Sep 13, 2022 - Health

Finish Line: Pay it forward

Illustration of a smiley face sprouting from a potted plant
Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

We asked readers of Axios Finish Line to tell us about random acts of kindness they've experienced in life. And we were struck anew by the eternal reality:

  • Little things matter.

The big picture: The simplest gestures were remembered and recounted years — sometimes decades — later. One takeaway is that good deeds aren't as common as we might think or hope. The fact that people treasured them is a sign of their rarity.

To that end, we'd like to challenge ourselves — and Axios readers — to pay it forward.

  • This week, do one small nice thing for a friend — or even better, a stranger.
  • Then tell us about your experience and their reaction in a couple sentences at [email protected]. Make sure to include your name and hometown.

We'll tell our stories and include a selection of yours in next Monday's Finish Line (sign up here).

To inspire you, here's a sample of random acts of kindness that left a mark on Finish Line readers across the country:

  • "The first time I was traveling alone with my daughter — who was 11 months old at the time — a stranger on a plane offered to hold her after we landed so I was able to gather our things and have a moment to breathe. It meant the most to a young mom with her hands full." —Abby D., Des Moines, Iowa
  • "A fellow lawyer, a total stranger, put money in a parking meter for me when he realized that I would get stuck in court beyond the time I had left." —Avraham M., West Hempstead, New York
  • "Just the other day I was trying to navigate a stroller through a coffee shop ... not a glamorous task. When I went to leave, a man came darting from across the entire coffee shop to open the door for me. ... It truly set the tone for my entire day." —Lily M., Atlanta, Georgia
  • "My wife and I, both in our 70s, were loading heavy bags of rock for a landscaping project into our car.  A woman approached and loaded the rest. As she finished and turned away, I shouted, 'You have restored my faith in humanity.'  She responded, 'We all need that.'" —Roger R., Ballwin, Missouri 
  • "I left my backpack, complete with my work laptop and files, on the busy NYC subway one evening. I was certain it was lost forever. I made a claim, panicked, and worried and worried again. … Then came an email and a text: 'I have your red backpack.' This amazing and kind medical student brought my backpack to me." —Jane C., NYC
  • "Several years ago I was struggling to lace up my very large and cumbersome — but totally awesome — dress in the Maryland Renaissance Faire parking lot. The girl getting dressed at the car next to mine offered to help me do up my laces." —Caroline M., Walnut Creek, California
  • "My first day working in a new city, I exited my office building and couldn’t remember how to find the train station. A stranger walked by, noticed I looked lost, and doubled back to see if I needed directions. I fell in love with Chicago that day." —Spencer W., Chicago, Illinois

And we were amazed by how many simple acts of kindness took place at grocery stores. Here are some:

  • "When I got to the checkout, my 3-year-old ran away and my newborn started crying inconsolably. The lady behind me took over packing my shopping so I could find my son and calm my newborn. That act has always stuck with me because I had been feeling so overwhelmed and that helping hand made all the difference." —Katherine N., Oxford, U.K.
  • "Gave me their shopping cart at Aldi instead of returning it for the quarter." —Nancy R., Michigan City, Indiana
  • "I let a man go in front of me since he had fewer groceries than I had. He told the cashier to apply the change from his order —$21 — to my bill." —Karen D., Rochester, New Hampshire

The bottom line: Seize your chances to do small things that make a big impact. Chances are the recipient will pay it forward.

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