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How one man helped a stranger out of a sticky situation with $1.17 and a smile

It seemed like a small gesture, but photographer Jeff Robert's random act helped one stranger's day go from bleak to bright.
/ Source: TODAY

Photographer Jeff Roberts was helping himself to a fountain soda at a gas station when the woman next to him got into a sticky mess.

As she was pouring a Diet Coke at the QuikTrip in Blue Springs, Missouri, the machine started to spit and sputter and fill her cup with foam.

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“This is how my whole day is going,” the exasperated woman told Roberts.

She began to get a little more emotional, Roberts told, telling him about how her car wouldn’t start, making her late for work. And now, even the soda machine seemed to have it out for her.

Jeff Roberts

“She got done before I did and started walking up to the counter to pay,” said Roberts, a freelancer who has done work for the local NBC station. “I finished as fast as I could and got up front as fast as I could and I kinda cut her off in line and as the guy told her what I just said out loud that she ‘owed nothing and I was buying this beautiful woman her drink.’”

In an instant, she was smiling, thanking Roberts and giving him a big hug. “Made me feel great doing something for someone. I always believe when you give you get twice as much back in return.”

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Roberts, who first learned about the #ShareKindness campaign in an email from NBC News president Deborah Turness, tweeted his story with the hashtag. The hashtag is part of The Season of Kindness, the network's 40-day celebration of selfless acts large and small.

But he didn’t share it for glory, he said.

“I hope it will inspire other people to do the same. Really only takes a smile and some kind words to make somebody's day.”

This story is part of NBCU’s Season of Kindness. Follow the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #ShareKindness