Sometimes a passing moment with a stranger can profoundly impact our lives, even if we never see them again. Whether it was a random act of kindness, a musical connection, or a shared experience, the memory is often all we need.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Few years back my wife and I visited Italica, a Roman ruined city a few miles from Seville. The ruins are glorious and we had them to ourselves, so when as we emerged from the gladiator gate in the amphitheater I stalked out into the sunlight, threw out my arms and roared "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" It rang off the old seats in a satisfying manner.
Turns out we weren't alone. I spun to find a Japanese tourist staring at me in wonder, who then grinned nervously, snapped a picture, and gave me a thumbs up.
My wife: "You're an idiot."
And they say Latin is dead...Giphy
I was a horticulture student on a botanical tour of Europe in 1979. I am at a flower market in Munich and see a plant I don't recognize. The lady working it doesn't speak English; I don't know any German. I see a plant I do know; touch the leaf and say the Latin name for it. She nods and smiles. I name another plant I know. Her smile gets bigger. I point at the unknown plant and look at her with an expression that I hope says, "You're turn." She tells me the Latin name. We don't speak each others language but we can communicate in a language that has been dead for over a thousand years. Cool.
Troll level: cosmic.Giphy
Years ago, I was at the bus stop super early one morning. It was really cold as well.
Anyway, there was a guy that I used to see every time I would get the 7 a.m. bus - looked like a builder, he always got off near one of the large building sites by the university. We were on "nodding terms."
One morning, there was a fireball/disintegrating meteor. We both saw it, he turned to me and said with a super serious face "you know our souls are forever linked now." We went back to nodding terms, and I never saw him after I quit early morning classes.
I guess because I remember it, he was kinda right and f*cker is still trolling me.
A "thank you" that will never be.Giphy
I've shared this on Reddit before. The day I found out my grandmother had a stroke and would never walk or talk again, I was away at college. I finally broke down in a bathroom. A girl came in and asked if I needed a hug. I was crying so hard that I really didn't get a look at her face. I cried on her shoulder for about 10 minutes and then had to pull myself together and leave for class. I never explained myself and she never asked. I never recognized or spoke to her again. I wonder if she sometimes saw me on campus and wondered what was up and if I was okay.
My son was in a pretty serious accident. I was a wreck in the ICU waiting room. A little girl maybe about 9 or 10 years old was with her family, saying goodbye to her great grandmother. She waltzed right up to me and said, "sir, why are you crying?" I explained my son was very sick. She handed me a miniature puppy doll and told me it was lucky and my son would get better. She was right, he did and I still keep that little puppy on my dresser and think of that sweet child.
Hi, we used to live here.Giphy
When an older gentleman 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.
Paying it forward.Giphy
I was on a long late night bus ride. It was express so it made very few stops. The bus had maybe 10 people on it in total. Half way through the trip it made a stop at a small town station so people could grab a snack or use a public restroom and maybe stretch their legs.
I went up to the counter to buy what at that point was my dinner even though it was after 10 pm and when the cashier rang it up I passed a $50 bill to her and she told me that she couldn't make change. Defeated I went back to my seat on the bus.
As everyone piled on and the bus drove away I lovely middle aged lady walked up from her seat near the back and politely asked if I minded if she sat with me. I told her she was more than welcome. She sits and proceeds to unpack a small lunch bag.
She then split the entirety of her meal with me. She said she had been waiting for the washroom to clear out and had overheard what happened. She said: "I've gone hungry in my life and it sucks. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, so you can share with me."
When we were done I jokingly asked if she could break a $50 and we had a good laugh.
I hope she is well.
Almost like a ghost...Giphy
When I was fourteen, I was trapped in the rubble of an earthquake. I spent six hours crawling towards a man whose face I never had the opportunity to see... he was a citizen who didn't leave his name with anyone and never came forward, after the fact. It has always bothered me that I will likely never find out who he was or tell him how much comfort his voice gave me during those horrible hours. When I saw pictures of the space I ended up in, much later, I couldn't (and can't) understand how he was able to stand where he stood for six hours without injuring himself or suffering some sort of emotional trauma himself. He's my hero.
