Us humans are a funny bunch. We all have such different and unique personalities. But, sadly, there are so many of us out there that no individual can ever know everybody else. That’s why, when we meet strangers, it’s always fascinating to get a glimpse into who they are—especially when they stand out in ways that we can never forget. From the crazy to the heartwarming to the downright disturbing, here are 50 stories of some of the most unforgettable strangers that people have ever met.
1. Play It Again, Larry
When I was a kid, there was a man who would always hang out at the side of the playground. Not because he was being a creeper or anything like that, but because he was really far into special needs and he had the mind of a child. He would stand there for hours as the kids went running by and blurt out, “HI EVERYONE! MY NAME LARRY!”
He did this for all five years that I was in grade school for. I think about him often these days to be honest. He was so happy, yet all he wanted to do was play with us kids when we would play kick ball or whatever. But, of course, he wasn’t allowed to set foot onto the playground because of his age. The world can be a sad and confusing place sometimes.
2. Wall Of Fame
One time, I went to the “Gum Wall” in Seattle with a friend of mine. My friend put his chewed gum on the wall. Almost immediately, this random guy came up behind him and then he did something so disgusting that it’s impossible to forget. He plucked the gum off the wall, and started chewing it. He told my friend, “Any gum you put on the wall is MINE.” He didn’t even look like a crazy homeless guy, he was well-groomed and wearing a suit.
Never been more unnerved in my life, and I was just an onlooker!
3. A Dog’s Life
One time when I was four years old, I was waiting for my mom to finish the paperwork to adopt our first dog. I looked at a random lady in the waiting area and told her I was going to have a puppy and pointed at the dog. She said, “What will you name her?” I told her I didn’t know. She said “Well, she’s very fluffy. Hmm, a muffin is fluffy! Why don’t you name her Muffin?” I smiled at her and walked away to tell my mom. I had my dog Muffin until I was 17 and I’ll never forget the nice lady who gave me her name.
4. Running Circles Around This One
The most memorable interaction that I have ever had with a stranger was when this girl that I would always see on my morning running route asked if she could run with me sometime and I said, “Sure.” The reason it was memorable is because I didn’t give her my number, nor did I get hers. I felt like a total idiot when I realized that.
5. Culture Shock
A few years ago, I was waiting to buy a drink at a concert, and this guy next to me said something to me in Russian. I responded in English. He instantly realized that I was American, and he suddenly started yelling “You’re American!! You’re going to hurt my daughter!!” I calmly reassured him that I was not, in fact, trying to hurt his daughter.
He seemed satisfied with that response. He then handed me a shot of a really strong drink and disappeared as soon as I started drinking it. I think about that guy a lot, and I still wonder what he had originally been trying to say to me. I also feel bad for any person who is dumb enough to ever try and hurt his daughter…
6. What A Glove-ly Story
I was waiting at the subway station one time when I suddenly heard a man approaching, bopping his body as he sang, “Watch me do me! Watch me do me!” After exchanging pleasantries, he looks over at the gloves I was wearing. He proceeds to take one off my hand, saying “Ooh, wow! Those are nice gloves! Are those real suede?”
He then holds the glove right up to his face and takes a deep sniffing inhale. After that, he gives it back saying, “Yeahhh, that’s suede. Nice, nice.” He then looks over my shoulder toward the station security guard, takes a small step to the right so I’d block him from view, and pulls a bottle out of his jacket. With the biggest grin on his face, he takes a huge drink and then bops off into the night singing, “Watch me do me! Watch me do me!”
Ten out of ten would watch him do him again.
7. That’s My Kind Of Stranger!
One time, my credit card got declined at Subway while I was trying to pay for my dinner. To my surprise, the lady behind me paid for my sandwich. She was a total stranger. I thanked her profusely, and then I sat down and almost started to cry over the beauty of what she had done. This was months and months ago, but I’ll always be grateful for her kindness.
8. To Meet Or Not To Meet
I once met a homeless guy on the streets of Chicago who spoke only in Shakespearean quotes. It was one of the most interesting spectacles that I’ve ever seen in my life. No matter what you said to this guy, he had a quote from Hamlet or Macbeth ready to go as a response. He was the most memorable stranger that I’ve ever met, by far.
9. Walking After Midnight
One time, I was really intoxicated while trying to find my way back to a friend’s new house after we got separated walking back from the bar. I was in a dress and heels with no coat in the middle of a Canadian winter. A guy was randomly walking by and noticed how much trouble I was having. He offered to help me find my friends.
