"One time a complete stranger stopped me on my walk to class so she could compliment my hair. She did all the usual, 'Your hair is just so pretty! I'll bet you hear that all the time though. I used to have hair like that!' stuff I've gotten used to as a natural redhead.
But then she followed it up with, 'Oh, by the way, I'm a Russianist, and if you ever go to rural Russia, little old ladies will ward you off with the sign of the cross because in rural Russia, they believe redheads are the actual spawn of Satan!'
I thought I was used to people saying insane things about my hair, but that one was new. The lady clearly didn't notice my expression and went, 'Well, I just complimented you and insulted you in the worst way possible. Have a good afternoon!'
People get pretty weird about red hair. When I was 12, some scary looking goth girl grabbed me by the shoulders and said if I ever dyed my hair, she'd hunt me down and kill me. I also had somebody just grab a fistful of my hair once and it took everything I had not to punch her. My family has also always been weirdly obsessed with my hair color because they've got this sort of hierarchy of hair color, and mine's the ideal, perfect color. I honestly think they'd disown me if I ever changed it."
"Last year around the holidays I was at an outdoor mall in midtown Atlanta. I was standing outside of a Victoria's Secret on my phone when a black woman approached me.
Woman: 'Excuse me, sir, do you talk to black people?'
Woman: 'Do you have any black friends?'
Woman: 'Do you go to church?'
Woman: 'Okay, well I was wondering if you would go into Victoria's Secret with me and buy me a pair of panties.'
Me: 'Sorry, I'm not going to do that.'
Woman: 'Cracker.' And then she turned and walked away. I was speechless for a few moments and then had no choice but to laugh about. People are strange."
"It was a snow day and I was about 12 years old. Some friends and I were walking on a main street, underhand tossing snowballs at passing cars. I hit a van in the windshield and it pulled over. A 40ish-year-old guy got out and walked up to us. He grabbed me by the arm and started screaming at us, telling me he was going to 'hit me in the mouth.'
At that moment, a woman pushing a stroller with a baby in it and a young girl were passing by, and the mom saw what was happening and stepped in, telling the guy to get lost. He let go of me and we started walking away.
We were about 50 feet away when we heard screaming again. We turned around and the guy was on top of the mom, punching her in the face. We went running back to help her but he got back in his van and took off.
One car stopped and a woman got out to help the mom and call the cops. Another car chased the van down, also while calling the cops. The cops ended up catching the van and pulled him over.
It turned out the van guy had his wife and three kids in the car with him. They arrested dude and took him in, and the mom was messed up, so they took her to the hospital. We gave a police report and I was contacted sometime later to testify. Nothing ever came of it, so I don't know what happened to the guy but the whole thing was super crazy."
"One night my boyfriend and I were taking the bus home after going downtown for a date, so we sat in the back where my favorite little corner spot is. This particular evening, however, I noticed a man sitting in my preferred spot. Normally this isn't a big deal in the slightest, since you can't really claim a seat on public transit. The thing was, this guy had on a helmet made of cabbage.
I had to double take at him a couple of times because nothing else was particularly off about him, he just had an obviously homemade helmet of cabbage. I knew it was cabbage the moment I saw him, but I couldn't muster up the courage to say something until we got off the bus. As we were leaving, I ran after him just to tell him that I liked his cabbage hat and that it was the coolest thing I'd seen all day. He said, 'No one has pointed it out yet!' and we had a conversation about it. I really regret not getting his name, cabbage missed connections!"
"When I was about 8 years old, my mom brought me to her friend's house so I would play with her friend's 8-year-old son while they had a chat. He walked me outside and said, 'Hey, check this out!' Then he pulled down his pants and took a massive dump on the ground right in front of me and then his dog ate it and threw up. I'll never forget that moment; it all happened in seconds but it's forever burned into my mind.
I've tried to refrain from thinking about it in much depth but he was so confident that it made me think he would do it often, which scares me. Also, it wasn't intimidating because had a huge grin on his face, like he'd been waiting all day to show me. Every time I visit my mom, she goes on about how he's such a great guy and I always just say, 'Yeah, but he pooped on the floor.' She never believes me, but I'll never forget."
"Growing up, I lived pretty far out in the country. We had a farm across the street from us, a farm behind us, and our neighbors were quite a ways down the road. I took the bus to school and my parents' house sits back about 400 feet from the road, so the driveway is relatively long.
One morning I was waiting for the bus at the end of the driveway and this car flew by. Then it came back again, slower, and one more time, barely crawling by. The next time it came by, it pulled in and the guy proceeded to freaking chase my 10-year-old self up the driveway with his car.
