher ed (in a student services role) and I agree! Students can be, and often are, lovely human beings. Getting to connect with them is my favourite thing about this line of work :)

  349. Madame Arcati*

    A colleague has just asked very politely if she can have my personal email as she wants to “nominate me for something” (she is senior, very nice and very professional, and I have been helping her out with some stuff, so it won’t be anything dodgy).
    I am most excited. I don’t care if it’s an e-card or a voucher for a free chocolate orange or what, it’s the thought that counts!

  350. Badger*

    I’ve been struggling with misc health issues and my colleagues have very generously offered to drive me home and/or to the ER each time. I only took them up on it once, and have otherwise contacted family members, but I’m deeply grateful for their willingness to help.

    I also appreciate my office’s general culture of mutual appreciation and politeness, where we’re constantly saying things like, “Thank you for your work on X, it’s so well written.”

  351. Chas*

    This was more of a story of everyone coming together to help someone, but I was in a position where I’d organise charity bake sales roughly twice a year (for established stuff like Macmillan coffee morning or Red Nose day) which, at best, would usually have around 8 people volunteering to bake something and usually raised between £100-200 each.

    But then our long-standing Health and Safety officer was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was asked if I could organise a bake sale to contribute to a fund for her to go on a dream hiking holiday in Ireland, which I put about as much effort into as usual, and it ended up with around 25 people showing up on the day with baked goods, an absolutely packed room full of people coming to buy, and raised £506 for the fund (which ended up totaling over £1000 once other events/collections from our workplace had been included). Maybe not much in the grand scheme of things, but the sheer number of people who contributed to help her was heartwarming, and she was very appreciative of it.

  352. Andi*

    I started my current job in the middle of covid, and it was still such a weird time. I had also just gotten out of a domestic violence situation, and between those two things I had terrible anxiety, especially related to being around other people.
    I met and became friends with one of the few other people who came into the office, the IT manager. He had been with the company for ten years and had a reputation as the grouchiest grumpiest guy around. He had never attended a single office event in all those years because he just kind of hated everyone. But being often the only two people in the office, we got to know each other and got along just fine. I learned he had PTSD and it made it really hard for him to be in groups, too.
    When my company started having in person events again, I was a wreck. Being in a group of people that I had barely met was unbearable, and my anxiety was through the roof.
    Wouldn’t you know it but from that point on Mr. Grumpy came to every single office event and just quietly sat where I could see him or reach him if I was having a panic attack. He barely said a word but kept other people from bothering me, and worked through his own social anxiety just so I would know I had a friend behind me. He still does it, years later.
    It might seem like a little thing but it means everything to me. It’s one of the deepest kindnesses anyone has ever shown me. I work hrd to let him know how much I appreciate him!

  353. redwitsch*

    When I was in secondary (high) school, we had classmate, which mom died and dad not in picture and she was was freshly 18 years old with 14 year old sister and no relatives. I live in Czechia, so she asked state for orphan pension, but it could take up to two months to get money from them and money in her mom account was frozen with her death until notary will deal with heritage and she needed to pay for their expenses like flat, food etc until then. When we found it, we started collection in my class for her to have some money until then (well our parents money) and one of teachers saw it and asked, what we are doing, we told him and also we told our friends in another class in same year. Teacher told it to other teachers, so we got money from teachers and money from another class. In the end we collected enough money for her and her sister to live for next three months. This was around 2004 so before Gofundme etc. was available.

  354. Mary Smith*

    Not someone else, but me (without anyone knowing it was me). I had a coworker who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and would have some really bad days where she could barely walk and would slowly shuffle to her office (a long way from the parking lot).

    We lived in a very snowy part of the country, so if I saw she was having a bad day, I would sneak down and clean the snow off her car for her and then return to work, hoping no one saw me.