Music connects us all.Giphy
DC last May for the Gaslight Anthem's 59 Sound reunion tour. In the back of the mosh pit there were a few of us that would bob in and out depending on the songs. There was a guy in a blue raglan shirt who I was standing close to for almost the whole show and I sort of felt like he might have been keeping an eye on a few of us back there. During the song The Backseat we both jumped into the pit and at the crescendo of the music we grabbed hands and jumped around together for a little bit. Don't know his name or story, but we had that pure connection over the music and it was great!
Random acts of birthday kindness.Giphy
This was last year it was my 21st birthday and I went to Moe's for my free birthday burrito. As I was walking out I slipped on one of the mats (they had just mopped and put the mats back down before the floor dried) and I busted my ass. I was so embarrassed and in so much pain but a few people helped me up. One middle aged woman helped me into the booth she was sitting in and took charge of the situation. She had them remake my food and bring it to the table as well as a first aid kit and a manager. She bandaged up my hand and knee and elbow all while getting the managers information in case I needed them to pay for doctors bills and got me like $100 in Moe's coupons. When my food finally came out she made me sit with her and eat. We ended up talking for like an hour, she told me about her and her family and she said if it was her daughter in my situation she'd want someone to step in and take care of her. When we were finished she helped me hobble to my car and gave me a huge hug and told me happy birthday. I was so beyond thankful for her and her small act of kindness towards me.
Back in the late 90's we drove a dark blue '84 Volvo wagon. Hardly ever saw another car like it. One day at a grocery store we see another couple in the exact same car. I rolled down the window and raised my fist in the air. The other driver saw and raised his fist. Solidarity!
That name again is Mr. Plow.Giphy
It was the night before Christmas Eve, about 8:30 pm. My mom was trying to sell our place, we'd moved a few blocks away in with my new step dad. The driveway needed to be clear and there was about a foot and a half of snow to shovel. I was still pretty young and it was going to be a big job.
I trudged over there with my shovel, and just started the first row, when a random guy in a snowplow turned in and cleared the whole driveway in two minutes easy. He was wearing the red plaid jacket and toque combo - classic Canadian look.
I was worried as we hadn't hired a snow removal guy, but he just waved and said Merry Christmas and drove off. Thanks snowplow Guy, you taught me a thing or two about Xmas spirit.
The day my dad died I was holding it together pretty well. Late that night I went to Target to have a moment to just zone out, and buy a few groceries.
As I got to the checkstand with my arm full of stuff I dropped a container of sour cream and it exploded everywhere. I completely lost control of myself and started to cry. The ugly cry. I was instantly surrounded by a group of women who just took charge of the whole situation. They helped me get everything paid for, cleaned up, and one lady even got a new sour cream.
No words were spoken, but their compassion and take charge attitude has stayed with me since.
Soft. White. Puppy.Giphy
Back when I rode the bus everywhere, I was at the bus stop outside the mall and this guy comes up and goes, "Will you hold my puppy while I run inside and find my wife?" And he produced this little white puppy.
So I held it while he went inside. Puppy was soooo soft. Guy came back with his wife. Took the puppy. I got on the bus and that was that.
Well I actually did see this person again BUT i think you'll like it.
When I was 11 (2002) I was diagnosed with Acute Meyloid Leukemia, a very rare form that's hard to treat. Went through the treatments and bone marrow transplant really well though and got better etc. When I was 14 I was picked to go to a ranch in Colorado for kids that had health issues like myself. Anyway, on one of the connecting flights I sat next to an older women and she noticed a car magazine that I had. We started talking and I told her I liked Mustangs and turns out she had 2 82 GTs, had won awards with them etc. It was really cool to talk to her and when we landed we went our separate ways. Fast forward 2/3 years (can't remember exactly) and my dad and I drove to Arkansas to pickup a mint 82 GT. We get there and start talking to her and she starts saying the other cars she has and it finally clicked in my head, she was the lady on the plane! When I mentioned that to her she remembered me and it was just pretty amazing that in a population of over 300M we found each other again! Just my mildly interesting story.