the plant saver, the altruistic horse, and other stories of kindness at work

Last week we talked about kindness at work. Here are 15 of my favorites of the stories you shared.

1. The teachers

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.

2. The move

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.

3. The theft

I was a very new employee at a law firm and in the middle of a lot of life stuff: divorce, two 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 three 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 coworkers 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?”

4. The puppy

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 coworker. 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 four-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.

5. The plants

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 March 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.

6. The plane tickets

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.”

7. The pasta

In August of 2022, I fell off a boat, landing on the mooring gubbins, breaking five ribs. My boss, realizing 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 :)

8. The phones

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.

9. The boss

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.

10. The basement

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.

11. The calendar

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.

12. The bags

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 saying if anyone had any spare bags I could steal from them, 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 even checked around to see what my favorite color was and made it from that color 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 crocheted bag holder the one woman made for me. It was something so simple, but so thoughtful and so kind.

13. The bike

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.

14. The ally

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 10 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 hard to let him know how much I appreciate him!

15. The one from a horse

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.

{ 253 comments… read them below }

  1. Juicebox Hero*

    After a former boss’ funeral this morning, I needed a dose of the warm fuzzies. Thanks for this, Alison and everyone who contributed.

    1. Alright Alright Alright*

      Same. I just heard that a coworker just unexpectedly lost a parent, and this is a good reminder that you don’t need to be close friends or be asked in order to help. Kindness is never out of place!

    2. Brain sparkles*

      Agreed! I had a good cry while reading these, it was exactly what my heart needed

  2. Goldenrod*

    Aigggh, these all make me want to cry! Especially the boss (#9) and the horse….the horse!!!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Animals know.

      The cat we had when we were kids was technically my brother’s but definitely preferred me (I was older and calmer). One day he had a really terrible day at school and came home and just sat in a chair, moping. The cat came and cuddled up with him for pretty much the first time ever.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        I had 2 dogs – one super cuddly, one super independent and standoffish. A friend of mine was over and had just had surgery. My standoffish dog was super cuddly and gentle around him the whole time he was visiting.

        1. Beka Cooper*

          My stepsister hosted Thanksgiving one year, and my first baby was a little over a year old at that point. My stepsister had two rescue dogs who were somewhat skittish, and she wasn’t sure how they’d do around a baby. They were fine, baby and dogs didn’t really interact much, until my brother got there.

          My brother likes to tease and act like a weirdo, so he entered the room making a weird face and this strange humming noise he can do. The dogs started barking at him, and they moved around the room to position themselves between my brother and my baby. They were protecting the baby they’d just met from the scary humming man!

      2. Tree*

        I was at a small conference two weeks after my cat wandered off. On the last day, I shared a table with a woman who had both her dogs with her. Both came right over to me, let me pet them, and the littler one jumped up into my lap and cuddled. I don’t know how they knew I needed some animal kindness but they did.

        (And my cat came back after three weeks, too skinny but unharmed, so the story has a happy ending!)

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I’m so glad the cat came back!

          I confess I once called my parents in a panic in the middle of church because I couldn’t find one of our cats–I was afraid she had escaped when they opened the garage. The little stinker was asleep under the bed and didn’t bother to get up for lunch.

          1. Goldenrod*

            “The little stinker was asleep under the bed and didn’t bother to get up for lunch.”

            This is a massively cat thing to do. ;D

          2. pagooey*

            Oh, we had a pair of kittens that my retired grandpa thought he’d lost/let escape. Grandpa called his best bud to help him look, and they turned the couch upside down, basically ransacked the entire house. Eventually we found both kittens asleep in the dishtowel drawer in the kitchen–they’d somehow crawled up underneath.

            One of those kittens grew up much too fat to get into that drawer…but for years she’d pull it open and paw all the towels out onto the floor to indicate her displeasure with this circumstance.

          3. Julianna*

            One time when I was visiting my parents, I panicked thinking one of my cats had gotten out. It turned out she had managed to climb into the box spring of the bed in my room. We had to literally cut her out of it, still no idea how she squeezed in there (except that all cats are liquids).

          4. Eater of Hotdish*

            I’m clergy and I would 100% support anyone who took a call about a lost kitty during a service.

      3. UnemployedInGreenland*

        They do know! When my little kitten died (terrible congenital neuro condition – nothing could be done for her), we came home from the awful final vet visit and I just sat on the couch and cried. My son’s cat, who is very skittish and does not cuddle much, came up on my lap and cuddled with me for almost an hour. She knew.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          We had a cat once that we called “The Nurse Cat” because whenever any of us were sick or upset, she’d be right there with us for a cuddle and purr. One day I came home from school in tears and hurled myself onto my bedroom floor, and about a minute or so later I felt something soft stroking my nose and when I opened my eyes, the cat was petting my face and purring at me. <3

          1. Margaret*

            We had a cat when I was a toddler (she lived to be 20) and one night the cat ran into my parent’s room meowing and ran back out towards my room doing this several times. Finally my mom got up and followed her and realized I was having trouble breathing in my sleep. kitty earned the nickname Bianca the wonder cat. My mom was convinced Bianca being a mother herself had something to do with it. Bianca was a stray we found that turned out to be pregnant

      4. two snakes*

        I love my cat but she is not cuddly. I think she knows when I’m upset but she has no idea what to do about it (so she really takes after me in that way I guess). She spent the afternoon I got my cancer diagnosis hiding on top of the fridge after I tried to pet her. After I returned from surgery at the hospital she glared at me for two days (but I did wake up in the middle of the night to her resting her paws on my incision and purring loudly so I assume she was trying to do some kind of healing magic when I wouldn’t notice).

        A few months later I had an intense burst of crying over something I didn’t realize mattered to me and according to my sister she spent the whole time watching me with concern but did not approach. And most recently I was hyperventilating due to anxiety and she ran over and BIT me. Which did make me laugh so I guess it wasn’t totally ineffective.

        Animals may know, but much like people, not all of them are cut out to be nurturers.

      5. Hannah Lee*

        I was at a park once with some friends and their dog, a very strong and rambunctious 2 yr old Golden Retriever they used to call an “eager greeter” They were working on training him to greet more politely, but it just wasn’t taking even after working with several trainers. (he was sweet, but because he was big and eager, and often jumped up, he could knock people over or scare them)

        While there, they we were all sitting together in low folding chairs with EG, on leash but his collar out of grabbing distance, about 10 feet off the main path. A family came around the corner, and a little girl 4-5 years old bolted away from her parents, ecstatically shrieked “DOGGY!” and ran towards EG. It happened so fast, there wasn’t time to grab EG before the little girl got to him; his pet parents were terrified in that instant that he was going to do his usual greeting, jumping up and overwhelming her or knocking her over.

