He shuffled on the beam like a tightrope walker, whipping his head around to better view what was hanging in the window.
Knowing well well that one false move might send him tumbling 30 feet to the tarmac below, he gently pivoted on his heel. He almost did, though, when he read what she had put there.
Gloria Porter, 88, of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, had a difficult week. She sighed as she cast her gaze out her third-floor window.
Although pneumonia is dangerous, it may be lethal for a person her age. Every day she had visits from her children and grandkids, but after they went, the solitude in her chamber was deafening.
Pennsylvania was getting ready for winter. Gloria could physically sense it. Under the windows and doors, the frigid tendrils wormed their way into the city. She kept herself busy by watching the leaves fall outside her window. Far down, people rushed by while tucking their chins under their collars.
The monotony of her window-gazing was then disturbed one day by another movement.
Early one morning, Gloria awoke to the sound of metal banging and noticed an orange flicker on the wall of her hospital room.
She cautiously got out of bed out of curiosity and made her way to the window to observe what was happening. She was transfixed by the magnificent arc of orange sparks falling from the sky.
Gloria finally had something entertaining to observe from her window after a week of monotony. She kept a close eye on the ironworkers who were redoing the Excela Frick Hospital entrance.
She feared for their safety as she observed them from atop their scaffolding. She had good reason to be concerned.
Gloria spent some time seeing the ironworkers forming the enormous steel structure until one of them turned to gaze at her window and their eyes met.
Then he waved at her while gently raising his hand. Gloria was quite happy. Being noticed warmed her heart since, from her vantage point on the third level, she had felt so alone. The man immediately vanished after that.
For many years, Jeff Reick worked as an ironworker. He enjoyed seeing the metal change beneath his hands and take on a new shape.
He was aware of the risks, though, that came with working 100 feet above the earth every day. He made care to exercise prudence at all times. But he had already witnessed it all go disastrously wrong.
Jeff felt bad for the tiny old lady who was watching him out of her hospital window. She seemed very sad. She made him think of his own grandmother, who had died while he was in his twenties.
He had missed her dearly ever since that day. Uncertain of why, he worried for her every day while she stood by the window alone.
As quickly as he could, Jeff down the ladder and found some chalk in his toolbox. He then ascended the scaffolding once more until he was standing next to Gloria’s window.
To grab her attention, he waved once more. She read the note he had written for her as she glanced up, and her eyes started to weep up.
On the side of the horizontal metal bar, “GET WELL” was crudely scribbled in white chalk. Gloria felt moved. Such a simple act of kindness touched her deeply.
She made a call to the on-call nurse and requested for assistance in creating a message of her own. It was Jeff’s turn to start crying when he saw it.
Gloria scribbled two words on a large piece of white paper and pressed it to the window. When Jeff saw the sign, the words hit him so hard that his heart ached
The cold winter weather had brought snow with it, making Jeff’s work treacherous. It was a difficult enough task to be mindful of his footing in fair weather conditions
But the snow left a dangerous and icy slick on the metal they were all balancing on. The ironworkers couldn’t afford even one misstep.
Jeff was so touched by Gloria’s concern for their safety that he took to Facebook and posted the simple exchange.
But he never expected one small interaction between strangers to go viral so quickly. Soon, the local news had picked up the story, and this inspired the people of America to organize kind acts of their own.
A few days after Jeff and Gloria’s heartwarming yet simple exchange, Gloria was given the all-clear by her doctors and discharged from the hospital.
She had no idea that Jeff’s post about her heartfelt note was gaining such traction worldwide. Then, a lady arrived at the hospital with a note in her hand.
The woman had seen the story on the news, and the philosophy of performing a simple act of kindness for a complete stranger was catching all over Pennsylvania.
The note in the woman’s hand was for the ironworkers at the hospital, and it read: “Your random act of kindness melted my heart!! Enjoy!! Have some pizza on me!!”
When Jeff and his crew opened the envelope, they were floored. Inside was money for them all to treat themselves to some lunch!
Jeff was incredibly touched to know that the people of the city cared about the ironworkers’ wellbeing. And it goes to show how a little kindness can go a long way!
When Jeff was interviewed after his post went viral, he explained why he had made the simple gesture for Gloria.
The tradition has grown and gained popularity each year and is celebrated by groups, individuals, and organizations to encourage acts of kindness…
It’s no wonder that it’s a favorite of many. The principal is simple: perform a small act of kindness for a stranger. It can be a gesture, an act of service, or a small gift.
When Jeff reached out to a fellow human being, his gesture was simple. and when Gloria responded, he was overwhelmed with emotion.
The exchange between the ironworker and the elderly lady has touched the hearts of millions–and for a good reason. The simple act of writing a little note said to both Gloria and Jeff: I see you. You are important. We look after each other.
But Gloria and Jeff’s story isn’t the only one. In a small town in Texas, a similar yet different incident occurred.
The protagonist of this story was only trying to save a life when he received a comment that made him view the world differently. Although it happened in the middle of a disaster, the man would go home smiling.
Chris was your average biology teacher in the local high school. He led a simple life, spending most of his time teaching his students before he went home to his dog Bucky and daughter Kayley.
A widower after his wife passed on five years back, Chris was the best dad any kid could ask for. He had no idea that a harrowing disaster was barreling their way.
Chris and his family lived in a small house in a quiet neighborhood east of the high school he taught. His neighborhood was almost empty, with an old lady, Mrs. Shareef living a few doors down.
Although Chris didn’t interact with Mrs. Shareef much, he knew her to be a good woman who mainly kept to herself. Like Chris, she had lost the love of her life a few years back and was moving through the motions. Chris didn’t know that fate was about to throw him and Mrs. Shareef into the same lot.
The week had started well enough when Chris got a call from one of his friends. The town was hunkering down for a hurricane.
Chris took his dog and daughter to their safe area, an interior room that doubled as a storage unit. He always stocked the room with everything they would need if such a disaster struck.
With everything set, he brought his phone, some toys, and music to keep his daughter and dog occupied. He hoped the storm would be mild, not knowing it would be one of the worst.
The rains began pattering the rooftops, quickly turning into the raging storm that the news had warned about. Trees creaked and swayed outside. Their branches broke and crashed against the road, and rainwater began flowing on every inch of the street.
The call was coming from Mrs. Shareef’s house. Chris hesitantly answered, not knowing what to expect. But that’s when he heard it.
Mrs. Shareef’s basement quickly filled up with rainwater, and she couldn’t swim. She’d managed to wade to her landline phone with a fractured hip and shoulder. She wasn’t even sure if Chris would answer her call.
Chris tried to calm her down with soothing words, assuring her that he was calling 911. But Mrs. Shareef insisted she was running out of time. The water was almost at neck level, and her energy was waning.
Chris found himself at a crossroads. He knew the rules when it came to sheltering from a hurricane. Going outside was the worst thing a person could do.
When he stepped outside his house, Chris felt like he’d jumped out of a moving plane. The winds roared as they flowed past him, the raindrops hitting him from every direction. He sprinted through the chaos to Mrs. Shareef’s house and kicked the door in.
He found her in the basement, trying to escape the rising water level. He helped her out, carrying her back to the safety of his home. She said with a sincere smile, “I haven’t been carried like that since my wedding day!”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.