Unforgettable Strangers Leave Their Mark

September 12, 2023 | Violet Newbury

Unforgettable Strangers Leave Their Mark

Daily run-ins with strangers are part of everyday life, and these interactions usually go by without a hitch. However, sometimes an encounter goes beyond two people just crossing paths, and a chance meeting leaves a lasting impression. These Redditors share their experiences with strangers who, as Nat King Cole would say, are “unforgettable in every way".

1. Flight Of Fancy

When I was a kid, I flew by myself for the first time. At the airport, when I was about to check in, I spotted an elderly lady looking at me deeply. At first, I thought I had accidentally hit her or something, so I asked if she needed anything. She shook her head. I didn’t give it much importance, so I just checked in and headed to my plane.

Later, already on the plane, I saw the very same lady looking for her seat. I helped her and asked her what number her seat was. She handed me her ticket and my blood ran cold. She was in “B37". I’ll never forget it because I was “C37". She sat right next to me.

I was scared because I was a kid, and I wasn’t used to coincidences. When we arrived and were waiting for the plane to land for us to head out, she finally said, “You know, you really look like my daughter. I even thought you were her!

“But she passed five years ago, silly me. Here, this is her with my grandkids". She handed me her phone with a zoomed-in picture. I was paralyzed when I saw her daughter. She looked EXACTLY like me, but she was 28, and I was only 10. I couldn’t even talk.

Now that I am older, every time I look in the mirror for my birthday, I remember that lady and the picture. I am a living photo of her daughter. Every year that goes by, is a year that I look more like her.


2. A Case Of Double Vision

I was with someone at the hospital, waiting for their medical transport to pick us up, and I saw who I thought was my husband across the street. My husband was supposed to be at work, so I was confused.

I called out to him, but he didn’t respond. My patient and I walked over to him, but I stopped short a few feet away because I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t actually him.

His clothes were different, and this man was assisting someone in a caregiving-type role, whereas my husband absolutely would not do that. The guy noticed me staring at him, so I explained why and even showed him a picture of my husband.

He swore that was a picture of him, and this was all some practical joke. I had to show him pictures of my husband and me together for him to realize the pictures were not of him.

This man could have been his identical twin. I often think of that encounter and how insane it was. I also think of the astronomical chances that not only did my husband have a doppelganger but that we lived in the same city for a while, and I happened to cross paths with him.

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3. A Passing Grade?

When I was in college, a classmate of mine broke down in tears out of nowhere during a lecture. It was very noticeable since she sat at the front of the class near the professor. Everyone looked on awkwardly as we didn’t know what was going on.

I didn’t know or talk to her, but I later found out from other classmates that she wasn’t doing too well in the class. It was her third time retaking the course, so her stress had built up, and she had a panic attack because repeating a course more than three times got you booted out of the program.

She eventually calmed down and left the classroom. But to this day, I still wonder whether she passed the class or not, especially considering that the final exam was very difficult.

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4. She Melted My Heart

I was having a rough day, and I thought I'd get an ice cream to cheer myself up. I was standing in line, and this old lady looked at me and asked if I was okay. I said I was fine and just had a rough day. I got up to the front to get my ice cream, and she told the cashier, "I've got this young man. He's had a rough day". She smiled at me and said, “Enjoy your ice cream". I still think of her whenever I have a rough day. I send her my good vibes.

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5. Culture Shock

A stranger I interacted with at Walmart years ago is still engraved in my brain. I was with my mom shopping, and we found ourselves in the yogurt section. I love the stuff, so I was looking around at all the flavors pretty carefully.  After searching for a little while, an older man came up and started searching as well.

He was in his mid-40s or early 50s. I remember him being really tall, and his features were similar to mine—he had my build, the same skin complexion, the same hair color, you name it. As we were searching, he chuckled and said how he’s got to find the perfect flavor, and I agreed with him.

It was our little mission to find the best kind, and I had a lighthearted feeling just searching through the brands and flavors with him. He asked what my favorite flavor was, and it turned out we had the same favorite. I thought that was pretty cool. We kept searching, and he introduced himself with the shortened nickname of my name.

He then found the ones he wanted, which were the same brand as the ones I was getting. He put them into his cart, smiled at me, and rolled away. I have not seen him since, but every time I remember the story, I can't help but think that there's always a possibility I have met my future self, even if it's silly.

