Thursday, June 12, 2008

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?



So, today I scramble out of work to help the man get to the car repair place to pick up our other hunk of metal (brake repair or something). And from the guy who rarely reads my blog, he says to me, "That post the other day kinda depressed me." The confessions. I think everyone needs to confess now and then, but no one is a saint, right? Because I firmly believe that the people who read and comment on this blog are generally lovely and funny, I told him I would ask people, "What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?"

I'll kick it off by saying that there are so many things people have done for me, that have helped me along the way from going totally mad. My first boss still calls me a few times a year to see how I am doing. He genuinely cares. He's taken on the role of kindly uncle or maybe Adult Guidance Counselor, checking in to make sure I am still passing my classes. Every time he calls, my heart just swells with happiness because he has no obligation in the whole world to check in on the girl he hired into her first salaried job. He taught me, in his old-man Southern drawl, my still-favorite saying of all time:

"The answer's no until you ask." Brilliant. (I have since asked the world for a lot of things, believe me.)

So, that's my thing - this kindness of someone who after all these years should have forgotten about me.

So what's the nicest thing that anyone has done for you?



Photo above is Tia Zoldan's house, photo from who knows where and lifted from ABT and, clearly, has nothing to do with this post.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

My sweet sister sent me an awesome arrangement of flowers on the first day of my new job.

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

When I was in college, my family suffered a catastrophic psychological and financial collapse. I was studying abroad in Oxford at the time--which, believe it or not, does not fly in the face of the financial collapse: the program was structured under my college's normal tuition and housing plan, so, as with my other years, my tuition, board, and expenses were all paid for through a combination of massively generous grants and my loans. My family couldn't pay a cent. I had a tiny amount of money saved to pay for food & other expenses, but it would not have gotten me through the whole school year; I had enough to pay for my plane ticket, so I figured I'd just go, and if I couldn't finish out the year, that was better than nothing.

When they heard what had happened, some old friends of my (deceased) mother sent me a check in England that gave me not only enough money to last the rest of the year, but enough to pay for a frugal, 10-day solo backpacking/hosteling trip around Europe, which was one of the most formative experiences of my life. The generosity of it still takes my breath away. Of course I thanked them as much as I could, but it could never have been adequate; I don't know if I ever managed to tell them how incredibly much that gift contributed to growing me as a person. Honestly I'm not sure I even realized till now.

Sucker For Marketing said...

Isn't is a little sad that it takes thinking, real thinking to figure out what the nicest thing anyone has done for you is? I can think of all kinds of petty little stupid things others have done TO me, but I have to concentrate hard to figure out the NICEST thing.

I think the nicest thing done for me was by a CEO of the business I work for (who I had only met in person once before). At a holiday party, in front of many people, he complemented me on my work and my contribution to the organization.

I think that might go to show that many of us are looking for the "little" things in our jobs (like compliments) rather than always the big bonus check (of course that is nice too...money does talk!)

Maria said...

Every time my boyfriend has taken care of me when I'm sick, picked me up from night school when I was too freaked out to take the bus at night by myself, gone to the store to buy me things that I as a girl should really be buying, washed the dishes because I hate doing them, and made me dinner when I just didn't feel like cooking because I was too tired from going to night school, is when I think he is the NICEST person I have ever known. Still is.

cybill said...

When my house was robbed and my jewellery stolen, my sister gave me her (inherited) diamond ring so that I wouldn't be without sparkle.
I love your ex bosses saying too.

Anonymous said...

When I was 17 I attempted suicide. I stayed in the hospital for two days and when I returned home, my best friend was there waiting for me. He just held me for what seemed like and may have been several hours. Over the next couple weeks, he brought me flowers and my favorite fruit and candy to try to cheer me up. After a few weeks of being pretty much on house arrest, he convinced my parents to let me leave the house with him. I don't really remember what we did but he got me out of the house and got me to have some fun. He got me on my way to recovery.

We later became a couple and it didn't work out but I will forever be grateful to him for his patience, love and support during that time.