He stayed with me all night, walking with me at first and then driving me in his car until I sobered up. We drove around trying to find my friend’s house. I didn’t have my cell phone on me or any money. The situation could have turned out a lot worse. He gave me a pair of pants and a jacket and, when I finally sobered up in the morning, I realized that my friend’s house had been right behind the street I was searching on.
Thank you, kind stranger, for staying with me and making sure nothing bad happened to me.
10. Roadside Assistance
I was in a bad car wreck in Boston many years ago. I crawled out of the other side of the car and had a panic attack on the side of the busy road. A crowd of people came over to help me, but this one woman stroked my hair and gave me her drink until I calmed down. It sounds weird, but it was exactly what I needed at that moment.
11. Out Of Order
The most memorable stranger I ever encountered was this extremely overweight guy who was ordering in front of me at Subway one time. Literally in the middle of his sentence, he abruptly stopped, muttered to himself “What am I doing here?” and walked out of the store without another word. We were all super confused when we saw that.
12. I Walk The Line
During my sophomore year in college, I would always see this older man on my walk to my math class. He always went out of his way to say good morning to me and ask how I was doing that day. We never exchanged names or knew anything about one another. Just two people checking in on each other. It was a beautiful thing.
13. This Raises More Questions Than It Answers
One time, when I was in eighth grade, this random sixth-grader who I had never met or spoken to came up to me during recess and, in front of a whole crowd, asked me if I was his father. I’m a girl, by the way. Nevertheless, I played along with whatever the joke was and said yes. His friends started cheering and then they all ran away.
14. Watch And Learn
My sister and I were in middle school at the time, eating mall food with our mom. At one point, Mom decides to get a couple things from the grocery store real quick while we’re eating. We were sitting within view of the window, so she could just look over and see us even while she was at the store. She left and my sister and I continued eating.
All of a sudden, my sister and I noticed an old couple at another restaurant. They appeared to be giving us a dirty look while we were eating. It made me uncomfortable, but I tried ignoring them. My mom popped back out for a moment to check on us, and now the old couple started to throw their own food away and head out.
My mom then headed back in to finish shopping. The wife patted her husband’s shoulder, pointed back at me and my sister, and then they both sat back down and continued watching us. They finally left when they saw our mom at the checkout. That was when it hit me. They weren’t a bunch of creeps. They were actually just concerned for our well-being and watching out for us while we were alone.
Thanks, wherever you guys are. Not enough people like you two.
15. Inconvenient Advice
The most memorable stranger that I ever met was this dude who worked in a convenience store just down the road from where I live. I went there with my cousin one time just to pick up some snacks and drinks. We asked him what we should buy. He picked up this bottle of super-strong stuff. My cousin says, “Oh my gosh, I’m not trying to die.”
The guy’s response was so strange. He says, “It’s good when you end your life, you know?” His accent made it sound pretty funny. I was lowkey creeped out at first, until he started talking about how he had a near-death experience while on some substance and how he takes all kinds of psychedelics, sometimes even when he’s on shift. For some reason, I felt really sad for him even though he seemed like a super happy guy.
I sometimes wonder where he is now and how he’s doing.
16. No Man Is An Island
One afternoon during my drive home from work, there was this utility worker standing on one of the traffic islands. As I approached the spot where he was standing, he held out his hand for a high five. So, I leaned out and landed the most awesome high five I have ever given anyone. Plus, I managed to not crash my car in the process!
I don’t know exactly why, but I felt incredible after that experience!
17. School Days
Back when I was a student, this girl from ninth grade who I had never spoken to before quickly became the weirdest stranger I had ever met when she came up to me in the hallway one afternoon and said that my eyes “looked nice at 3:05 PM.” Apparently, she could see my classroom from hers during seventh period, and she had been spying on me from across the hall every afternoon.
18. Taking You For A Ride
Many years ago, I was studying abroad in England and, near the end of the year, shortly before I was scheduled to return home, I traveled to Ireland with a friend. On the way back, there was a miscommunication and security issue that resulted in me missing my flight. I had to spend the rest of my money to the point of over drafting on a new return flight.
I waited eleven hours and finally got back to England at about two in the morning. At the Birmingham airport, I realized my cheap phone had run out of battery and I was basically looking like a lost puppy at the taxi queue. A taxi driver waved me over and asked if I needed a ride, which I did. But there was one big problem: I had no more money on me to pay for the ride with.
