The people in our lives can have a pretty big impact on us, but sometimes it's the strangers we only meet once who make the biggest difference.
It's those strangers, and our interactions with them, that we remember for the rest of our lives
Reddit user u/mahaslays asked:
After a series of bad choices I found myself barefoot, without my purse, and lost in a city I didn't know. I sat in front of a gas station for awhile and the cops were called. I begged for help, to use a phone to call someone, anything. After 20 minutes of back and forth cop 1 called me a whore and cop 2 just shook his head and got in his car. Given the area, yeah I fit the bill.
A cab driver had been parked near me and had been in the car while this exchange was going on. He stepped out shortly after the cops left and sat a few feet away. He offered his cell phone and said he would drive me home at no cost. I called a family member that hung up shortly into my call asking for help. I chose to trust him, to get in that cab, and give him my address. It went against everything I've EVER known but ultimately he got me home safe. His name was Mustafa (he made a joke about being older than the Lion King). He said to me "You will someday find someone who will treat you like a Queen but you must think of yourself as a Queen first". It was one of the nicest things someone has done for me. I tried giving him money when I got through my front window (again, no purse) and he said it was okay..that he needed to be on this side of town..25 miles away.
When i was a kid we had to go around the neighbourhood and ask people to sponsor us for a charity something at school. When we ringed the doorbell, we could look into the hallway. There was a man covered in bandages and blood from head to toe, screaming at is. I never ran that hard again in my life. And I'll never forget the image.
Wife and I took our honeymoon to Disney World 13 years ago. We were young, dumb, and broke.
Rather than have an expensive wedding, our parents helped pay for the honeymoon.
Leaving EPCOT one night, we got to ride at the front of the monorail. In the car with us were some man and his young daughter.
My wife and I were wearing our chintzy Mickey and Minnie honeymoon ears. The man asked us how long we had been married. We told him only a few days. He said congratulations, reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet, and gave us a $100 bill.
I tried to refuse, but he said it was ok. "I own a couple of banks."
It likely didn't make much of a difference to him, but to us, it meant that we got to eat at an amazing restaurant for dinner on our last night there.
I remember when I was like 4-6 I was walking with my dad through a very crowded street and I looked at a kinda normal man (mustache and brown jacket) and thinking I'll remember him. He didn't even look at me or seemed creepy, he was just walking.
15 later I still remember the mustache man.
My wife and I were on our late honeymoon in Saint Croix. There was an old hippie couple at the lounge at our resort and we spent an evening with them. The husband played the trumpet and the wife played the guitar. They played a song called "Mr. RV." and it was so good I asked them to play it twice. It was about an old man driving an RV who was inadvertently delaying traffic. I don't remember the song anymore. But I'll always remember those two. Really nice people.
When my grandmother (who had cancer) was having a dangerous procedure done, my mom and I were in the waiting room and this older man looked at us and told us everything would be alright and quoted some scripture. My mom swears that she immediately felt at peace when he said that. Once the procedure was done, we realized we had forgotten a blanket in there and went back to get it. The man had it draped around him and was asleep so we just left it with him. We saw him several times after that in different areas of the hospital. It was very strange because he told us he wasn't there for anyone. A few days before my grandmother died, she kept describing a man sitting in the room with her. She described him exactly like how this man looked.
I was at a local burger joint in my home town about a decade ago when I was 16 or 17 years old. It was around lunch time on a Saturday and the place was super busy. It was a five guys type ordering system so after placing my order I found went stand towards the back of the restaurant to wait for my number to be called. All the tables were full except one table with a single old black man sitting there. He was eating so nobody joined him, but he waved me over to sit down. He proceeding to talk to me for damn near 45 minutes in between bites as I waited for my food. He gave me all kinds of unsolicited advice on life and love and just about anything. Things that I still carry with me to this day. About 5 years late my mom dragged me to church with her one weekend I was home, and I saw him walking down an aisle through a very crowded conjugation, he winked at me. No way in hell he could have recognized me after all those years, going from 17-22ish I looked totally different. I couldn't find him after church and never saw him again. I'm half convinced he was an angel don't @ me
The nice lady I met on the Amtrak from Klamath Falls who found out I was into collecting coins and shipped me her entire collection. Thank you, Connie! It's been over 30 years and I still have those coins.
My husband & I were on vacation in Banff celebrating our second wedding anniversary when we were caught in an avalanche on a mountain road. Our car was completely buried and we made the decision to get out of the car through the window (we had no food or supplies and had no idea if we'd suffocate or how long it would take to be dug out). We started running and more avalanches started to fall down but thankfully we outran them. Finally when we got to a safer area, a park warden and two cars drove up. In one car was a father & daughter who lived locally. They had been ice climbing in the area when the road closed so they had to stay with the warden until he could escort them back to another city. The man saw how traumatized and upset I was and immediately opened a bottle of tea and gave me some and asked if I was ok. The warden left us all for a while as another warden was stuck and needed help so we stayed in their car for around 2 hours.
They were SO NICE. They kept offering us food & drinks. But mostly, they really just helped us get our minds off the fact we had just been in a very scary situation (and were potentially still) and were in a bad situation as our car was buried, the road was closed so we couldn't go back to our hotel, we didn't have any stuff, etc. We talked about a lot of different things in the span of two hours and really, it was just comforting to be with other people and it was cool to get to know some locals. Crazy to think how strangers can just be thrown together like that. I know they had to miss work & school the next day due to the avalanches. I hope they have many more safe ice climbing adventures!
