May 18, 2023 | Christine Tran

People Share Their Most Disturbing Interactions With Strangers

"Our very lives depend on the ethics of strangers, and most of us are always strangers to other people".—Bill Moyers

From birth to grave, society has sent us mixed messages about strangers. Is every stranger really just a friend we haven’t met? Or were the grade school assemblies about "stranger danger" really not far off? Not every person is worth getting to know, as the following people would tell us.  Altogether, the people of Reddit paint a truly unsettling picture of social life in the age of the stranger. From the babysitters with no boundaries to unexplained soundtracks in the night, the terror of human interaction comes in all shapes and sizes. Lock the door and don’t get too scared with these 26 stories about people we would not like to meet again.

1. Prince Charmless

The following account occurred roughly three years ago during the summer of 2012. It has always been difficult for me to talk about, but I have found writing about it to be therapeutic. I was 17 at the time, and I had just gotten my first job. I lived in rural western Virginia, in a small mountain community. My mom’s friend owned a camping resort not far from my house that had a general store, and she said she’d pay me to help out in the store during the busy months in the summer.

It was a pretty easy job, and I met a lot of out-of-towners, which was nice because our community could get so isolated; most of us lived pretty far away from each other. One day, a big burly mountain man type came into the store. He was in his late 40s/early 50s, probably 6’5", and about 280 lbs. He looked dirty, like he worked outside a lot; his clothes were sort of tattered and he had a long beard.

We had a few of the woodsy hermit types in the area, and he definitely looked like one of them. He bought some basic items, one of which was one of our homemade bars of soap. When he came to the register, he looked me up and down carefully. He didn’t talk for a minute, just stared. His people skills clearly needed work.

"Did you make this soap?" He asked gruffly. "Possibly," I said. "I help out with that sometimes". "You make a lot of your own stuff?" "Toiletries and things like that, yeah". "I like that," He said, nodding to himself. I honestly did not know how to respond. I quickly rang up his items and he paid with crumpled money. Right before he left, he asked, "You cook, too?"

"Sometimes," I replied. "Bet the boys 'round here are itchin’ to marry you," he said as he smiled to himself. I said nothing. I was puzzled as to what I said that stood out as wife material. I told Krista (mom’s friend/boss) about the bizarre encounter and she laughed it off; so did my family and friends.

But then, Mountain Man started turning up more often. We chatted a little bit here and there, and I found out he had a cabin in the woods that he claimed he built "with his bare hands". He said he hunted and lived off the land, other than the things he bought at the store. Over time our chatter escalated, with him making comments about how nice it would be to have a woman like me around who could make those things and cook his kills. One time, he even said I had the "birthin' hips that men lust after". Shudder.

He even started inviting me to fish with him, hunt with him, see his place, etc. and I always politely declined. But he got more and more insistent and I told Krista about how uncomfortable he was starting to make me. The intensity with which he said those things really scared me. She said that when he came in, go get her and she would ring him up.

Thanks to her, I started speaking to him less, and I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. But one night, I was closing up, and it was late, around 10 at night. Krista had left about an hour before, and I was leaving by myself. The only two cars in front of the store were an old blue pickup and mine; I was immediately alarmed because I knew Mountain Man drove a blue pickup. But I didn’t see him in the lot, just his car, so I walked quickly to my car and checked the backseat before I started her up.

But then when I first turned the key into the ignition, I got nothing but sputters. I tried several more times and got scared quickly. "Of all nights, why is this happening tonight?" I remember asking myself angrily. Just as I was reaching for my phone to call for help, there was a loud pounding on the driver’s side window. I’m shocked that I didn’t wet myself.

I didn’t even want to look, because I knew it was him. But I did, and my suspicions were confirmed. He smiled a big grin at me, showing me exactly which teeth were missing. "Need some help?" He said loudly through the window. I shook my head furiously. "My dad is on his way". I said, hoping to scare him off. I hadn’t spoken to my dad in years. Mountain Man laughed.

"No he’s not". He said. "Open the door". The hairs on my neck stood up straight. How did he know I was bluffing? "No," I said firmly. "Leave me alone". Suddenly he looked angry. He pulled the handle but I had locked all the doors when I first got in. He kept furiously pulling the handle and started pounding on the window. "Leave now or I’m calling 9-1-1!" I screamed at him.

He clearly wasn’t getting the message, so I pulled out my phone and called 9-1-1. I must have sounded insane to the dispatcher, and I knew she could hear him pounding. She said she would have officers out ASAP, but out here, that could be a while.

"THE COPS ARE ON THEIR WAY! LEAVE NOW!" I screamed at MM, who didn’t seem to let it deter him. But after a few more minutes of pounding, he suddenly stopped and walked back to his truck. I watched him go, hopeful he would leave me alone. But then he started walking back toward me, with a crowbar in hand.

"NO!" I screamed at him. "GET AWAY FROM ME!" He started swinging at the driver’s side window with the crowbar. I ducked down into the passenger seat on the floor and covered the back of my neck like they teach you in tornado drills. I heard the sickening crack of the window but not for long; suddenly, I heard male voices shouting, telling MM to get away from the car. I sat up and saw two men approaching, one with a shotgun pointed at MM.

I recognized them as a couple of guests staying at the resort for a camping trip. I breathed a sigh of relief and got out of the car, telling them that the authorities were on the way. I thanked them profusely as we waited for the officers, and surprisingly MM didn’t make any moves to get away, but the officers came pretty quickly after that, so he didn’t have much of a chance.

They took him away and I gave them my statement; I was pretty shaken up for a while afterward. A few weeks later I finally got the scoop on the man. Apparently, he had a history of mental illness. He had been in and out of state institutions. He really had been living in an old cabin in the woods, where he wasn’t taking his meds and his issues were only getting worse.

My cousin Luke is a cop, and later on he told me some more about the case that he had heard about through some other officers. The officers did a search of the cabin after the incident, to see if there was anything that might be of interest to them. They found a journal that MM kept. Apparently, in it he said he was lonely and wanted a wife.

He mentioned me by name a lot (stupid name tag), and Luke said there were a lot of lewd things in there about me that he didn’t want to share but tried to put it simply by saying that MM had a detailed plan to abduct me, starting with sabotaging my car engine to get me into a vulnerable position. When Luke said that, I nearly burst into tears thinking about how horribly that night could have gone if those two men hadn’t come along. Thankfully, he has been put back into a state institution. With any luck, he’ll stay there for good. Mountain Man, let’s not meet again.

unsettling strangers

2. What’s the Postage On Anthrax?

The other day at work we were basically told to look out for ourselves and others, wait for a security guard etc. Now this was a normal thing for the suburb we live in but it was still a bit strange. My friend from night fill told me why. Their friend and coworker finished up at around 12 and was approached by this guy when he was at his car.

The guy looked pretty normal, tracksuit and all, and gave him an envelope claiming there were free Fringe tickets inside. (Side note for clarification: Fringe is an art festival, like music and comedy and dancing etc. in the CBD) There was some sort of white powder on the ticket, but he just assumed it was coke or something (again not uncommon in this area) so he just grabbed it, planning to throw it out later because it was probably fake.

His mates came out around 12:15 to see him with something like burns on his hands (where he touched the powder) and felt like he was burning on the inside and couldn't breathe properly. Luckily, he was still conscious and told them to take him to the hospital which luckily wasn't that far away. They got there and practically everyone that came into contact with him felt like they were burning under their skin and were all having breathing difficulties within minutes. They had to call HAZMAT/the fire department and everyone was decontaminated. Luckily everyone is okay. Knowing that this is so close to home really is unnerving, it was like the anthrax issue except there were no deaths.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

3. The Dead Are Rising and They Went to Med School

I have a lot of weird encounters outside my office on my smoke breaks, but I think this one takes the cake, even with how anticlimactic it was. Today I was sitting on the wall outside my building with a cig, messing around on my phone. I had probably been sitting there for about two minutes without looking up when I finally do and notice a guy on the corner about 20 feet away staring intently at me.

He’s hunched over facing me in the classic zombie pose wearing a large coat, a surgical mask, and gloves. I didn’t know how long he’d been standing there, but it was day time and the area is relatively populated so despite being the only people on the street, I wasn’t too worried. I went back to looking at my phone but kept discreetly glancing in his direction to see if he was still there. He didn’t move or stop looking at me for probably another minute of a half, just sunken shoulders with his unblinking eyes pointed directly at me over his mask.

Finally, I notice an older man walking towards us and my smoke is almost finished so I assume worst comes to worst, this guy will be near if anything happens. I glance back at my phone and hear what I assume are the older man’s footsteps approaching.
Before I have a chance to look up, the surgical zombie is sitting within an inch of me on the wall.

I’m a polite girl, so I give him a vague smile while my inner self and personal space are screaming at me to get up and leave. He asks me for a cig, so I give him one and he just continues to sit there with it unlit. I can’t fight my manners, so I ask him if he needs a light, and he gives me a gloved double-thumbs up and stares at me.

I ask him if that meant he had one, to which he responds with another double thumbs up. I assume that was him saying he did, so I turn back to my phone planning on taking one more drag before getting up to leave. He then says "Yes, I need one" so I give him my lighter. He hands it back and I put my smoke out and stand up.

He then begins laughing, like full belly laughing. I didn’t really know how to respond so I tell him to have a nice day and walk into my building. To be honest, I’ve never really had a fear of people, and I can’t say this is the first time I've had someone has done something like this, but the mask and gloves really added to the absurdity of the situation.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

4. When a Stranger Knocks

It's Friday night at around 8:45 pm. The little one's in bed, and I'm chilling with some friends online, gaming. There's a loud bang and I'm instantly freaking out, due to having my home, my safe place, invaded by some creeper twice in the past three months.
I turn the volume on my computer down, trying my best to come up with excuses.

Oh, it was the neighbors doing something. Who in their right minds would try to break into my house when they can see that I'm awake? Front outdoor light on, lounge light on. It's quiet for a while, so I return to playing the game and talking to my friends. That's when I hear rustling. I think it's coming from the game, despite the volume being super low, but to be on the safe side I turned the sound on the computer off completely. The rustling's still there.