I explained my situation to the driver. He said that if I had a contact back at the university who could cover my bill, then he would be okay with taking me back. Thankfully, my friend who I had traveled to Ireland with was waiting for me back at school, and he had been informed of the situation up to the point of my earlier departure.
The driver said he’d take care of it and drove me the 45 minutes or so back to the university, stopping for gas along the way. I didn’t have to pay for this, as I thought I would. He bought me some snacks, and generally was very wholesome as we talked about our families and our times in England, as he was from Pakistan and still getting used to the country.
Apparently, he had just moved to England and was working to support his family back home. We had a great discussion the whole way there and, when we got to the university, he found my waiting friend and said he was only going to charge me a quarter of the price, which I gave back to her as soon as I could. I was so appreciative of his kindness, especially after the whole ordeal I had been through for the rest of that day.
That taxi driver was one of the friendliest people I met in Europe and I have no idea what I’d have done if he hadn’t waived me over to talk at the airport. Thanks to him, I’ve been more mindful of strangers’ unique circumstances in their daily actions. He is by far the most memorable stranger that I ever met, and for all the right reasons.
19. Reading Between The Lines
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get ten books for a dollar. So, whenever my family brought me there, I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of all the ones I was interested in. Then, I decided which ones to buy after I had gone through them all.
One day, an older lady saw me sitting with my piles of books and asked me 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, 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 surprised. I immediately stood up and said that I would.
She smiled and walked away, and I went back to my piles to pick out an extra ten 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 my promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading, which definitely helped shape who I am today as a writer.
This was probably more than twenty years ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.
20. It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
The most memorable stranger that I ever met was this neighbor from around the corner by my old houswe. My brother and I were playing catch outside with our football while he was sitting in his garage. He saw that I couldn’t throw well and came over to us. He showed me how to throw the ball. Thanks to him, I became better at throwing and went on to play for my school as quarterback.
When I got my driver’s license, I drove to one of my old friends’ homes to meet up with other friends and catch up. But when I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He lived on the street of my childhood. After some time, we all went outside to play some football and I saw my old neighbor in his garage again. I called a time out and walked up to him to thank him for teaching me how to throw.
It was an unforgettable moment.
21. Happy New Year!
I met this one guy from Spain who was in America for New Year’s. He asked me for the Wi-Fi password to the Starbucks we were at, so that he could call his family. I didn’t know the password, so I turned on my phone’s hotspot for him and got to hear him speak a language that I couldn’t understand. He was really appreciative and we got to talking about New Years cultural traditions.
I told him that it was tradition in America to down one shot every second of the ten during the ball drop. To this day, I wonder if he ever found out that I lied to him about that.
22. Take Me Out To The Ball Game
One time, I was at a baseball game and I was seeing my favorite team. We were the away team. I’m standing there and a guy turns around and asks if I’m a fan of the away team. I say yes, and he hands me an autographed baseball card of one of the pitchers. He says he got it signed that day when he ran into the pitcher, but that he doesn’t want it because it’s not his team.
23. Gender Roles
When I was in sixth grade, some random adult stopped me in the street and asked me if I was a boy or a girl. That incident totally screwed up my self esteem and I remember it crystal clear to this day. I have no idea what that person’s problem was, but there was obviously something abnormal going on there. Definitely a stranger I can’t forget…
24. He Gets Around
I was in an Uber in Austin, Texas a few months ago. My driver was this super chill ex-hippie dude who told me his whole life story during our drive. Apparently, he was forced to flee Washington many years ago because he had ratted out a crime syndicate. He then moved to California, lived on the streets, and sold shoes to survive.
He would just flirt with all the women that came into his store and would move in with them for a while until they got sick of him. Then, he met this one girl who he crushed on real hard, but she called him a sleazy man and wanted nothing to do with him. Nevertheless, they became best friends, and she watched him go through relationship after relationship.
Then one day they joked about moving to Alaska to sell ice together. Apparently that’s a thing. Lo and behold, they actually went through with it and they’ve been happily married to each other ever since. Now, they have a bunch of boys in college at UT. I was only in Austin for six hours, but this dude made my entire week with his storytelling.
25. Full Of Hot Air
I was in a hospital one time, minding my own business and waiting for the doctor to see me. All of a sudden, the door smashes open and a person storms out. She was a really angry woman in her 60’s. I happened to be sitting in her way, so she made a waving motion, as if she was trying to shove me out of the way without actually touching me.
