It's amazing what a simple interaction with a stranger can do. These interactions can completely change the course of a person's day, or even life. The best part is, that stranger has no idea the impact they had.
People on Reddit share the interaction they had with a stranger that completely changed their life. Content has been edited for clarity.
“Really Gave Me Some Perspective”
“Once at the mall, I was chasing my three-year-old.
I was feeling real irritated when this guy yells at me ‘Just like his dad, huh?’ indicating I was a child too once.
Really gave me some perspective, just that one sentence.”
“Like He Untied A Knot In My Stomach”
“My daughter was born, and she wasn’t breathing when they took her from us. I assumed she was dead but she wasn’t when they took me to the NICU. When I saw her, she was tubed with all these scary monitoring. All the other babies were in incubators, but mine wasn’t. I remarked to the nurse that that felt like a good sign.
It was a gut punch when she said, ‘We only have her in the open air in case she has a heart attack and we need to move quickly. We will control her environment when the doctor says it’s okay.’
A doctor came in and explained that she is very sick, but getting better. I simply didn’t believe him, I was terrified. One of the other parents in the NICU took me aside and told me that the doctors here wouldn’t lie to me for liability reasons. If he thinks my girl is going to get better she probably will.
It was like he untied a knot in my stomach and made it a little easier. She pulled through and is healthy.”
Where Did He Go?
“When I was a freshman in college, I took a shuttle from my off-campus dorm to the campus every day. A few weeks into the first semester, a guy sits down next to me and compliments my anime messenger bag. We strike up a conversation, and he offers to introduce me to the other nerds at our dorm.
He brings me to another guy, Mark, but then leaves. Mark proceeds to take me around to a few rooms, and I meet more people. One of these people becomes my boyfriend two months later, then my husband four years after that.
The weird thing is, I never see the original guy from the shuttle again, and no one knows who he was. That random stranger led me to my soulmate, then disappeared.”
They Had No Idea Who He Was
“I was on a plane flying to my first consulting gig, and an elderly gentleman was seated next to me. Normally, I just keep my head down on the plane, but he was really friendly and initiated the conversation. He told me he was coming home from a music festival and was excited to get home and wanted to know why I was traveling. I told him that I was a bit nervous because this would be my first big consulting gig, but had spent time preparing, studying the customer, reading up on similar customers. He told me that I should feel confident because I had done everything I could ahead of time, and now it was time to enjoy the payoff.
When we got off of the plane he was met by an entourage and whisked away. He was obviously ‘somebody,’ so I googled him to learn it was Hank Jones. He basically invented the bebop piano. That music festival he was returning from was the Montreux Jazz Festival.
I have always kept his words in mind. Doing everything you can do to prepare ahead of time is what gives you confidence in pretty much anything you do. Then it is up to you to just enjoy the payoff.”
“Definitely Not As Judgemental”
“My daughter tripped over a rock one day as we were walking home from her swimming lesson. She landed on a piece of glass and cut her knee quite badly. It was getting dark, and there were three huge guys that I completely misjudged walking right behind us. They’d come out of the shop with a crate of drinks. Before I could do much more than throw myself down beside her to stop her pulling on the glass, one of the guys had pulled off his jumper and passed it to me, another had turned on the torch on his phone and the other called 999 to get an ambulance. They waited with us until the paramedics got there, even got my sobbing daughter to laugh a little. I asked where they lived and they said not to worry about it.
One of the guys said to me ‘Please don’t think I’m being a creep but here’s my number. If you can’t get home, call me. My car is right around the corner and I’ll drop you wherever you feel comfortable. I’ve got a kid about her age so I’ve got a car seat. Please don’t just struggle on your own.’
Now I’m used to having to do it all on my own and I broke down in tears. I called my boyfriend who had just finished work to pick us up and texted the guy to say thank you and ask where I could return his jumper (after I washed it of course). I have gotten a little better at asking for help though. And I’m definitely not as judgmental as I was.”