At this point, I think it might be that annoying pest possum. The banging could have been it jumping onto the garage roof, and now it was snuffling around outside the leaves, searching for some food. As I said earlier, who would try to trespass when they could clearly see someone was home? If they did trespass, why would they be doing so so loudly?

I wanna say it put me at ease, but it didn't. Fast forward half an hour and the noises have stopped, and my cat's begging me to be let outside. Little rascal (I love him, really). I hate opening doors/curtains/windows at night. Paranoia at its finest. But tonight, I had a reason to be paranoid, at least. I kept the chain lock on the door and let the fat fuzzball squeeze out, and had a bit of a peek through the crack, seeing if anything was amiss on my front lawn.

Nothing out of the ordinary, so I lock the door and head back to the lounge. Five minutes later, someone tries the door handle. Finding it locked, I hear a laugh, and they start scratching on the glass as I frantically grab my phone and call the authorities. Whoever it was had left by the time they answered the phone, and officers couldn't find evidence that anyone had been on the property.

They did a sweep of the neighborhood, but couldn't find anyone on the streets, either. Whoever you are, I'd say let's not meet, but I'm pretty sure you're the same person who came the other two times. And I'm fairly certain that that person is my ex. So, Mr ex. If it IS you. Smile for the cameras next time you come around. They just arrived in my mailbox.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

5. Nightmare Date

About five or so years ago, I was 23 at the time and had just gotten out of my first and only serious relationship a year prior. That guy was my first love and my first intimate experience and so needless to say when things ended, and he had zero interest in trying to work things out, I was heartbroken. After about a year of moping and being stupidly promiscuous, I decided to try actual dating.

I met this guy, let’s call him Rick, on a dating website. He was a couple of years older than me, was an ex-Marine, was cute, and good at making conversation. After a few days of talking online, he asked for my number and we decided to meet up. I drove to his house and come to find out he lived with a few other guys who looked really shady. Now he actually lived in a good neighborhood, but the way they kept their home and the way his roommates looked was my first red flag that an inexperienced, naive girl would not fit in his crowd but I decided to stay and give it a chance.

Once he saw me, he came up, gave me a hug, and handed me a helmet. To his motorcycle. Now I have never in my life rode a motorcycle before, but I had always wanted to, so I thought why not and hopped on. Now the street he decides to take me up is known to be a very long and windy road that is pretty secluded. It’s also important to note that this is the springtime and it’s about 5pm when we go on our ride.

I didn’t realize at the time he had decided to take me on that specific road but once we got on it, my red flags started to kick in. I began to realize that 1. It is completely silent and there are no other cars on this road right now, 2. It’s starting to get dark, and 3. Uh yeah, I don’t know this guy so what the heck am I doing, and my alarm bells start ringing!

Now I will say that while I made a ton of mistakes within this story this instance is where I am proud of how I reacted. Once my anxiety kicked in, I told him that I think we should turn around and go home. He started laughing and asked if I was scared and I said no I just need to head home because my parents are expecting me for dinner soon. He kept riding forward. More alarm bells ringing. Pictures of me lying lifeless in a ditch came up. I kept asking him can we please turn back can we please turn back, and he finally gave in and turned around.

The next day comes and I told myself that maybe I was just overreacting, and he was harmless and decided to agree on a second date a few days later. We met up at a sports bar for dinner and a couple of beers, so we can watch the hockey game. The entire time we are sitting there, Rick has his arm around me and has me literally attached to his hip, constantly trying to make out with me, and is acting extremely possessive. At this point, I’m completely freaked out because I barely know this guy and all he is talking to me is about our future and how he would be such a protective boyfriend because he was an ex-Marine. At this point, I knew I was done with him, but unfortunately, my car was at his house.

When we are done and head home, he insists that I come inside and hang out for a bit. I decide to walk in and stay for five minutes (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking). We walk into his room, and he immediately pounces on me, making out with me and trying to feel me up. I kept pushing his hands away and kept telling him that I needed to get going but I could tell he wasn’t going to give up until he got what he wanted, especially after I realized his little friend was aroused. He told me that he would not let me leave until we "did something".

I had no idea what he would have forced me to do if I kept rejecting his advances, so I decided that my only way out of there was to finish him off. So I did. And the entire time I’m trying to act like I’m enjoying it while dying inside and hoping he would hurry up and finish, so I can quickly leave. Luckily, I only used my hands and luckily it took him a few minutes to finish before I literally ran out that door and sped home.

After that night he tried to ask me to hang out again and I told him that I think it would be best if we stayed friends. This guy began to relentlessly call me and text me and beg me to see him, then proceeded to call me a b**** because I was ignoring him, then would apologize for calling me a b**** and it was because he liked me so much. So I blocked him. Then he tried to message me on Instagram. So I blocked him there. And then on Facebook. And finally, on Snapchat. So Rick, please let’s not meet ever again!

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

6. Dumpster Drivers

Around 9pm, I heard the tell-tale rumble that meant the forecasted storm was about to start. I couldn't recall if I had rolled up my car window when I got home, so I went out to check. It was already dark out, and I live in a part town that isn't big on street lights so at night sometimes it's hard to even stay on the sidewalk without crashing into bushes.

The dumpsters are about 200-300 feet from my car on our U-shaped street, tucked into a corner that backs into trees and a small creek. I live on the back of the building, so once I round that corner you can't see me from my car nor the dumpsters. I got out to my car. As I rounded that corner, I could see what looked like a flashlight in the dumpster.

It was weird, but not alarming as there are a lot of teenagers and younger boys who hang around in that corner of the parking lot. My window was down a bit, as I was rolling it up I hear a clattering sound from the dumpsters. I turn to see someone climbing out of the dumpster and start shining the light in the other dumpster.

My daughter had left her window down too, so I walked around to her door and rolled her window up too. I slammed her door shut a bit harder than I meant to, and since I was then facing the dumpsters I could see the dumpster man freeze and swing his light in my direction. He immediately switched it off and right as I started to walk back inside, he started full on sprinting toward my direction.

My usually sedentary butt has never moved so fast as I noped back on to the sidewalk and to the back of the building. I quietly opened and shut my door, locked in hopes that with eight apartments back here, he wouldn't know where I was. Or maybe he was running for reasons entirely unrelated to me. Or maybe he was just screwing with me and is now having a laugh with his friends about the lady he just scared the snot out of. Whatever it was, I'm sure as heck not getting any sleep tonight.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

7. Doggone Deadly

This past weekend, my soon-to-be-wife Alexia and I had just settled down for a night of movies, pizza, and cuddling. We live in a residential area right outside of town; our home situated right across the street from a Presbyterian church with a large cemetery behind it. Most of our neighbors don't own pets but there's one in particular across the street and downwards a bit who owns perhaps the loudest, most annoying dog to ever exist. Quite an annoyance on a night like tonight, but luckily it was quiet for the entire evening.

It's around a quarter after 10:00 PM and we're lying down watching a film in our living room when the loudest dog on earth begins to go off. Unfortunately, there's nothing much we can do, except maybe confront our neighbor or file a noise complaint, but who wants to be the neighbor that does that? After about five minutes, I get up off the couch and decide to walk over to our neighbor's home and say something about the dog. As I headed outside and made it to their driveway, unfortunately, I noticed that the neighbor wasn't home; their only car not there. I decided anyway to walk up to the door and ring the bell. After a minute of no one answering, I gave up and headed back towards home.

I noticed that Alexia had stepped outside and was looking on towards the direction of the barking. I told her that no one was home and that we should either ignore it or finally file a complaint. No one should have to deal with a loud dog at night, especially if you're trying to unwind after a long day of work or are trying to sleep. Alexia and I had back inside for a bit and finally, after about ten minutes, the dog ceases to bark. Alexia and I exhaled and laughed a bit before continuing our film. But of course, not long after that, the dog starts up again. This time, it sounded vicious.

I got up, went outside and approached our neighbor's fenced-off backyard and saw the dog, who must've heard or saw me coming. It stopped barking, walked up to me and began to pant in the cute way dogs do. I chuckled and said the dog's name, to which he looked at me and sat down. Such a good animal, even if he's so loud.

I then heard something that sounded like somebody walking through leaves coming from behind me and to the right. I turn around to see somebody looking at me from behind a gravestone in the cemetery. The dog must've heard this as well, as it sprung up and began to bark in the direction of the gravestone. I looked on as the person continued staring in my direction and as the dog continued to bark. I looked towards my house where I saw Alexia standing near her car, looking at me with a confused look on her face. I looked in horror as I saw the person reveal himself from behind the gravestone; his forehead and cheek were stained red with blood, dripping down off of his chin. In his hand was some sort of dagger.

The dog began to go ballistic as the person took a few steps in our direction before stopping. I turned to the dog, then back at my home. Alexia, who was still outside, yelled out to me what was wrong. I told her to call the authorities. She said "Why, the dog?" to which I replied, "He's freaking armed". Probably confused, Alexia went inside to grab her phone as I continued to watch on as the person now began to back off, the dog now going berserk. It was going to take a bit of time for someone to reach our home, so I readied myself to go into self-defense as I watched the man finally turn around and walk away towards the back of the cemetery and towards the woods.

When the authorities finally arrived, the person was long gone, and I was stuck there explaining to a couple of skeptical officers about my encounter. They didn't seem to take me that seriously but still investigated the area as I explained to Alexia about the person I saw. When the officers left after finding no trace of anyone, Alexia and I didn't feel much better. We locked our doors and windows and I decided to call our neighbors to fill them in on everything before heading back to continue our movie night in spectacular fashion: with The Exorcist.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

8. Smile, You’re on Camera

I was living with my parents and sister in Brisbane, Australia at the time (2008, which means I was 19). I remember my dad had just got Foxtel (cable TV in Australia) but only the TV in the lounge room could use the cable box, and I really wanted to somehow get the cable in my room without paying $99 or whatever for a new box.

So dad one day went out and bought an AV transmitter/receiver. It was basically a two-piece bit of hardware where you would plug this tiny box into the cable TV in the lounge room and it would transmit a video signal to the receiver, connected to the TV in my room. So one Saturday, I decided to connect it. My younger sister (16 at the time) was the only other person home at the time, upstairs in her room (my room was downstairs).