        What did EG do? He was happy to greet her, tail wagging gently, and – for the first time ever when meeting a new person (and a quick moving, touchy, high-pitched voiced one at that) – politely seated while she hugged him, patted him, kissed him, jumped on his back, hugged him again and again. He was the perfect canine citizen with this little girl, never jumping or dashing around her, just sitting calmly and happily soaking up all the love she could would give him. Her parents apologized, and explained that the family had just lost their own golden to illness, and the girl had been so sad and this was the happiest they’d seen her since, and thanked my friends for having such a well behaved dog that she could hug and pet and cuddle for a few minutes.

        It was like EG knew – here’s someone I have to be gentle and calm with and shouldn’t get rambunctious around. Animals know.

        My friends spent the rest of the day joking that someone had done a dog swap on them, like “what dog is THIS who sits calmly when greeting people?”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had missed Mr.Grumpy –going to office events to support someone else when he never did them for himself? He is amazing

      1. Sloanicota*

        This one was my favorite too. I’m not sure why it hit me the hardest but it did. I can just picture this one guy, working alone in the deserted office, gently nurturing a rainforest all through the pandemic. It’s like WALL-E or something.

        1. Baldrick*

          This one is my favorite too. I work with a bunch of military who sometimes have their own issues, and I work with tech, and I can imagine someone at work needing help and am really touched by Mr. Grumpy’s way of giving support.

          1. Anon for this*

            Reminds me of a professor I had who was known for being kind of a hardass. He was ex navy and twigged pretty quickly that I had PTSD. He made a very awkward speech in class about how there was no shame in going to therapy and a bit about his experiences regarding iirc the korean war, and that if we were struggling we could get extensions on assignments and stuff.

            Between that and spending more than my allotted portion of his office hours trying to figure out how to do problem sets, I passed Organic Chem.

    3. Ami abroad*

      To quote another commenter, animals know.

      At my job a number of years ago, we had daily standup meetings at the office. Two colleagues attended with their dogs, who were shy and skittish rescues.
      One morning , I got a call that a friend had had a car accident, but no details. Worried and sad, I went to the meeting.
      Both shy dogs came up to me. One laid down on my feet, the other leaned against me and let me pet her. That helped me through the meeting until I could call back (things weren’t that bad).

      The dogs kept their distance after that day, but the kindness had been done *quick wipe*.

  3. Jzilbeck*

    #4…..and all these stories in general. Thanks, someone started cutting onions at my desk…

  4. EttaPlaceInBolivia*

    Not surprised about the teachers stepping up and providing for kids! I have stood in for parents at games, awards assemblies, graduation, and once helped move a former student into his college dorm. Some people just don’t realize how amazing and wonderful their own children are.

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      I still think about all the wonderful teachers I’ve had in my life. I had the same French teacher for four years in HS and she was a real hardass. And she only spoke in French and we all had to speak only in French in her class….or else (probably why I still remember a lot of French two decades later though lol). But one time I was having a tough time at home and was crying in her class about something. She pulled me aside and said (in English) that I was a good kid, I was smart and capable and I would get through this! Those words have (clearly) still stuck with me and her humanity towards me really made a difference to me.

      1. Goldenrod*

        You always remember the kind teachers. I had a math teacher I still think about sometimes. It was my worst subject and I had a lot of math anxiety.

        I got a bad grade on a test, and my teacher had written on it, “This grade does not reflect your true ability.” Thinking about that still makes me teary. I ended up getting an A- in that class, which was unheard of for me.

        1. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

          It’s the classic difference between “nice” and “kind.”
          The best teachers may not be the nice ones, but they have an unbelievable capacity for kindness.

          1. Carl*

            I’m (very obviously) gay. I grew up in WV. The day after Ellen “came out” on her show (the original sitcom in the 90s, not the talk show), 3 of my 4 teachers gave a speech or had a discussion for the class about supporting gay people. I still vividly remember my 60-ish year old Spanish teacher stomping her foot on the ground, and emphatically declaring “I want to take a minute to STAND UP for all of the gay people!” Decades later, it has stuck with me. For several reasons, I feel like it was orchestrated because of and in support of me specifically. Maybe not, but it felt like it at the time and it meant a lot to me. Still means a lot.

      2. Sue*

        Started humming “To Sir With Love”. Teachers can have such a huge impact on kids. Good ones are treasures.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      My best friend is a grade 8 teacher, and she often has kids whose parents don’t show up for grad. She can’t be a stand-in parent at the grade 8 grad of course, because she’s already there as a teacher. But if any of those kids still needs a stand-in parent when they graduate high school, she will *always* go.

    3. Cat Lady*

      Neither am I. I know a couple people who work in education and they care a great deal about their students. None of them would hesitate to help a child in need.

      I just wish that it wasn’t on the teachers to provide resources out of their own pockets for kids, since a lot of teachers aren’t making huge amounts of money themselves and are constantly being asked to do more with less. I’m glad that those teachers in #1 stepped up, but I’m sad that they had to do that in the first place.

      1. Carl*

        My mom was a teacher/principal. I remember often going with her to drop off food to several kids during school breaks, kids that she (and other teachers) knew wouldn’t otherwise be able to eat when school wasn’t in session. There were also always multiple kids for whom teachers would pay for a second lunch (in addition to the free lunch paid for by gov’t program) so the kid could have something to bring home for dinner. I’m sure that’s a very common teacher experience. So sad that falls on teachers.

    4. English Teacher*

      Yep, that’s why I always go to our middle schoolers’ concerts and plays (it’s certainly not for the quality of the entertainment!!). I had parents who, partly because of work and partly because of their own issues, weren’t always there for me at school stuff. I know very well that kids need someone there to tell them they were fantastic.

      1. Anonynon*

        Three of my daughter’s teachers came to see her at her most recent play and it meant the world to her, even with enthusiastically supportive parents, grandparents, and aunts/uncles!

    5. roster gang*

      teachers are really amazing. i always felt pretty anonymous at school – quiet, kept my head down, probably easy to teach – so i didnt think any of the teachers noticed/cared about me. until one day, a really bad personal thing became something i couldn’t handle alone and i ended up going to the principal in tears, not knowing who else to talk to (small school, no social support type staff). she let me talk and then helped me with university applications so that i was able to get scholarships based on my circumstances.

      when my final results came out for my last year of high school, i did a lot worse than i had hoped (due to the circumstances studying was impossible) and many of my teachers came to find me to commiserate, and said i still did a really great job either way. i was stunned by it at the time – one very kindly teacher even gave me a hug – and to this day i’m still shocked by the kindness. it seemed like a lot of them had their fingers crossed for me anyway, and i’d never really had any support like that before.

    6. Good Enough For Government Work*

      In my fourth year of uni, I was stony, stony broke, even with a part time job – assistant manager at a cafe in the nearest shopping centre.

      Anyway, one day I turned up for work only to find THERE WAS NO CAFÉ. Debt collectors had turned up overnight and taken everything they could move – chairs, tables, equipment, the lot. I was stood staring at it in stunned disbelief when my high school history teacher walked past with her husband. And recognised me.