She freaked me out. I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt like I had to move out of her way when she did that wave. It felt like some kind of invisible force was pushing me off to the side. Next thing I know, I’m pressed against the wall, making way for her. To this day, I still wonder what the heck happened and if she was some kind of magical air bender.
I tried to ask the doctor, but she was all pale and uncomfortable and asked that we not discuss it.
26. You’re His Type
Ten years ago, some random guy came up to me in a grocery store and said “You’re the type of girl I’d wanna date!” Then he walked away. That was the first time and the last time that I was ever approached like that. I thought I should have said something witty in response, but then I started to wonder if he had meant what he said as a bad thing and that was why he didn’t want to stay to chat.
I guess we’ll never know!
27. So Many Weird Things To Do, So Little Time
The most memorable stranger that I have ever encountered was the random man that high fived me for wearing a Michael Jordan hoodie. He then screamed at a street performer outside my work while he was playing. Finally, he hugged me and told me that I was really tall. Then he walked away and I have not seen him again ever since. He was a strange dude, but I’ll never forget him.
28. He Dances To The Beat Of His Own Drum
During my sophomore year, my school band went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We were performing in the local parade. I had noticed that the people here loved their bass. We played an unorthodox cadence that started with a cool beat and began with the bass drums. Me being on bottom bass was basically the driving force when the others cut out. I was having a lot of fun.
The parade was five miles long and my arm was starting to get tired toward the end. Then, all of a sudden, this random guy appears out of nowhere and is almost close enough to get hit by my mallet. He screams “BEAT THAT DRUM!!” right in my face. He scared me and I filled up with adrenaline, so I did as he said. That freaked me out, but at least I maintained my fervor on the drums until the end.
29. A Wise Quack
When I was very young and visiting my dad behind bars with my grandparents, we had to wait in this area for the busses to take us into the facility. Every year, there was always this guy who would do the Daffy Duck voice for me and my sisters and make jokes. I was around five to eight years old during this time. I don’t know the guy’s name or who he was, but I feel like I’ll remember that forever.
30. He Couldn’t Make Heads Or Tails Out Of This
One time, I was at a parking lot at a beach in Texas. I’m walking out and this car slows down and stops right next to me. An old man is driving. He asks, “Do you see a cat anywhere around here?” I immediately think he’s missing a cat, but then he goes on to say: “I just ran over a cat. Took its tail clean off.” Now I’m starting to get a little creeped out.
“But it’s ok, I’m heading to Walmart. You know why?” I just gave him a confused face and shook my head. He replied: “Largest retailer in the world!” As soon as he said that, he couldn’t hold it in anymore and just started cracking up with laughter. His wife is in the passenger seat just shaking her head in embarrassment.
Then they just drove away. I was so confused until I thought about the exchange a bit more and finally got the joke. Now, I can’t stop laughing whenever I think about this encounter. To this day, it’s one of the best executed jokes I’ve been witness to. Re-tailer is an incredible pun and I totally wasn’t expecting it. Thanks for the laugh old timer, wherever you are!
31. A Fish Out Of Water
Many years ago, when I went fishing with my dad one time, there was a guy next to us who needed some bait. So, I gave him some of mine and showed him some tips on what helps me the most with getting fish. We ended up hanging out with him for the next few hours and having a great time, even though we had no idea who he was. He gave me a hug at the end of the day.
I actually forgot all about this experience until just now. I hope that guy is doing well.
32. Sorry, Not Sorry
I keep thinking back to this nice man that I met last week. I was standing in his way and had to move over, so I instinctively said sorry to him. He told me in a gentle tone, “You don’t need to apologize for anything.” I’ve been apologizing for things my entire life. It felt really good, yet confusing, to have a stranger speak to me that way.
33. Keep On Truckin’
I grew up spending summers riding with my mother and younger brother across the country in her 18 wheeler. While terrifying in hindsight, my brother and I would hang out inside truck stop game rooms and TV rooms while my mother slept. Fairly often, truckers would give money to my brother and me for arcade games because they would see us standing there and watching others play after we had inevitably spent all of our money in under ten minutes.
On one occasion, this particular driver that we met stood out for many reasons. He had clearly just showered based on his smell and he was carrying his bag. I think he was playing the game “Street Fighter” when he noticed me watching him. After his game, he put money in on both sides and motioned for me to come up and play with him.