I opened the box and connected it up. At first, I was going back and forth, trying to get the cables right, trying to get the channel right etc., but no luck. Until I finally got something. I remember just sitting there and something started fuzzing in (this is where things start to feel like a horror movie). I remember thinking "oh here we go" and waiting to see the picture come in clearly.

As it started fuzzing in, I remembered that this whole time the cable set top box wasn't even on, and that's why it wasn't working this whole time. "But then why was I getting a signal?" It seemed to all hit me at once. As I realized the box was off, the picture fuzzed in, and I saw a bed. I FREAKED out, as at first, I thought it was my bed.

I sprinted upstairs to my sister, absolutely terrified. I told her to come down and take a look. She came down and we both realized it wasn't my bed. We didn't know whose bed it was, or how I was getting the signal. Obviously, it was the AV receiver picking up a camera signal, but we were just so confused as to who/what it was for?

Eventually, my parents came home, and we concluded that it would have to be a neighbor, or someone living close by, for us to be receiving the signal. We waited around until about 6pm, and then someone came into the room. My dad recognized it as one of our neighbors. We still didn't know what the camera was for, but we assumed it had something to do with fidelity. Either his wife or he had set it up to watch the other and see if they were cheating.

Either this, or it was to tape themselves doing the nasty. We entertained the idea that he was a murderer and would film himself murdering people in his room, but just to freak each other out. We'd always make jokes about how one night we'll turn it on and it’ll just be his face with clown make up on staring at the camera waving, and then him walking out of the bedroom with a blade.

This never happened. But what did happen was still super creepy. We connected to this signal for over a week, but after a few days the novelty kinda wore off. We felt a bit weird watching it, and just resigned to the explanation that it was to catch his wife cheating. Until one day, we turned it on, and realized what we had discovered.

Our neighbors were having a bunch of renovations done to their house. During weekdays they would be out, and there would be workers at the place pretty much all day. It had been like this for over a month. We started watching the feed and saw a man walk into their room. It was the plumber that had been there regularly for the renovations. We didn’t think anything of it, until he started opening drawers.

I called out to my mum (only person home at the time) and we started watching it. He started getting the wife’s underpants and sniffing them, doing all that creepy stuff. At first, we were like "Oh my god, how embarrassing, he's being filmed. will the neighbors see this somehow?" but then what happened next what truly terrifying.

He slowly walked over to the camera and look right down the freaking lens. We were CONVINCED that he knew we were watching. Mum immediately called dad. I kept watching. He started fiddling with it and then put it back down. I told mum that I don't think he knew we were watching, but he's definitely the guy that put the camera there. Dad came home, and by this time the plumber had left. Much to mums pleading, dad went over to the neighbors to tell them what we saw. Mum wanted to completely stay out of it and was terrified, understandably.

When we told the neighbors, they had NO IDEA what we were talking about. They allowed dad to go up to their room, and what he found (that was holding the camera) was an installed device in the wall that was designed to monitor water usage (which was completely normal, at the time, as Brisbane had been hit with a drought recently and there were lots of water restrictions, still is now I think).

The plumber had installed this into the wall but had fitted a camera behind it in the wall to watch the bed. Immediately they called the authorities, who came over and conducted an investigation. For the next week or so we didn't hear much about it. I spent most of this time just telling my friends, showing them pictures, but truthfully my whole family was scared every night. It was just very creepy thinking that we could have stuff like that hidden in our house.

It still scares me so much that it was just this creepy plumber sitting back in there on a laptop watching a hidden camera stream of my neighbors. Anyway, that's my story. It's all true, and still creeps me out to this day, but my friends and I have a good laugh about it.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

9. Nothing Says Fraternal Bonding Like Fear for Your Lives

I had to get my brother to help recount this as I was 12 at the time (and scared gutless as a result). This happened about six years ago, as stated I was about 12 and my brother was 26 at the time. My brother had been serving in the US Army for several years when this happened and was deploying to the Middle East on his second deployment if I remember correctly.

Also, of note was that he is a Green Beret and had recently (three or four months prior to this trip) completed the Army Special Forces Qualification Course (Robin Sage and all that), and by then was an active duty SF Engineer Sergeant. Definitely not someone you'd want to mess around with. Given that we both grew up with a passion for the outdoors, he thought it would be nice to take me on a backpacking trip in northern Alabama (the Sipsey Wilderness for those familiar with the area) before he left for nine months.

The trip had gone smoothly up until the third night we were camping out. Around 8 pm, we had our camp set up, eaten dinner and were sitting by the fire talking about typical boy stuff—guns, girls, etc. For some reference, our spot was about 50 yards from a large stream, and about 50 yards downhill adjacent to the large path. Our camp, the stream, and the path formed a triangle of sorts.

This was summertime in Alabama, so it wasn't quite dark yet when two guys, who looked to be in their late 20s wandered up and ask if we had seen any hogs while we were hiking around. Given that this is rural Alabama, we actually had seen some farther into the wilderness area and told them so. Even though they were relatively polite (my brother called them "good ole boys") I got a seriously creepy vibe from them—dirty clothes, greasy hair, scraggly facial hair, etc. I think they probably looked like they belonged in the movie Deliverance.

They kinda hung out for a few minutes, maybe a little longer than they should have—looking around, asking us questions like how long we had been out there, how long we were staying, and what looked like them kinda sizing us up. They then abruptly said goodbye and walked away. I didn't necessarily feel threatened by them, and I know for sure my brother didn't, but I still felt uneasy about the whole thing.

Fast forward three or four hours. My brother and I had gone to sleep and were nestled in our tent when I woke to the sound of multiple dogs barking. I've always been a heavy sleeper and they sounded like they were only about 100 yards away. My heart immediately started pounding and I kicked my brother through my sleeping bag and asked if he was awake/had heard the dogs.

He responded, "I'm awake, they've been getting closer for the past hour or so, just lay still and don't make any sounds". Needless to say, 12-year-old me was about to poop my pants. We would also hear sporadic shouts from several different sources but neither came any closer. A few minutes later my brother whispered, "They're just hunting for hogs, they use the dogs to pin them down and then they shoot them". This gave me some relief, but not much. Somehow, I managed to fall back asleep. The fact that they were doing this at night was a huge red flag my brother later told me, but I think he was just trying to keep me calm.

Fast forward what was probably another three hours, around 2 am. I had managed to sleep pretty well after first hearing the hog hunters when I woke up to my brother squeezing my shoulder firmly, saying, "Wake up, put your shoes on quick and follow me, be as quiet as you can".

My heart immediately went back to racing because I heard the dogs and voices in the distance, farther away than before but still distinct. Not asking any questions I did what he said and as soon as we were out of the tent he told me to get on his back (this was a breeze for him after rucking with God knows how much weight in the Army). We snuck about 50 yards into the woods towards the junction of the path and the stream and crawled into some bushes. It was up a hill so we had a pretty good elevated view of our campsite.

I remember as we were laying there how loudly I was breathing and how quiet he was when I heard the very distinct sound of a pistol slide racking. I looked over and my brother had his pistol (an HK USP that he gave to me a few years after this story took place) and was watching the campsite and surrounding area. I started to whisper to him when he put his hand over my mouth and pointed at the campsite.

The group of hunters had been steadily approaching our camp and by this time (30 or so minutes) had reached it. There were five of them and like three or four dogs. They all looked relatively young but two had rifles and the dogs were going crazy, obviously having smelled our scent.

They lingered for about 20 minutes shining flashlights around and talking to themselves when my brother put his mouth to my ear and said "If they come towards I want you to turn and run as quickly as you can, don't stop, don't look back, stay off the trail, and look for the flashing lights" (I didn't know what he meant by this but that'll come later). I knew I could make it back because he had taught me "land nav" pretty well. He then handed me a flashlight and told me not to take the red filter off. He told me later that the red filter helps preserve night vision and cuts down ambient light, so it would be harder for someone to see from a distance.

At this point, I was so scared I almost started crying, but at the same time had a rush of adrenaline and what I think now was confidence that he thought I could handle myself. We laid there for a while longer when out of nowhere they started screaming "WHERE Y'ALL AT?!?!" and firing into the woods at random. My brother dragged me back behind the crest of the hill and threw himself on top of me. Thankfully our position on top of the hill we were protected from any gunfire.

They shot maybe five or six more times and then started walking back the direction they had come. They got maybe 100 yards away when I heard a blaring siren and saw emergency lights flashing through the woods. Turns out my brother had called the Forest Service Office on a satellite phone my family has for emergencies while I was asleep and they had sent out Forest Service officers and game wardens to our area of the wilderness. The Sipsey Wilderness is about 25,000 acres in size, so it took them a while to get there on the dirt roads.

When we saw the game warden truck, my brother signaled them with the light and pointed them in the direction the hunters had gone and the guy sped off shining his spotlight through the woods. As soon as they were all gone we went back to our camp, packed up our stuff and waited by the path for the game warden to come back, who then gave us a ride in his truck bed back to the main staging area.

On the drive back my brother told me how brave I had been and that we would talk about it with our parents the next day if I wanted to. I asked him not to do that because I thought they might never let me go camp again. Creepy rednecks in the woods, let’s not meet again, you might get shot next time.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

10. I Could Do Without the Soundtrack, Thanks

Around two years ago, I finally moved into a brand-new house in a brand-new building estate in Australia. I was one of the first to have a finished build in the area and was elated to finally gain independence. The first few weeks went by as normal and during that time, I'd often take walks alone with the dog in the afternoons and roam the surrounding estate area.

All the roads around us had been partially completed and all the other properties were marked out, but no other houses were built, excluding one that was directly opposite mine. The house looked finished, but there was no driveway laid yet and from what I could gather, no one lived there.

One night as I was heading to bed, I turned off the television in the living room and again, could hear the faint sound of a violin playing, however, it sounded more muffled and rehearsed. I froze, and a cold chill flowed through me instantaneously. Considering that it was about midnight and not the usual time I'd hear it playing, I went to the front window and peeked out to see that there was a light in the house opposite mine. It was clearly a candle as I could see the dim light flicker in the empty window and the music sounded like it was coming from an old record player, but in the ten minutes I watched, I never saw any movement inside the house.