  355. Alianne*

    One weekend in the heart of summer after a huge storm, the power went out in my apartment building. My fourth-floor apartment was stifling, the food in the fridge and freezer was spoiling/melting, and I couldn’t sleep because the temperature inside never got below 80F. I had to go work my shift at the big bookstore, where they at least had power and air-conditioning. I must have looked like hell when I went in, the manager on duty asked if I was okay. I gave her a quick summary and went to my register. When I clocked out for my break, there was a chocolate bar in my locker, and a note that said “Get dinner and a cold drink at the cafe, tell them it’s on me” signed by that manager. I did, felt a hundred times better, and by the time I got home that night my power was back on. It was a very small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve never forgotten it.

  356. AC*

    When I worked in an elementary school, nearly the entire faculty was consisted of women. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was presented with two comically large bags full of good-quality maternity clothes. It turns out that these bags have been circulating for years among the faculty, saving underpaid teachers the expense of having to spend money on clothing we wouldn’t need for that long. It was a small, but extremely kind, gesture!

  357. abitahooey*

    I worked customer support for a tech company years and honestly worked with some of the absolute nicest people ever. The moment that springs to mind is when I had a really long, frustrating call with a person who just would not listen to me. I was really running out of steam towards the end and I felt myself welling up just due to the sheer frustration of explaining the same thing fifty times. Suddenly, one of my coworkers sat down next to me, took my hand, and held it until the call was over. Then after the call finally ended she asked if I needed a hug!

    Another time, June 2020, we were incredibly busy and everyone in the department was super stressed, sad, and taking sick days left and right. I got an email on a random Tuesday from our department head titled something like “upcoming weekend attendance.” I assumed it would be a gentle but firm request to please show up for our assigned shifts. Instead it was an email informing us that we were all getting a long weekend (paid!), and that management was going to cover our shifts. We just had to clock out the day after tomorrow, take a few days, and come back recharged. Myself and my coworkers got a four-day weekend while our manager, our manager’s manager, the head of our department, and a bunch of volunteers in the company covered our shifts. It was so generous, I still well up thinking about it.

  358. Chas*

    This is more of a case of everyone coming together to help someone, but I used to work in a position where I’d organise 1-2 bake sales a year for charities like Macmillan coffee morning or Red Nose Day, where I’d send a department-wide email asking for volunteers to bring cake to our usual coffee mornings and ask people to donate at least £1 per portion to the charity. Usually I’d get up to 8 people bring bakes and raise £100-200 each time.

    But then our long-standing Health and Safety Officer got a terminal cancer diagnosis and we decided to do a bake sale to raise money for a fund that had been set up to help her go on a dream hiking holiday in Ireland. I put about the same level of effort into organising this as I usually would, but ended up with 25 people bringing baked goods, and a coffee room absolutely packed with people coming to donate, and a total of £506 raised towards the fund (which totaled over £1000 by the time other work events/collections had been included.)

    It maybe wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but the sheer number of people who turned up to contribute was heartwarming for me, and very much appreciated by the H&S officer, who got to visit Ireland, and also see her Grandson be born before she passed.

  359. Frank Doyle (but I'm a lady)*

    Mine isn’t very high stakes, but as someone above said, it’s sometimes easier to be kind in a terrible situation, you know?

    In both 2008 (when the Phillies won the World Series) and 2018 (when the Eagles won the Superb Owl), my respective bosses at my engineering jobs let me take the day off to attend the championship parade(s). Again, not a huge deal, but they could easily have said “no” (it was a silly thing to miss work for on very short notice) or even busted my balls about it later. But I was able to attend with no guilt about missing work or having to fib about why I was out, and they were both memorable events that I will never forget. (And for the Eagles parade, I was working in North Jersey at the time, which is Giants/Jets country!) Neither of those guys were particularly big fans (I was the only person to attend in either office) and I’ve always appreciated that they realized it was important to me.

  360. AtlantaKindness*

    I had just moved to Atlanta and had an interview with a great company. The afternoon before I witnessed a horrific crime while at a coffee shop, but went into the interview anyway not really realizing the impact it had on me. Half way through the interview, the manager asked me if I was okay. I blurted out, “no, I think I’m in shock” and told him what happened. He was incredibly kind and told me a story of something similar happening to him when he first moved to town. And then he said I was still their top candidate and to come back for a final interview next week. He also had someone get me water and walk me to my car. And then eventually I was hired! He continued to be a great manager too.

