You may have come across a stranger that left an impression on you, either negative or positive. But how often do you think about that specific encounter?
In this article, 21 people share an encounter they had with a complete stranger that they still think about.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
21. Wise Words
My girlfiend and I drove 36 hours straight to see the Grand Canyon. An old man overheard us and said:
“I’ll tell you a little secret, son. Never spend longer getting there than being there. Life is about the destination, not the trip.”
I’ve taken his words to heart and now my rule is I must spend longer on the activity than the drive.
20. The most genuine smile
I was about 8 so this was 25-ish years ago. I was riding in the backseat of my parents car and they were arguing up a storm and I had this very serious face on. As we pulled up to a stop sign, to my right was a Hispanic kid on his bike, he looked about 10 and he just smiled at me. It was the friendliest most genuine smile I ever received in my entire life. We only had two seconds together before my parents pulled away and I didn’t even smile back I just stared at him. I regret it every time I think of him.
19. The good-hearted artist
I was 14, delivering newspapers. Stopped in to drop one off at the coffee shop on my route when I noticed this guy drawing on a big ol’ drawing board propped up on his table. I tried to sneakily take a look, but being 14 I wasn’t nearly as sneaky as I thought. This guy waves me over, shows me his work (it was AMAZING) and chats with me about art for a little while. When I let it slip that I was an aspiring artist he said “come back when you’re off work and I’ll give you some tips.”
I did, and he did. This top-notch artist who does work for major movie studios gave some random kid a three hour long intense art lesson. He gave me feedback on the projects I had in mind, critiqued my sketchbook, just generally treated me like a genuine colleague. Nobody else had ever done that before.
This man I met once a decade ago is the reason I still draw today.
18. The hiccup girl
I was in Christchurch NZ years ago in a line to get into some club. I had the hiccups; a gorgeous girl in front of me turned around, put her hands on my shoulders, looked into my eyes and said “Your hiccups are gone.” And they were.
I spent the next few hours talking to her; she had had a fight with her boyfriend and stormed off to go clubbing. I arranged to meet her the next day (my last in NZ) in the coffee shop where she worked but she called in sick and I never saw her again. I hope you’re happy somewhere out there, hiccup girl.
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17. The heroic angel
I will always remember and still think of, the man who grabbed my then-toddler aged son away from being hit by a car and then completely disappeared.
16. The bizarre clown
I’m Arab-American, so I travel to the middle east a lot. One time, when I was 8, my family and I went to Jordan. well, I was in the bathroom of a restaurant washing my hands, and out from one of the stalls comes a clown, in full clown attire. He looks at me and says:
“you got a birthday coming up?”.
In perfect English in the middle of an Arab country. Well, I did not have a birthday coming up so I reluctantly said “no” back. This jester decides to pull out his business card and hands it to me
“oh, well just in case.”
I’ve lost sleep over the thought of that man.
How did he just know I spoke English?
Why do clowns have business cards?
15. That inspiring guitar player
Me and my friend were in this local guitar shop once, trying out some new guitars and jamming together. Then suddenly along comes a young African fellow, who we, till today, only refer to as “Johnny”, for the sake of not at all knowing his name”
Now, my friend and I have always thought ourselves to be quite good guitarists. Until Random Johnny came along and debunked that idea real quickly. There he was, jamming every song we knew, only 100 times better. He even played songs that we requested him to play that he had never played before in his life. Flawlessly.
Up until today I practice each day, aspiring to one day play as well as Random Johnny.
14. Kindness knows no boundaries
The gentleman who comforted my wife on her first flight. He was an older guy and said he frequently flew for business. We were all flying from Little Rock to Houston and storms were coming through that day which also delayed us. My wife was nervous and it showed and I really didn’t know how to comfort or relax her. He spoke to her in the terminal, sat by us on the plane, and just made sure she was ok. He bought us drinks and talked to us about what we did and what he did and next thing you know the flight was over. Very generous man who went out of his way for us.
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13. The random unicyclist
I spent a day at the beach with some friends. We were heading to the liquor store to pick up some beer to drink with dinner. A guy rode by on a unicycle and said, “tonight’s a Guinness night” We bought and drank Guinness, who were we to argue with random unicycle man.
12. The sight of beauty
I worked as a waitress as my first job. I was given a table of four: a mother, father, and two young kids. I went to ask them their drink order and when the mom looked up at me I was struck dumb by how unbelievably gorgeous she was. Brown skin, thick black hair, thin nose, high cheekbones, and the purest dark blue eyes. I had to ask her to repeat her order because I could only focus on how beautiful she was. Easily the most attractive woman I’ve seen before or since. She was very sweet and patient with me and they left a good tip. Cute kids too.
11. Wondering what happened to the mans daughter
When I was 13 I was on a road trip, waiting for a ferry. A man maybe in his 30s on a motorcycle pulled up next to me and we started talking. It turns out he was on the way to a hospital because his 8 year old daughter was on life support. I talked to him for about 45 minutes and when the ferry arrived we said goodbye to each other. I still wonder what happened to his daughter and where she is now.
10. The pipe encounter
I’m a guy in my early 20’s who smokes a tobacco pipe.
One day I stepped out into what is normally a very busy shopping street in my city, lit up the pipe I had already packed and lifted my head up. The street was completely dead at 2pm on a Saturday apart from one person, an old guy walking my direction also smoking a pipe.
I had to head his direction and we made eye contact, both amazed by how quiet the street we lifted our pipes up to greet each other (something I had never done before or done since) and for no reason, we tapped our pipes together. Both carried on walking, I never looked back and I hope he didn’t either.
