People on Reddit were asked: “What stranger do you still think about?” These are some of the best answers.
Random girl I sat next to on the subway. We both read our books the whole ride. At her stop she said “It was really nice riding with you” and left. We hadn’t spoken or made eye contact the whole time.
I was at the supermarket about two years ago, just buying groceries. My week wasn’t the best and I was feeling quite a bit lower than usual, but hey, I gotta eat.
I was grabbing some yogurt, and all of a sudden I feel something wrap itself around my right leg. A little girl, about 3 or so, stares straight up at me, smiles the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a child that age, and proceeds to proclaim, “Wow, you’re really pretty!”
A bit shell shocked, I thanked her as her mother came hurrying over. The mom apologized and told her daughter to do the same for “bothering the nice lady,” but honestly I’ve never felt so honored in my life.
The girl is probably five or six by now, and I guarantee I’ll never forget her. She made my day so much brighter, and I find myself giving compliments to random people more often now.
The guy who waved at me at a bus stop several years ago, but he wasn’t actually waving at me, he was waving at a guy behind me, and when I waved at him, he laughed.
I think about him basically every time I go out now that I live back in the same city that it happened in, and worry I’ll see him again, and that I’ll die.
The older gentleman who knocked on my door one day and asked if he could possibly come inside and revisit the home in which he had lived over 55 years ago.
It was a pleasure to show him around and to hear his recollection of things that had happened within those walls many years ago – some of which were eye-openers.
I never saw him again because he was visiting from the other coast, where he now lives. Still, he told me tales of the house and neighborhood I won’t forget.
Had a long conversation one afternoon in Washington Square park with an old man who saw me looking at pigeons and started talking to me about bird behavior. We wound up talking for like 3 or 4 hours and he was pretty wise and kind of eccentric, never mentioned any family or anything. I never saw him again.
I was in a car accident in 2005. I hydroplaned during a rainstorm and slid through 4 busy lanes of rush hour traffic, catching the freeway divider and finally ending up facing into traffic as cars whizzed past me in the rain. I called my husband to tell him I loved him because I was pretty sure I had minutes before a car slammed into me.
I had no idea how I was going to get my car turned around, or if I could even drive. I knew I was in pain and I was scared to the point of just helplessly sobbing and screaming.
A truck slowed down and parked in front of me. It was this big Ford something-or-other and a man got out. He had a white pearl snap shirt and a grey cowboy hat on (this was in Texas and that’s still kind of distinctive). He said his name was Michael and he was an off-duty firefighter. He asked me if I was able to get out of the car.
I nodded tearfully, and as soon as I was out of the car I sobbed in his arms like a little kid. I was in my mid-twenties, but I didn’t care. He checked me over and said we had to get my car off the freeway. I agreed, and we checked to see if it would start. It did.
I could see the nearest hospital over the nearby businesses, and he said he would get me off the freeway and I was to go directly there and he’d meet me at the ER to make sure I was okay. Then he slowly pulled his truck forward to make a barrier (it’s still freeway rush hour and cars are still in the rain. He parked it, got out, and started to wave his hat to slow more cars down to a stop.
They did. I was able to pull away and drive to the hospital, dragging the rear of my car in a loud mess behind me. My husband got there just as I did, frantic, and he helped me inside so I could get checked out. I had whiplash, bruises, and soft tissue damage in my lower back. My shoulder was subluxed from the force of the steering wheel jerking. I had chocolate Slim Fast shake in my hair.
I never saw Michael again. I checked the news to make sure no one hit him while he pulled that stunt to get me off the freeway. I had no last name to go by, and wasn’t sure what department he worked for.
That was the second firefighter to save my life. I didn’t know the first one because I was a newborn, but I go out of my way to thank every firefighter I meet. He was off-duty. He could have just drove by, but this man stopped and helped me when I was scared and hurt and in danger. Thanks Michael.
I was in Bergen with a friend doing a tour around Norway. We were in a park and this guy, curly hair, around 40 years old, smiled at us. The happiest, nicest, beautifulest smile of all. He walked away, and we turned to look at him. He was looking at us too, and waved at us. I like to imagine he is still smiling at people in this park and being happy.