  361. NotBatman*

    One I think about to this day: I was on a panel interview where a job candidate (in response to my question about DEI) said “Oh honey, you look so young! You could be my daughter!”

    My older male coworker leaned in and said “I suggest you answer that question. Dr. Wayne is our foremost authority on equity.” It meant so much to me to have someone I barely even knew jump in so fast.

  362. JaneMansfield*

    I worked for a small college in my mid 20’s. My boss was a very sweet lady. The president, her boss, was rather intimidating: very tall (over 6′ 5″), very smart (2 doctorate degrees), very serious. During my time there I took a week off to chaperone a youth trip overseas with the church I grew up in, where my parents still attended. Readers, my parents had a house fire while I was away. They were ok, my younger brother was ok, pets were ok. My childhood home was not ok. This was 20 years ago before everyday American cell phones worked in Europe. Although my parents had been able to get in touch with me, I had to wait to call my boss until I landed to tell her I needed an extra day off and why, knowing she would be ok with it.

    I got to work a little early my first day back. No one else in my department was there yet. Set down my stuff, turn on my computer, etc. I turn around and there in my guest chair is the college president. He just wanted to see how I was. He asked about my family and my trip. Even though I was a very junior employee he always treated me with respect and we later had several great conversations.

  363. Britality*

    This is a pretty small one but it’s stuck with me for eight or nine years.

    My birthday is on Pi Day and my coworkers found out day of that I’d 1) never celebrated with pi(e) and 2) never celebrated at work. I come back from a late lunch to a veritable FEAST of individual pie slices spread out on the communal work surface (like a kitchen island) in our shared space: one work friend organized a grocery store crawl during *their* lunches to all the walkable groceries/bakeries in our large city and everyone picked up a couple slices of different flavors so we could all sample birthday pies.

    I definitely cried.

  364. Beth*

    This is a kindness-spiral story. I’m an expert sewer (no false modesty here).

    Early in the pandemic, one of my wife’s colleagues, who had major health problems, had a small supply of masks when masks were at a premium. He shared some of his stash with the whole department, and sent one home to me. It was a rare item: a professionally manufactured mask that was REALLY comfortable.

    I had just decided, after reading each week’s breaking news on whether homemade masks were worth the effort, to start making some. But I didn’t like the patterns I could find online. I took the Really Good Mask and reverse-engineered it, and started cranking out masks.

    The first set went right back to my wife’s workplace. The first went to the donor of the first mask (of course). Most of the recipients LOVED my masks, which were much more comfortable to wear than almost all the others out there, and were fully washable (in hot water) as well.

    I was pulling fabrics from my home stash — 100% tightly woven cotton for the outside, and 100% cotton knit for the linings — recycled t-shirts, in fact. I soon started to run short. That’s when my wife’s co-workers started supplying me — they dug out all the old unused t-shirts from programs from earlier years, and some of them went home and raided their own stashes, or got fabric from their mothers, or aunts, or grandmothers. When I started to get bored, one of my wife’s co-workers went hunting for really interesting, fun, cute cotton fabrics, which kept me going for several more months. (kitty paws! rainbow zebras!)

    I made dozens and dozens of masks! When my wife’s workplace was fully supplied, we started sending them out to the extended families and friends of her co-workers (and mine). I gave masks to random passersby. Some of those masks are still being worn — they occasionally come back to me for repairs.

  365. EhTeam*

    We hired a student at the end of the year who was quite new to Canada and was carpooling while he worked on getting his own vehicle. One of my colleagues drove him to work but also spent time giving him winter driving tips and had him practice behind the wheel. Our workplace is on a highway outside of the city and there can be some challenges when the snow and fog roll in. I am very much not into sharing my space with other people, so it really stood out to me that they were not only kind enough to offer rides, but wanted to set him up for success when he was driving on his own in the upcoming bad weather.