I moved away from the window sufficiently freaked out and after another five minutes, I heard the music abruptly stop. I peeked out again to notice the light was now out. I never saw anyone. I began to become unsettled in the house and would often invite friends over to hang out until late, but of course, nothing would ever happen when someone else was with me. I never bothered to tell any of my friends without evidence, I figured they'd just give me heck about it and I'd just become more agitated.

But nothing compared to what happened next. In my living area, the desk sits right next to a small window which looks out to the fence surrounding my property. The steel fence is literally an arm’s length from the house and about six feet tall, so I always figured that, unlike most of the other windows, I'd never need to cover this one with a sheet or blanket because no one could ever see in. I usually had headphones on when I played, and I always had the lights off, for no other reason than I preferred to play games in the dark.

One night when I was gaming, I got up and walked into the dark kitchen and got a drink out of the fridge. It was completely silent excluding the faint sound coming out of my headphones. As I closed the fridge and turned around to face the desk, I saw directly out the window two very, very faint lights. I didn't even catch on and immediately started walking back to the desk fixated on the small glowing balls and it wasn't until I had my nose almost pressed against the glass that I realized the two lights weren't lights at all.

They were eyes.

A set of eyes, sitting just above the fence line staring wide open at me. They didn't blink. They didn't move. My entire body locked up, all I could do was simply stare back as my brain was still comprehending that there was an actual person looking at me in the scariest way I could possibly ever imagine. I don't know what happened, either my head kicked into gear or my muscles loosened but my body automatically collapsed, and I fell to the floor, scurrying to hide against the wall away from the window.

I could hear my heart beating through the carpet like a drum as I tried to lay as flat as possible and as my mind was still processing the sheer severity of the situation, a violin started playing. That violin and the haunting tune it always emitted started up, except this time it was directly outside my window and much louder than I'd ever heard it before.

The lights were still off, and I wanted to get up to turn off the PC screen, so I couldn't be seen, but my whole body just wasn't ready to cooperate. Not only was the sound of the instrument extraordinarily loud, but it sounded like it was being played with frustration, notes been missed frequently and the strings screeching. The pace of it was getting faster and faster and by this time, my dog Jeb out in the backyard had picked up on the situation and registering an unfamiliar sound, gave one solitary, deep bark.

The violin instantly stopped, and the house was finally silent excluding my headphones which I could hear quietly working away. I was still frozen to the carpet and it wasn't until Jeb gave a second menacing bark that I heard the figure outside the window start to walk away in the direction of my yard.

Once that first footstep hit the ground, I instantly thought of the welfare of my best mate and finally, my head connected with my extremities and my entire body kicked into overdrive. I leaped from the ground and slid across the laminated floor to the backdoor where Jeb was standing, staring into the backyard. I ducked to keep low and quietly unlocked and slid open the door.

Usually doing so would notify Jeb that he was allowed inside, but when the door opened up, he didn't move an inch and was completely fixated on the pitch-black backyard. Everything told me not to go outside but there was no chance I was letting anything happen to my dog and I moved out onto the alfresco, moved behind Jeb, put my hand under his collar and attempted to back him toward the house. Jeb is a pure Labrador and weighs like a sack of sand so when he doesn't want to move, it takes a sheer force to pull him in the direction you want him to go and right now, Jeb wasn't going anywhere.

I yanked at his scruff and as I did, he emitted a bark like I'd never heard before, a deep, bellowing "screw you right off" sound that elevated my nerves to an all-time high. We both just stood there, waiting for some form of reply and I couldn't remember how long we both just froze there, but eventually, I heard footsteps from around the side of the house begin to walk away. But not a simple walk, almost like whoever was doing it was slowly dancing in a circle, the footsteps keeping to a beat as they drifted away from the house into the distance.

Once I couldn't hear anything, Jeb licked his lips, gave me a look, and wandered back inside. I followed, locked the door behind me and spent the night reverting to my child-like self; hiding under my bed covers with my dog. I didn't sleep a wink. That was the last time I ever saw or heard the violin player. The following morning when the sun finally came up, I called into work sick and called the authorities.

They scoured the lot next to mine and found footprints in the dirt, but there were so many there that it was impossible to tell whose were whose. The only description I could give to the officer was his height, he would have had to be over 6ft to stare over that fence at me, but they explained that he could have been standing on something, or on his toes.

They also told me that they've never received a report of anyone playing a violin in the area or anyone been in the fenced-off hill either. I essentially looked like an insane person, but the officers were very nice about the whole thing and offered to patrol the area for the next few nights which helped put my mind at ease. Nothing else has happened since then.

Over the next year or two, people finally started moving in and I tell them all the story about the figure I saw, some of whom still use it to keep their children in line, which I found funny. One guy nicknamed the council lot "Violin Hill" and the name has stuck around our street since then. I even spent a period of time scouring the depths of the Internet for that violin tune I kept hearing but could never find it.

There were a few classical pieces that seemed reminiscent, but I've since thought that whatever tune was played must have been self-composed, which creeps me out even more. I'm still in the house, I still tell people the story and I haven't changed my routine one bit which has really helped me to block out the fear of the experience. I game with the blinds closed now.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

11. A New Meaning to Ride or Die

Just to give you a bit of background I’m female and I drive for Lyft at night. I’m on the shorter side at 5’4" tall and have been driving for nearly six months. I tend to drive downtown Denver especially on weekends when there is the most money to make. In this time, I’ve only had a couple truly scary encounters and I drive seven nights a week at least a couple hours a night.

The first scary one started out normally enough for that late at night. I had just dropped off a passenger in Aurora and was marking my way back towards Market Street since the bars hadn’t closed yet. I get a pick up that’s on the way. It’s a nice enough area that I don’t feel uncomfortable but anyone who knows Aurora CO knows it’s not really the best even with the few nice areas.

A couple of guys hop in, one in front one in back. Both have on hoodies and are carrying backpacks, but this is Colorado and almost 1:30 in the morning so not that odd. Where it gets odd is after they get in. I give my normal greeting, but they completely ignore me shove their backpacks onto the floor and pull their hoods up while shielding their faces from the windows with their hands. I was instantly uncomfortable, and I could feel something was off.

It was only a 10-minute drive and we were in a secluded area so I decided the safest thing I could do was complete the ride. I could feel my fight or flight instinct kicking in. Within about a minute I had decided if they tried anything I was going to crash my car. Neither one had put on a seat belt, so I figured that would be my best chance. Once we arrive at the location they wanted to be dropped off at I could tell it was not a good area. Bars on all the windows, trash everywhere, and cars in disrepair.

They get out but don’t shut my doors and start whispering to each other while glancing at me. One of them has his hand in his pocket fidgeting with something (I have no idea what). At this point, I’ve had enough and step on the gas driving off with the doors open. I drove a couple of miles until I get to a gas station with lights and people before I stopped to properly close both doors. I called it a night and headed home to cuddle my toddler and my husband before having a good cry in the safety of my own bed. I have no idea what they were planning but I do know I was terrified from the moment they pulled their hoods up to the moment I drove off with my doors open.

The second story takes place a couple of weeks after the first. I had sworn off all pickups in Aurora and the shady parts along Colfax at night. I would still drop people off there, but I would also turn my app off and leave the area when I was done. I was downtown as usual for a Saturday night and the bars were closing. I get a shared ride which can be very good at bar closing.

Now the thing to know about shared rides is you can’t request more than two seats, leaving room for two more people. I have on multiple occasions had a full car with these types of rides. I get to the person, unlock my doors as normal, and in get three people. OK small problem. I’m polite, but tell them I can’t give them a ride with three people, so they will have to order a different Lyft. This is where this one turns.

Guy: I don’t want to pay more.

Me: I’m sorry but either one of you has to get out or all of you do and you need to order a different ride. This is a shared ride and that means I could get two more passengers and they need seats. With shared rides you are only allowed to book two seats for two passengers.

Guy: I’m not paying more so you can just ignore other rides and take us home!

At this point, he became aggressive and was putting his finger in my face. Maybe I should have been more scared, only this is Market Street at bar close and it’s packed. There are inebriated people everywhere and where there are inebriated people there are officers. I roll down my window as he continues to tell me what I’m going to do and starts threatening to "put my[butt] in its place" if I don’t start driving right now. I didn’t catch the whole thing since I had made eye contact with a cop and was focusing on getting his attention.

Me: Ok you now have a new choice. You can all get out or I can get the cop right there to get you out.

Said cop was making his way over, seeing something was wrong. They all jumped out and they disappeared into the crowd still looking for rides. The cop stopped to ask if I was OK and I gave him a short rundown of what happened and thanked him for coming over. I headed off to my next ride, who was a very polite gentleman. In both cases, I reported them to Lyft so I wouldn’t get paired with either again. I also carry a foam pepper spray for defense and have a dash cam that records the interior of my car now. Since that last one, I haven’t had any issues, so there’s that.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

12. The Ninja Turtles Wouldn’t Stand for This

This happened a few months ago. I had an argument with my girlfriend, so I decided to do the healthy thing and take a walk to cool off. Live in a small city and it was around midnight so not many people around. Most of the walk was normal. I had calmed down about half way and just wanted to get home, so I was walking down a sparsely lit street and a figure with a hood on was standing on the edge of the sidewalk across the street from me with a parking lot behind him.

I'm on the opposite side of the road, but as soon as I noticed him, my heart begins to pump faster, and fight or flight kicks in instantly. As soon as he's out of my immediate line of sight, I notice he has silently made it halfway across the street towards me. It freaked me out. He was absolutely silent. I tried to keep him in the corner of my vision, but he was quickly behind me and I still couldn't hear him.

I was just getting to a line of apartments on my left, and each apartment had small porches with lights on each one. I could see my shadow in front of me, and the figure's quickly closing in behind me. My mind is racing, I'm fast walking, and I see the shadow within arms distance. This entire encounter has been five seconds, six at most. I've decided fight is my only option, so I twist up the plastic bag in my right hand with a big Gatorade in it and I'm about to duck and swing high while turning right to surprise him and hopefully catch him off guard, so I can run while he regains his stamina.