When I was around eight, my mother and I were at a bank standing in line behind a guy with two fingers missing on one of his hands. He caught me staring and started telling me a long winded story about how he’d gone to a gator show in Louisiana. The tamer did a trick were he had the gator hold its mouth open as he swiped his hand between the teeth thee times. He then offered a cash reward to anyone in the audience who could repeat the trick and the man telling me the story had volunteered. He went up to the gator and had it open its mouth. He swiped his hand through and nothing happened. He swiped his hand through again and nothing happened. He swiped his hand through a final time… and nothing happened.
The man then told me to always make sure a lawnmower is off before I try to unjam it.
I was a new cashier at a hardware store and this disheveled young guy came through my line buying a few cheap things like driveway markers and rope or something. Turned out he was deaf and when I tried to tell him the total he didn’t hand me enough money. So I wrote it down on paper for him and he still didn’t seem to be getting it.
It was busy and we obviously had a communication issue and the people in line behind him were starting to get antsy/annoyed. He had me remove a few items but still didn’t have enough, eventually he flipped over the paper I’d written numerous totals on and wrote simply “I’m sorry” and left with nothing. I still feel terrible about it and sometimes wonder if he’s doing okay.
I went to the municipal administration to authenticate my documents. While waiting, a dude comes in and says “Hey you! Hey bro! Make like this” and he turned his arm in a weird way. “Yeah you! Do this like I’m doing it” and turns around his arm again. So I do what he wants me to.
He comes closer to me and asks me to do it again, so I turn around my arm again. He shakes my hand and tells me, that I will always be his homie and he will never let me down. He goes to the door and asks me to turn around my arm. I turn around my arm and he says “You are the coolest guy ever. Peace out.” Walks out, runs to the other side of the street, while there was plenty of traffic and nearly gets overrun. He runs away as fast as he can. Never seen him again nor do I know what the hell just happened.
This man in a Red Sox hat that I met on a connect flight from Pittsburgh to California. We both forgot our neck pillow and decided to go with each other to buy some because a kiosk had a “buy one, get one 50% sale.” He ended up paying for mine too. I think about him every time I board a flight with that neck pillow.
This man who was about to get off the bus at the station, who, before exiting, turned to my dad and said in a very peaceful voice, “You’re going to live to be a 100 years old. I can see it in your face”. It was such an odd, but nice encounter. He was an older man himself. I hope he’s doing good.
The Canadian dude who helped me amd my baby daughter out at Toronto airport. I was travelling back from the UK, where I had taken my daughter to introduce her to my family, flying back to Baltimore, where my husband was waiting for us.
The check in clerk at Heathrow had told me my luggage would be checked straight through, which was totally wrong. I arrive for my connecting flight with my carry on, and my 11 month old kid in her car seat carrier, and they ask me where my luggage is. I have to go back to the other terminal, get my luggage, go back through customs and make my flight, all while toting a baby, with no Canadian money. Also, I’m hugely upset because I just left all my family behind. I get back to the terminal, get my luggage and the customs guy yells at me for being late getting my stuff, basically implying I’m using my baby and connecting flight to manipulate him into letting me through without inspecting my luggage.
So 23 year old me bursts into tears in the middle of the airport. This dude notices, asks me whats wrong and goes about fixing it for me. Gives me a dollar coin for the luggage trolley. Yells at the Air Canada staff that they have screwed up, and gets them to get me through staff security so I make my flight – all that stuff I should have been doing but I was so gired and upset I just couldn’t do myself. I never had the chance to give him back his dollar coin since as soon as I was ok, he disappeared, but I keep it in my purse, even now, 15 years later, to remind me to be good to other people.
Was walking in Times Square about 15 years ago, a creepy guy was walking next to me for a long time saying super inappropriate things, out of no where an older man came up to me and was like “Susan! Don’t walk so fast, mom and I didn’t know where you went”. That man saved me and walked me to work. I think about him often.
I was probably about 8 and in this daycare section of some church when I hit my knee on something, and I said “ow” because it hurt. And this guy with a mop just stops in the middle of the hallway and stares me dead in the eyes and says in this sadistic Donald Duck voice “Oh, did you get a boo boo?” And walks away. It was probably one of the most unsettling things I’ve experienced.