Anonymous said...

When I was about 4 years old, I longed to play with my older sisters, older girl cousins and a few of their friends (mostly about 8-12 years old) who were together in the garden. They snubbed me, and I returned to the house in tears, truly feeling as though the world was a dreadful place.

My mother led me by the hand to her dressing room, where she anointed me with a dot of perfume behind each ear and a pair of her blue clip-on earrings. She then walked with me outside and, with a gentle smile, told the girls that I was very exited to play with them. They accepted me and my happiness was complete.

I loved the way that she did not in any way reprimand the girls for having rejected me the first time, but allowed them to feel as though they were gracious to let me play with them. I loved the way that she bolstered my spirits and emboldened me to return to face the Big Girls with a dab of scent and cheap jewellery. Now that she is long-dead, I try to follow her example as best I can.

Anonymous said...

I was barely 15 when I got pregnant and told my parents. My choice was to get an abortion, a choice I have never regretted. My mother freaked, yelled, freaked again. She told my father when he came home that night and when I went in to talk to him he just held me and cried - the only time I have ever seen my father cry. The nicest thing was forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

My Dad passed away about 4 months ago. One of my oldest friends, who I still count on way more than I should, watched our pets and our house for longer than she had expected while I was with my family on the east coast, dealing with the worst thing that's ever happened to any of us. When we came home, our entire house was clean (and I mean washed floors, vacuumed carpets and-- the best thing ever--CLEAN SHEETS to fall exhausted and teary into), there were fresh flowers in several rooms, the pets were happy and well-fed, the garden was taken care of - I have thanked her, but I don't think I'll ever be able to thank her enough. Coming home to normal, when nothing will ever be normal again, was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me.

JJ said...

The nicest thing ever done for me:
I was totally totally poor, unemployed and basically freaking about where my mortgage money was going to come from when my BFF asked me to go on a girls' weekend vacay. I flat out couldn't afford it and I was embarrassed to tell her so. She turned around and told me she was buying my ticket because it wouldn't be fun without me and that I could make it up to her someday when she was old and had spent all her money on shoes (or something.) And that is the #1 nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Not only that, this same person went with me to remove my shit from my house when I was getting divorced AND she drove the UHaul.

kristinimartini said...

oh! too many to count for myself personally. highlights: the year i got 5 b-day cakes, each from different people, to recently, the daughter of a friend of a kinda friend of mine let me stay w/ her while i was in new york. really, there's more, but my freind has a story that i can't not tell.
she was done w/ work one night to find one of her bumpers on the ground. a man came out of his house, apologized, gave his insurance info and called it good. turns out, he's moving and canceling his insurance and let her file a claim because he saw the person who did it and ran off. she sooo needs that right now=works 2 jobs while going to school after just moving here!
oh, and i can't forget my man who builds me whatever i need for my studio the second i ask and does the same for my studiomate.
this feels like bragging.....

Anonymous said...

A young woman chose my partner and me to adopt her newborn baby. No kindness will ever exceed that.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if its THE nicest thing, but its the nicest thing a stranger has done for me. When I was laid off from my job the day after thanksgiving in a tiny mountain summer community, and then turned down by unemployment for a technicality(although my employer didn't dispute) a woman in my community whom I barely knew called up with a part time job the town had newly created, getting me through the winter. As I later got to know her, I realized that many many times she had found ways to help virtual strangers without them being beholden to her. She was gruff and cantankerous and very thoughtful, and I'll always remember her example.

Anonymous said...

on christmas a couple of years ago, the person in front of me paid my toll on the expressway.

i do it every year since then.

Anonymous said...

That image of Tia's house is from an issue of Cottage Living (one of my favorite mags!!) There's an entertaining story about Tia and her cute fam in the current (May/June) issue, too! Some of the food looks amazing!!

Kara said...

Three days after my Aunt's birthday, her home, her car and it's belongings had burned to the ground,completey turned to ash. The fire did not harm the beautiful horses on her property but they were very shaken from the experience.