This was several years ago. I was in a horrible place in my life. Within a 6 month time frame my dad died, my grandma died, my sister had a massive stroke, I got shingles (I was 31) and I found out I had the onset of the same heart condition my father passed away from. I was very depressed and it was a struggle just to get up most days and take care of my family. I had taken the day off work, dropped my daughter off at school and was just sitting in a coffee house. This older woman came up to me and just hugged me for a few minutes. I totally lost it, I ugly cried while this complete stranger held me and patted my back like I was a child. Once I calmed down it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I guess she could just sense that I just needed a shoulder to cry on. I thanked her and she looked at me and told me to keep my head up, that things would work out and get better. She left the coffee shop and I've never seen her again.
still have the heart problem, but it hasn't progressed since my diagnosis. My sister has regained some of her mobility and is doing surprisingly well. So I guess she wasn't wrong.
A couple of years ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store, minding my own business, waiting to check out. I notice the lady in front of me (older woman, maybe 50s, I was 21 at the time) is buying a cake. She put it on the belt and when she did she kind of looked at me looking at the cake and I cracked a joke, something like "man that looks good!" She laughed a bit and told me it was her sons birthday.. After I acknowledged that, she then shared with me that he would have been about my age.. he had passed away. She told me every year she has a piece of cake on his birthday just to celebrate. She began to tear up and cry, admittedly I kind of did too. She asked for a hug, which I agreed to. A very random interaction that was deeply filled with emotions.. I will never forget that.
I was at a bad point in my life. I barely had any money and no set home. All I had was one duffel bag full of my clothes and a small backpack. I moved around to different states sleeping on friends couches. This went on for almost a year. I was going to fly out on my next destination and they would not let me bring my duffle bag as a carry on. I went back to the check in area. I had no money to check it in and they wouldn't do it for free. At the moment I was quickly taking out what clothes I could fit in my backpack and just toss the rest of my clothes before I was late for my flight. (This was all going on in at the check in) Then a random stranger puts $35 on the counter and walks away. Didn't catch how he looked but I will always remember his kind act.
Years ago I was married to an abusive addict. I went to the bank and opened a separate account trying to prepare a way out. I asked a lot of questions about whether my husband would see it online or any mail would come to the house, etc. The bank rep helping me figured out what my questions meant. She wrote down her first name and personal phone number and gave it to me. She said if I ever needed a place to hide all I had to do was call. With no connections between us he would not be able to find me. I never called her, but her number is still in my phone, only because when I see it, it makes me smile to know that a stranger cared and was willing to help, and also as a reminder of how free I am now. I wish she knew how much that meant to me.
i was moving out of a terrible living situation and had to pay rent for two places during a single month because the only decent place i could find was only available starting the month prior to my old lease being up. it was a saturday and i was using Lyft to transport empty boxes/suitcases to my old place so i could pack them and get a second Lyft to my new house (the idea was to make the actual moving day easier). the Lyft driver that picked me up was this older gentleman in an SUV who was like "what's with all the boxes?" and didn't get into the situation about having a sh!tty living situation, i just said i was in the process of moving.
this guy then offered to turn off his Lyft app, let me pack the SUV full of as many boxes as would fit, and then drive me to the new house. i told him i didn't have money to pay him and he said it was okay, he didn't want money. He said his reasoning was that he was "so blessed in his life and wanted to pay it forward".
and NO, he wasn't a creeper (i'm very good at picking up on that kind of behavior, and i wouldn't have been down if he was being weird/creepy about it).
This guy helped me pack the SUV (and not just the trunk like I was originally planning--I'm talking the entire backseat and trunk), drove me to the new house for free, and helped me unpack the SUV and put the boxes in the garage. and he didn't want anything but a 5 star rating for the initial ride. i thanked him profusely, gave him 5 stars and as much of a tip as the app would let me (which is about $12). i posted about it on Facebook and a friend of mine who worked for Lyft helped me get the guy recognized in their internal monthly newspaper, so there's that.
I will never forget Gary, or his kindness.
Between 16-18, I had a lot of trips to A&E. I was really mentally ill, undiagnosed, and nobody would take responsibility for my care because I was too old for child services, but too young for adult care. Most A&E staff aren't trained in complex mental health, and their only job is to keep you alive in a room until an on call psych can get to you.
One trip, there was a student nurse in triage. She was probably only a year or two older than me. I was at hospital on my own and frankly quite terrified after a bad bout of mania and psychosis. She took me to a quiet room, made me tea, and sat with me and made sure I was okay. I never got her name and I never saw her at that hospital again, but she is the single most compassionate person that I met in all of my hospital trips. She's probably qualified by now, and I'm sure she's an incredible nurse.
At 16 I ended up homeless for a few months. This dude showed me the ropes to survive. He had a PhD in history and a seriously addictive personality. I owe that stranger my life.
I worked in chemo room cleaning and stocking supplies. One day after a particular gentleman had finished his "maintenance treatment" for his terminal diagnosis. He went out if his way to come over to me and out of all the staff and other patients in the room he gave me the biggest hug and said, "I think you need that more then anyone else here ever will." He then grabbed my hand and gave me a rock with a happy face on it. I carry it in my pocket everyday. He was not wrong either, I definitely needed the hug.
I was walking into a Wawa one morning before work to get coffee. I have a beard and my typical work outfit was a SnapBack hat worn backwards, with a black company shirt and tan shorts. I had gray shoes too. As I hold the door for a dude who was leaving, I caught a glimpse of him. He looked exactly like me, beard, backwards SnapBack, black shirt, and tan shorts. He looks st me and then looks away and then does a double take. He stops before walking completely out and we make eye contact. We both shake our heads and let a small exertion of air through our nose and walk our own ways. I still, to this day, think I have a long lost twin that my parents never told me about. This was 8 years ago and I think about it randomly from time to time.