      Four years since I’d even been in her school, Ms K gave me a huge hug and took me out for tea and cake (at a still-existing café!) with her husband for over an hour until I felt better.

  5. Dust Bunny*

    This is a minor one: We were rushing to finish up one day so we could close early for our coworker’s baby shower. Coworker came out of the bathroom and very calmly said, “Could someone give me a ride to the hospital? My water just broke.”

    Low-grade panic.

    One of us gave her a ride. Two others ferried her car home so her husband wouldn’t have to come get it. Two more collected all the shower gifts and delivered them to her house so she’d have at least that much to get started; I think they stopped and got some extra diapers on the way.

    We had a second shower, minus the gifts, two months later and the baby came as the guest of honor.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Something similar happened at my old job. I was out that day, but a pregnant coworker’s water broke. Similar flurry of activity, and one thing she needed was a towel to sit on while a coworker drove her to the hospital. My work BFF remembered that I kept a towel at my desk for when we ate lunch outside at a nearby park. She knew I wouldn’t mind and gave it to her. I was so happy I could help even when I wasn’t there!

      (My friend sent me a text later and offered to buy me a new one if I did mind, but she was right, I didn’t!)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ha, that happened to a friend of my ex.

      A pregnant coworker at LongAgoNonprofitJob had her water break while sitting in the visitor chair in our boss’s cubicle. She had a baby girl and Boss got a new chair, lol.

    3. UnemployedInGreenland*

      Something sort of similar happened to me with my second child. At a regular wellness check, my ob/gyn suddenly declared that she didn’t like what she saw in my test results and I needed to go home and be on bed rest for the remainder of the time until the baby came. I alerted my boss, who sounded a little odd on the phone but I was too distracted to think about it. A few weeks later, there was a knock at the door and a delivery service person was there with a HUGE load of baby presents, food, a cake, and an envelope of cash. Evidently, my boss was concerned about the fact that my surprise baby shower was already planned and I would now not be there. So they shipped the whole thing to me. It was so lovely of them to take care of us that way.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      The extra diapers are the cherry on top; that shows not just niceness but kind thoughtfulness.

  6. fka Get Me Out of Here*

    Gosh, this was lovely to read – I’m having such a hard time today. The plant one was the first one that made me cry, somehow.

    1. GhostGirl*

      Same thing happened at my company – not nearly such a passionate plant culture, but there were people who had lots. The Facilities Manager quietly took care of all of them – something I was grateful for when 3 weeks later I finally managed to get into the office long enough to pick up the shamrock that was all I had left of my late mother-in-law.

      Sadly my stupid cat ate it 2 years later lol.

    2. Elbe*

      That one got to me, too.

      There’s something so sad about knowing that a bad outcome will happen (like plants dying) but not being able to stop it due to circumstances. It’s such a happy relief when everything works out.

    3. Plants OP*

      I’m the one who shared the plant story. My phone’s browser kept timing out when I tried to post but I was really determined to share – it was just too good to keep to myself! I’m really happy to see it’s touched some of the commentariat.

      1. adk*

        I remember during the peak of Covid when I was sitting at home alone and unemployed that there was a Feel Good story on the news about the Facilities folks saving the plants. Basically, they carefully labeled all the plants from all the desks and took them down to the cafeteria that had huge windows. The plants were saved and the story made the news.

        1. M*

          I remember that one too! (Or, at least, one of “that one”s – suspect it was the kind of thing that happened in more than a few places.) The one I remember reading about had a facilities staff member who clearly *was* very into gardening, and had clearly had an absolute whale of a time setting up the indoor greenhouse of his dreams, complete with plant-feeding schedules, which just… delightful.

      2. PMaster*

        Hi OP! Don’t get me wrong, I like puppies, food, and the kindness of strangers, but your story really got me too. Definitely a reminder of the big “what if people can’t…?” questions during early COVID.

      3. Possible Ex-Coworker*

        I wonder if we worked for the same org– was this in the PacNW?

        If not, I’m glad to know this happened twice. :)

      1. Zelda*

        Because the facilities guy didn’t do it because he also loved plants. He did it for his coworkers– “I care about it because I know it’s important to you.” Noticing what others value, and being willing to enter into their concerns, is a precious piece of community-building.

    4. Baldrick*

      There was a fire at work years ago and I lost a variety of things, but the one that still stands out is my plant. That story really touched me too!

    5. daffodil*

      similar lines, during covid when (almost) nobody was in person one of my org’s security guys found someone’s office fish had yeeted itself out of the tank, scooped it up off the floor, and it lives to this day.

      1. The Rafters*

        I loved the plant stories and the horse, but for some reason, your fish story moved me to tears.

    6. Happy Spider Plant-mom*

      The plants one hit me too! When our office closed they only had us back to pack up and move nearly a year later. We expected all the office plants to be dead too, but the contracted cleaners had diligently watered and tending the plants! To the point they started re-potting spider plant babies into any container they could find.

      When we moved out everyone was told to take some of the babies. Mine now lives in my home office, fondly planted in a plastic mini-trash can.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      We love our plants and my workspace has several that we tend and fuss over. (Charlotte, our newest, was pupped from the office spider plant!) So yes, when people notice something you care about, and care for it as a kindness? Just yes.

  7. Pink Geek*

    The grumpy ones so often turn out to be nice people trying to protect themselves from being hurt again. <3

    1. Elizabeth West*

      OldExjob — when I started, everyone warned me about the grumpy facilities manager. He turned out to be my favorite coworker. We’re still friends on Facebook.

  8. zinzarin*

    My favorite part of this list is that none of them are of the “GoFundMe for services that a developed nation like America should be providing for all of its citizens anyway” variety.

    Kudos to the student who gifted the puppy. I cried.

    1. Dee*

      But they’re also Extra – like, above and beyond basic, “Oof, that stinks, hope you feel better.”

    2. Cat Lady*

      I mean… I’d argue that #1 is. Those teachers sound like wonderful human beings and I commend them. But if a child’s teacher is the difference between that child having basic things like food and clothes or not having them, something is wrong with that picture.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        Fair enough, but for most children, they rely on their parents to provide those things. So even if the family is well off, the children aren’t going to be able to afford those things if the parents are not bothering to buy them for the children.

        1. LongtimeReader*

          This isn’t the case everywhere. Finland (and I’m sure most of Scandinavia) ensures children are fed, clothed, provided with medical/dental/mental health care regardless of their parents’ economic status.

          This is absolutely something that a wealthy developed country CAN provide. The US just … chooses not to.

  9. Snarky Monkey*

    #6 made me ugly cry at my desk. I had a similar situation when my father had a heart attack in another state, and I had similar support and love from my coworkers. This whole thread is just the BEST thing. :)

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My father died suddenly. I’m a doc and was in the middle of office hours. I walked out and left patients in rooms. The office staff took care of them, took care of my schedule, sent a donation in his memory, and tidied up my office. I called three days later to tell them when I was going to be back and other than that I was completely unplugged from work for ten days. And when I got back I found my schedule had been reduced by several patients each day.