The woman who pulled over when I got in my first car accident at 16. It wasn’t my fault, but my car was only slightly messed up on one side, whereas the car who hit me overcorrected, hit the median, and flipped upside down. When I got out of my car and looked across the street at their car, I saw a car seat crunched under one side. I was only 16 years old, and I love children and despite knowing it wasn’t my fault I thought I was going to have to live with knowing a baby was dead because of this accident for the rest of my life. I almost sprinted out into traffic to get to the other car, but a woman stopped me. She steered me over to the side of the road and hugged me while telling me it wasn’t my fault and everyone in the other car was fine. Turns out she hadn’t even seen the accident, and had no way of knowing if the other people were fine.
But they were. The other driver and her brother were in the front seats and were wearing their seat belts. They walked away from the accident with sore backs and one pair of broken glasses. The woman did have a two year old son, but he wasn’t in the car. I will never forget the woman who stopped to help before the cops and paramedics came.
I work at a library and a few months ago we were closing up and the supervisor found a man who had no legs in a wheelchair that had fallen asleep in the stacks. She politely woke him up and told him that we were closing in a few minutes and asked if we could call someone for him. He said he didn’t have anyone and he basically refused to leave. This was the middle of winter in Iowa so supervisor feels terrible about throwing him out and calls our director and the police to help him find a place to stay.
Director shows up and tells the man that we have closed and that the police are on their way, at which point he decides that now he would like to leave. He leaves and wheels himself across the parking lot and out of sight and of course then the police show up. Apparently this guy is basically a missing person and his family has been looking for him for months. The cop circles the neighborhood looking for him but he was gone and he never came back to the library. I just hope that he’s okay.
A street clown in the French Quarter proposed to me when I was 15 yo. No one has proposed to me since, so I think on him with regret every so often…
When I was nine years old, I went to [a general store] with my dad. So we’re standing in line at the checkout and a couple of pennies fall out of the coat pocket of the guy in front of us.
So I reach down and pick them up, because I’m a little kid who thinks three pennies are a significant loss. And I’m really nervous because I don’t like talking to strangers, but I got his attention and said, “Sir? You dropped this.” And I gave him the pennies back.
And he said, “Oh, thank you. But you know what? I also dropped this and this” and he literally starts taking handfuls of change out of his coat pockets. Like, he leaves this huge pile of coins on the conveyer belt. And he gives the whole thing to me. I’ve never broken my childhood piggybank but let me tell you, something like half of the coins in there were from that one guy.
I have no idea who he was or why he decided to give me all the change in his pockets, but it felt like one of those fairy tales where the good witch disguises herself as an old person who needs help to secretly test people’s characters and reward good deeds.
I was eating at a restaurant seated at a window that looked out onto the main street. I saw an old man walk by after getting off his phone, hand slowly covering his mouth, breaking down down into tears. He’d obviously heard some bad news. I still think of him and the situation he found himself in.
The lady by the fountain in the park.
I was sitting there, upset that someone close to me had died so young. She sat beside me, touched my hand, and said, “I’ve been sad, too.” She gave me a quick hug, and left.
That moment changed me in words I can’t quite express here.
I used to work at the reference desk of a public library. One day a woman came in trying to find out about the social and legal services available for single, low-income women in our county. It’s been years, so I don’t remember specifically what she wanted, but reading between the lines, she sure sounded like someone who’d just left an abusive relationship and didn’t know what to do now.
She was so sweet and kept thanking me for even offering to do things or apologizing for taking up all my time. She also had an adorable toddler with her, and she’d apologize for him acting out if he’d step three steps away from her or start showing off a little for the other librarian. She nearly started to cry when I told her something like “No no, this is my job; you deserve our resources as much as anyone else does and you are not wasting my time. While you’re standing here, the most important thing for me to do is try to help you with what you need.”
She just seemed so overwhelmed and tired. I’ve always wondered if she managed to end up someplace good.
An old lady walking down the road. Her back was so crooked it looked like she was bent 90 degrees at the waist. She stopped next to a park, pulled out a carton of eggs and started throwing them at the pigeons.
I feel that was an essential formative experience for me.
The cashier at Home Depot who told me to cheer up and how I was too young to look so sad, when I didn’t feel in the least bit down and was simply looking around.