Unforgettable StrangersFreepik, freepik

6. She Was A Whole Other Kettle Of Fish

I was walking to work past a homeless shelter pickup spot. It was a sunny day in the middle of summer. A small lady was standing on the sidewalk wearing rain boots, a yellow raincoat, and wrapped completely in a blue vinyl tarp. As I walked by her, she leaned into me, looked me in the eye, and said, “Fish monster?" I still think about her.

I wonder whether she thought that I was a fish monster. Or was she concerned that I had seen a fish monster? Perhaps she felt I was unprepared, and her questioning tone was more about if I’d heard about the potential of fish monsters. It was such a surreal, complex interaction in just two words. One thing I know for certain is that whatever the fish monster's status was, she was clearly the best prepared of everyone present.

Unforgettable StrangersFlickr, V.T. Polywoda

7. The Most Important Meal Of Her Day

An old lady who lived next door to me had a key from the past renter. She walked into my place and made us breakfast, thinking I was the same lady who had lived there previously. She didn’t realize I was a different person. We talked about her grandson joining the academy, and she was worried but proud of him. She passed that night.

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8. A Total Angel

When I was fresh out of college, I drove over two hours away for a job interview only to find myself in a world of trouble. I got into a car accident a block away from the building and my car was completely totaled. A woman who was stopped at the stop sign near the incident pulled over and got out to make sure I was okay.

I was completely fine physically, but I had very bad anxiety and immediately had a panic attack. I was sobbing and couldn’t catch my breath. This complete stranger sat with me the entire time, telling me to breathe and just being caring and supportive.

She waited with me for the authorities to come, she helped me talk them through what happened, and called my mom for me. She even called the office I was headed to so she could let them know about the accident and that I would call them to reschedule my interview.

As if that wasn’t enough, once she found out that I was so far away from home and it was going to take my mom two hours to get to me, she canceled her meeting that she was already late for so that she could drive me halfway. She didn’t think it was a big deal whatsoever. She just stepped up to the plate to help without question.

I would have been completely alone and lost without her that day. She was an angel, honestly. I lost her business card between all the paperwork from the accident, and I’ve been beating myself up over it for the last five years.

All I want is to call her and tell her how thankful I am and that I’ve kept her in my thoughts ever since. Roxanne, if you’re out there, thank you so so much. And please, for the love of God, send me your last name so I can send you some flowers!

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9. A Would-Be Steamy Encounter

I went into a Starbucks just before they closed, so I was the only person there at the time. There was a pretty cute girl who served me and made a comment about the band on my shirt. We then had a short conversation, joking about music and current local events.

All seemed tame, like she was just being nice and making conversation, until she pointed out that she drew a love heart out of steamed milk in my coffee. Unfortunately, I was too awkward and stupid to realize the connotations of that comment until I was on the train home.

Unforgettable StrangersFlickr, HAO XING

10. Lifted Spirits

When my brother was 24, he lost his life to leukemia. Obviously, it was devastating, but he was more like my firstborn child than my brother. I was 13 when he was born, and I loved him without end. My brother and my son had an incredible bond. Even though my son wasn't even one when my brother went off to college, they still managed to create something pretty awesome.

My son's nickname was given to him by my brother. My son was five when my brother passed, and my daughter was 10. One of my biggest fears was that my kids would forget him. In the fall of the following year, my kids and I were at a family scouting event. As soon as we walked up to the archery area, I spotted my brother's 17-year-old lookalike.

I was instantly giddy and wanted to hug this stranger. His mannerisms were exactly the same, and even the way he spoke was similar. I had been struggling with the loss of my brother, and at that moment, I felt absolute joy. While my daughter was putting away her equipment, my son said, "Mom, that guy right there reminds me of Uncle M.

“It made me smile because it felt like he was right here with us". I was fighting back happy sobs. My little boy absolutely remembered his uncle. A few moments later, as we were walking away, my daughter said, "Mom, everything about that guy was Uncle M. It was so weird but cool, too".

I seriously wanted to run back and get my picture taken with him. My son and I were back at that same scout camp later that winter but didn't see him.

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11. Father-Son Duet

I was a host at an Italian family restaurant, and it was PACKED. We had a spaghetti meatball promotion where it was half off the menu price, for dine-in and take-out. This guy, Dave, asked for a table and we told him there was a 45-minute wait. My co-host asked him for his name, to which he replied, “If I give you my name, what will people call me by?"