    2. Seamyst*

      Oh, yes. My dad passed away from cancer while I was at a professional conference. My boss told me to go home that day and the airline ticket change fees would be covered. A coworker drove four hours round-trip to attend his memorial three weeks later, even though she’d only met him once for a few minutes, because she knew how close we were.

      1. Anonynon*

        I had three coworkers drive 180 miles one-way to attend my dad’s service last year. It was incredibly touching.

  10. OnyxChimney*

    Big thank you to #1. As a kid who received this sort of school community support it’s a big reason I was able to get a degree and make my way comfortably into the middle class.

  11. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    As an aspiring grumpy old man, I appreciate the several grumpy-old-man-with-a-kind-heart stories.

    1. metadata minion*

      Ditto! For obvious reasons, a this blog is mostly about things going wrong, and it’s so nice to see a collection of just straightforwardly awesome stuff.

      1. Anonopotamus*

        This might be too specific/narrow, but could we do stories about coworker relationships that turned from bad to good? I experienced that situation several jobs ago, and I still think about it from time to time…especially on days like today when reading stories about ornery colleagues doing nice things.

        1. Keyboard Cowboy*

          Oh, I’d love that. I don’t have many adversarial relationships at work, but I do have a couple and it feels hopeless. I’d love to see examples of how others turned it around.

        2. I'm not crying either*

          I had a very difficult day today too, and this post was a wonderful antidote Alison! If you do it again, perhaps it could come out the day or week after the worst bosses of the year.

        3. Rainbow Reports*

          Reminds me of a story one of my prior bosses told me.

          There was another manager that my boss didn’t get a long with. They both went to these regular meetings where they had to present a budget report for their department or something like that. One time after one of those meetings the other manager told my boss that he presented the same report each time, but just changed the colors. My boss liked that manager a little more after that.

      2. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)*

        Hm, here are a couple themes:
        – small acts that meant a lot (thinking of the coworker who blocked his calendar to be available)
        – animal-themed stories
        – stories from former coworker/bosses who did nice things in the process of or after leaving the workplace

      3. Elbe*

        Maybe this is too niche, but I have a soft spot for people righting others’ wrongs.

        Like, a coworker standing up to the office bully on behalf of a more jr colleague, a new manager flagging a pay gap and fixing it, etc.

      4. MsMaryMary*

        Once I had a hiring manager ask me about my favorite day at work. Or the best day I ever had at work. Something along those lines. You could give people an opportunity to brag about themselves a little as well as to share any delightful work days.

        It would also be fun to have a Best Boss contest alongside the annual Worst Boss award.

      5. Seeeeeee*

        Yes, please. Perhaps run them every Wednesday for a bit of Hump Day Happiness. Get us through the rest of the week….

      6. Anonychick*

        Birdie’s story below (about how their coworkers helped after their husband lost his eye) made me think of another theme: unexpected/out-of-the-box help!

        Examples: the coworker who blocked off his own calendar in case his support was needed, or the one who came to office events to be PTSD support, or Birdie’s post-grad fellow who came over to play with their 4yo. (Also the one with the horse catching the worker, I guess, but that feels like a different category.)

      7. Bird names*

        If it’s not too far off – ways an encouragement or a recommendation of a teacher/mentor has set us up for unexpected success or a completely new trajectory?

        1. Bird names*

          Or how about sweet customer interactions, either customer or employee side?
          No. 8 was not quite that, but I liked that a completely different business with (no/minimal ?) connections simply stepped in.

      8. SarahKay*

        I’d love to see some ‘good boss’ ones. We hear so much about bad bosses (inevitably, given your blog topic) and it’d be great to hear about things where bosses did the right thing, or went the extra mile, etc.

      9. Limonade*

        How about, secret kind things we have done for others! This thread has been such a joy to read. We all need that reminder that there are kind people out there, especially in work situations that can often be grim or stressful.

    2. UnemployedInGreenland*

      Yes, please! I read and reread the original thread over and over in the past few days. I’m having a terrible time with my job search (almost 7 month unemployed and it’s killing me) and I so needed all of these stories of good people doing good things.

    3. Dadjokesareforeveryone*

      I really second this. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some bad manager/workplace/co-worker stories, but with all the negativity that seems to be all over the news and social media these days it really helps to read about people being kind and helping others.

  12. Birdie*

    I missed the original kindness at work post, so I wanted to share my story.

    In March 2021, my husband lost an eye due to a devastating infection. Besides that trauma, I was juggling having to drive him 2 hours each way twice a week for a month for follow-ups, keep life as normal as possible for our 4 year old, somewhat keep up on my own work, fight never ending fights with scheduling departments who were adamant that he didn’t need an appointment this week despite very clear doctor instructions, stay on top of the never-ending medication schedule, etc.

    My work sprung into action. A group dedicated themselves to mowing our yard and general outdoor maintenance 6 weeks my husband was forbidden from doing anything. Someone else set up a meal train so that the first week after my mom returned home, dinner was one less thing to worry about. A post-grad fellow said he couldn’t cook, but he would come once a week that first month to play with my son. My Executive Director moved me to 20 hours a week for 4 weeks without docking my pay or benefits. All those things, they just……did them. Without being asked. Without asking me “What can I do to help?” They just did them, and thank god, because I could barely remember to breathe, especially those first couple of weeks when it felt like our whole world imploded.

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      Wowwww this one made me tear up a little :’) I hope your husband and family are doing better now!

      1. Birdie*

        Thanks. We’re in a much better place today–which is the three-year anniversary of the surgery. He has am amazing prosthetic eye and no one can tell it’s fake. We’ve had to make some adjustments, like different mirrors on our cars and me remembering not to come up behind him on the side he lost the eye because of his blind spot, but he lives an absolute normal life. Even was the pitcher for our son’s coach-pitch baseball team!

        1. Goldenrod*

          I’m so glad that had a good outcome, in the end! That sounded like such a traumatic experience.

    2. 2 Cents*

      There’s something I love about the post-grad coming over to play with the 4YO. As a mom to a little one, I would’ve appreciated that so much.

      1. Birdie*

        I may have cried watching a post-grad play monster trucks in the sandbox with an enthusiastic 4 year old.

        When his fellowship was up, he decided as much as he enjoyed what he did, he was going to follow his heart and enter the ministry. I happily wrote many letters of recommendation to seminary.

    1. SarahKay*

      Sometimes we don’t suck.

      It’s just lovely to read about how people are (can be) totally awesome.

  13. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Faith restored in humanity.

    For all the bananapants letters we get, this at least reminds us that most offices are decent and supportive.

    What tickets, no idea what you are talking about …

  14. Throwaway Account*

    These are all so lovely!
    Thank you to Alison for posting them and to everyone who shared!

  15. Octavia*

    This. Is your Monday sucking? This is what you need. It’s what I needed. Thank you for sharing it. It just goes to show that there are good people in the world.