The kindness she experienced from her neighbors, many who had lost their homes and animals was beautiful and a lesson in giving. This was in North San Diego County the fires occured during October of 2007.

My co-workers, upon hearing about my Aunt's expeience put together a collection which ended up being close to $500.00 My mom then turned around and matched that amount. My Aunt was overwhelmed and the monetary gift and the kindness from my co-workers was the most giving and beautiful thing I have ever experienced.

As we sifted through rubble, my dad was able to find her antique frozen charlotte dolls. She had collected over 50 and we found most of them.

My Aunt is amazing, a breast cancer survior, a woman who has lost her wordly possessions and had to begin from scratch. She is able to keep her spirit, grace and sense of humor.

katiedid said...

I have to agree with "the man" on the other post. It did make me feel a little sick at heart. The comments in this post, on the other hand, made me teary, but in a very good way.

I think it does take more effort to think about the good things. It took me a second to realize the good things are right in front of my face: my husband slays dragons for me every day, and not just financially, but emotionally. And my kids make me smile and laugh every day as well. My work mates provide a never ending laugh-fest and support when I need to vent.

I realized that reading the previous post was not somthing that made me better by reading it, and I don't think I would have felt any better "confessing" myself. Believe me, I am not a saint by any stretch. I just feel better when I hear the great things people do. I feel prouder of people in general and want to be like them in turn.

Pretty Hallmark, I know...but whatever works, right?

Richie Designs said...

a couple of things I can think of right now:

when I had back surgery in my early 20's one of my oldest friends practically slept in my room with me for two weeks so I wouldn't be lonely.

my boss hiring me 13 yrs ago as an intern even though I had no experience. Everything that I know today is due to him and the lovely talented people I have worked with over the years.

just this year, a dear guy friend [who neither of us have romantic feelings for each other] baked me cupcakes for my birthday. They weren't very good but I don't think anyone aside from my mom has done that for me. it was such a sweet gesture.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine flew 1000 miles to help me drive my non air-conditioned jeep the last 1000 miles back home – during a 100 degree heat wave. I picked him up at the airport, handed him the keys, hopped back into the car which essentially turned into a travelling easy-bake oven in the heat and off we went.

Anonymous said...

when my dad died in august, a man who he had done business with him for years took a quote out of my dad's obituary and made 3 hand engraved wooden signs with the quote for my mom, me and my brother. another man who grew up with my dad mailed us a letter describing all the crazy adventures he and my dad had as kids and made us laugh and smile in a time of tremendous pain. i still to this day have never even met either of these man but i will never forget them. it is pretty amazing what some people (that you would expect nothing from) do for you in times of need and how many so called friends don't come through when you need them most.

Anonymous said...

Someone anonomously paid off the majority of my husband's medical school loans. At first we thought it was a mistake, but a phone call confirmed that someone had taken care of it and wished to remain anon. We have no idea who it could have been or how they did it, but are forever grateful for their generosity!!

Anonymous said...

when my brother knocked up a total skank whore he had only known for three weeks my entire family went into a rage. i told a friend of mine who worked as a florist and a few days later i got an arrangement delivered to me at work and the card said:

"Thanks for not being a whore."

it may not be the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me but it was probably one of my most favorite compliments. :)

Anonymous said...

Another survey? I miss the "decor" in Decorno.

Your writing is super-smart and entertaining, Decorno. And the comments in here are always lively and funny.

But . . . there've gotta be some guest bloggers out there to help round up some decor posts, no?

Lisa said...

I read www.heroicstories.com to keep me cheerful and upbeat about humanity when humanity makes me think otherwise. It's chock full of nice things that people, often strangers, do for each other. At the end is an "honorary unsubscribe" which is really "in memorium" which tells about someone's incredible actions and achievements. Worth a read.

Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree. There are already a ton of decor blogs out there. But how many blogs offer stories ending with "Thank you for not being a whore"?

~M said...