Just then, as I'm coming up to the end of the line of cars parked to my right, a woman holding a baby and a child following her (four years old or so) turn the corner from behind an SUV. She made eye contact with me and I felt instant relief. Still no sound from shadow guy behind me. As I'm passing the family, I turn to look behind me and see nothing, anywhere.

I continue looking behind me the entire jog home, but nothing. Nobody. I didn't even see where the woman with the kids went. I'm not deaf, no hearing problems at all. I know somebody or something was about to attack me that night, but the complete lack of sound from it freaked me out to my core and still bothers me today. So, shadow ninja a few blocks from where I live, let's never meet again.

I should note that I don't believe anything supernatural happened here. I think this stalker was going to rob me and was likely timing his footsteps in sync with my own, so I wouldn't notice him until he was already robbing me. I think he probably did duck out behind a car or porch nearby when the mother and kids noticed us. I am by no means posting this to suggest he was a demon, alien, actual ninja, or bigfoot, trying to eat my soul. I think he was a man, albeit a very quiet, skilled (on his feet) man who wanted my money or Gatorade.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

13. My Phone Died so I Could Live

At the time of this story, it was the summer after junior year, and a couple of my buddies and I were at someone’s house doing the usual things teenaged guys do. After a couple hours of Xbox and basketball, one of our friends, Sam, rolled up with a trunk full of fireworks, and we decided that it would be fun to go set them off in an empty field a mile away from the house.

As we all piled into Sam’s car and started driving out of the neighborhood, a man stepped into the road and blocked our way. He was huge and covered in tattoos. Probably 6’3" or so, with long dark hair pulled back into a ratty ponytail. Sam honked the horn as the man stood in front of our car yelling and swearing at us. Finally, my friend has had enough and whipped the car around him while flipping the guy the bird, speeding out of the neighborhood and towards the main road.

A couple minutes later we got to the field and set up the fireworks. As we all hid around the edges of the grass, Sam stepped forward and lit the fireworks up. Seconds later, the firework ignited and exploded, much louder than any of us had expected. I panicked and ran back to Sam’s car with him, and he slammed on the gas and flew out of the parking lot onto the main road. As we neared the entrance to my friend’s neighborhood, it dawned on Sam that he had left the rest of the guys back at the field.

So, he stopped the car and made me get out, so he could go retrieve the other guys. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go with him, but it didn’t matter. It was a nice summer night and I sat down on the sidewalk near the entrance of the neighborhood and pulled out my phone. After a couple minutes of phone games, it died in my hands. I sat back and enjoyed the weather, waiting for the headlights to come back down the road, when I heard a slight noise behind me.

I turned my head, expecting to see a bird or windblown branches or something, but the streetlight outlined the figure of the man from earlier. He had crept up behind me while I was sitting there. He locked eyes with me and I was immediately struck by the wild look in them, like he was both looking at me and looking through me at the same time. I got up and backed away slowly, then turned and started walking away from him. He kept pace behind me and began to yell at me. "HEY YOU! GET BACK HERE!"

I increased my pace and he continued to match it, screaming at me the entire way. Eventually, I was full-out sprinting away from him and I heard him slow down. I tore down the sidewalk back to the parking lot of the field and reunited with my friends before relaying the story to them. As we drove back, we searched the area for him, but he was nowhere to be found. It dawned on me that if my phone hadn’t died, I probably would not have noticed the footsteps of the man and probably would have not had such a fortunate outcome. So, crazy tattooed man, let’s not meet.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

14. Never Too Young to be Creepy

This was back in second grade. I was around the age of seven or eight. There was this little boy in my class who had a huge crush on me. He always cheered for me. If the class had an assignment for giving a presentation, he would cheer for me the loudest. One time he had mistaken another girl with the same name's birthday as mine.

He was so excited, clapping his hands and saying happy birthday. When given a choice for partners he'd always choose me. Learning from my teacher that it's impolite to turn someone down I never did. When I was younger I didn't know what it was, but I was always creeped out by him. When he chose me for his partner, I was uncomfortable.

When he thought it was my birthday, I felt uncomfortable. There were moments where he would boast about me. Hating to be center of attention I was uncomfortable. I was always nervous around him. Thinking about it now, I feared he was going to do something embarrassing involving me or do something I didn't like, and he did.

One day after lunch we waited in the halls as my class took a bathroom break. It usually took a while so people usually sit down. We would play all sorts of little games in groups. However, that day I decided I didn't want to play games, so I sat alone. A few moments later, he walked up to sit beside me without saying anything.

A few seconds go by and he slips his hand under my butt. He proceeds to squeeze it for a couple of seconds. Then he left. He left as if nothing happened. He didn't even bother looking at me once. I knew it was wrong and that I didn't like it at all. I was so disgusted, but I kept quiet. From then on my fear of him tripled. Guy who formerly had a crush on me, let's not meet again.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

15. You Won’t Find a Gym There...

In 2007 I worked as a dishwasher at a pizza chain with an Italian plumber in their name. I was 14 at the time and walked to and from work about four times a week, about a 30-minute walk each way. I was a 6-foot, 125-pound kid with long hair that floofed out with what we called "wings" at the time. I probably looked pretty scraggly and vulnerable, looking back in hindsight, as I was wearing clothes I didn’t mind getting wet and dirty.

I never paid much heed to walking home at night, until one Friday evening in late July. I was on my way home from work at around 9:15, it was still semi-bright out as I lived fairly north in Canada; It wasn’t a huge town at about 55,000 people at the time, so it was fairly busy on Friday nights. As I was walking along the sidewalk parallel a parking lot with my headphones in, some dude in a truck is trying to get my attention and motioning me to come to his window. I pulled my headphones out and he was asking me something about a gym.

Now being a young dude working at a pizza place with adults of varying ages, I didn’t think anything of this mid 40s guy asking me for help. It wasn’t until I actually approached his window and he grabbed my pants by the belt that I realized what was happening. Like I said earlier, I was sort of a skinny dude, thank God I had my belt on super tight.

He was asking me where the closest gym was, asking if I worked out, telling me I sure looked like I worked out...all while trying to get his hand down my pants. I was pretty shaken up, but I kid you not, I had a flashback to those Bert and Gert PSAs (a little late mind you...) and remembered the stuff about making an excuse to stop talking to some stranger.

So once I got a grip and could stop stuttering about not knowing where a gym was, I told this dude I was diabetic and needed to get home to take my insulin! I felt his grip on the top of my belt loosen and I booked it home. I didn’t tell my parents when I got home, or my friends at school or work. I actually don’t recall telling anyone about it. So I guess the moral of the story is... STAY ALERT, STAY SAFE

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

16. Do You Have the Wrong Number?

About ten years ago, when I was 17-19 years old, I would periodically get phone calls from a private number at night. Whoever was calling me wouldn’t speak, but I could tell that there was someone on the line by their breathing. This would always happen after 10 pm and would last a few minutes after I would say hello until I or the caller would hang up. Sometimes I would get frustrated and say something around the lines of "oh it’s you again" or "do you just want to hear my voice?" They would usually click immediately after.

Now you may be wondering why I would still answer these creepy calls. My phone number is a digit away from a local emergency line. So I usually got calls from people trying to reach the authorities and would direct them to the right number. I figured the calls were wrong numbers at first, but after a few months that was obviously not the case. It didn’t bother me until one night.

I was out with some friends around 9 pm when I got a call from an anonymous number. I step aside to answer and am greeted with the ever so lovely, "You freaking b****" etc. etc. I quickly hung up. This wasn’t my callers usual MO. About 20-30 minutes later when my boyfriend and I got back to his place, I started getting call after call, getting screamed at.

The person on the line would be screaming saying they were going to get me, kill me, you name it. At one point my boyfriend picks up the phone—he was incredibly angry and screamed back (I’m not with this person anymore). He’s silent for a minute and hangs up. At this point, my boyfriend tells me to call 9-1-1. The caller told him that they knew where we were, where I lived, and that they were going to kill me and my family, along with other threats.

So now we’re pretty spooked and decide to call the 9-1-1. Since we live in a pretty safe town with not much for the authorities to do, so they come to us and basically say there’s not much to do in this situation. It’s obviously a gross prank going too far. At this point, another call comes in. The officer picks up my phone, interrupts their screaming and answers with, "Hello, yes this is officer ______". The caller hung up and never called again.

After that night I never got another late-night call. It didn’t hit me until a few weeks later that it must have been the same person who had been calling all those times before. I don’t know why they snapped that day and broke their silence. Was it a sick joke? Something more sinister? Were they always angry when they called? I never found out who they were, and shudder at the thought that it could have been someone I knew. So, creepy angry late-night caller, I hope we’ve never met, or meet.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

17. Armed With Nothing but Confusion

Here’s a little bit of backstory. This happened back in the fall of 2016. I was a newlywed, 18, and moved halfway across the country to live with my husband. I was in a new town and had no friends. My husband deployed in the early spring of 2016. A few months into deployment I was lonely and wanted to head home.

I decided to make the 16-hour trek home, alone. I packed up my essentials and my cats. I left at 11 pm because I couldn’t sleep. I was about four hours into my drive and I was growing tired. I pulled into a well-lit public rest stop so I could catch some shuteye. I pulled my car into a spot right under a light and I made sure cars were nearby.

It’s about three in the morning at this time and I fall asleep. Next thing I know I hear a knuckled tapping on my driver’s side window. Sleepily I wake up and see an older man (about mid-forties) kneeling down to my window. Stupidly I open my driver side door.

Man: "Please don’t shoot me!"

Me: "Um, I won’t. What do you want?"

Man: "My wife and I are stranded here. We need money. Do you have some? We’re right over here (points to the van parked in the dark off behind him) if you want to follow me".

Me: " man, I’m good. I don’t have any money, I’m sorry". (At this point I’m beginning to feel like something is wrong).

Man: "Aw, come on. I swear I’m up to no harm. Come over to my van, my wife is in there".

Me: "Sorry, but I have no money. I’m using the rest of my money to go home".