  16. Email (Optional)*

    I’m no stranger to wanting to cry on deadline day but it sure is nice holding back happy tears for once. What a fabulous and much-needed dose of human kindness (plus a nice reminder that big-hearted bosses DO exist!), thank you for every single one of these!

    1. FlexingRhetoric*

      yes, I agree! as much as I love the terrible stories, these ones were so wonderful to read. I would love more lists like this.

  17. NYWeasel*

    I forgot this story until just now, but when I was in my last year of undergrad, I had a brutal schedule. I’d work full time in the day, go to classes in the afternoon, and then be up until 2am or so trying to finish my capstone project. My boss was very supportive about all of this and didn’t even give me grief when I rolled in bleary-eyed and exhausted.

    I’d worked hard enough to be included in an honors program that featured a fully paid trip during spring break, but I had to turn it down because I needed the time to focus on my project. A few months later, when I graduated, my boss presented me with a gift: A fully paid trip to that specific city where he’d also arranged for me to work on a project in my field. I ended up staying in the city for 2.5 months and had a great addition to my resume. On the weekends and evenings I was free to explore and see all the cultural things I’d missed during spring break.

    I recently turned 54 and haven’t worked with that boss since I got back from the trip. But he was still the very first person to call me on my birthday and wish me well!

  18. Two Fluffy*

    I didn’t add mine but I’ll share now:
    Years ago, I had a fantastically bad year. All the things happened one after another. My best good dog died, my uncle died, my grandma died, I was in a car accident and my truck was totaled, I broke both bones in my lower leg. Then, I found out I also needed spinal surgery. My boss at the time was not especially kind or helpful and I was in a low-paying job. She was known for being pretty grouchy and got irritated with us if we needed to take a day off. I had used all my vacation with the broken leg and then I was told I’d need at least 12 additional weeks recovery for the spinal surgery. Needless to say, it was extremely stressful. When I started my leave for surgery, I somehow kept getting a paycheck. I didn’t realize until later that my boss has donated enough stored vacation time to cover my leave.

  19. I edit everything*

    I love the stories about the seeming grumps (human and equine) who step quietly into the breach.

    1. Tammy 2*

      Me too. I often say that nice people aren’t always kind–someone can be sweet as pie but be kind of a nasty person under the surface. This is the other side of that coin–grumps who are incredibly kind. I love it.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          I try to say “charming” rather than “nice.” Charming is morally neutral. Some people are naturally charming—the interior shines through the exterior. Some are charming but unkind, manipulative, or selfish—the exterior charm deflects observation and the interior isn’t clear.

          1. Old Woman in Purple*

            I tend towards the term ‘Civil’. ‘Charming’ still has a positive flourish to it. Someone can be ‘Civil’, neutrally doing all the required human interactions without necessarily being nice, charming, rude, mean, or whatever.

            1. DyneinWalking*

              “Civil” works as a general neutral term, but Shirley Keeldar is trying to describe the kind of performative niceness that can camouflage manipulative and nasty behavior. “Charming” works much better for that – it does have a positive connotation but unlike “nice” doesn’t imply “treating people well” so much as “making people feel like the person is someone who treats people well”. People can be charming without ever making any meaningful contribution to anyone’s lives – it can be all big gestures without substance. “Civil”, on the other hand, doesn’t cover the kind of behavior where people make big promises and grand (but unrequested and unnecessary) presents while simultaneously tearing down everyone around them.

  20. Becky S*

    For many years I supervised cognitively impaired adults who lived in their own apartments in the community. I saw many instances over the years of people treating them kindly, recognizing they needed a little extra patience to complete whatever business was at hand. I’ve been retired 9 years and I still get weepy thinking of those people. There’s a lot of goodness in the world.

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

      I am Pasta Person – I mentioned where it came from there, but anyone who missed it (and is in the UK) it’s pastaevangelists (dot) com. They are very good. Sadly, I don’t live in an area where I can get the ‘takeaways’ but the send the kits (fresh pasta, sauces and garnishes) in cool boxes all over the country. They’re delicious and most take mere minutes to prepare.

      1. pandop*

        and thanks to the other thread I discovered that I am in the takeaway area – and I have a birthday coming up …

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved the episode where she gives Ron his perfect birthday party; it showed she really knew him.

  21. DivergentStitches*

    Not a “workplace” per so, but I help take care of some fancy dressage horses in exchange for learning to ride lessons from the trainer. She just had a stroke a couple of weeks ago. The amount of support I’ve seen from her volunteers and employees, as well as the owners of horses she trains AND owners of horses that have moved on to other programs, is amazing. She’s doing wonderfully and is already in the rehab part!

  22. Art3mis*

    I missed the original thread. In the mid-90s my mom had an unexpected illness and spent an extended period in the ICU. We, my dad, my brother, and I (we were in HS at the time) and some extended family were spending a lot of time at the hospital. Her coworkers arranged to send boxed lunches to the hospital for us to give us a break from hospital food. When she passed away they planted a tree on the company campus.

  23. Lils*

    I came for the drama and instead here I am crying over heartwarming stories of human decency. I hope we can do this again soon.

  24. Temperance*

    I didn’t share this on the original post, but feel compelled to share here:

    A few years ago, my husband was staffed on a project that had serious crunch time during one specific week. Coincidentally, I also ended up in the hospital on an emergency basis that week. (Pre-COVID.)

    They gave him the week fully off, paid, as “emergency family leave”, and his coworkers picked up all the slack.

  25. What_the_What*

    My Mom passed suddenly at 50. I traveled from 12 hours away with 2 toddlers to help my Dad. I’d never had anyone pass away in my life up to then, and he was a wreck. Food for the reception after the funeral hadn’t occurred to either of us until that morning. We thought, “oh well, I think someone dropped off a ham.” We were operating on adrenaline and sympathy. When we returned home, there was SO MUCH FOOD. My brother’s (grocery store) employer had sent over friend chicken, multiple salads, sandwich platters, chips, cases of soda, cookies, brownies, I can barely remember all of it, from their deli. They weren’t asked to do it, they just did…and all for free.

  26. Blanked on my AAM posting name*

    I lost my little sister unexpectedly during the pandemic – she was only 37 – and, unsurprisingly, I was a wreck for some time afterwards. The teenage son of a co-worker, who I had never met and whose name I still don’t know, heard me crying on a Zoom call to his mum and interrupted our conversation to show me his new kitten.

    The simple kindness of the lad, who heard an upset stranger and thought “who can be sad when faced with a cute kitten?” will always stick with me.

  27. OccupationalTherapyisAmazing*

    I got midway through the stories before I had to stop reading because I am starting to cry at my desk and I need to teach a lecture. Thank you so much for this post, it has filled my heart!

  28. RagingADHD*

    It is such a lovely break from online negativity in general to read such nice, wholesome stories! I hope posts like this become a regular feature.

  29. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

    I’m not crying….You’re crying….oh the tears…..wonderful tears….

