A few years ago, I was attending a friend's graduation at the University of Oaklahoma. While she was giving me a tour of the campus, she stopped by the student travel office to pick up her tickets.
While we were waiting, I listened in on a student from Australia trying to fix a problem with her itinerary. The agent told her that it would cost an additional $300 over what she had already paid to get an itinerary that did not include a ten hour overnight layover in LA. She didn't have the money and I heard her say she would just have to sleep in the airport.
I walked up and told the clerk to give her the straight itinerary and I'd pay the difference. The student started to decline, probably wondering why a 41 year old man she didn't know was making the offer. The friend I was with stepped up and told her she should feel free to take it, that I did this sort of thing all the time and it was a genuine goodwill gesture.
She thanked me and asked fo my email address. I gave her my business card and I ended up getting thank you cards from her and her mother.
One of my favorite anonymous acts is to pay for meals in a restaurant. A few years ago I was at a Ruth's Chris restaurant with my project team for a team Christmas dinner. Where I was sitting, my view of the other dinners was via a mirror in front of me. It was a Wednesday night about 3 weeks before Christmas so there were only about 6 other table occupied. About 10 minutes before we left, a young couple came in dressed pretty formally. I happened to look in the mirror just as the woman looked at the menu. I saw her lean over to her date and whisper "It's so expensive!". I usually pick a table that's already eating their dinners so I can get their check from the restaurant. As we left I asked the host to get the manager. I told him I wanted to pay for their ... Read Full Story >>
I stopped at IHOP for a very late dinner after work and 15-20 kids came in dressed for prom. They were getting a bite between the prom and the after party. I paid their bill and that of the adults driving/chaperoning them. IHOP was a totally last minute choice, but my server was the same one I had when I did this for another group last year. Since I'm not a regular at this restaurant (2-3 times a year), he thought I planned to be there on these nights.