I won the game, which meant I got a free round. But I offered it to him since he had paid. He told me to play it, handed me five dollars, and left. But here’s the reason why he made such an impact on me: he was from a visible minority group, like myself. Although my appearance is non-white, my father does not know that I exist and I grew up in a small, all white town with my all white family.
As a child, I never interacted with anyone in my life who looked like me and I always felt somewhat out of place as a result. Family pictures are fun when you look nothing like the others, especially with my extended family of 27 people. This man was the first interaction I really remember with someone of my background and he was the absolute nicest guy in the world to me for the entire twenty minutes of my being in his presence.
It really left a lasting impression on me. Having come across him really helped me combat some of the racism and stereotypes that I faced from my peers later in life. This incident took place more than 25 years ago, and I’ve still never forgotten that guy. Wherever he is today, I hope he is doing well. He doesn’t know it, but my life would not have been the same without him.
34. Have You Been Drinking?
A couple of years ago, I was at a Chipotle and I asked this employee for a small drink. The guy behind the counter pulled out the biggest size cup available and handed it over. I pulled out my money to pay for it, but he just looked around and said “It’s on me,” then ran out of the back door. I will never forget that man. I don’t know why he did what he did, but I appreciate it!
35. Walk In The Park
Bob was the most memorable stranger that I ever met. It was 1993. I was 12 years old. I was on a family trip to Canada’s Wonderland amusement park. So many roller coasters! My little mind was blown! Since this was back in the “off-leash” kid days, I was allowed to run off and ride all the coasters I wanted to. My friend and I were told to meet back at a certain spot by 5:00 PM.
Much fun was had, until mid-afternoon. My backpack disappeared. It had all my money in it. Even worse, I had accidentally left a small gift from my grandmother in the bag, so that was gone too. I didn’t give a darn about the money or the bag, but that watch meant the world to me and I knew I had no way of ever getting it back.
It wasn’t some cheap piece of junk either. She had clearly gone to a proper jeweller and picked it out. I knew right then that I would always regret losing it. Well, me and my friend were clearly upset. Park security does next to nothing to help us. They just tell us, “It happens a lot, check at the gate office later and the bag will probably be turned in but empty.”
Like, seriously?!?!? You are well aware of this problem but do nothing to correct it??!! I was so devastated that I just burst into tears. It’s the middle of the day, it’s extremely hot, me and my friend have zero money, and it is still many hours before the designated meet up time with the rest of our party. What the heck are we supposed to do now?
Out of nowhere comes Bob. He is an American tourist in his 60’s. He sees us crying and asks what’s wrong. We tell him what happened and he immediately offers to buy us pizza. We politely decline his offer and note that we need to find the adults of our families. He wishes us well. Three hours later, we haven’t found anyone.
No one was at the meeting place at the predetermined time. We are exhausted, hungry, emotional, and alone in a massive park. Out of nowhere, we see Bob again! He asks us how we are, and we have to confess that our day is a lost cause. This time, he marches us straight over to a nearby pizza stand and gets us both large slices with a Coke and ice cream on the side.
The meal was so good! Just having something to eat honestly made the situation so much more bearable. We thanked Bob profusely and chatted with him for a bit. That’s when we learned his heartbreaking story. It turns out Bob was retired. He and his wife loved to visit theme parks. They always promised they would visit Canada’s Wonderland someday. It was on their long list of parks to see.
But before they could visit it, she got sick. When she wasn’t able to fight her illness anymore, just before her passing, she said she wanted Bob to keep visiting parks. Bob kept his promise. Shortly after this conversation, we finally spotted the adults. Almost as soon as we said goodbye to Bob, we lost him in the crowd and never saw him again.
Dear Bob, and all the Bobs of the world, THANK YOU!!!! You made an impossible situation better. You helped when it mattered. We are grateful, and I’m sorry I can’t say it directly to you. I have gone on to graduate college and have a great career. The kindness you showed me that day proved that there are good people in this world and that it can be a good place if you want it to be one.
What you did mattered. Grand gestures are not usually necessary, but some pizza and coke sure was grand to us. I only hope I can pay it forward one day.
36. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
I was in Chicago for vacation one summer. There was a man on the street corner drawing on some pieces of cardboard. The drawings were amazing and I figured he was homeless, so I asked if I could buy one of his drawings. He told me no, and gave me one for free. He wanted nothing in return, but just enjoyed making art. His face and smile are always with me.