  30. Elbe*

    Years ago, I got a call on a Friday that my grandfather’s condition had gotten much worse and I needed to come home ASAP to say goodbye. It was a mad scramble to find transportation back to my hometown for me and my dog. Thankfully, we made it. I was able to have a day with my grandfather before he passed.

    I realized that in the commotion, I had forgotten to take out my trash before I left. It was going to be a bad situation by the time I returned. The only person who had access to my apartment was my dog walker. I sent her a text explaining the situation and asked if she would be willing to keep a walk on the schedule for that Monday, even though my dog wasn’t there, so that she could get paid for doing this favor for me. She agreed.

    When I got home about a week later, I found that not only had she done me this favor, but she had left a sympathy card and chocolate bar on the table for me. It was so kind and so unexpected – I cried.

  31. Wendy Darling*

    When I left academia I worked for a few months at a very, very shitty temp job. The company was very formal and strict even when there was no reason for it, e.g. I worked in the mailroom doing fairly grubby work on my feet all day but was required to wear business wear (think slacks and a blouse and nice shoes). We weren’t allowed to clock in early OR late, but we all shared one time clock so someone was always in trouble for clocking in at 7:58 or 8:03. That kind of job.

    My mom unexpectedly needed major surgery after I’d been working there for 3 months, and there was a chance she would either not survive or suffer serious brain damage. I asked if I could have two days off to stay at the hospital with my dad while she was in surgery and recovery, and help her get settled back in at home. My boss said if I needed time off he would simply replace me with another temp.

    The day of my mom’s surgery I was max stressed. My coworkers, normally slackers because we worked hourly for peanuts, quietly did their own work at top speed and then covertly helped me finish my work, so by 2pm I literally had nothing else to do. Then the boss’s favorite went to him and told him we didn’t have anything to do so he should send me home early. By some miracle (or fear of the wrath of my coworkers) he agreed, so I was able to be there when my mom got out of surgery.

    1. Anonychick*

      This is a great example of “bad thing with a silver lining”! (Regarding Alison’s question about possible themes for her to do this again, and someone suggesting silver linings.)

  32. Tessa*

    These stories are the best thing I’ve read in a long time, and made a gloomy Monday so much better. Alison, would you consider making it a regular feature?

  33. 1-800-BrownCow*

    I’m not crying, my eyes are just leaking….

    Love these stories!! Thank you all for sharing. A great reminder that not all heroes wear capes. And just the smallest act of kindness can have the biggest impact on someone else’s life.

  34. juliebulie*

    These stories were incredibly touching. I hate humankind just a little bit less today. :-)

  35. Teachers Kid*

    Honestly, story number 1 reminded me so much of my Mom and the schools she’s worked at. Teachers do so much and most of them would give the shirt off their own back to make sure their students were fed, protected, and cared for. We really need to pay them more and adequately fund our schools.

    1. Im#3*

      That boss is still a good friend to this day, over 20 years later. I learned so much about being a good manager from him.

  36. Dana Lynne*

    Thanks so much for doing this. I really needed to read this and I am sure I am not alone in that.

  37. anonned*

    Reading these reminded me of my fantastic managers when I was working as a teacher in Japan.

    We were prepping for a huge, 3-day, all schools in the district event, the biggest of the year, when my partner called to tell me something absolutely devastating had happened to two of their students. The school closed for everyone to grieve so they would’ve been home alone for three days. I contacted my two managers in a haze what I was even asking for, and they immediately told me to go home and be with my partner rather than do the event. I got to take care of them for the rest of the week rather than the hugely stressful event where you had to be all smiles. They let the other teachers know I couldn’t be there because of a family emergency, so I didn’t have to answer tons of questions from my groups I had to bail on. It meant so much to me that they instantly supperted me taking time off like that in a work culture where you’re often expected to work unless you’re on death’s door. It wasn’t even “my” grief. They never even took it out of my (very generous) PTO.

  38. Jennifer Strange*

    #13 reminded me of when I did an internship at a theatre about ten years ago. Most of us were from out of town and the organization provided housing about a mile from the theatre. It was in Phoenix, so there technically was public transportation, but it wasn’t as robust as, say, NYC or Chicago. One of the interns decided to buy a bike to commute to work. She had it maybe two weeks when it was stolen. While we were paid, it wasn’t a lot, so she was pretty upset. Then the husband of one of the other employees bought her a new bike AND a new (better) bike lock.

  39. Evelyn Karnate*

    I posted this last week but didn’t see it appear. Apologies if it’s a repeat.

    When my dad died in September 2020, my workplace was fully remote. All of my colleagues were kind but one gesture stands out. stand out. 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.

  40. Zap R.*

    I love all of these but the Bitey story is my favourite story in the history of this site.

    1. Bruce*

      That is a doozy! I’m not a really horsey person but from what I know they are very sensitive to physical cues, horse probably knew she was in trouble before she did…

  41. Gliss*

    I suppose this is more “basic decency” than incredible kindness, but the difference between my two experiences is kinda blowing my mind:

    Several years ago, I had to spend several months in physical therapy for a shoulder injury. I was, at the time, working part time as a cashier at a grocery store. I asked my manager to schedule me fewer shifts, or shorter shifts, or at least more often over in the place where there was less scanning (which the repetitive motion aggravated the injury) and a greater variety of work? They did exactly the opposite. And I often had to remind them that I HAD to leave at my scheduled time, instead of waiting for my cover (which I usually had no problem doing!), to make it to my appointment. It ended fine, but was a giant (physical and metaphorical) pain for those several months.

    Now I have a different job, and just started physical therapy for my other shoulder (similar problem; going theory is that they’re just poorly constructed and my non-dominant arm caught up with me). I have been explicitly told to do whatever I need to do in order to get my PT and not hurt myself. Go take an appt in the middle of the day, because that’s what’s available? Perfect. Work short days because of the pain with no notice? Awesome, and you can use any combination you like of PTO and Saturday work to make up for whatever you need to. Even decide at the end of the week what you can handle, we’ll make sure the PTO gets approved.

    Gosh I love this job so much!

    1. NotARealManager*

      Yep, human decency makes a huge difference.

      At OldJob (making barely over minimum wage) I was not permitted to leave work for an ear infection so painful that I couldn’t even sit upright until I had found coverage. I only worked there three months (quit voluntarily with no other plans in place).

      At CurrentJob I was throwing up every 20 minutes until a co-worker noticed and mentioned I should talk to my boss. He said, “please go and you don’t need to worry about coming back until you feel better.” Then he “forgot” to deduct the PTO in my absence. I’m now coming up on my three year anniversary.

      1. Laser99*

        You’d think I would be inured to it, but it still astounds me how so many bosses/companies don’t understand that if you treat your employees well, they will pay it back in kind.

        1. Zeus*

          Absolutely! I’m currently at a workplace that cares about its staff and their well-being, and gives me a lot more leeway on things like that (which is helpful since I’m currently dealing with several health issues). It’s no coincidence that this is also the workplace I’ve stayed at the longest in my life.

