Nostalgic People Tell Stories Of The One Stranger They’ll Never Forget
_Life is an abundance of utter chaos. People fly in and out every other second. Many times we recognize the profound differences they make; like saving our lives when we're choking on meat or turning out to be our significant other. But 90% of the time we'll never know the people who float in and out of out lives. And that 90% can change it within the blink of an eye. _
_Redditor ___The_FunkyPigeon_asked people to share stories of the one stranger they'll never forget.
WHAT HAPPENS IN TAHOE.
A boy I met 30 years ago in Tahoe.
SOMETIMES LANGUAGE HAS NO BARRIERS.
Whenever I go to the airport, I think about that one girl I met when I was like 4, in Miami. She spoke Spanish and back then I only spoke French. Yet we managed to become bffs in a matter of minutes. She was so damn generous with all her toys and she drew me a picture as a parting gift. She was so nice. I wonder who she's become.
LOST IN THE CROWD.
When I was a very nervous 14 year old I saw a short blonde girl with a lip ring wearing an Atticus t-shirt at a local carnival. I thought she was beautiful, but when I attempted to approach her I lost her in the crowd. Whenever someone mentioned a carnival I thought of this girl, even during and after some serious relationships (note to self: no matter how close you and your s/o are, don't bring up this girl).
Now, I worked at a burger restaurant about a mile from the carnival site from when I was 16 until I was 18. When I was 17 I swear to god this same girl came in. I felt like a nervous 14 year old again. I wanted to approach, but she was eating with her mom and dad and I wasn't their server. They left when I was in the kitchen. It was a sad day.
THUMBS UP FRIEND!
There used to be a cheap, but tasty Shawarma place opened very close to where I lived back in uni. I used to visit there almost daily, every day, for a sandwich.
The shawarma guy was an old Turk that didn't speak any English. I had to do gestures to describe what I wanted on my sandwich. After a while tho, he'd recognize me. I'd nod, he'd nod, and he would know what I wanted. This went on for 5 years. We've established a strong relationship of sign language that, as far as I know, isn't recognized anywhere else.
The last day I visited was right when I graduated. I visited there, graduation hat on the table. He gestures to it, I smile and nod twice...and he grinned. The biggest grin I've seen a stranger show me. He was so happy for me. He gave me a thumbs up. I gave one back.
I went back home, many miles away, but I still think about that "friend".
SOMETIMES IT'S JUST ABOUT LISTENING.
When I was 15 years old I had some pretty dark thoughts. I was really lonely, had no friends, no idea of what I wanted to do after high school, I never felt so lost in my entire life. Depression was a new thing for me so I had no clue of how to deal with it in a healthy way, so I did what every depressed teenager does: I acted out. A lot. My grades were garbage, I started drinking, fighting all the time with my family. Then one day I was at school sitting by myself, listening to some music and minding my own business when this new teacher sat next to me and asked how I was doing.
I told him to shut up, he said "ok, I will, if you tell me how you're doing". He was so calm and kind that I felt bad for treating him that way, so I apologized and we started talking. For some reason I told him everything that was going on and he just sat there listening to me. Barely said anything, just listened. When I was done venting, he just said something along the lines "problems come and go, sometimes they feel like the end of the world, but you have to put up a fight cause that's how you become stronger for the next problem. It's okay to feel sad and angry, but eventually you have to stand up for yourself." I don't remember the exact words cause that was six or seven years ago, but in that moment, I decided not to harm myself. I never saw that teacher again, maybe he got fired or something, I really don't know. But since that day I've been punching depression in the face almost everyday. Life isn't the best right now, but I know it gets better eventually and it's worth the struggle =] And I'll always be thankful to that man.
LOVE IS IN THE EYES.
I was walking out of a store with my son who wasn't more than a couple months old. An older woman was walking behind me, and she said, "look at the way he looks at you! He loves you so much!" I don't know why that meant so much to me, but I think of her and those kind words often.
JUST KEEP BREATHING!
I called a suicide hotline one time about three years ago when I was seriously considering doing it. I was sixteen and crying alone and the woman was so kind and calmed me down. She asked me how I was gonna do it and when I told her I was going to take loads of pills she told me quite frankly that it wouldn't work, and I would just really damage my liver. She spoke to me for ages. She reminded me that I still a whole life that I could make as exciting as possible if I wanted it. I realized I did really want it.
She told me if I called back within the next two hours she would still be there and she would be waiting for my call. My family came back home and I got distracted and never got the chance to call her back and tell her I was okay. I hope I didn't worry her and that she's alright. I wish I could tell her that I'm still alive and doing great. She honestly saved my life and pulled me back from the darkest hour ever. I think about her around this time of year a lot.
ANGELS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING.
My best friend died from cancer when I was 19. I had just started an internship in Boston at the time and had to fly back home to Illinois to attend the funeral. While at the airport waiting to board my flight, I was on the phone with someone. I don't remember who it was as I had to make so many phone calls during that period of time to friends and family to inform people of what happened. After I hung up the phone a woman, probably in her mid 30's, who had been sitting near me came over and said she had overheard me on the phone. This didn't surprise me, as basically every phone call I had to make had me nearly in tears (if not actually in tears). She went on to say that she couldn't even imagine going through something like that at 19, and how maturely I was handling it.
I thanked her, and went back to making phone calls. The next time I looked around, which couldn't have been more than a few minutes later, she was gone. It has always stuck with me, and I will never forget it. Just those small words of kindness meant so much to me at that moment.
ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE DOC.