  366. Cynthia*

    When my husband died, his out of town family came for his funeral. Some planned to stay with me. I thought I had it all in control but I knew my grief made me unable to feed them the day they were to show. I made a call to my principal and told her of my situation. She didn’t hesitate and told me not worry. I only expected a casserole, salad and maybe bread but to my grateful surprise, the library media specialist drove up in her large SUV and delivered enough food that lasted for a month(I had to freeze many meals). My late husband’s family were astonished. They looked at me and said, “ Your coworkers must love you.” My principal and colleagues treated me like family. I will never forget their kindness.

  367. anon for this1*

    When I was ending a difficult relationship, I told a few coworkers what was going on so they could be aware that I might need a personal day here or there as I sorted out a new, safer living arrangement. My team was very helpful and understanding, told me to take whatever time I needed, and then quietly and efficiently put some new protocols in place at the office in the event my ex turned up on site.

    Thankfully that challenging period resolved after a few months and I was able to quickly find a much better and safer living situation, but having my workplace’s support and discretion made me feel very supported.

  368. Lou's Girl*

    Years ago, I worked for a large international non-profit. Our city, which housed about 300 of the total 5000 employees, was hit by a massive tornado one Saturday. Thankfully no one was hurt, and only minor damage was done, but our town did lose power for a few days. Upper management called employees to check on us one by one and those they couldn’t get a hold of, some of them drove by our houses to make sure we were ok.

    A week later, upper management called a ‘town hall’ meeting and presented everyone, all 300 of us, with $250 gift cards to local grocery stores.

  369. Mrs. D*

    During the summer of 2020, my mental health took a steep nosedive. I was really struggling, and I was considered an essential worker (school librarian, year-round staff), so I was still going into work a few days a week to get things done in the library. As we approached the new school year that fall, I was put in charge of the enormous task of getting textbooks collected, packaged, and ready for students to pick up for their distance learning. We had 2700+ student, and each one had to have the right books pulled, checked out, and bagged according to the classes on their schedule. I had some school staff to assist, but they were not trained in how our textbook room was organized, or how our computerized library system worked. It was so much pressure and the sheer size of the project was so overwhelming, and I finally…broke.

    I was crying and working at the same time, while trying to hide that I was crying and not doing a very good job of it. My colleague that I work with in the library was concerned for my well-being, and she reach out to our principal to have him check in with me.

    He was so calm and kind and compassionate. He wanted to make sure I was ok and had all the support I needed. He told me to take any time I wanted, whatever days I needed to take care of myself. And he gave me his personal cell phone and told me to call him if I needed anything. He ended up calling me a day or two later to check on me. He saw a struggling educator, lent an ear, and offered unconditional support. He was an amazing principal and an amazing human being. He’s since moved on from the school, but I will never forget him for offering so much kindness and compassion during one of the lowest parts of my life.

  370. Claire*

    i was an entry level employee at a car repair shop and I just found out I was pregnant. being the wonky woman working there, I was nervous about how my co-workers would react, especially because the job was really physically demanding and I wouldn’t be able to do as much. The mechanics noticed my boss denying me breaks and offered to let me take naps inside the cars they had up on the lifts so I could get some rest.

    1. Claire*

      ONLY woman, not wonky woman, though I’m sure I was wonky too, lol. autocorrect claimed another victim

  371. Sit Down and Eat Your Cookie*

    I worked at a large company in a high-rise office building and one day I donated blood at the blood drive in the cafeteria, decided I was too busy to sit and eat my post-donation cookie, and immediately got in the elevator and hit the button for 25 floors up. Turns out this is a bad idea, because my remaining blood rushed to my feet and I instantly fainted in the elevator. A very nice man with an Irish accent scraped me off the floor, got me off the elevator, and sat on the floor chatting with me in the elevator bank for at least 30 minutes until I was able to stand up. I suspect he was someone quite important as the elevator was not publicly accessible and the executive floor was one floor above mine, but I never found out who he was.

  372. msk*

    Many years ago, I supervised a team of 10 and believe me, they were all characters. One of my employees died suddenly after a very brief illness. She was not an easy person to manage, but I’d known her for many years and I was devastated by her death. I cried for days. Unfortunately, HR at the time was no help at all. They didn’t reach out to the team for help in getting through the loss, nor did they help with any of the practical aspects. I was dreading clearing her desk, trying to work up the strength to do it. I came in one morning to find that another employee had done it for me. It was truly the kindest thing anyone ever did for me. She was not at all a warm and fuzzy person, but she knew how difficult it would be for anyone who had been especially close to the deceased employee. She felt that she was close enough to do it with a great deal of respect, but not so close that she would be crushed under the weight. I’ve lost track of her, but Liz, wherever you are, much love and gratitude.