It was a bonkers response, but he kept going, cracking jokes left and right. He tried to guess my co-host’s name but weirdly guessed my name. He was waiting, and this other guy came up and asked if another table would mind if he sat down with them. We told him that we couldn’t do that and he offered to sing for them, which was also a no.

After a while, we got Dave seated and the evening was smooth sailing. It was slowing down, and I was helping the busser clean out a few booths when I heard some traditional Italian singing that was almost operatic. It was Dave and his dad. They were singing to the people at the table next to them. I will never forget Dave. Never.

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12. A Ride On The Struggle Bus

I was about 16 and getting on the bus home from school. It was always super crowded, and you'd be really lucky to get a spot on it before the driver closed the doors and drove off. You could wait for four or five buses before one came along that you could get on.

My friends and I had been really lucky that day and managed to squeeze into the first one. The lady behind us started begging to be let on, saying she had a job interview. The bus driver said he was sorry, but he legally couldn't because of how many people were on.

He kept asking us to move down, but there wasn't any room. People were starting to get mad and telling him to just go. The woman started sobbing. At the time, we'd all been hit really hard by the economic crash, and jobs were hard to come by.

It was the first time I'd really seen an adult in such distress publicly; it broke my heart. So, my friend and I just got off, and she got on. We didn't even look at her or exchange any words. The bus was free for teenagers, so all we lost was the 30 minutes we would have normally waited anyway.

I still think about her from time to time and hope she got that job. I can't imagine how it must have felt to be that desperate.

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13. Sugar-Coating The Sadness

I was doing last-minute Father’s Day shopping with my son for my husband. There was a young lady crying in the card section—full-on, broken-hearted, ugly crying. I looked at her and thought, “Poor thing, I hope she’s okay". We finished our shopping, lined up to check out, and she was still there. She would pick up a card, look at it, burst into fresh tears, put it back, then compose herself and lose it all over again.

By now, my heart was breaking for her, so I sent my son off to grab a box of chocolates. We bought our stuff and waited outside for her. When she came out, I grabbed the chocolates, approached her, and said, “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s none of my business, but I got these for you. I promise things will get better".

She burst into tears, grabbed me in a hug, and said, “My dad passed two days ago". We sat down, and she told me about her dad and how she wanted to put a Father’s Day card in his coffin with the present she’d gotten him. We went our separate ways when she saw how late it was, but I’ve always wondered how she made it through her first Father’s Day without her dad and how she’s doing now.

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14. Hospital Helper

When I was young, my mom got really sick and was screaming in pain as she drove herself and me to the hospital.  When we got there, she passed out in the car. I ran up to the hospital and got a wheelchair. She managed to somehow flop herself into the chair and passed out again.

The hospital was uphill, and I was too weak to push her; she was too heavy. A stranger came out of nowhere, wheeled her in, and made enough ruckus to get her immediate attention. Her small intestine and large intestines had disconnected, and she had to spend the next two months in the hospital.

I never saw that guy again, but I think about him all the time, and I’d like to thank him one day.

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15. Apology Accepted

I got held up, and the perpetrators were taken into custody shortly after. At the sentencing, which was about nine months later, the judge read my victim impact statement, which I had written the day after the incident happened. I had mentioned something in that statement about being afraid. After the sentencing was over, I was getting ready to leave when a teenage boy came up to me.

He asked if he could speak to me. He was the son of the man who held me up. He told me not to be afraid anymore and apologized for what his dad did. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about this 10 years later. I hope he knows how much that meant—and still means—to me.

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16. Disaster Relief To The Rescue

Until my most recent car, I’ve always driven old junkers that somehow managed to get me to and from work. I stopped driving junk cars after one day when things took a turn for the worst. My metallic orange 1996 Chevy Corsica was bottoming out the brakes when I was stopped too long at lights and shut down entirely.

I drifted off to the side, called my parents and job to let them know what was going on, and just had to wait for help to show up. There was no shoulder for me to pull onto, and cars were whizzing past fast enough to shake my car, which I was sweating to bits inside of because none of my cars had AC.

I watched the cars go by and saw about two cruisers come and go without so much as a pause, which was weird given where I was stuck and my hazards were on. An undercover car pulled up behind me, and a sweet middle-aged guy asked what was up.

I let him know I was just waiting for help to push the car to the other side of the road, since there was a shoulder there. He had me hop out and make sure that there really wasn’t any way to move it without some extra muscle and then let me hang in his car so I could get some air.