I started screaming at the top of my lungs, trying to get my mom's attention inside the house. Finally, the car stopped and the guy got and said, 'I just want to take your picture...' Unbelievably, even after that experience, my parents never waited for the bus with me. It was horrifying."
"The story of my first car accident is pretty weird. It was the day before my 20th birthday and I hit a parked car while trying to park at a Panera. The lady whose car I hit was very nice (she and my mom are friends now because of the accident), but I was uncontrollably sobbing. You see, I've always been very sensitive so I cry at anything remotely jarring. Also I have an extremely guilty conscience, so hitting a car was like the end of the world for me.
As we were exchanging information and giving our IDs to the police officer who happened to be in the parking lot at the time, a man walked up to me. I didn't really think anything of it because several people had walked by and asked if I was alright, but this guy struck a conversation about car accidents.
He told me and this other woman (and my mom who was on the phone with me) that about a year prior he was in an accident that totaled his car just up the street from where we were. He said that he was given a citation from the police and went to court to fight it. This is where crap gets weird:
Him: 'So the judge looked at me and says, "You've been a very bad boy," and I was like, "You can see that still? It's been 15 years!"'
Me: 'Oh, haha, what did you do?'
Him: 'I used to work at this office and I had a coworker who was a huge jerk to me so I wanted to prank him. One day, AS A JOKE, I decided to scare him by chasing him around the office with a hatchet! It was obviously just a joke, but he was a huge sissy so he pressed charges on me for assault with a deadly weapon! People these days really just can't take a joke.'
Then he said goodbye and left, disappearing as quickly and mysteriously as he arrived."
"One time in college, I was visiting San Francisco with my girlfriend and we were walking through Golden Gate Park. There were a couple of homeless dudes there, and one noticed us and started walking towards us, kinda trying to get our attention.
As he got closer he asked, 'You got a light?'
I just said, 'No, sorry,' and continued walking.
He kept coming towards us and was like, 'Oh, c'mon, really?' and got right up to me and outstretched his arms, his hand right in front of my face. He wasn't aggressive, it was more like a zombie motion.
However, he caught me so off guard that I didn't react in time and one of his fingers went INTO MY MOUTH. I had no idea what was happening...then my brain snapped out of it and I shoved him away and started coughing, spitting, and feeling generally disgusted all over. He just kinda stood there and wandered off while we hustled away."
"I was in Chicago with my family and I got lost. I started walking around until I came across two buildings with a big alley in between them, where I stopped to figure out where I was.
It wasn't quite nighttime, but the alley was very dark. I was standing under a street lamp trying to figure out how I could get some help when this guy just appeared behind me from out of the dark, asking me if I needed help.
I was about 10 years old so I knew not to talk to strange men who appeared out of thin air from alleys in downtown Chicago, but I didn't know what else to do. I had no idea what my parents' phone numbers were or where they might've been, so I thought I should talk to him. I told him my situation and he walked back into the alley, gesturing for me to follow.
I followed very far behind him so I was at least a little safer. We walked around for a while and finally came out of a different alley where he just stopped dead in his tracks on a busy street next to a really crowded pizza restaurant, staring into the horizon.
I caught up to him and waited for him to say something, but he just pointed to the other side of the street where there was a big group of people crossing. I waited for them to walk by so I could see what he was pointing at...and it was my parents. Before I turned around to thank him, he was gone. He just disappeared. That was hands down the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me."
"I was leaving the science wing of my college and rode in the elevator with a guy from my class. I had spoken two him once or twice, but certainly did not know him personally. I'm a pretty big fan of Widespread Panic (a jam band for those of you who do not know) and from his appearance, he seemed like the kind of guy who would also be interested in that particular genre.
Trying to make casual conversation, I asked, 'Do you like Widespread Panic?'
He enthusiastically replied, 'I love it, the chaos of it all!' His response struck me as odd, but the concerts could be described as chaotic and truthfully I was just happy that I had read the situation correctly.
I started to list some of the shows I've been to, trying to find more common ground. He replied, 'Yeah, just crowds running, screaming, the fear, it's a rush that can't be matched!'
Becoming somewhat concerned and with two floors to go, I asked, 'You do know I'm talking about a band, right?'
He looked at me, paused, and said, '...oh.' We both looked forward, waited for the elevator to settle, and he walked out the door."
"I was taking the elevator down to go home after waiting with family for an update about my aunt after she suffered a stroke. A man in his mid-50s wearing a business suit stepped on to ride the rest of the way down. It was just the two of us.
He faced the back of the elevator, which immediately alarmed me, and after we passed two floors he started humming one low tone and began digging through his pockets. Fight or flight kicked in and I began weighing my options.
Then he pulled his fists out of his pockets, filled with shredded cheese. He had at least a full bag's worth. This man was sprinkling the cheese all over the floor of the elevator while letting out this soul-crushingly low, monotone humming.
