Finish line: pay it forward

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

The big picture: The simplest gestures were memorized and told years – sometimes decades – later. A point to remember is that good deeds are not as common as one might think or hope. The fact that people cherished them is a sign of their rarity.

To this end, we would like to challenge ourselves and Axios readers to pay it forward.

  • This week, do a nice little thing for a friend – or better yet, a stranger.
  • So tell us about your experience and their reaction in a few sentences to [email protected]. Be sure to include your name and hometown.

We will tell our stories and include a selection of yours in next Monday’s finish line (register here).

To inspire you, Here’s a sampling of random acts of kindness that have resonated with 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 babysit her after we landed so I could gather our things and have a moment to breathe. It meant the most to a young mum who has her hands full.” —Abby D., Des Moines, Iowa
  • “A fellow lawyer, a complete stranger, put money in a parking meter for me when he realized I was going to be stuck in court beyond my remaining time.” —Avraham M., West Hempstead, New York
  • “The other day I was trying to drive a stroller into a cafe…it wasn’t a glamorous task. When I left, a man came from one end of the cafe to the other to tell me open the door. … It really set the tone for my whole day.” —Lily M., Atlanta, Georgia
  • “My wife and I, both in our 70s, were loading heavy bags of rock into our car for a landscaping project. A woman walked up and loaded the rest. As she finished and turned away, I shouted, ‘You have restored my faith in humanity.’ She replied, “We all need this.” —Roger R., Ballwin, Mo.
  • “I left my backpack, along with my work laptop and files, on the busy New York City 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 me my backpack.” —Jane C., NYC
  • “Several years ago, I was having trouble tying my very large and bulky – but totally awesome – dress in the parking lot of the Maryland Renaissance Faire. The girl dressing at the car next to mine told me offered to help me tie my shoelaces.” —Caroline M., Walnut Creek, CA

  • “My first day of work in a new city, I walked out of my office building and couldn’t remember how to find the train station. A stranger passed by, noticed I looked lost, and doubled over 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 have taken place in grocery stores. Here is some:

  • “When I arrived at the checkout, my 3 year old son ran away and my newborn started crying inconsolably. The lady behind me took over the packing of my groceries so that I can find my son and calm my newborn. This act has always marked me because I felt so overwhelmed and this helping hand made all the difference.” —Katherine N., Oxford, UK
  • “Gave me their basket at Aldi instead of returning it for the term.” —Nancy R., Michigan City, Indiana
  • “I let a man pass me because he had fewer groceries than me. He told the cashier to apply the change in his order – $21 – to my bill.” —Karen D., Rochester, New Hampshire

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

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