  42. Will's Mom*

    I totally missed the kindess post. Back in 2015, my 26 year old son committed suicide. I was still working, but my husband was retired due to having strokes that prevented him from working. I and two other ladies worked in a satellite office away from corporate. (this matters to the story) The sheriff came to our home to notify my husband. He called me to let me know. He gave me the Sheriff’s name, so I called to get more information, in the hopes that my DH had misunderstood. Nothing like denial, right? Sadly, it was true. I wanted to break down and scream and cry, but I had to make the 60 minute drive home, so I managed to remain calm. Evidently, I called his employer to tell them, although I have no memory of this. Anyway, I went into my manager’s office to let her know. I could not speak at all. She obviously knew something was wrong so she gave me a bottle of water and told me to take my time. I was finally able form words. She immediately called the owner and told him she was closing down the office for the day. I had a manual transmission car, and at the time it was the only car my DH and I had. Neither of the other ladies knew how to drive a stick so I had to drive myself. My manager rode with me and my co worker followed in her car so they could get back to work. At that time, money was tight, and I only had about $1,000 to pay for his funeral expenses. My manager asked what I needed. I was embarrassed to tell her, but I told her I needed money more than anything. The owner of the company notified all the branch offices of what happened and that I needed money to pay for my son’s final expenses. They came through with another $1,000. My son’s employees contributed $500 and the owner of that company gave $1,000, and a $100 gift card to a sandwich shop so that we would not have to worry about preparing food. One of my co workers, who I spoke with on the phone, but I had never met, made me a lovely painting of doves that she painted on a wooden board just for me. My other son’s company gave him money in lieu of flowers, and both my daughters companies donated money to suicide prevention. It was such a blessing to know that so many people cared.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I am so glad you received so much love and support.

    2. Tessa*

      I’m sorry for your loss and glad you received kindness during such a difficult time. Thank you for sharing your story.

  43. Staja*

    These hit hard today.

    I didn’t share my small kindness last week. I was two months into my first office job (at a call center) with a rolling unapproved 5 absences over 12 month policy. My dad was going in for some testing and my mom didn’t want to be alone that day, so I offered to take the day off and stay with her. Well, the day ended up being the week when it was determined that my father needed heart surgery. And then it another week when he passed away during recovery. Not only were there zero questions asked (and full salary paid), I never got in trouble for calling out on any day that my grief was too much to go into work that first year. Thank you, kind bosses, for understanding.

  44. Sally O’Malley*

    Oh goodness; each of these has my cold, jaded heart sobbing. Such lovely acts of humanity.

  45. Mimmy*

    So happy Bitey made the cut!!!

    All of these stories are so wonderful. It really is reassuring to know that there are still good humans out there, especially in the workplace.

  46. RedinSC*

    Maybe it’s me. Maybe I just needed sweet news today, but is it dusty in here?

    WHo’s chopping the onions?

    These are all so lovely.

  47. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    Got a couple… These are both from the place that laid me off a year or so ago…

    About a year into the pandemic, I was one of the first people to return to the office hybrid. Of course I caught COVID somewhere, and notified the office. The next day, I found out that they had given me $200 in Grubhub credit so I didn’t have to worry about getting food while quarantining.

    Another one. About 10-15 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with a debilitating disease, which left her wheelchair bound for a couple of years before she passed. During that time period, we went to the company holiday party, and one of my co-workers took it upon herself to accompany my wife to the restroom and help her there. It was a very appreciated gesture. While my wife was sick, the office gave me all the freedom I needed to take care of her, and when she passed, they also made a very kind gesture (which I don’t remember the details of — I was kind of in a haze for about 3 months).

  48. NerdyPrettyThings*

    My favorite thing about this post is that most of the stories are about a kindness done for the writer or seen by the writer, not done by the writer. I think that means that kindnesses are something most people can do without much trouble, planning, expense, or anything else that makes it memorable to the giver, but it can change the life of the receiver.

  49. Kritchie*

    I’ve taught high school for 27 years. Teaching can suck the will to live from your very core, but it can give you the motivation and love to keep teaching, too. The school -related posts here are making me remember how much info love my job.

    1. School posts*

      Alison – maybe school related posts could be another theme, from kindergarten to graduate school.

  50. Jenny*

    I worked as an inspector in the medical field in my 20’s and am based in the rural midwest. I had a work trip to an inner-city hospital in Birmingham. There’s not a good way to say this, but I was the only white person I saw all day. It might seem silly, but it was really enlightening to feel—a tiny, tiny bit of—what plenty of people have to deal with. So anyway, I was getting my lunch in the cafeteria and grabbed by tray and tried to high-tail it to a corner table because it felt like every eye was on me wondering what in the heck I was doing there (dressed up like an accountant, no less!). And the heel of my shoe planted and I started to go down. And I didn’t just fall. I fell like very few have fallen before. My arms were flailing. The whole thing was in slow motion and eventually I ended up on the floor on my butt with stewed tomatoes all around me. And before I could scramble up a teenage boy who was eating with his grandma was at my side, helping me up, asking if I was OK. There wasn’t time for his grandma to ask him to help me. He just did it on his own. That definitely wouldn’t have happened in my home state where everyone would have politely ignored me as I got myself up. But that kid was so incredibly kind to someone who was obviously out of place and who had just made a scene that would have caused plenty of people to laugh (and justifiably—I am sure that it was quite the sight to behold!).

    1. OmNom*

      I love this. So many people don’t know what to do in awkward situations. This was perfect.

  51. Bruce*

    This is not quite “kindness” but more of doing the right thing: In my first post college job we had a layoff that was so sudden and so badly handled that my grand-boss had brought in a new employee the day of the layoff and was told he could not have the new employee start. He resigned on the spot and spent the next week finding this guy a job to replace the one that had been promised. It also seems like his resignation may have helped save my job, my supervisor and I were not sure since grand-boss made this decision before they got around to us with the “firing finger”

  52. MM*

    Mr Grumpy probably moved me the most – something about steadfast, quiet support like that gets me every time – but as a former horse girl (rode, worked in barns, the whole deal), I have a special appreciation for Bitey.

    A horse I rode a lot was extremely athletic and extremely intelligent, so he hated being cooped up in a stall. Now, a stall is where a horse often gets fed. This horse was also pretty damn big, as a cross between a thoroughbred and a draft horse: I (5’4″) didn’t even come all the way up to the dip in his back. Finally, he was really pissy around food–I’m not sure if he’d been deprived or had to compete for it in the past or what, but with those three factors combined, it was legit a bit scary to go into his stall and fill his feed bucket if he was in there. I was the only one who could do it, and it really does something to a teen to feel special to an animal that way. Especially when the animal is the size of an SUV.

