People Talk About The Amazing Strangers They Only Met Once But Can't Forget

Have you ever had one of those amazing experiences where you just connect with someone you've never met, and then you go your separate ways?

This piece is based on an AskReddit thread. Link on the last page.

1. Gators gonna gate.

When I was 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 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 three times. He then offered a cash reward to anyone in the audience who could repeat the trick; 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.


2. Easy rider.

This random woman 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.



3. Never too old to troll.

I will never forget this insanely old lady I met 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.


4. Pennies from heaven.

When I was nine years old, I went to Walmart 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. I remember that he was an elderly guy.

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" (continued...)

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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.


5. I used to be Susan.

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. I was really worried he was going to follow me all the way home, and nobody did anything to help.


But then, out of nowhere, 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.


6. Our house.

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.



7. Sticking your neck out.

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.


8. Holy cowboy.

This is what happened to me at a bar in Nashville. I was dancing with a guy for a minute or two and when I turned to go and find my friends, he grabbed me by the arm and yanked me back twice. (continued...)

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Not so much that it hurt but it was way more aggressive than called for. Another guy came out of nowhere and said, "there you are! We were looking for you!" and led me away and walked with me until I found my friends. He probably thought nothing of it but I was so happy and grateful to see that some guys are aware of that stuff and willing to step in.



9. Ships in the night.

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. 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 I hope he's doing okay.



10. Wait... was he the janitor?

I was probably about 8 and in this daycare section of some church when I hit my knee on something. 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.


11. This guy is mysterious.

I work at a library. A few months ago, we were closing up and the supervisor found a man 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.

The 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. Of course, that's when the police show up. Turns out there's more to this guy than we thought. (continued...)

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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.


12. For the birds.

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. He was pretty wise and kind of eccentric, never mentioned any family or anything. I never saw him again.



13. Mole bowl.

I once saw an older woman eating an entire bowl of guacamole as her entree at a Mexican restaurant. If Im being honest, I was jealous.



14. Lord of the ring.

I was sitting in a bus stop crying my eyes out because my fianc asked for the ring back, and this girl from the local high school sat down next to me to see if I was okay. She was really nice, and she gave me a big hug, and she just sat with me for ages with her arms around me while I cried on her shoulder, and basically blubbered all my problems at her.


When I'd calmed down, she told me everything was going to be okay, and that it didn't matter if I was single or got back together with my fianc, because she had faith that I was strong enough to handle anything life threw at me. And she was right. Every time my life feels hard, I remember her, and things don't feel so bad.


15. We'll never know.

I was eating in 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 wonder about the situation he found himself in.



16. Seismic thrift.

I've told this story before, but this has definitely stuck with me for years.

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. (continued...)

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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 probably about 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.



17. I can't imagine what reason there could be.

I once saw this woman at a cafe dipping a lollipop into her coffee and sharing it with her kids. Dont know the reason, if there was one.



18. Ich bin ein Berliner?

During a family trip to Vegas, my parents took me down to the pool at the Luxor hotel. I was maybe 7-8 at the time. I met a German girl about my age and we hit it off instantly, even though we didn't speak the same language. We played together in the pool for what seemed like hours & when it was time to say goodbye we hugged & she said "Ich werde dich vermissen" in a very sad voice.

I no idea what it meant but I remembered the way it sounded. I found out years later through a google search it means "I will miss you."



19. That is so scary.

I was sitting in an airport waiting for my flight when I suddenly heard a nearby woman shriek. She was still on her phone, she got up from her seat and was crying and started to run away. The guy she was with ran and grabbed her and said, "What! What!"

She said, "My kid's dead!"

"What?! Which one?"


And they went off and I had to board my flight. I felt so bad for them and will always wonder what the story was.


20. On the fence.

I tried to climb a spiked fence when I was a kid and ended up hanging with a steel rod though my arm after slipping. (continued...)

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I still remember the woman who found me and stayed with me until I was cut down. I saw her a few months ago, but I don't think she remembers me.


21. Love, actually.

When I was 17, I had a boyfriend who was just awful. He cheated on me regularly.

Anyway, we were at an amusement park with a couple of friends. This park had a beer tent after 11PM, and since my boyfriend and our friends were old enough they could get in, though I couldn't. They disregarded that I was refused entry and ignored me for the rest of the night.

I had no way of getting home without my boyfriend. It was dark, everyone around me was drunk, and I was just so scared. I cried, like, ugly cried. Cue the stranger.

A man, maybe a couple of years older than I, walked up to me and started writing on his phone. I just looked at him, obviously very confused. Then he gave me his phone on which it said "I'm too shy to tell you this in person, but I think you're cute."


I, still confused and caught off guard, responded with just, "Thanks" and he wrote "Why are you crying?"

We had a little chat this way and then he wrote that I deserved so much better, and that if he wasn't going home to his home city the next day, he would've loved to take me on a proper date. Then he walked away, and I never saw him again.

I dumped my boyfriend the next day, and it's all because of a stranger who decided to do something nice just out of kindness.


22. You're Tool kind.

I attended a Tool concert while I was in the midst of going through a divorce. I was in a line to buy beer and a beautiful girl in a parallel beer line kept staring at me. When I caught her gaze she smiled at me, this happened a couple of times. I was too awkward to go over and talk to her, but it made me feel good about myself at a time when I needed it.




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