A Much-Needed Pep Talk
“So, a couple of months ago, I had a really awful breakup and decided to go see a longtime friend play at a bar. While there, I met this older lady. She asked if my friend and I were dating. When I said no, she jokingly said that I must be a groupie then because I traveled nearly an hour out of my way to see him. She then told me that she had been an actual groupie back in the 70s, although she never got famous for it. Our conversation which started out very light-hearted ended up turning into a very deep but sweet conversation about love and relationships. I told her about my situation with my ex and how I was still kind reeling from it. She knew how I felt, as she had been there before with plenty of men.
She told me, ‘Even though it hurt a lot when these guys would break my heart, I never wished to take it back. I always used that time after a break up to reflect on myself. I would learn how to love myself, and learn what kind of love I was worthy of.’
I have never and will never forget those words.”
“Changed The Game For Me Professionally”
“I worked at Arby’s years ago. They instituted a policy that we had to completely break down the slicer twice a day, wash/rinse/sanitize all the components, and then reassemble. The problem was we were the busiest store in the area by far. So, at the manager meeting where we were discussing implementation, I’m being the stick in the mud.
I’m like, ‘We’re too busy. If we pre-cut enough roast beef to handle business during the time it’ll take someone to clean the whole thing, the beef will taste like trash, and our food quality will suffer.’
One of the other managers looks and goes, ‘Hey, before we say it’s impossible, let’s give it a shot.’ And that changed the game for me professionally.
I realized I was a naysayer of work, change, and opportunity. And I tried really hard to change that.
Years later, I had a boss who never gave compliments say to me, ‘You know what I like about you? No matter what we have to do or how comfortable you are with it, you’re fine with it.’
And I thought about that manager back at Arby’s that, again, has no idea the impact he had on me at that moment.”
He Was Straight And To The Point
“I had to go to the ER with a terrible migraine – my family has a history of Arnold Chiari Malformation so any bad headache I’m quick to get checked out (it turned out to be a bad ear infection).
At the time, I’d been smoking basically since I was 18, about six years, and had smoked off and on in my adolescence. I had at this point heard everything about why it was bad for me and it just never registered. I couldn’t bring myself to care.
Went to the ER, was going through triage. My nurse was a tall man with the geeky stickers on his scrubs and name badge. He gets to the question about smoking. I don’t know what it was, but something about how he explained why I should quit flipped a switch in my brain. I think just because of how earnest he was. Like it wasn’t just a script to him.
He put down the clipboard and looked me dead in the eye and like ‘Look, here’s why you need to quit.’
I was not even there for something related to smoking and he still took that time.
A few weeks later I smoked my last smoke. I have been smoke-free for five years now. I still get dreams about it (which are obnoxious because I’ll feel guilty in my dream for smoking and then wake up and be made that my subconscious is making me feel guilty). And I attribute a lot of my success to that one guy.”
“Over 10 Years Ago, But I Still Think Of Her”
“When I was a kid we didn’t have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar. So, I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which one I wanted to get and then decided after I’d gone through them all.
One day, an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read. I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked.
She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me, and said, ‘Promise me that you’ll keep reading.’
I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away, and I went back to my piles able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.
It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was over 20 years ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.”
A Comforting Presence In A Time Of Need
“I (female, 22 at the time) was at the airport waiting to go home after visiting my boyfriend that I don’t get to see much. A little heartbroken, I just sat there trying to keep the tears in my eyes, but a random stranger noticed my emotional turmoil.
Instead of asking if I was okay, he simply said ‘I’m sorry to see you’re in pain, can I do anything to help you?’
He then offered me a tissue. He was such a comforting presence. We ended up talking for a while as we were on the same flight that got delayed and eventually canceled until the next day. We hung out in the smoking lounge together, he made me promise to quit when I got home. He told me about his travels, I told him about mine. He managed to get my mind out of its pit of sadness as we talked about our shared hobbies, what we’d been doing in that town, etc.
The next day, we found out we were flying to the same destination via connecting flights. Since he was a flight attendant, he was able to change his booking to be on my flight and sit with me.