  373. PrizeFighter*

    The company I have worked for for over 10 years has demonstrated numerous times that they have the wellbeing of staff at heart. One colleague was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer (since recovered, thank goodness) and they granted him paid leave for a year for treatment and recovery.

    Another colleague’s wife was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. He had paid leave for all the time he needed to support her through treatment, her sad passing away and then time to gather himself afterwards.

    We have a fairly generous sick leave policy (we’re not in the US) but it’s not infinite. However I know that in an emergency situation I won’t have to worry about running out of paid leave.

  374. T*

    My son was at the age when he couldn’t go to after school care but we lived too far from the school for him to get home on his own. my manager let me shift my work hours so I could come in early and leave early to pick him up. This was well before flex hours became more common.

    I still appreciate him for taking this risk and being flexible.

  375. The Not-A-Fed Fed*

    I’m at a government office. There is a specific law (5 U.S.C. Section 5536) which forbids using federal appropriations (the government’s money) to buy food for federal employees at their official duty station. It’s supposed to prevent corruption and wastage but it also means no pizza parties. Because of this, whenever there’s a major holiday, promotion, retirement, we win an award, or any other reason we might have an office party, it’s either a potluck or our awesome director pays for everything out of her own pocket. And when we do have potlucks, the managers always sign up to bring meat and main dishes because they know they have higher salaries.

  376. eternal student*

    Back in the 1980s, I worked in the head office of a regional retailer. In hindsight, I realize how toxic the company was in many ways, but Mr. A, the company president, was a genuinely wonderful human who truly cared about his employees. If he had actually run the company instead of letting the VP/General Manager run it, it would have been a great place to work, but he was pretty hands-off and didn’t involve himself in day-to-day operations. That said, Mr. A still knew every single employee (close to 500 of us) by name, knew what each person did for the company, and would greet everyone by name whenever he visited one of the stores.

    In the late 1980s, long-time employee, who had been a heavy smoker but who had managed to quit several years previously, was diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time it was discovered, it was at an advanced stage, and the prognosis was very poor. Of course, even a patient with a very gloomy prognosis sometimes lives for months after the initial diagnosis, which was the case with Jose. However, the weakness and malaise resulting from the treatment made it impossible for him to work, and as a result, after he had been ill for several months, he and his wife were on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Mr. A learned about this, and he arranged to financially support Jose and his wife out of his own pocket for the rest of Jose’s life. He also had the HR department keep Jose on the company’s life insurance policy, paying the premiums personally as well, to ensure that Jose’s widow wouldn’t lose her home after her husband died.

    I left that company nearly 30 years ago, but I’ve never forgotten Mr. A and his kindness.

  377. PMaster*

    This is more a “surprise thanks for a typically thankless job” story. I work in state government in service to local government. One day I was WFM part day on a Friday, and the regular SME, my supervisee, was out. I caught a call from a citizen Mr. X who was concerned about something his town wanted to do, and could we keep them from doing it, or at least make them go through the proper impact assessment.

    I was able to pull some basic information together that day, and by the end of the next week had gotten more info from internal experts, contacted the town to advise them of pertinent procedures (and let Mr. X know I did so), and advised Mr. X that although I understood his concerns, our agency unfortunately did not have any particular enforcement authority in the situation.

    A week or two later, Mr. X asked for the contact information of my grandboss (District Manager). I thought “he can’t solve the problem either, so please don’t bother him” but I did it, fearing that it would escalate into A Thing. Grandboss forwarded my boss and me Mr. X’s email saying how professional I was even on what was “practically my day off,” that my replies were thorough and informative, and acknowledged that people in our agency typically do not get recognition for this type of work. Thanks to Mr. X on behalf of powerless bureaucrats everywhere!

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