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9. The mysterious mystery novel author
Last year I was on a train from New York to Alabama and I had breakfast with an older couple. They noticed that I was reading, and the woman told me that she was a published writer. They lived in Western Massachusetts, stuck to themselves (they liked the quiet), and fed the squirrels that came to their yard. I asked, but for privacy’s sake she refused to tell me her pen name or the title of her books. All she said was the books are set in her hometown, and they are mysteries/thrillers which revolve around the relationships between her characters. The best piece of advice she gave me on finding her was reading lots and lots of mystery novels until one fit her description. I still haven’t found out who she is.
8. A life saver!
I was travelling in Nice, France, about to meet my parents who had come to travel abroad on a separate trip. I was staying well out of town in the cheapest accommodation I could find and realised that I’d have to walk to the airport to meet them – which would have been miles and miles.
No phone credit, no food, no money for a bus fare and very little French.
A girl from Washington DC was staying at the place I was and I told her about my impending trek to the airport the next day.
She woke up early when I did to start the walk and took out all the loose change from her wallet – there were enough euros to get a bus to the airport! And she gave me a banana and some almonds – I hadn’t eaten in days.
I will never forget her kindness and try always to pay it forward.
Thank you Meg from Washington DC!
7. Two different generations, same excitement!
Went to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was 21 and Star Wars was my all time favorite movies as a child. Every Halloween, every movie night, etc. It was the center of my childhood. So I was stoked to see a new film as a young adult. In the theater I was sitting next to an oldish man of about 55. The theme song plays and the giant letters start scrolling up and I’m smiling so hard I can’t stop, look over at this guy and he is the same way. And for half a second or two there was no age difference, or government or anything in the world. We were two people who happy for the same thing at the same time.
6. The mysterious Japanese man
On a school trip to Japan, my group was walking around in Tokyo when I made eye contact with a 20-something Japanese man. He looked like he was smack dab out of FFXV. The moment lasted much too long and felt in a state of confusion for a while after. On our last day in Tokyo while boarding a train I had an uncanny feeling, looked up and saw the very same man staring at me. We both looked at each other awkwardly and moved on. I still think about those encounters from time to time.
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5. To study or not to study
In college we had a bus on Friday and Saturday nights that would take you around the area. To apartments, to a shopping center, and to campus.
One night in my Freshman year I was riding to the shopping center and sat near this girl who was reading her astronomy book. We talked and she said she’d been kind of stressed just staying in her apartment studying, so she was just riding the bus to take a break. We were just talking and I said I was going to have dinner and see a movie if she wanted more of a break.
As I was getting to my stop I could see her considering it. So I step off the bus and turn around. She’s standing on the steps and trying to decide if she should take a break or go back to her apartment and study. Then at the last second she said she’s sorry, and sat back down.
Never saw her again.
So if you’re an Irish girl who was studying astronomy at UCF six years ago, I hope you did well on that exam. I would have liked to buy you a cupcake.
4. Life of pi
There was this random girl at a party that I bumped into and she walked up to me and said “I bet I know more digits of pi than you do! I had literally a few days earlier been bored and was sitting and memorizing pi, so I went ahead and said “Really? Prove it.” She started saying pi and after a lot of digits, I start saying pi as well. Both being drunk, we started walking around singing the digits of pi in a choir. After that I never saw her again and I have no idea who she was.
3. Dreamy encounter on the bridge
I was standing on this bridge in town, watching the river flow. It was around midnight. It’s for pedestrians and trains, but neither are common there. I see a group of people approaching and wonder if I’m going to get robbed. They turned out to be friendly. One woman and a few guys. All early 20s like me. We spent the next couple hours walking along the bridge and talking. A good part of the time it was just the girl and myself, with the other guys off ahead. It was lightly raining.
We parted and jokingly said we’d meet there again the next time it rained. Sometimes when it rains I go there and think about her. I honestly don’t even think I’d recognize her, it was nearly five years ago, but I remember she was beautiful and played the same video games as me and she was great to talk to.
I go to that bridge when I’m feeling sad, and this was one of those times. It really made me more optimistic, being alone in the rain, a beautiful, kind stranger approaching and spending a couple hours together. Showed me that good things can happen in life.
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2. The impatient stranger
While waiting for a taxi in Suriname early one morning, I was approached by a heavily intoxicated man of African descent with a bushy mustache.
He asked what I was doing. When I explained that I was waiting for a private taxi, he said he’d wait with me.
The wait ended up taking forever, and the man became more and more impatient.
He began pacing back and forth and sighing heavily, looking down at an imaginary wristwatch. Then, every few minutes, he would throw up his hands and bellow “MY GOD! This take forever! Long time we wait! So, so long! MY GOD!”
This went on for quite some time.
“Uuuuuggghh! MY GOD!”
Finally, he became exasperated and walked away.
Now, whenever I find myself in a situation that requires a painfully long wait (waiting to move back to be with my fiancee at the beginning of August, sitting in a doctor’s examination room, suffering through a lengthy staff meeting, for example) I find myself quietly mouthing those same words in the same heavy Dutch accent.
“MY GOD this take forever! Aaaaaaggghh!”
It makes me smile and makes the wait easier to deal with.
Thank you wherever you are, sir.
1. That wonderful time of the year!
My ex and I were flying home on Christmas Eve to surprise our families. An ice storm hit, and our flight was delayed for about 6 hours before it was cancelled completely.
During that 6 hours, we chatted with a man sitting near us. He was also heading to our destination to meet up with his family and his wife, who had taken a different flight. Once the flight was cancelled, we decided that we only live once, so let’s just drive the 13 hours home, overnight, and take this guy with us. He’d already been screened through security, and it was Christmas…
And that’s exactly what we did. He helped pay for gas, kept us awake, and you’ve never seen a happier reunion. I don’t remember his name, but I think of him every Christmas!
[Image credit: Masson / Shutterstock.com]