Man: "Alright miss, God bless. God bless".

With that, he stumbles off to the next car on my right to do the same thing. By now I’m wide awake and I’m feeling scared. I turn on my car and peel out of the lot. I don’t know what he wanted. I didn’t see a woman in the van he kept pointing at, but I didn’t want to find out. Man in the rest stop parking lot who most likely wanted to abduct me, let’s not meet again.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

18. This Isn’t My Stop…

This happened when I was around age 12. A little bit of context: I was out of the district for the school I was in, so I rode in a van (one of those big, creepy white ones), with about five other kids. I was the first one on the van every morning, picked up around 7:30 AM. The bus driver was always friendly enough. He was an overweight, white man, probably in his 50s.

One day as he was driving us home, he pointed out his house to us. On the first day of him driving us home, he stopped at Burger King to get us each an ice cream cone. (This alarmed me at the time, but I shrugged it off.) I was a pretty small kid, and I certainly wouldn't be able to defend myself against any sort of physical assault.

Anyway, I got on the van one morning as I always did. I think it was March. (In Minnesota, so it was still quite cold outside). I was looking at my iPod, not really paying attention. When we stopped, I looked up, assuming we were at the next stop. I looked up to discover that we were at his house. He didn't say a word to me. He got out of the vehicle and went inside.

I was alone, and absolutely petrified. Until that point, I always thought that people were exaggerating when they said they were "paralyzed with fear," but I absolutely was. You hear those stories, you know, of young girls getting kidnapped. I really thought he was going to defile and/or kill me. A million thoughts were running through my head. Do I call 9-1-1? Do I hide? Do I get out and run? (I knew someone who lived nearby). But instead, I just sat there, frozen. I have no idea how long he was inside, but it couldn't have been very long, because he came back (again, still not saying a word) and we continued on the route.

I told my parents about it when I got home. They thought it was odd, but figured he probably had just forgotten something or really had to pee. They told me to tell them about it if it happened again. It did. The second time (I think it was a few weeks later), I looked up, and saw that we were at his house again. It was the same—no explanation, he just parked and went inside, leaving me in the van by myself.

This time, I texted my mom to let her know what was happening. She called me immediately, asking if I was okay, what happened, etc. I had to hang up after a few moments, because he came back more quickly this time. Again, we continued on the route. My parents called the bus company, and I guess he was yelled at. He obviously knew that I had told on him, because the next morning I rode the van he was clearly very angry and silent. I was absolutely terrified to continue riding the van after that—he was angry and knew where I lived!

So that was definitely the most terrified I've ever been for my life. I think about it all the time. He definitely should've been fired. I'm 99% sure that what he did was against the law. If school bus drivers need to make an unscheduled stop, they're supposed to call the bus company, let every kid off, etc. They probably only kept him because he was the only person who was willing to drive as far as we all lived.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

19. I Don’t Like This Song

So this is one of many stories my dad told me when I was a little girl about his adventures hitchhiking when he was a few years younger than my age now (28.) He’s a super deadhead and him and a friend named John followed them on the road with nothing but their acoustics and some cash. Apparently, they got to Georgia at one point and were getting tired but needed to make it a few towns over in order to see the Dead the following day. They walked miles and tried to catch a ride for hours to no avail, and started to lose hope when a beat-up pickup truck stopped and let them in.

My dad got in the front and John got in the back, thanked him and fell asleep, leaving my dad awake with this guy driving them. According to him, things were bad right from the start. The driver asked where they were headed and why they had guitars and asked if my dad knew how to play well. My dad told him about the Grateful Dead and how he did play and usually picked a banjo but left it back home. So the guy gets super creepy and says, "I’ve always wanted to kill me one of them guitar boys".

My dad started freaking out at this point and said he just laughed it off but tried to be as unnoticeable as possible while attempting to wake up John. Things kept getting more tense; he asked the guy if he’d mind pulling into a gas station, he said no. He asked how long until they would get to the next town, no response and he eventually went completely silent.

After a few HOURS of driving (with John waking up in the meantime,) the guy got really eccentric and asked if they’d ever seen a "bad death". He started driving the truck into mailboxes and street signs, and eventually HIT A STRAY DOG WHILE LAUGHING MANIACALLY. My dad and John laughed right along with him until he finally stopped at a gas station and they were able to get their things and take off. They ended up missing the show, but I’m glad my dad wasn’t the "guitar boy" the guy was looking for.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

20. No Star Diner

So this happened when I was about 17 years old. For context, I’m a 21-year-old girl. At the time I was working at a failing seafood restaurant. I was a busgirl so I had to deal with touching peoples old half eaten seafood all day long. I’m a vegetarian and have never ever liked anything that comes from out of the water. Not even shrimp, I assure you.

Working at a restaurant can be a super interesting job. The amount of people you meet through work is immense and your coworkers can become like family. You’re all suffering together, you can become pretty close. The chefs at this restaurant were pretty strange. One was super chill, one was always intoxicated and angry, and the last...well he was something else altogether.

To make things easier I’ll just call the creepy chef "creep". So creep starts working, he’s new and he seems like a decent guy. He’s in his mid-to-late-40s, salt n pepper hair, nothing throws you off by just seeing his physical appearance. I deeply love everything 60s and 70s, and so creep and I would sometimes talk about music especially rock n roll. He seemed like a cool guy, someone who claimed he saw so many of the bands that I drool over daily.

It seemed nice to work with someone who generally shared the same interests. Some weeks go by and creep wasn’t showing any signs of anything strange. I felt totally okay within my workplace. Wouldn’t blink an eye, and actually enjoyed the job. Me and a fellow busgirl became pretty close friends. We bonded over the fact we both had pretty messed up family lives. So we instantly became work buddies.

The restaurant was slow. Me and the busgirl were having a conversation. Laughing, smiling, and joking in the kitchen. This changed in less than five seconds when creep came right behind me and says by my ear "this wouldn’t be so funny if I had chloroform". I turn around and look at him thinking "freaking weirdo, who jokes about things like that?" His eyes were blank, he was staring at me, but it felt as though his eyes were burning an imprint on my face. The staring lasted a couple of seconds but eventually, I just turned and just walked away. I really didn’t know how to react.

Throughout the next week creep would stare at me through the kitchen window while I was working. I tried to avoid going to the kitchen but that was nearly impossible when it was my job to transport dishes from the tables back to the kitchen. Twice more while in the kitchen the situation repeated itself. I was talking to a fellow coworker and creep would drop whatever he was doing and interrupt the conversation with "Well it wouldn’t be so fun if I had chloroform on me".

At this point, he had mentioned chloroform to me three times. I was freaked out. Luckily, I stopped working there a few weeks later because I was leaving to travel Europe for the summer. When I returned the restaurant was already shut down, so I didn’t see creep ever again after this. I wish I would’ve told my manager at the least, I don’t know what I was thinking. I clearly wasn’t. No one should have to feel that threatened at their workplace.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

21. Creepy On Rye With No Lettuce

This happened to me about five years ago, so I must’ve been a freshman or sophomore in high school. I went to high school in a big city and left around 4 pm with my friends like any regular day. We walked to the subway and stopped to get some food on the way. I got a sandwich to go and we continued walking to the train.

We parted ways since we all took different trains to get home and I walked all the way to the end of the platform so that I would get on at the front of the train when it arrived. I was starving so once I got to the end of the platform I sat down and started going at this sandwich. There was one woman standing a little bit further down the platform than me but other than that there weren’t really any other people around.

I heard the train coming so I went to take my last bite and this giant man appeared literally out of nowhere and smacked the sandwich right out of my hand before it reached my mouth. I saw my sandwich skid across the platform in slow motion and I just sat there with my mouth open and hands frozen in shock. He just stared at me for a second, didn’t say anything, then kept walking down the platform.

I jumped up and ran onto the train and it was pretty crowded, so I ended up standing and facing the platform. The doors took an eternity to close and this man walked back and forth a few times with his eyes locked on me but didn’t get onto the train (thank God). The whole experience was totally bizarre and to this day I have no idea why this random man felt the need to ruin a perfectly good sandwich and scare the snot out of me. So creepy subway sandwich hating stalker man, let’s not meet again.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

22. From Playdate to Child Abduction

It was a very long time ago—back in 1973. I know that it was summer, I was six, and we were living on Monica Lane in Madison, Wisconsin. Thing is, I sort of recalled it but never put two-and-two together until a few months ago when I was talking to my mom who went into great detail.

I was a very gregarious child; outgoing, extroverted, friends with anyone. It was at the time a middle-class neighborhood, and three houses down from ours, on the same side of the street, was a huge park. My mom was a nurse and my dad was a salesman, but mom worked 2nd shift at Merriter, while my dad worked days. I rarely had a babysitter, only if they went out for dinner or a movie. But they did go out often and there were always older kids in the neighborhood to babysit.

One sitter who I really liked lived a few blocks or so away, and down the street a little bit. Vicky had babysat a few times before that and it was pretty uneventful. She'd play games with me, and do my hair, play dress-up, pretty basic stuff. So anyhow, one day I had gone with friends down to the park. I remember there was a ball field at the time, and a sandlot next to the field. My friends wanted to play on the monkey bars, but I wanted to play in the sand. I looked at the sandbox and my babysitter Vicky was standing there. I told my friends I was going down to the sandbox and ran off.

We played in the sand, building a castle, and then she asked me if I wanted to go get something cold to drink. It was stifling hot, and I, of course, said yes. So she takes my hand and we start walking to her place. She starts telling me about her puppies and asking if I want to play with them. Of course, I get giddy and now can't wait to get to her house. This was where my memory had stopped and after my mom told me what happened, the rest of it flooded back.

My mother just happened to be talking to my sister and I about some of the places we lived, and we got to Monica Lane. I told her I remembered the park and how big it seemed, and she asks me if I remember being kidnapped. I immediately thought she was kidding and then the look on her face told me otherwise. She said it was around five in the afternoon and one of my friends had come to the door to ask me to come back outside, sure that I had gotten bored and walked back home. When my mom checked the house, she realized I wasn't there and (seven months pregnant with my sister) sprints to the park, screaming my name.