I left the door cracked just to be safe, but he was nice about it all. He had the lights inside going, and the radio was crackling things I barely understood, but he seemed legit enough. It turned out he was disaster relief. He told me how he helped out when Sandy hit, how he noticed officers drove past without checking in on me, and how he would be reporting them for it.

He was a super chill dude, and I had to ask why—if he’s just disaster relief—did he stop by?  He said that he hoped someone would do the same for his daughter. Eventually, my help showed up, and everything was settled. I thanked him profusely, but I still think about him. It warms my heart to remember that people do things just to be nice sometimes, too.

Unforgettable StrangersFreepik, freepik

17. Dude Got Burned!

When my girlfriend and I were 17, we were looking for street parking at a local festival. I stopped at a stop sign across from the firehouse. A car slammed into me, breaking my tail lights. The middle-aged guy with his daughter got out and started screaming at me, then opened my door and dragged me out. The authorities came, and the guy knew he was toast.

He was charged with a moving violation, assault, and some other stuff. His daughter was the most mortified person I have ever seen. Those firefighters were all out in front of the station enjoying the festival, in full view of everything. I couldn’t get better witnesses. I think about that guy all the time.

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18. One Look Is All It Took

I was working at a grocery store as a cashier when I witnessed the most amazing thing. A woman came into the line, and the best way I could describe her was “light as a feather”—as if not a worry in the world would ever phase her.

She had her baby up top in the cart, and the baby started crying. At that point, I was expecting the standard, “Shh, shh, shh, it's okay, mommy's here. I'm so sorry", but she didn’t react as most parents did.

She just gracefully turned her head, looked at the kid lovingly, and the kid stopped crying. She could just show that kid that everything's going to be okay with one trusting look. I had never seen anything that beautiful and sincere happen before in my life.

I had to stop and just question everything. Whoever that woman was, it just made me think there are some amazing human beings that exist out there and I may never encounter one like that ever again.

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19. This Guy Left Me Stumped

In my early twenties, I needed a lot of attention and didn’t have a smartphone. I also didn’t have many friends, so I’d go sit outside this Starbucks and drink iced tea and journal. I really was writing, but I was also looking for someone to talk to me, and I got it. He was much much older, a little run down, but had bright eyes and the gift of gab.

I was insufferably into myself, and during our conversation, he asked what I was into—men, women, or what? Being the edgy little art chick I was, I replied, “I’m into men, women, and trees". I will never forget how his face changed. His eyes widened, his eyebrows came up in the center, his mouth fell open ever so slightly, and his tongue protruded a bit over his lower teeth.

He said, “Trees? You too?" He was serious. I didn’t know what to do, so I pretended I was serious and was treated to a half-hour account of his intimate relations with trees. I never used that line again. Eight years down the road, I think of this moment at least once a week.

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20. She Found Peace On Earth

I was 16 and was having a terrible day, but I had a couple of bucks and went to a McDonald’s. I was at a table for two. There weren't any other seats left, so this older woman asked if she could sit with me. I found out that when she was 16, she had run away and a convent took her in, in exchange for chores, until she got married.

Then, her husband passed some years later. They had no kids, and she didn't have any family left. So, she went back to the convent and struck the same deal. I am now in my 30s, and it still amazes me how peaceful she was when I remember her.

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21. Psychological Perspective

One night after school, two teachers and my school’s principal were hosting an informational night about a new research class my high school was integrating. It was supposed to be a college-level class where you’re basically writing a senior thesis, and you learn a lot about proper research. Another student in my class and I also helped present.

We were asked to talk about our research projects to students interested in taking the class. Toward the end of the presentation, we had a Q&A session, and one parent asked, “How can we support our children through this process?" I basically told them to try and learn more about their child’s passion that they were researching.

My research was related to psychology, and I mentioned how my dad wasn’t totally on board with it. I ended up oversharing about it, but I did my best to make it sound as professional as possible. At the end of the presentation, when most people were leaving, one parent in the audience came up to me and wholeheartedly reassured me that majoring in psychology in college put every aspect of her life in a new light.

She said people who talked trash about social sciences have “no idea what they’re missing out on". What she said really meant a lot to me as I struggled a lot with trying to make my dad happy. I had to hold back tears. It wasn’t really a huge act on that parent’s part, but it was just so touching, and it meant a lot to me.

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22. An Exercise In Futility?

I was in a Trader Joe’s when I saw this frail-looking man looking at this really buff dude in awe. I don’t know why, but I wanted to see what would happen to this guy,  so I watched.