We recently moved (with a toddler, a husband just getting over bronchitis and me 4 months pregnant) and people actually called us to see what kind of help we needed. Not having to ask for help, yet having people just show up...well, we're very blessed with good, good friends and loving family.

Anonymous said...

On the darkest day of my life, when I knew I was going to commit suicide unless something changed. I was at a restaurant/bar in the Meatpacking District with a bunch of people I knew from my church. Two of the women in the bunch noticed that I looked 'off', and asked me what was wrong. I told them I was faking it tonight, but really, I couldn't go any further. I wanted to die.

They took me outside. And right there, in our fancy dresses while the scene whirled around us, those women placed their hands on my head and prayed for me.

One said, "God, please make G. alive again." I burst into tears and felt something go 'thunk'.

From that evening on, everything has been different.

I had struggled with depression my entire life, and since that night I have never had ONE moment of it. Not one.

Life is, indeed, good.

Carrie said...

I'm immigrating to Canada at some point in the future (the paperwork takes a couple years), and two of my friends in Ottawa have offered me their guest room for as long as it takes me to find a job up there. "I mean, you can't move in permanently," said one, "But for like a year or two it's fine."

It's not just the generosity of the offer; the two of them always seem happy and excited to have me moving to their city, and it really makes me feel loved every time I talk to them.

Decorno said...

I don't want to use guest bloggers. Why would I? This is my blog. No one writes with my voice.

In posts over a year ago, I indicated that it's boring to think and write only about rugs and lamps, and I warned people that I would also write about other things.

Please note that I typically post every day. Some decor blogs that are strictly decor-only post a few times a week. I could do that and you'd get the same amount of decor content.

For me, writing regularly is half the fun, and since I have a real job, I can't always sit around scanning stuff from magazines to post about. So on days I cannot or will not write about decor, I post about other issues.

I am glad you like the blog, sincerely. That is a nice compliment about my writing. But I do want to make it clear that this is a personal blog first, so I will continue writing - as I always have - about whatever. I figure when I bore you to pieces, you will find other blogs to amuse you, which is cool. :) For everyone else, they tend to hang in there because the frequency of my writing means they will actually see MORE decor posts from me than from other casual non-corporate decor bloggers.

Anonymous said...

My house was robbed soon after I moved in. I didn't have a lot to begin with (starting over) but what I'd kept was good. A group of friends chipped in and bought me all of the computer equipment that had been stolen - and top of the line things, too.

One friend delivered everything to me wearing a santa hat, as it was two weeks before christmas. He told me that for years i'd done things for others, and this was their way of returning the favor.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people give blog owners advice about what they are doing wrong...would you write an author in the middle of a book read and say you don't like the direction it's going?? Sometimes all decor is boring. I like a
little heart in the posts.

Nicest thing someone's done...
I really feel like I've had a few people sent in my life to get me through rough patches. While not magnanimous, they were meaningful. They seem to come in the form of kindness from strangers. Often the kindness of strangers is the sweetest since they have no obligation to help.

1)Car broke down, empty wallet and no way to get to a college course for my final. A super nice family at the gas station saw me break down and gave me a ride to my class.
2)Another time, still poor and in college, I had a tire blow. They said it's because I wasn't rotating my tires. An anonymous man in the waiting room bought me the lifetime wheel/balance rotation. I think he was a really old guy reading the paper but we never spoke.
3)In Paris I miscalculated a bill and far overpaid...the waiter ran after me and while he handed it back he shook his finger at me and said something in French that I think meant, "you need to be more careful". He could have pocketed a chunk of change that night.

I make it a point to help a stranger in need. I only wish I could cut someone a break at a really difficult time and make that moment just a little easier. I'm on the lookout.
Sara

Maggie said...

My boyfriend and I (in college at the time) decided to splurge on a nice dinner for our one-year anniversary. It was a Sunday night and we were one of three tables filled at a nice restaurant in town. One table quickly left and the other table, an older couple, left just after we'd ordered our entrees.