After asking several kids if they'd seen me with no clue, she went to the ball field and asked the older boys if they'd seen me. One of the boys (she guessed around 14) said that he'd seen a younger woman playing with a girl that fit my description in the sand and walk off in a general direction and that was all he knew.

My mom ran across the street to one of the houses and asked to use their phone and called the authorities. By the time the officers got there, my dad had come home and some of the neighbors were trying to help my mom. So there's this search party out looking for me, screaming my name and knocking on doors. The officers had gone back to the park to ask the boys if they knew who had been with me and if they knew who she was.

Between the boys and the neighbors, they had deduced who it was that had led me off, but I have no idea how, honestly. The officers and the entourage go to her home (she lived with her parents but they weren't home) and knock on the door. She came to the door and told them she hadn't seen me, and that she'd been home all day.

The officers asked to come in and for some reason, she said okay. They went through the house and went to the basement and found me. That's what my mom knew and then I remembered. It was literally like a flood gate had opened and I started crying. At six, you sort of trust everyone, and she'd been in our home. I never got a bad feeling from her and my parents didn't, either. But when we walked into her house I remember that cold, holy feeling washing over me and getting very worried. I remember starting to cry and saying I wanted to go home, over and over.

She takes me into her kitchen and gets me a glass of water and a tissue. I hear dogs barking, and next to the kitchen is an open stairway that goes down and where the barking was coming from. She starts trying to cajole me into going downstairs—telling me there's all sorts of toys and games. I reluctantly agree, and she grabs my hand to head down the stairs. The dogs are going nuttier and I start screaming.

At this point, Vicky is getting bizarre. She's screaming at me to "SHUT UP!! IF YOU DONT SHUT UP I WILL THROW YOU IN THE CAGE WITH THE DOGS AND THEY WILL EAT YOU!! SHUT UP!!" Dragging me down the stairs and still screaming. I was scared out of my mind. I remember crying so hard I was hyperventilating, and I am screaming so hard I'm not making sounds. Vicky then flips a switch and starts being syrupy sweet, trying to calm me down. She tells me that she was just playing a game and tells me she wants to play hide and seek.

She must have been relatively skilled at calming me down because the next thing I know, I hear knocking on the door upstairs and I wasn't crying. The houses were all the same sort of tract houses that Sears used to sell, not huge but not small, but you could hear everything at any spot in the house. I keep hearing the knocking and she tells me that it's her friends. They're coming to play hide and seek!!! She convinced me to let her put a piece of masking tape over my mouth, so I wouldn't make a sound, and lifted me into this big wooden box next to the kennel. She put a big pile of blankets over me and told me to be really quiet, so they didn't find me.

The whole time the dogs were going crazy but when she calmed me down, they calmed down, too. They still looked incredibly mean, but they were no longer frothing at the mouth, and only slightly growling. Until the knocking started. I remember scrunching in there, confused. Still scared and convinced that the dogs were going to get out and eat me. I was crying again and hyperventilating. I remember taking the tape off my mouth because I couldn't breathe, but remembered I needed to be quiet because I was afraid of what she'd do if I screamed.

I laid in that smelly box next to a big bag of dog food, sweating profusely, tears rolling down my face. I sort of pushed the blankets to the side but only enough so that I could pull them back over me when someone came. I recall thinking about my dad and wondering if he'd come find me. All of a sudden, I hear what sounds like adults yelling my name. They come down the stairs and the dogs are going crazy again. Over and over men are yelling my name and then I hear a man say, "If you don't shut those dogs up I will!!"

I was in a large storage box (like a carpenter’s toolbox type of thing) with tape hanging off my mouth when they opened the lid. I remember a very nice man asking me my name and if I was okay. I don't remember answering him in anything other than screams and tears and grabbing his neck so hard my dad had to practically pry me off of him.

I remember my parents taking me to the hospital to be checked out and that's all I really remember. Mom said that Vicky was found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and last she knew was in prison but couldn't remember when the last time was she had heard anything. We moved from the area shortly thereafter, and I haven't been back since.

I do know that mom said that her parents were odd but that they didn't know them. She had met Vicky from neighbors that had used her as a babysitter and had never heard of anything bad and that I always seemed happy with her. She lived in the general neighborhood, but it would have been two blocks over and one block down. Mom said they never picked her up, she always walked over. When they'd get home, they'd drive her home but never noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Mom and dad had only met her parents when they came to the door to ask for forgiveness; that Vicky hadn't meant to do anything bad, and was a good girl. Mom said my dad picked up her dad by the shirt and told him that if they ever came on our property again, he'd kill them. I remember her name and sort of what she looked like, but would have no idea if she walked up to me who she is.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

23. Bum Rush

I’m a second-generation Vegas native, I’ve spent countless hours on the strip, as well as the Downtown area. The downtown area has changed a lot from when I was younger. It’s a bit more seedy and strange than it was back in the nineties or back in my grandfather’s day when he was a Pit boss at the Golden Nugget, but I digress.

It was my friend Maggie’s birthday and I found out her fave band was giving a free concert at the Fremont experience. I rustled up our other three friends Brittany, Heather and Chelsea and we piled in Maggie’s van and headed to hear good music and then hit a casino for drinks and food. We trudged out of the casino at 3 am after filling ourselves with $10.99 breakfast platters, and various drinks. We had parked a few blocks away so we all linked arms and set off for the van.

We had made it one block when we saw a figure pushing a shopping cart. Now this area is crawling with homeless folks, so we didn’t pay them any attention at first as they were on the opposite side of the street. I was mid-sentence when one of the ladies gasped the figure had set the shopping cart to the side and was slowly walking towards us. We picked up the pace and started speed walking towards the parking lot.

I glanced backward and saw that the figure was now running after us. We couldn’t tell if it was a woman or man as they were wearing a jean jacket with a grey hood and they were walking in the shadows, so we could not make out a face. Heather whips out her cell and we encourage Maggie to get her keys out, so we can make a mad dash to her car.

The parking lot is coming up so we all run for it, I hear the figure kicking up rocks and I know they’re literally behind us now. Maggie hits her key fob to open the door and we all literally dive into the car. I’m slamming it shut when the figure reaches the door. I’m holding it shut screaming for someone to hit the locks, Maggie is freaking out as she’s attempting to start the car.

Heather is dialing 9-1-1 and the other two were trying to find things to arm themselves with. The door is locked, and the figure pushes his face against the window. I can see now it’s a man, anywhere from 40-60, scraggly long hair, unshaven, and he had maybe two teeth and he’s grinning a crazy toothless grin as he bangs on the window. Luckily Maggie gets her together and guns it and we peel out of there the guy jumps backward and I can hear him screaming "crazy witches!!" Heather tells the dispatcher we are ok and gets a lecture that maybe next time we should just park closer. That was the last time I set foot in the area after dark.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay

24. A Doctor Should not Make Housecalls

A week or so before my 10th birthday, I walked to the corner store with a $5 bill and picked up a jar of Ragu for my mom. On my way home, a man I'd never seen before fell in step with me and began talking. "Hi!" he said, cheerfully. "My name is Dr. Ramsey. I'm a pediatrician. Do you know what a pediatrician is?" I walked along silently, not replying and fervently hoping he would take that as a sign he should leave me alone. Subtleties were not his strong suit, though, because he kept right on chattering".

Are your parents looking for a pediatrician for you? Of course, you're almost a big girl now, you'll be needing another kind of doctor soon, won't you? That's okay though. They can still bring you to me until then. What's your name? You have beautiful hair. I was just on my way to get some suckers for the candy jar in my office. Do you like suckers?"

Thankfully, we were nearing my house, so I ran forward, up the back steps and into through the kitchen door. I didn't know it then, but that was the beginning of a very long, very scary ordeal. It didn't take long after that for "Dr. Ramsey" to begin showing up. At first, it seemed benign least to a kid. He would drive by nearly every day, smiling and waving. I told my mom, who said maybe it was on his way home from work. But then, the phone calls began.

My dad called me into the living room, and sat me down. He asked about the day Dr. Ramsey followed me home, and if I talked to him. He said I wasn't in trouble, but that I needed to tell him the truth. I told him no, and he asked if I was sure...could I be forgetting something? I told him no again, and he frowned, then asked: "Then how does he know your name?" I didn't know.

It turns out, that was not all he knew. He knew my sister's name as well. Pretty soon, neither my sister or I were allowed to answer the phone. He called several times a day; at first, neither of us knew what he was saying. Then, one night, one of my brothers told us that he was telling my parents that he was going to hurt me (and later, my sister).

Things got complicated after that. My dad had called the authorities, but as this was before there were any stalking laws, there was not a lot they could do. They told my parents to call back if he "tried anything". When access to me was completely denied, things escalated. It was around this time he began threatening my sister as well.

Then one afternoon my sister, two of my brothers, my mom and I were in the kitchen. One of my brothers saw a glimpse of someone in the garage; they'd seen him too. Dr. Ramsey came bolting out of the garage, my brothers chasing after him. They ran all the way to Cherokee Park, where he lost them in the trees. My parents called 9-1-1 again, but nothing came of it. The only information they had was a description and a name that was almost certainly fake.

His phone calls became more informative in the meantime. He would talk about who was home, and who wasn't. If my brother would say my dad was home, he would tell him who was really in the house. He also would talk about the house itself...about the window in the kitchen he could easily open with a blade from the outside even when it was locked, and about the French doors that connected the living room to the side porch and how the lock could be finagled from the outside if you jiggled it just right. That night, my dad put in some carpenter nails at the bottom of the French doors until he could get a new lock ordered.

My parents had to go to a company event for my dad's work. My older brothers were at Saints West roller-skating rink. My sister was on the phone with her best friend. My little brother was on the floor asleep. I was watching Devo on the Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack. It was late. Suddenly, the top of the French doors swung inward, and in the few milliseconds before the nails in the bottom caused them to snap back, I could see his silhouette.

My sister whipped the phone at the television, and we ran up the stairs. About halfway up, we realized our little brother was still asleep on the living room floor. As quietly as we could, we slipped back down the stairs to get him. We all went into our bedroom and didn't turn on the light; this way we could see outside. We watched out the window for a while, and when we didn't find him, we crept down the hall to our brothers' room to look.