He went up to the big guy, tapped him on the shoulder, said, “One day I’m gonna be like you”. Then, he did something totally unexpected—he started doing push-ups right there. I had to leave with my parents, but he had done about 30 push-ups without stopping. I hope he’s buff now.

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23. There Were No Words

I had just started studying abroad in Japan and got into an accident with my bike. I didn't speak one word of Japanese. I didn't know how severe it was at first, but I was unable to stand or walk. Some people tried to help me, including this one middle-aged woman.

A younger girl who was also there and spoke a little English said I had to go to the hospital just in case but said I shouldn't call an ambulance because it would be expensive. I waited for a long time on the sidewalk while this middle-aged woman called her friend with a car.

They took me to the hospital, and she bought me one of those warm milky coffees from the vending machines and held my hand the entire time until the nurses took me to check out my wounds. We didn't exchange a single word other than me repeatedly saying, "Arigato", because that was all I knew how to say.

Once I got out of surgery a few hours later, she was gone, but I still think about her from time to time. It amazes me how much she went out of her way for a complete stranger who didn't even speak the same language. The memory still warms my heart; I wish I could have thanked her more.

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24. She Saved My Neck

I was at an EDM concert alone and dancing in the middle of the crowd, having an OK time trying to forget about a recent breakup. My neck was hurting, and in between more "dancy" parts, I was absentmindedly reaching up to the back of my neck and massaging it to hopefully make it feel a bit better. This went on for a while until a random girl started massaging my neck.

I could tell it was a girl's hands instantly. Her wrists had been spritzed earlier in the night with some kind of gardenia scent. Her hands were so soft, and they knew exactly where to press and pull to make my shoulders and neck feel restored. After the first 40 or 50 seconds, I turned just a bit to get a look at her and to at least thank her, but she just leaned into my ear and said something along the lines of, "Just relax and enjoy it".

After a couple of minutes, I turned around, hugged her, and said, "Thank you so much, that means more than you could ever think it does". She just smiled mischievously and slinked away in the crowd with her girlfriends. I think about her semi-frequently because I wish I had at least given her my number, but I was kind of out of it, and she seemed intent on getting back to her friends through the crowd.

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25. Divine Intervention

I was once in a really dark place. Things were so awful that I was contemplating taking my life. I had recently lost my job and dropped out of college. I would go to the library every day and sit for hours researching ways to end my life and trying to work up the courage to do so. One day, a middle-aged man approached me and said I looked familiar. He said I was about his daughter's age and asked if I was a friend of hers.

I had never seen this guy before in my life, but he persisted that he must know me. He told me he was a reverend and that he was actually looking for a part-time secretary at his church and that if I was interested, I should give him a call. He wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and left. I never did call him. I felt too ashamed and unworthy, but this random small gesture stayed with me.

Little by little and day by day, I was able to come out of my depression. I wholeheartedly believe he was sent by some divine intervention. This was over 15 years ago, and I still have that piece of paper locked away with all of my important documents. Whenever I come across it, I remember him and remember that no matter what, I will be okay.

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26. Her Kindness Made A Dent In My Life

When I was a teenager, I accidentally backed into a lady's spotless fancy car at a gas station. I just left a dent, but I was panicked and distraught. I talked to her, was going to give her my information, and was hyperventilating a bit because this hadn't happened to me before.

She seemed to think for a minute and said, "It's about time this car had a dent". She refused to take my information and drove away. I still think about her kindness to my stupid teenage self.

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27. Stranger In The Night

One night, when I was walking home, a man catcalled me from his car. I ignored him, but then the guy got out of the car and began to follow me home. I was so scared, but for some reason, I didn’t call the authorities because I didn’t want to inconvenience them. I picked up my pace and, at some point, began running, but the man continued to follow me.

About a mile into the chase, I heard footsteps getting really close. I turned around to hit the man, but this time there was a scary-looking 18-year-old boy. He told me that the man who was following me had told him how he was going to “take me” and that the creep was recording me. The boy offered to walk me home to make sure I got there safely. I took him up on his offer and got home safe. I appreciate what he did for me.

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28. A Rendezvous With Destiny

When I was in high school, I used to have a recurring dream about a really cute girl. She wasn't my girlfriend or anything, but from time to time she would always be in them, and I would wake up feeling happy. I didn't think too much of it, and didn't know I was in for a big surprise.