Out of primal fear, I pushed my body against the doors and pushed every floor before the lobby so I could exit. It literally felt like a ten minute ride to the next floor. I barely heard the ding over his cheese hums, but I booked it out of there and did not look back. I ended up taking the stairs after sitting down for awhile to catch my breath. I told security at the front desk, and someone was already sweeping up the cheese. I still need answers, 10 years later."
"I was on a student exchange trip to Estonia where I lost my purse on a bus. Then some Estonian kids calmly led me to a tram going out of town. After a long ride, we came to this run down, ghetto-looking neighborhood and entered a tall building with broken windows.
I was scared crapless but I figured since I didn't even know where I was and didn't have a phone, I had no other option than to trust them. Inside, the building was dark with flickering lights and a large, bitter man with dark leather clothes walked past and lets us through. It just felt bad, not like a 'lost and found' kinda place.
After going up a few flights of stairs, we came to a door which opened and from the totally dark room came forth a short, elderly lady who handed me my bag. It was all there: my money, passport, everything. I'm still boggled by it to this day. How and why did she have my stuff? We went directly there after leaving the bus..."
"Back when I used to spend my summers at the beach, there was always this super old lady covered head to toe in leather: leather pants, vest, boots, hat, and gloves. I mean anything and everything possible was leather.
She'd always go around talking to people about her raccoon family and if they didn't ask, she'd find a way to insert an obscure raccoon fact into the conversation. She wasn't homeless but was definitely a little nuts. I remember talking to her a few times and she'd go on and on about how to care for and raise raccoons except I never once saw these supposed animals that she obsessed over.
We all just thought she was old and losing her mind until one day, I saw this old bat walking down the boardwalk in all her leathered glory and in her arms were three huge raccoons! She was on some Khaleesi stuff! Needless to say, I was shook. I walked over and not only did she have the three fat babies perched on her but inside her rolling cart she had about six tiny raccoon babies all bundled inside some blankets. I honestly could not believe it. I had always just written her off as the harmless but crazy imaginary raccoon lady, and there she was living her best raccoon life! I just hope I grow up to give as little craps as her one day."
"I lived in the dorms in college and one day I was walking back to my room after class when this random girl across the parking lot started waving at me. Then she came running up to me and the first words out of her mouth were, 'Hi, I'm Sarah. I've been praying for you.' Then she insisted on walking me back to my dorm and told me that she would see me around campus and decided she needed to pray for me.
Then she told me about how she also informed her mother about me, so her mother decided to pray for me too. I had literally never met this girl in my life; she apparently would just watch me walking every day and thought I was in trouble? The only thing I can guess is that I had red streaks in my hair and I can have a bad case of grumpy-face when lost in thought, which I usually was because I'd just left class, so that made her think I was a troubled student. After that, I never saw her again."
"I was on my way to buy my first dog, a Golden Retriever puppy. I was waiting for the train and there was an older, feeble-looking gentleman in dirty crimson and yellow robes. He had a walking stick that he had whittled himself and it looked like something the stereotypical magic user in an RPG would use, gnarled and funky. He was talking to random people along the platform and as he talked he would tap the stick occasionally. I heard him speaking a language I didn't recognize with the lady next to me, probably something from Africa, and when they finished talking he approached me.
Now I was happy as a clam on this particular day because of the new puppy, but I had been battling (and continue to battle) depression and borderline personality disorder for years. However, there was no way he could see it on my face that day as I wish in high spirits. He came over and took a seat beside me, tapped his stick three times, looked into my eyes, and told me he had something very important to discuss with me.
I was super weirded out, but there was no way I was turning this guy down and the platform was full. What could he possibly do to me? I asked him what he wanted to discuss. He told me he had been a lot of places in his life, but he had never seen anyone suffering the way I was. I told him about the puppy and that it was a good day, and he asked me when my last good day was. I looked at him funny and he just smiled and said, 'I know it's tough now, but you're tougher. You can beat the sadness and the anger if you keep fighting, and one day it will be bearable and you won't need a puppy to support you because you'll be able to do it yourself.'
I hadn't mentioned sadness or anger or that the puppy was essentially a gift from my friends to motivate me to keep living. I have no idea where he got that information. He tapped his stick again, and I thanked him and asked how he knew so much about me. He just smiled.
We chatted about his life for a few minutes and when the train pulled in I stood up to get closer to the doors, looked over, and the sneaky man was gone. I went and got my puppy, and I took the guy's words to heart. It's been 13 years now. Somewhere out there is a seriously lucky dude (or a stalker) who changed my outlook on life by complete coincidence; or maybe he was some kind of crazy psychic sage, I'm still not sure which. But thanks for the advice either way, bro!"