    (The whole thing was ironic, because out of his stall he was the calmest, most sardonic horse I’ve ever met. Not calm in the way that some horses are where they’re just a bit dull; he was very sharp but unbothered. Something could happen that would spook most other horses to the next county–you might startle at it yourself, or just react with urgency because you’re anticipating the horse’s reaction, and he’d just look at you like, “what’s wrong with YOU?” He used to pretend to eat my hair as a joke. I miss him.)

  53. Disgruntled Pelican*

    I missed the original post, but: my first Big Girl Job out of college was a return to the company where I’d done my internship, under the mentorship of the same amazing hilarious brilliant no-bullshit cynical senior editor. I lived nearly 1,000 miles from my family and had no family nearby and not many local close friends, and I’d discovered (thanks to being sick as hell for months on end while still in college) that I had a goiter on my thyroid. I knew it likely was nothing but needed a biopsy all the same, and she volunteered to drive me to and from the appointment and hold my hand while I got poked. Afterward she bought me coffee and a croissant and made it all seem like the most normal thing in the world. She was the best. :’)

  54. HappyPenguin*

    Thank you for this post, Alison and contributors. With all the discord in the world, these were wonderful. I started reading them during lunch at work like usual but my eyes got all leaky and I had to wait until now, at home, so as to not make a spectacle of myself at work!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Feeling very nostalgic for the UK! Gubbins is an excellent word (though here in Australia we have “doovelacky” which is pretty good too).

          1. SarahKay*

            Possibly a bit late for anyone to see, but gubbins is usually used to describe a collection of doodads, rather than a singular doodad.
            So if I were buying a new sink and all the plumbing required for it, I might say “I need to get a new sink and all the plumbing gubbins.”

  55. Chick-n-Boots*

    Nearly every one of these made me cry, but happy tears more than anything. What a wonderful idea this was! I want to echo everyone else who has asked for this to be a regular feature. It’s good for our brains and our souls.

  56. christy*

    What I love about these stories is that someone is appreciating a kind gesture – I have found that there are so many kind gestures that happen that are simply taken for granted, not acknowledged, and never reciprocated – or worse, not remembered when they should be (ex: the recipient of kindness forgets or never appreciated a kind act, and then goes on to be unkind to the person who offered the gesture in the first place).

  57. Middle Aged Lady*

    Thanks for the stories and comments. I think we all need to be reminded of how kind people are. Here is mine: after Hurricane Katrina, a coworker’s mom and grandma had to leave New Orleans to come three states over and live near my coworker. She rented them an apartment but they had nothing to put in it: what they packed in their car was all they had. We came together to furnish the apartment, and buy groceries so it was stocked when they arrived.

  58. TG*

    My faith in humans – and horses! – restored! Wonderful stories – please do more of this!

  59. Smurfette*

    Towards the end of last year, one of my colleagues died suddenly after a short hospital stay. At least, it seemed sudden to us but I think he’d been sick for a while. He was also in his 30s and was married with young children.

    Our department head personally contacted his family, organised a no-pressure staff collection to help with funeral expenses, and travelled to his home town for the funeral (about an 8 hour drive). A memorial service was organised for the department (in person and online) and his manager and some of his close colleagues spoke about him and the impact he’d made.

    It was incredibly touching and I cried during the memorial – even though I had never met him – and it made me feel that I work for a team that really cares about people ♥︎♥︎♥︎

  60. Nonanon*

    I’ve just been having the WORST month (two separate incidents with my car, with my dog having an episode of vertigo and needing to go to vet ER to confirm it wasn’t a stoke in between), and I am currently at my desk trying not to ugly cry. Really needed all these stories, and the ones in the comments. Thank you to everyone who shared.

  61. evelikesbooks*

    When I was a kid in the 80s, my mother and I moved countries, leaving my dad and starting over. At some point on our across the world trip, the airline lost one of my mom’s suitcases. We’d never been rich and now she was a single mom; and that one had most of her clothes, which she couldn’t afford to replace. She got a job at a local elementary school and I guess they found out about the suitcase, because her new coworkers took up a collection to buy her new clothes. I didn’t hear that story until years later.

  62. AuntAmy*

    Thank you for sharing all of these stories. The world is a tough place and I really needed this. (I’m not crying – you’re crying!)

  63. Smurfette*

    Oh lordy. I just read ‘altruistic horse’ as ‘autistic horse’ and I thought: ‘but how did they know?’

  64. sara*

    Wasn’t planning to cry at my desk today (at home) but now I have – thankfully from good emotions rather than stress….

  65. Kathy the Librarian*

    I think these need tissue warnings! 1 Tissue, 3 tissues, or grab the whole dang box!

  66. Zeus*

    Oh, man. I’ve been going through a really tough time lately, and this morning at work was especially frustrating. I didn’t realise how much I needed this but this post has lifted my mood immensely. Thank you so much for posting these, Alison!

  67. Former Gremlin Herder*

    This post made me tear up, and also reminded me of something I didn’t get a chance to hsare on the original kindness thread.

    About a month into my current job, I took my car to the mechanic for what I thought was a minor issue. The “minor issue” turned out to be a blown head gasket, which is the kind of the thing that makes your mechanic give you a look of genuine pity and costs several thousand to fix. I had been laid off earlier in the year and had to move in the middle of that, so my savings hadn’t even begun to recover and I was wreck. I tried so hard to keep it together at work–in between meetings, I kept sneaking away to conference rooms to talk to mechanics, call my dad, and also cry a lot. I thought I had kept it together until I walked back to my pod, where my co-worker and my boss were both looking expectantly at me. I tried to tell them I was fine, but they gently prodded me to talk about what was wrong, and I ended up explaining what was going on. I was so embarrassed, but they were so kind! Their response made me feel normal for being stressed out and upset, and I ended up accepting a ride from my boss to the dealership that day. I’ve generally had good relationships with co-workers, but this was such a powerful reminder that feeling safe enough to be vulnerable at work is a rare and valuable thing.

  68. Oogledorf*

    I was fine until the puppy one. Completely lost it at that story and am now a bawling mess.

    Thanks Allison

  69. D Diaz*

    I’m a little late to this but wanted to add my own kind work experience. Christmas Eve I woke up to find my dog, Sir Maximilian Eugene Barkington the 3rd in the middle of an emergency medical episode.

    I had to work as it was black out day and if I called in, it would be 4 attendance points.

    I left for work as my husband was rushing Max to the vet. I wish I had hugged Max one more time.

    I was a crying mess when I got to work. Not the best look for a restaurant server. I hit the floor and started taking tables while trying to not cry (unsuccessfully)

    About 45 minutes into my shift, my manager told me to use my the fmla I didn’t have and go home. My coworkers had explained what was going on and he covered for me so I could go home.

    Unfortunately Max passed away before I could go see him, but I’ll always appreciate the kindness and compassion my team showed me.

    a few days later they presented me with a few extremely thoughtful gifts to celebrate Maxs’ life.

    I’ll forever miss my big little spoon, but everytime the wind blows through my Maxs windchimes,I remember him with and smile

  70. AthenaC*


    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.”

    I teared up a little. How lovely!

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