In my second year of college, I met her. She had short bobbed hair, bangs, and a beautiful face like she had just come out of a painting—a Chinese Mona Lisa. She was even more beautiful than in my dreams.

She occasionally passed me by on campus, always crossing paths, but never in the same direction. I'd always wanted to say something but never knew what to say or if I should say anything at all. Finally, in my senior year, she strolled right into my English seminar on 19th Century British Lit and took a seat next to me.

I was flabbergasted! She was in my major. It was clear we had a similar interest in literature, and there she was sitting next to me. It was like destiny pushing us together; however, I spent my whole final semester never speaking to her.

That was it. I never saw her again and never dreamed about her again. I still think about her every so often and what could've been.

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29. Spring Break Bump-In

I was on a flight to China for a heritage tour over spring break. On the way there in a check-in line, I was struggling with something. This really cute Asian guy helped me with it and then carried on. I thought nothing of it. He then ended up being on the same flight as me. Two weeks later, he ended up being on the flight back as well.

I didn't realize it until we were on the shuttle going back to the airport. He recognized me and said a few quick words in Mandarin with a smile, then walked off. I was adopted and didn’t understand Mandarin. I still don't know what it is he said.

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30. Fool To Think He Was A Regular Guy

I was living in Nantucket and would go to a bar alone on weekday nights, so I got to know the bartender there. One night, I sat down, and another guy and I were the only ones there.  Naturally, he, the bartender, and I all got to talking. We sat there and joked around all night, talking about weed and sports, and bought each other a few brews. Toward the end of the night, I asked what he did for work. The guy was Dave Mathews.

Unforgettable StrangersWikimedia Commons, Moses

31. Best Of All, They Were Finally Gone

I was about 12 or 13 years old. One evening, I was walking to my psychiatrist for my weekly appointment. It was a half-hour walk and after dark. I enjoyed walking, especially after dark when things were quiet and peaceful, and no one else was around.

I didn't live in a dangerous neighborhood nor did my walk take me through any dangerous neighborhoods. I never would have thought it would turn into the scariest night of my life.

As I was about halfway to my destination, a car—a Cadillac—came driving down the street. Some people in the car, both male and female, were sticking themselves halfway out the windows, taunting and jeering me as they drove by. They were in their late teens or early 20s.

I ignored them and kept on walking. About a minute or two later, the same car came down the street again. They were jeering and taunting me again. I didn’t know who they were. I continued to ignore them and kept walking.

Another minute or so went by, and they again came driving down the street. Now I was worried, and knew they had dark intentions. They were circling the block over and over, deliberately focusing on me. As soon as they reached the corner and made their turn and were out of sight, I ducked behind some bushes in someone’s front yard and waited.

The car came again down the street. This time, not seeing me walking down the street, they weren’t jeering. They passed right by me and turned the corner. I figured they thought I had finally reached my destination and drove away, but I was wrong. I left my hiding place and went back on my way to the psychiatrist, and they approached again, spotting me.

This time, I ran towards my destination, but I knew I wouldn’t get far before they would catch up with me again. So, I decided to hide again behind some bushes in front of an apartment building, this time resolving to stay there for good until the jerks gave up their search. I wasn’t hiding there for long before the guy whose apartment I was in front of popped out and asked me what I was doing hiding in his bushes.

He probably thought I was a burglar or a guy using his bushes as a toilet, but I explained what was going on. He could instantly tell from the tone of my voice and my facial expressions that I was telling him the truth; he could see how scared I was. Just then, the car came down the street and pulled right up to the curb directly in front of us.

They looked at us. The car wasn’t as full now. The guy I was with just gave them a mean stare. He asked me, "You know them?" I told him I did not, and I didn’t have the slightest idea who they were. Just then, as the car was sitting there, about three of them approached walking from the other direction.

They saw me with my tough guy guardian angel and the kids walking towards the car instead got into the car, and it took off. The guy offered to stay with me for a little longer or if I wanted to, to duck into his apartment to stay there until I was sure that it was safe to continue on my journey.

I had a feeling that this was the last I was going to see of those guys and their car, and I didn't want to be late for my appointment. I thanked the guy for his offer but declined. The guy went back into his apartment and closed the door. I looked at the closed door and hoped that I didn't make a mistake by turning him down, but I reached my psychiatrist’s office unharmed.