Our ways parted when we lost track of each other at the third airport. I never got to say goodbye or thank him for being such an A-class human. His kindness made my trip home so much easier and I will never forget it.”
“Her Magic Trick Worked”
“I was at the grocery store with my dad when I was about seven or eight. I had the hiccups, like the loud and obnoxious kind. We were walking through the store and a woman stopped us. She asked if she could buy my hiccups. She told me that she’d give me $1 for my hiccups. I was so confused, I had no clue what she meant.
Apparently, I thought about it so hard that I stopped hiccuping! Her magic hiccup trick worked. She didn’t give me a dollar, but she gave me a Jolly Rancher. Turns out she went to high school with my dad, so he knew she wasn’t some psycho trying to attack me or something. So, I ate my Jolly Rancher and stopped hiccuping. That trick only works once, but it’s pretty funny to explain to people when I tell them!”
He’ll Never Know If It Was The Truth
“I worked in a Subway for the summer years ago. There was a regular customer, 60 odd, rode an old-timey bicycle with a basket that he kept his dog in.
Anyway, one time he comes in and it’s just us in the restaurant. He asks how I am, I tell him I am fine. He asks how I really am, and for no particular reason, I told him some problems I was facing in my life. Let me note, this was particularly out of character for me, I keep myself to myself and don’t tend to open up to my closest friends and family, let alone strangers.
He told me to, ‘Breathe, and listen to what the wind has to tell me.’
I didn’t really know what to say to this, so I engaged in a thoughtful conversation with him. The way he spoke was unlike that of anyone I’ve ever met, so sincere, honest, and calm.
He proceeded to explain to me how he has the ability to mentally travel to anywhere in the universe. He simply has to clear his mind and close his eyes and he will travel outside his body and see the wonders the universe has to offer. He paused to tell me if I think he is crazy just tell him to stop, as most people thought he was.
By this point, I was completely hooked on his stories. He told me of worlds that rained diamonds, black holes, conscious beings made entirely of gases and resin. As he left, he said I would see him once again in my life, but only when I was ready. This was about six years ago.
I don’t know if he was just messing with me, having a bit of fun, or whatever. But the way he told me this story, I honestly believed every word, and I am not a very gullible person.
The story honestly sounds so ridiculously unbelievable, but I hope I see him again.”
“I Thought I Knew What Was Going On”
“I was traveling once. A car trip. We were parked at a rest stop and giving them dog a pee break when this giant expensive RV pulled up in a spot where RV’s were not supposed to park. Like one of those that cost a half-million dollars. A home on wheels that gets a quarter mile to the gallon.
A very fit good-looking older man hopped out. Like in his 50s but very good-looking for his age. He was tan and had JFK hair. He looked like a caricature of a CEO on holiday.
I thought, Wow, talk about entitled. He’s taking up like five parking spots.
Next, a younger blonde woman hopped out. Obviously 15 years younger than him. Obviously his bimbo trophy wife. They stood in the parking lot looking at the rest stop and seemed to be discussing something.
I thought I had them all figured out, you see.
The man went back into the RV. And he came back out…with a wheelchair. A small wheelchair. Hmm, what’s this? Did not fit my narrative.
He set the wheelchair up. Went back in the RV. Came out carrying a young boy. The boy was completely…handicapped. Like his limbs were all contorted and painfully thin.
The man gently placed the boy in the chair and got him all situated and strapped in. Then the three headed for the rest stop.
It just stopped me dead. I thought I knew what was going on. I did not know. I had not the first clue.
There is always at least one thing in the other guy’s situation, that you know nothing about. This story pops in my head every time I think I’ve got someone else all figured out.”
What A Difference That Place Made
“I’ve loved horses since I was little. I volunteered at a local horse therapy place, because my depression was getting a hold on me, and there’s just something so calming about horses. When I was at this place, they had a bunch of people with physical and intellectual disabilities who got to ride, since it was a horse therapy facility. I learned so much about working with people with all kinds of disabilities, but especially autism and down syndrome.