37. The Goose That Laid The Chocolate Egg
When I was about six years old, I was on the bus with my mother. At that time in Spain, there were these places where immigrants with a lot of economic problems could get some food for free since there was a lot of poverty in the country. There was a woman on the bus with a boy who was around ten years old. He was holding a chocolate egg.
When he realized where me and my mother were probably going, he looked at me and gave me the chocolate egg. Then, he smiled at me, gave me a high five, and got off of the bus. To this very day, whenever I remember that moment, I get emotional. I truly hope that this kid is all grown up now and that he’s living his best life.
38. Dressed For Success
I met my most memorable stranger when I took an abacus course back in primary school. It was my first day and I did not know that I had to wear my school uniform for class, so I dressed casually. I freaked out when I saw my coursemates in uniform. I had anxiety issues when I was younger, and this incident made me have a panic attack outside the classroom.
A kind lady walking by took me aside to calm me down and coaxed me into still taking the class. She disappeared right after she made sure I had entered the classroom and sat down. I still remember snippets of the day but I couldn’t figure out who the lady was. A course coordinator, perhaps. All I know is that she went out of her way to take me aside and comfort me.
39. Life On The Streets
One time, I was walking down the street in New Orleans and a guy I had never seen before was walking down the same street in the other direction, towards me. He saw me, nodded, and reached out his hand for a high five. I gladly gave him one and then we both just kept on walking. It was good vibes, and made me feel really happy.
40. In Your Face!
I was in downtown Toronto walking down the street late at night with an ex. We noticed this guy walking towards us like an actual zombie, so I decided to walk in front of my ex just in case he was crazy. Guess what? He was crazy! As he came closer to us, I realized that he was clearly intoxicated on some kind of extreme substance.
As we were just inches from passing each other, he stopped, dropped his head, then flung his head back and let out a Roman Reigns type “HOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAHHHHH” right in my face. It stopped me right in my tracks. We had this weird frozen standoff for a few seconds before he continued on his way like I didn’t even exist.
Between his terrible breath, his being two inches away from my face, and the powerful scream of a thousand deranged substance users coming out of the mouth of just one man, I will never ever be able to forget him. He is by far the most memorable stranger that I ever encountered, and I’m glad my ex and I got out of that situation unscathed.
41. Food For Thought
One time, many years ago, my mother and I were in the drive-thru at our local McDonald’s, getting a snack to take back to the hospital. My grandma had recently suffered a major stroke, and my mom basically lived at the hospital to take care of her. To our surprise, when we got to the window, we were told that the car in front of us had paid for our food.
It meant so much to us that my mom actually started crying right then and there at the window. It felt like everything had been stacked against us for weeks, but that one act of kindness made the world a little better for that moment. I will never forget that. I have no idea who the person in the other car was, but I hope their life is full of blessings forever.
42. Lost In Translation
When I was a wee lad, somewhere between the ages of five and seven years old, I once went to a McDonald’s where they had a playpen. I got put in there and I met another kid. He was Mexican. After a few fruitless attempts to communicate with him, I managed to kind of make myself understood with my very rudimentary Spanish along with some creative gesticulation.
He, in turn, spoke very slowly and pointed in order to communicate with me. After an hour or so, we had to part ways. And I’ll be darned if the little jerk didn’t turn to me and say “Bye! Have a great day!” in perfect English and then start chattering with his parents. Turns out he could speak English the whole time and he had just been pulling my leg!
I will never forget my sense of befuddlement, nor the kid.
43. Put On A Happy Face
There was this one super cute girl who I saw on campus all the time during my freshman year. We never talked, but she smiled at me every single day when we passed each other. She’ll never know it, but she was the best part of most of my days that year. It was a very tough year for me emotionally, and she made it better just by smiling.
44. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
My freshman year of college, my friend and I were invited to lunch with this girl during welcome week. The girl was quiet and kind, and we shared a laugh or two about being in college. I didn’t commit her name to memory, though. She lived across campus and we didn’t have any classes together, so she became just one of the many faces I had met during my first week.
Three weeks later, I found out the awful truth. That sweet girl had tragically taken her own life. I didn’t know who it was until I consoled my friend, who informed me that she was the same girl we had just had lunch with. I was totally shocked. I never knew her beyond that conversation, but now I will never forget her name. I wish I could have done something to help her.