I told my therapist about what happened, and he insisted on calling the authorities. They came and took a report from me, and that was the last I heard of it. On my way back home, I varied my way home.  I never saw that car or those jerks again.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

32. Almost Taking It To The Street

I was a freshman in college and got into a conversation with a busker. He came extremely close to convincing me to quit school and join him. He told me I was a square peg, that college was taking away my sharp edges so that I’d fit into the societal machine like a proper round peg.

He said he never went hungry and rarely didn’t have a roof over his head, and didn’t mind occasionally sleeping under the stars. I almost went with him, and still wonder what would’ve happened if I did and what my life would be like now.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

33. My Mouth Blacked Out

One time, in my late teens, I was at this goth nightclub in Providence, RI, with some friends, one of which was very well known in the scene. I pointed out a girl who was super duper my type, and said how I'd love the chance to just talk to her. The well-known dude walked up to her, pointed me out, and she casually walked over and sat down next to me.

She said, "So, your friend says you wanted to talk to me?" I completely froze. I don't even think I managed to say "hi", or any words before she realized that I was just some dumb loser, shrugged, and walked away. I was so out of my element and so outclassed that I stopped going back to that club. I wasn't embarrassed, just out of my element. I think about that girl a lot; she was my 10.

Unforgettable StrangersFlickr, Onasill - Bill Badzo - OFF

34. Those Emerald Eyes…

I used to work in a cancer center. After about a year, we saw a patient who only came in for one visit. The physician had told the patient and their family that the aggressive cancer was worse than the initial scan, and there was not much time left. They cried. The physician and I left the room.

When the patient left and was passing me by in the hallway, they put their hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and smiled, then walked away. They passed the next week. Their deep emerald eyes and soft smile haunt me to this day.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

35. She Is Always In My Good Books

When I was a kid, we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar. I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which ones I wanted to get, then decide after I'd gone through them all. One day, an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read.

I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked. Then, she did something incredible. She smiled and pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me, and said, "Promise me that you'll keep reading". I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away, and I went back to my piles able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.

It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of it. This was over 20 years ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

36. Vacation Buddy

In 1994, my family went to Disney and stayed in Port Orleans. One of the pools had a water slide in the shape of a dragon. On the top of the slide, someone had pooped and left this sloppy, water-logged log. Another kid on the way up with me kept me from stepping in it, and we ended up playing in the pool most of the day.

We then met back up and swam until the pool closed. He was from New York, liked a lot of the things I liked, and he reminded me of a friend of mine from school. It was a ton of fun hanging out with him and getting a small break from my little sister and parents.

He either left for home the next day or didn't go to the pool, but I never saw him again. Every time someone mentions Port Orleans, I always think of that kid, and how much fun it was hanging out with a kid I barely knew.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

37. Danger In Full Swing

When I was about six or seven years old, I used to go to a summer day camp. The staff was irresponsible, and the park that the community center sat on was MASSIVE. There was a sandbox, and the swings were in the back.

Behind the sandbox was a huge drop-off with grass and trees for about half a kilometer (a quarter mile) until you hit a fence and the highway on the other side. If you veered to the right, you could walk on forever.

I was always one of the first kids to get there. One early morning, I was outside on the swings. There was an older man there, and he offered to push me. He pushed me on the swings for a while, and we just talked. He and I were the only two in the entire park. After a few minutes, one of the staff came outside and screamed for me to get inside.

She was frantic yet somehow angry at me. She was going on about how I didn’t know what could have happened, that man could have taken me, etc. I went to that summer camp for about five or six years, and that one day was the only time I ever saw that man. I genuinely sometimes wonder if I almost got abducted that day or if the guy really did just want to push a kid on a swing.

Unforgettable StrangersFreepik, wirestock

38. Dear John

My wife and I went to Hawaii and stayed at The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki. We had complimentary breakfast every morning and were invited to some private mixers. After a couple days, something caught our attention. Every morning at breakfast, we would see the same older gentleman by himself having his breakfast.

On our fourth night, we went to one of the mixers, and there was the same elderly gentleman. By then, we’d nodded and seen each other enough at breakfast that my wife and I decided to introduce ourselves to him. His name was John, and he was 94 years old.

He was slightly frail but needed no assistance and had no cane or walker. John had owned a hardware store somewhere in the Midwest and was married. He and his wife never had children. Their favorite place to go on vacation was The Royal Hawaiian, and they spent a week there almost every year. But their story took a tragic turn and John’s wife had passed a couple of years prior.