When it came time to pay the bill, my boyfriend owed all of 15 dollars... the older couple had paid for everything we'd ordered up until when they left. Wine for us both, our appetizer and our dinners. He only had to pay for dessert.

We've decided to do that for an elderly couple occasionally when we're out since we can't directly thank them, but they made our night very special!

Material Lust said...

My husband makes my tea for me every morning so I can take it to work. It just means a lot to me that he takes time out of his day to do something nice for me when he certainly doesn't have to.

Habitually Chic said...

I always wanted to live in NYC and my aunt helped my dream become reality by giving me the money to move here which was very kind.

I've been very lucky in that I've never faced a family tragedy so the nicest thing anyone has done for me lately was to give me my first interior design job that I'm currently doing all by myself. He had a lot of people who wanted the job including a friend of his mother's and his sister but he chose me and I'm so grateful that he believed in me. I really want to start my own firm soon and his project is my stepping stone to making that dream a reality. I've thanked him of course but I don't think he has any idea how truly thankful I am for this amazing opportunity.

Anonymous said...

When I turned 16 my then boyfriend took me to see Dan Fogelberg, which was great and gave me a super cool clock radio and a Yes band nightgown. It was a perfect day.

Anonymous said...

My gorgeous older lover brought my roomate and I gigantic Godiva chocolate easter bunnies and also gave me a huge bottle of Opium perfume and showed my just where to apply it and how much was just enough.

Anonymous said...

I got a cyst in a place where I am not certain can be said aloud even if the anonymous worlds of blogs but let's just say it was way down south. They had me in the hospital to remove it. My boyfriend who I had not been dating for very long at the time, drove me there, sat with me for all three days leaving only twice for a change of clothes and food.

I was to take a shower before surgery and a nurse was to help me, But all of a sudden she decided she wasn't cut out for this and left me, in the middle of my shower. So I am sobbing hysterically because it was taking so much to even hold myself up at this point. My boyfriend came in and washed me and dried me off and into bed.

He held my hand as I was sobbing because they took an hour to get the IV into my hand and cutting me up in the process. And sat with me until my parents came to get me after driving from four hours away.

Needless to say, I am still with him and his kindness still touches my heart

eeps. said...

one of the nicest things anyone has ever done, and not just for me:
during the nyc blackout of 2003, i had to walk from chelsea to queens. i didn't really need directions, but somehow along the way i picked up the company of two older women in their 40s/50s also walking my way, and we cheered each other along the walk (it was 90 degrees, i was wearing kitten heels and a pencil skirt, they clearly hadn't been exercising). those two ladies kept my mood upbeat in an otherwise very annoying situation. better still was that when we got to queens and i still had about 3 miles to walk, neighborhood folks were waiting along the sidewalk with pitchers of cold water or packs of bottled water in coolers they brought from their house. they could have easily charged money and we would have been happy to pay, but none of them took any money for their generosity. i love new yorkers.

Anonymous said...

I agreed with you Decorno. I love your "porn", but even more than that, I love your thoughts and blurbs... and meandering writing. I love the surveys, and, based on the volume of responses to them, I'm not alone in that.

:)

Anonymous said...

My grandmother took me in when I clearly needed someone. I left home at age 17 and even though I was maintaining, she bugged me until I gave in. That was over 30years ago and I never regretted that decision. She passed away about 9 years ago and I instantly felt like an orphan.

AT THE PICKLED HUTCH said...

One of the nicest things happened recently. I had to move my store and all its inventory due to a new landlord and loss of a lease. 20 friends showed up on the hottest sunday in April to help me pack up, at minimum, a couple thousand items. I couldn't afford to move and they saved me thousands of dollars. You can't ask for a more generous group of people.

Anonymous said...

When my mother was dying of cancer I took care for her but not I was not alone. Our family, especially her 2 sisters, and her friends really helped her (and me) in that time. When she was in the hospital and it was clear she didn't have much time left she got a single room and someone spent the night with her every night because she didn't want to be alone. Also, the nurses there were very helpful.
It was a difficult time to say the least but with the help of family and friends I made it trough and was with her when she died.

barchbo said...