We looked down and could see someone standing at the backdoor. He knocked, loudly. "What do you want?" my sister asked out the window. He stepped back and said "Is this the Mercy residence? I have a pizza for delivery. Can you come to the door?" She scoffed at him, declaring she was not stupid, she could see he didn't have a pizza, and she was calling the authorities. He left.

We were at the table playing crazy eights, and my brother was restless. My sister asked him what's wrong, and he said he always felt like any minute now there would be a 'boom boom boom!' on a door or window. Almost immediately after he finished his sentence, "BOOM BOOM BOOM!" on the window right behind him. In the chaos, the two eldest ran out, but he was already gone.

A couple of weeks later, I was at school and we were outside on the playground during recess. I was swinging upside down when I saw that now-familiar blue Ford Galaxy cruising by, moving slowly. There he was, smiling and waving. He called my name, and I ran to the teacher and told her. The school had been told all about him, and she took me inside right away and called my mom. That same day my mom had gotten a call from the school office asking her to verify that my dad was picking me up, as he'd called to say he was on his way. He wasn't.

Not long after that, I woke up one night, thirsty. I went down to the kitchen for a drink and there, sitting alone in the dark, was my dad. On the table, a gun. He was tired of the officers waiting until Dr. Ramsey "tried something," he was tired of his children being terrorized, he was tired of being afraid every time he left for work that something would happen to us while he was gone. I sat with him for a time, watching, before he sent me back to bed.

These events, and many more, took place over a period of around 18 months. Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. He had vanished from our lives; the phone calls, the drive-by with the creepy waves, everything. For a long time, during and after the Dr. Ramsey days, I would have a recurring nightmare in which I would wake up to find him standing over me as I slept. It took a long time before I felt like a kid again.

I found out years later that when he was calling, Dr. Ramsey would tell my parents that he was going to defile and kill me, and later my sister...and that there was nothing they could do about it. I don't know what happened to him when he disappeared. I don't know if he was in a car wreck, locked in prison, in a coma...but sometimes I wonder if the wait ended for my dad when he was sitting in the darkened kitchen one night. I don't know, and I'm not sure I want to.

Embarrassing Things Toddlers Have Said factsShutterstock

25. Unwelcome Visitors

One night after having a few drinks, I came home to my small house where I lived with two other girls, probably around 2:30am. We were all serious students (I was probably the least serious, actually), and when we partied it was not your typical UCSB mega-rager. More like a small get together with friends. We would often have a few people spend the night, sleep on our furniture our in our beds as the case may be.

That night my roommates had had a few people over whom I didn't know, and I saw when I returned home that one of them had opted to sleep on the couch from the shadow that I saw there (I didn't turn the light, so I wouldn't wake anyone up). But as I was passing the couch to enter my bedroom, I noticed that the figure was lying very stiff.

He just had this weird energy to him. He was lying down, but it was like he was putting all of his energy into lying as still and rigid as possible. I paused, and the guy quickly jerked his head to face me, without moving his limbs, so quickly that it startled me. I could see his wide-open eyes glinting in the dark.

Figuring that I'd startled him or that he'd drank too much or was maybe on some kind of stimulant and unable to sleep, I just hurried past into my bedroom and locked the door. The dude made me nervous and I wasn't taking any chances. I fell asleep. At 4:30 am I woke up. There was a strange sound at the door almost like somebody was drumming their fingers against the wood very quietly.

I lay still and listened. There were more quiet sounds like someone scratching the door with their fingers, which got louder and louder until it was clear that he was using both hands and scratching as fast and as hard as possible. It created an extremely loud and intimidating sound that filled me with fear.

I got my cell phone and texted my roommate because I was afraid to make a sound. "Your friend is freaking me out, is he coked out? Can you talk to him? He's banging and scratching on my door". She didn't text me back, probably because she was asleep. I texted my other roommate to the same effect, covering all my bases. Keep in mind that the scratching has been going on at this point for a couple of minutes. I have no idea how he could have sustained it, scratching a wooden door with your fingernails can't feel good. He also grabbed at the knob and jiggled it super forcefully.

Because neither of them answered, I decided to call and really wake them up, though I was scared to make a sound. I know it sounds stupid but there was something seriously horrifying about being teased like this through the door. I knew that he was trying to terrify me. I felt like a little kid but I could tell this guy was up or something and maybe the authorities needed to be called, and I wanted to loop my roommates in since it was one of their friends.

The scratching stopped abruptly, and I called my roommate, who answered sleepily. "Yo, your friend is messed up, can you please deal with it? Do we need to call 9-1-1? He's seriously scaring me and he was scratching at my bedroom door, really weird". She didn't say anything for several seconds and when she did speak, her voice had no sleepiness in it at all. "What friend?" She said".

That guy that was sleeping on the couch!" I said. She was quiet again. "We didn't have any guys over," she said. "Call 9-1-1". My adrenaline surged, and I told her to please lock the bedroom door as quickly as possible. I realized that I hadn't heard scratching in a while and I had no clue where the dude had gone.

Suddenly I heard a loud banging in the other end of the house, where my roommates, Lauren and Monica, shared a bedroom. The bangs were followed by the sound of them screaming in fear. I quickly dialed 9-1-1 as this maniac proceeded to bang against the (luckily) locked bedroom door of my two roommates as they screamed. The heaviness of the blows left no doubt that he was trying to break the door down.

I'd told the 9-1-1 operator the situation and she'd dispatched two squad cars. At one point the banging stopped and everything was quiet for a while. I talked with the dispatcher and suddenly looked down to see that this guy had slipped his fingers through the 1-inch gap between my door and the floor and was just kind of waggling them around, making this weird growling sound. I screamed and backed away, which is my biggest regret about this situation, since when I look back it would have been so awesome to just stomp the heck out of those fingers and hear the guy howl in pain.

When the authorities rolled up, I heard running and the sound of our sliding glass door opening and closing, and then he was gone. The officers never caught him. He had broken in through our side door by jimmying the lock somehow. My door was covered in what turned out to be huge gauges he'd made using a pair of scissors, which he discarded on the ground before he left.

What terrifies me most about this was that I walked right past him. I looked him right in the face. I realize now that he was not trying to sleep or on illicit substances but was lying so stiff like that because he was hiding. He probably heard me open the door and freaked out because he hadn't realized there was another girl living there and tried to blend into the couch in the darkness.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsShutterstock

26. Leave It, Don’t List It

This is a popular story with my family and most of my friends. Amanda is my brother's girlfriend. At the time of this story, she was looking for her first apartment and moving out from her parents' house. Her and my brother didn't want to move in together since they had only dated for a few months. She opted instead to search for a roommate online. Browsing Craigslist, she found an ad titled something like "Roommate Wanted: Females Only". This sort of thing was common since the area she was looking in was mostly young professionals.

The listing was for a room in a house for about $225 a month, which was quite cheap compared to most of the places listed. The occupant listed herself as a 23-year-old college student that wasn't comfortable with living with any males. The other roommate would have their own room and attached bathroom. So far, Amanda was into this place. However, the listing only had a single photo from outside the property. Amanda sent an email wanting to meet the occupant and tour the house. Within 30 minutes, she receives an email back with all the details and time to stop by. The girl worked late hours and wanted Amanda to stop by at 8pm.

When Amanda arrives, there is a handwritten note on the front door saying, "Door broken, use back door". Walking around the house, it looks nice but slightly unkempt: tall grass, weeds, dusty windows, etc. Still no alarms for Amanda though. When she knocks on the backdoor and an older man opens the door. At first, Amanda thinks she has the wrong house, but the man reassures her and says that the occupant (I forget the name) was out and he was the landlord. The occupant asked him to meet Amanda since she was working late. He seemed pleasant and offered to show her around.

Alarms start going off but aren't at red alert yet. First, the guy was clearly in his 40s, unshaven, and looked like he lived in his car. Also, only the kitchen light was on. As they walked around the house, Amanda noticed one huge red flag: No furniture. Nothing. The landlord was polite about answering questions but seemed irritable to keeping lights on for too long, rushing her around and only letting her look at rooms for a few moments.

There was a single room that the landlord wouldn't open, telling her that it was the occupant's room and he didn't want to invade her privacy. As they walk down the hallway into the living room, she notices the front door has a plank nailed across it. "Broken" for sure. Amanda's creep-o-meter is started to ding so she decides to wrap up the walk-through and leave but trying to polite.

As she's giving the guy her "thanks for the showing" bit, he perks up and states that he forgot to show her the basement. It's recently furnished and would be a great rec room...and she should take a look down there. At the time, Amanda and the landlord are standing in the small hallway between the front living room and the back kitchen. In this little hallway was the basement door. When he opens the door, it opens outward to create something of a barrier between Amanda and the backdoor. The basement is pitch black. He smiles, motions down the stairs, and says "Ladies first".

What happens next is nothing more than a stroke of luck. Amanda got a text just as some random person parks in front of the house. Thinking on her feet, she pretends it's a phone call and answers her phone. "Hey! Yeah, are you here? I'll come out from around back and let you in. It's great, you have to see it". With a motion of confidence, she excuses herself around the landlord and walks out of the back door. She says the guy just looked at her like he was confused. Once outside, she sprinted to her car and sped like crazy out of there. When Amanda got home, she told her mother and my brother everything. Authorities were called, they took her statement, and went to investigate. The Craigslist post had been removed.


The house had been foreclosed over six months earlier and the property had been abandoned. When the authorities investigated, they found that the closed room the "landlord" didn't want her to look in was where the man had been staying. There was a pile of old dirty blankets, rotten food, and empty gallon jugs everywhere. Creepier was he had plastered ripped up pages from adult mags on ALL the walls in the room (where do they even find adult mags!?).

The really scary part of this was the basement. The man had tied a thin piece of fishing twine at about shin level across the stairs about halfway down. The basement was empty except another pile of old blankets, a broom handle wrapped in leather belts, and a small box with a few rolls of assorted tape (duct, electric, etc). Amanda ended up not moving in.

Disturbing Interactions With Strangers factsPixabay


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