I was a total screw up in high school. Almost got expelled, eventually dropped out, ended up with a GED. In my 20s I finally decided to do something with my life and went to community college. Did well, but didn't take it seriously enough. Applied to graduate school for a career that would boost me out of the poverty I grew up in. Got accepted by a program before I finished the pre-requisites for that program. I was supposed to complete the last few pre-requisites in spring quarter and start grad school three weeks later in summer.
First day of spring quarter I was too busy hooking up with this woman and forgot to pay my tuition, so the computer system automatically booted me from all my courses. I was able to salvage all of them except one advanced microbiology course because they always have a wait list and immediately filled up. I was literally screwing myself out of grad school and a better life. I had my first and only panic attack in the counselor's office when she wouldn't give me an override and said I had to plead my case to the professor, who I'd never met.
I went to talk to the professor, a crusty retired veterinarian who glowered at me as I told him how I'd gotten into graduate school and would literally be kicked out before I even started if I didn't complete his course that quarter. He stared at me for a while and said, "you ever going to f--- up that bad over something so important again?" I said, "not this badly." He smiled and gave me an override, I went to grad school and got my doctorate. I make a comfortable living, have a kid that I never worry about providing for or feeding. And I have never screwed up that badly again. All thanks to Doc.
IN THE LONELY HOUR.
I met a woman my age in an elevator in my 20s. She asked how old I was, and commented that we were the same age, and that while I was an MD, all she had done in her life was get married and have kids. I was coming off call after some 36 hours in the hospital, in my intern year, lonely, miserable, and exhausted. I just looked at her and thought about how strange it was that we both wanted what the other had.
IT GETS BETTER
This dude came up to me in public and said "it will get better, I promise" when I was at my absolute lowest and couldn't talk about it with anyone. No one else around me noticed how depressed I was but this random stranger saw it.
GARY THE BABY BOOMER IS A HERO!
Last year I went out to eat with a couple of my friends and they were standing outside of my car when I parked. As soon as I opened the door they started making conversation with me, so I got distracted and left my keys in the car. My friends and I got to work on trying to somehow open the door. We were struggling with a hanger until an old man came up to us and asked if he could try. He bent up the hanger in a way that my friends and I hadn't even thought of, and within like 5 minutes he managed to get the door open with a little of my help. I still remember him telling me "Tell your parents that a baby boomer named Gary helped you out." Thanks old man :)
REDDIT BRINGS US TOGETHER.
We were similarly aged, and played Diablo 1 waaaaaay back in the day. Always a blast to talk to, and we kept up for the longest time on ICQ. She was just a really genuine, fun person. And then, as internet folk do, she moved on and we never talked again._
It'd be cool to see how she's doing, but I've made peace with the fact that I'll never hear from her again.
THE BABY WHISPERER
I used to work checkout at a grocery store. One day, this woman comes up to my line with her baby sitting in the top part of the cart. The woman was calm, at ease, carefree. But she had an aura that she was a genuinely good person. Her baby starts screaming at the top of its lungs. Most parents I know would reach to their kid and pick them up to calm them down, yell, get embarrassed, all that. But this woman, without it being a big deal, just looked at her kid with the kindest face, and without words comforted her child. And her kid stopped crying instantly. And I think about how one person could so simply listen and communicate back love in such a meaningful way, I sometimes think about her and how to be someone like that.
DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
The dude who mugged me. I've moved countries since then, but I still get the feeling he's lurking around nearby whenever I go for a walk.
FRIENDS KEEP FRIENDS WARM.
I must have been around 10 years old and was skiing with my parents. The temperature dropped, and my toes were killing me, so we went into a cafeteria located midway up the mountain. My mom took off my boots and was trying to warm up my frozen toes with her hands. A random stranger walked by, took pity on me, reached into his jacket, and handed me two boot warmers. Since then, I've always carried extra boot warmers in case I see a miserable kid on the mountain. Still hoping to pay it forward one day.
ANIMALS FIRST, ALWAYS.
When I was a young child my dog got sick. We took her to the vet. She had a problem with her leg. To help her the vet had to move her leg and it put her in a significant amount of pain. Seeing my dog in pain made me cry so one of my parents took me out of the room. The receptionist saw me crying, gave me a lollipop and comforted me. Thanks receptionist lady for making young me feel less traumatized.
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES.
I was once at the Museum of Play in Rochester, and they have a set of giant foam lego type blocks for building structures. This little boy no older than 4 or 5 was sitting all alone, holding a block like a rifle and halfheartedly pointing it around him. I lead a pretty lonely childhood, so i ran over and picked up a block and had a mock shootout with the little guy, complete with a scarface style bullet barrage death on my end, I've never felt more fulfilled than when he ran over to his dad and shouted "I got him!" I cant wait to have kids of my own.
NEVER FORGET OUR VETERANS.
When I was in the Navy, stationed in San Diego, I got rolled out in town for about $160...all the money I had. Hitched a ride toward the base and caught a ride with this old guy who let me crash at his place overnight until he could take me back to the base before muster. I'm sure he's dead by now but he kept me out of a lot of trouble.
HOW DID WE LIVE BEFORE TECHNOLOGY TOOK OVER?
Meet a pretty girl from France in a tiny village in Romania as I was traveling. Got her contacts but lost the note at the train station. This was before the age of smartphones.
YOU CAN'T SAVE EVERY LIFE, BUT YOU CAN TRY.
I don't know if this counts as a stranger but.... I'm a nursing student and while on placement in a psychiatric facility i was responsible for this 18 year old guy who had tried to kill himself. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with him, chatting about anything from Rick and Morty to his deeper issues. I was due to leave the ward after working with him for 3 days. I think of him most weeks.
H/T : REDDIT