45. Doing The Leg Work
When I was about five years old, I attached myself to a guy’s leg thinking he was my father. I refused to let go and started screaming and crying, until about a minute later when I looked up and realized I had latched onto the wrong guy. Poor stranger. I will never forget the confused look on his face. Thankfully, he was a pretty patient fellow!
46. Strangers On A Train
I was on the train home late one night, minding my own business, when this woman comes out of nowhere and sits down right next to me. “You’ll do,” she said as she plonked down an open bottle of merlot and two plastic cups. We spent the rest of the journey talking about her breakup and about life in general. We parted ways at the end of the line and have never seen each other again.
She was brilliant.
47. A Fella With An Umbrella
My most memorable stranger was Umbrella Man. He was a strange man who wandered the streets. He wasn’t homeless, but no one knew where he lived. He always had a bright and colorful umbrella in his hand, with socks that matched and gloves that clashed. Local lore had it that he was a physics professor back in the 70’s who got so high once that he just never went back to normal.
He once pointed to a picture of King Kong climbing the Empire State Building and proclaimed “That’s me!” When asked if he meant that he was King Kong, he said “No, I’m in that window right there!” After overhearing that, I decided that I needed to talk to him. Over the course of our conversation, I learned that he was apparently a time traveler sent on missions through time by JFK, who is still alive.
Also, the Popeye cartoons are apparently a fictionalization of his real life exploits in WWI, even though he was at best 60 years old when I met him in the late 90’s. He also told me he had passed and been reborn many times. He described it like stepping off a curb. He said you barely notice you’ve done it. You just feel a small jolt and then you carry on your way.
48. Street Smart
One time, I was walking with my wife by the Santa Monica Pier. Just doing the normal stroll. There are always scattered homeless folks and street performers hustling around there. We saw an older homeless man who looked and sounded like he was from Jamaica. He had long dreads and was asking people for spare change as they passed by.
As we got closer to him, he suddenly stopped shaking his change cup and looked right at us. It kind of startled us because it was out of nowhere. Then, he looked at my wife and smiled. He said “You! You are carrying a beautiful baby boy. Congratulations!” We just kept on walking and ignored him. We dismissed him as just some crazy guy. We were so, so wrong.
Now, my wife is a very petite woman. At the time, she was a size one, so she couldn’t reasonably have been mistaken for a pregnant woman in any way. A week later, we found out that she was six weeks pregnant. And we had a boy. He turns twelve this Sunday. We still talk about that incident every year close to his birthday. And no, he does not have dreads!
49. Bedside Manor
When I was 18 years old, I moved to London. I didn’t know anyone in town, so I used to spend my free time wandering around the city alone. One night, I was probably out too late and in the wrong part of town. I got beaten up pretty badly and ended up in the hospital. The next day, a man I had never met arrived at the hospital to visit me.
He had found my wallet, which I had dropped during the beating, and he tracked me down to give it back to me. He stayed with me for two hours, just general chit chat, asking me how I ended up like this, about my family, home etc. It was the most company I had had since I moved there, and it was at a time when I really needed some human contact badly.
Before he left, I thanked him for the visit, but he probably didn’t realize just how much I needed him there that day.
50. Desert Storm
I once gave a Lyft ride to a passenger and drove him deep into the desert, almost exactly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. He didn’t say a single word to me for the entire ride. He then asked me to pull over on the side of the highway. At this point, we were in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and with very few cars passing.
He grabbed his bags, turned to me, and said, “I think I want to try human flesh today.” As soon as he got out of the car, I went zero to 100 and sped the heck out of there as fast as I possibly could. I wonder what he did out there and why he wanted off there. There was absolutely nothing around for miles. I have so many questions, the guy creeped me out so much!
51. Angels in the Heavens
When I was really ill in October 2017, my father also became even more ill than I was in another country. There was nobody else around for him who actually gave a damn, so I had to fly over there to see and support him. I planned to bring him home with me after he had recovered from his surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical or emotional state to be getting on a plane—but there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around two hours long, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was at that time. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky—but that got a lot worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full blown panic attack, hyperventilating and crying in my seat.
I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle with his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. She took my hand and said something along the lines of “You’re okay, we’re here. There’s no need to hold this anxiety back, we’re not going to judge you, just let it happen and everything will be alright.”
She just hugged me and told me she’s so sorry while I hysterically cried. Once we landed, she and her father drove me in their car directly to the door of the hospital my dad was admitted to (over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but thankfully I already had my accommodations sorted out. I do not know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook now, and she still occasionally checks in with me to this day.