Wow.

What a great reminder of what wealth I possess - I feel like people do nice and kind and lovely things for me every day.

As I sit here and my hub makes me breakfast and brews coffee, I scroll through some favorite memories. For my 23rd birthday, my first boss bought me a towering basket of Davies Gate bath and body products, which I thought was extravagant and amazing. The real gift was the beautiful letter she wrote to my parents about what a joy it was to work with me and how proud they should be. I strive to live up to the praise every day.

Mary T. said...

Anonymous four-year-old of the perfume and earrings: That is a wonderful story. Thank you. Made me tear up and yet smile.

It's hard for me to put my finger on any one "nicest," but here's one thing that has always stood out to me: when my father died several years ago, many, many people showed up at his funeral. I talked to a man who was friends with him in GRADE SCHOOL (my dad was 78) whom I'd never met. Also a ton of people came from my office. I didn't really get to talk to them as it was overwhelming and exhausting, but I learned an important lesson: sometimes the most important thing is just knowing that people care enough to BE THERE for you. It meant so much to me to look out and see my friends there.

Off to wipe eyes...jeez, thanks, Elaine! ; )

Christine in DC said...

Truly, I don't know the NICEST thing, but here are some things off the top of my head:
--when I was studying abroad and entertaining a deep depression, a friend invited me to dinner and it was just what I needed to feel less alone.
--my parents sent me to Catholic school, which despite all the horror stories, was probably the best thing I could have done
--After I found out a friend had been lying to me, another friend took me out for a milkshake--meant so much at the time to have someone I could count on.
--I had some wonderful professors at college who truly took me under their wings and helped me be the first person in my family to get a degree
--An aunt, when I said on an email announcing my move when I was first out of school that I couldn't afford Crane stationery for my moving announcements sent me a box!
--A friend, upon learning my grandfather had died in college, put two cinnamon muffins in my mailbox.

I really think it's often the little things that you remember--knowing you're in someone's thoughts and that they care.

Anonymous said...

I'm the first person in my family to have graduated from college and it's mostly because of my grandparents' sacrifices and pushing. They've always expected the best from me. They believe I can move mountains and that means everything.

When I was interviewing for my first job at a prestigious university, I told them about it. It was their dream and they were so excited. But I didn't get the job and I was afraid to tell them, because I wasn't used to disappointing them. Finally, I just cried it out. But then my grandparents simultaneously got up out of their seats, sat next to me, and held me while I sobbed. They told me I was the brightest hope that they ever had. That I couldn't disappoint anymore because it was no longer about my accomplishments, but about the person I had become. No one has ever done or said a nicer thing for me.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

The list is far too long to enumerate. From the man who bribed my way out of a dangerous situation in an African airport to the kindness of those who stood by me the first time I got cancer and those who pushed past the velvet rope for me and Mrs. E. after the second bout with cancer... to the readers who leave comments when I think I'm shooting in the dark, the friends who turned up in winter suits (all they had) for my Dad's funeral in 95ºF weather, my Mom and Mrs. E. who have both said "sure, quit.. go for it" regardless of the situation... And the list goes on and on and on. Just remembering them all is so difficult. But I do, not all at once, but every so often when I read a question like this one.

We are all far luckier than we realize. We just have to think about it every once in a while and do our part when someone else is struggling to make it through.

Nathan said...

It's early Sunday morning and I'm having a terrific cup of coffee at our computer. Times are tough in our family because I learned recently that my wife had an affair nearly two years ago. Her and I were in a good place in our marriage when I found out which is why I believe we trying to work through it. On the other hand though, being in a good place with her and having it shattered like it was makes it very difficult to put the peices back together, ya know what I mean? I'm not sure how I found this website but it's has literally taken my sadness and discouragement for the future and made me hopeful and confident that the human spirit can prevail. Wow! Thank you very much for posting all of those great stories. My Sunday is looking very good :~)

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