I even got to experience a kid’s first words, and I’ll never forget the ‘Thank you Tux,’ It was a magical place.
A bit later I found myself working at a pizza shop. Not really my passion, but it paid enough for my pets, so I was okay with it. There was this adorable little kid who would come in with his mom. His mom and I would talk, I think she didn’t have the biggest support base, but I told her about the place I volunteered at. They would go once a week, and you could see the difference it made for this kid.
One day, they came in and the kid was babbling along to his mom, and it was the most amazing thing. He still needed his communication tablet, but he got better each time I saw him. One day, the mom came up and put a fifty dollar tip in the jar, and I tried to refuse it. She said that as much as the tip was, her son being able to communicate better, and finding a place where he was accepted was priceless.”
“Really Grateful It Happened”
“Back in my sophomore year of high school, I started getting into EDM and the idea of making my own music. I made a few songs (not very good but they were something), and just kept it entirely to myself. I didn’t really do much with it until during my junior year when I finally told my parents that I wanted to be a music producer. They weren’t really happy about that, because up until that point I had mostly just shown interest in engineering, and they thought I was just throwing that away.
Around the end of my junior year, I was up at three am listening to some like sad emotional music from HDsoundi and just reading through the comments. There was one that really caught my eye. Another guy was going through the same kind of thing I was. He wanted to make music but was told to just do something else. We started a conversation and convinced each other to upload a song.
That was almost two years ago now, and I’ve been uploading my music ever since and been gaining at least a little of a following. My parents are even ok with it too as long as I have another option to fall back on, and my dad and his coworkers have probably become my biggest fans.
If it wasn’t for that one interaction, I probably still wouldn’t have any songs out anywhere, and would just be unhappily keeping it to myself. I’m honestly just really grateful that it happened.”
The Push They Needed
“I was at my retail job working in the tech area. It was kind of slow, so I had the opportunity to really help this older guy out with all of his questions. He was really impressed that someone at the store was actually able to be of help for once and provide in-depth answers and help.
So he pops the question that I get a lot since I look very young (I was 21 at the time but commonly mistaken for 18 or so): ‘Are you in college?’
I decided to be honest, and tell him about how I tried community college twice but it didn’t really grab me and I ended up quitting. Long story short, he ends up telling me that I’m way too good for the place I’m at and should get out of there and make some progress towards my dream job.
One part, in particular, I remember well was he said that he wanted to see me gone from the place in six months. For some reason, the things this guy said really stuck with me. My family had been telling me for a while to start considering education plans again, but I was kind of just coasting along. This guy saying all of that while being a complete stranger really…woke me up some. So I went home that night and told my parents that I was ready to do school again after one and a half years of being out.
I was out of there by Christmas, which was about four months from the time the talk happened.
By February, I had enrolled at a semi-trade school in the Computer Animation program, completed my first four months of classes, and was in the process of moving to Florida from Texas. I was doing so well in the new environment, and having lots of fun meeting people with similar interests at the college.”
“Felt Broken, Useless, And Immobile”
“I had surgery last week because I broke my ankle in four places. I, being the restless ADHD-girl I am, went on a wheelchair trip around the hospital the afternoon after my surgery because I was so bored.
The entire time leading up to the surgery (the hospital was too busy so I had to wait a week and a half for my surgery), I was incredibly scared and I felt broken, useless, and immobile.
I went to the hospital pharmacy because a friend of mine works there, just to see if he was working.
There I had a conversation with a man waiting for his wife’s medication. When I told him I had surgery just five hours ago, he was truly amazed and told me how it took them three hours to get his wife to wake up after her surgery.
He told me he thought it was amazing how strong I was, and that I should be proud I was getting around by myself so easily.
That and the fact that the pharmacist was laughing at how hyperactive I was, sitting in my wheelchair talking to all kinds of strangers because I was bored, really made me feel empowered and it’s showing off in my recovery.”