Luckily, he had sold the hardware store long before that. He took the money from the store and his savings and decided to spend his remaining years in the one place he and his wife were always happiest. He was living at the hotel, using his life savings to pay for his room. The hotel staff seemed to adore him, and there was no doubt why.

He was kind and sweet, and my wife and I enjoyed his stories of coming to Hawaii on vacation almost every year for 60+ years with his wife, and how Hawaii had changed over the years. For the rest of our stay there, we sat and had breakfast with John each morning.

He seemed glad to have “new friends”, and we were glad to have met him. The day we checked out, my wife and I were teary saying our goodbyes. We promised we’d come back soon and see him again. Sadly, we didn’t make it back to Hawaii or The Royal Hawaiian for another 12 years.

None of the staff we spoke to remembered him. But every time since that visit, whenever I think of Hawaii, I think of John, living the last of his time in a beautiful hotel in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

39. A Stranger’s Sweet Words

I had two friends who were like brothers pass within a month of each other. I bought two dresses right before we had a memorial for the first, wore one, and that night the other passed. About a week or so later, I wore the other dress out, and I remember feeling so sad that he would never get to see me in it.

I was waiting for a friend in the lobby of a restaurant, and a man walked up to me on his way out and said I looked beautiful in that dress. My whole heart stopped. I don't think about it often, but when I do, it warms my heart a little. I like to think it was my friend reaching out to me through a living soul.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

40. She Was Right In The Swim Of Things

When I was about six years old, I could not swim at all, and I was on a lazy river ride. I had no clue where my parents were, and it was a recipe for disaster. I slipped off of the tube. I was freaking out underwater for a few seconds when this older lady pulled me out. She put me on my tube, and I floated away never to see her again.

Unforgettable StrangersFlickr, Virginia State Parks

41. A Real Conversation Piece

I met a girl at an airport in Kuala Lumpur. We started chatting and happened to share an interest in having real down-to-earth conversations. We talked about every topic that you're not supposed to discuss with strangers—religion, politics, pro-choice vs. pro-life, etc.

We were on opposite ends of just about every topic, but neither of us ever got offended, and we were able to listen and respect the other person's opinion while also sharing our own. At the end of it all, we went our separate ways. It was one of the greatest conversations I've ever had with a stranger.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

42. A Lost Treasure

I got lost in the hotel I was staying in and stumbled upon a girl dressed as a pirate. She was part of a kid's program, and they took all the kids on a treasure hunt throughout the hotel. I asked her for directions. Instead of telling me, she led me to where I was heading. We had a great conversation, and she told me she worked part-time at a local comic shop near the hotel.

She was working the next day and told me I should stop by. We parted ways, and I couldn't wait for the next day. Unfortunately, my plans changed that day, and I never got to go to the comic shop. I never got her name or number—nothing.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

43. Little League Lookalike

When I was about seven or eight and in little league baseball, my dad introduced me to an old friend of his and his 20-year-old son. They claimed I looked exactly how the son did when he was my age. Now that I’m almost 20, from time to time, I wonder if I now look exactly like he did when we met. Since I only met him once, I can’t remember what he looked like, but I remember that conversation very vividly.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

44. The Big Cheese

I was walking the streets on the Fourth of July in Chicago with my family when we saw something wild. We passed a man who was eating some canned cheese nachos. The cheese was fully covering his chin, just dripping its cheesy ooze. He didn't give a hoot about anyone judging him.

He was so confident in it and just completely dialed into the task at hand, with no regard for anyone else who could be watching. As we passed this man making indecent love to those nachos, we felt like we were intruding. I often think about that man. Those must have been some good nachos.

Unforgettable StrangersFreepik, wayhomestudio

45. Women Stick Together

I had spent a late night at work. The parking lot was full when my shift started, so I ended up parking like a block and a half away. When I was done working, a woman noticed I was being followed. She ran and came up to me, and huddled with me as we walked. She pretended to know me, and she walked me all the way to my car. I never saw her again, but she was literally a sweetheart. I appreciate her guidance that night—it was a gift.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

46. It’s A Small World

A year after graduating from a tiny college in Idaho, I was at Disneyland with a high school buddy. I was totally convinced that I saw a college friend, Adam, in line at Pirates of the Caribbean. I kept waving at him, but he looked at me like I was out of my mind.

My high school friend tried to talk me down, saying that “Adam” clearly had no idea who I was, that it wasn’t him, and that everyone had a twin. The line finally snaked around to where I was standing right next to “Adam".

So, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, aren’t you Adam M?” He replied, “No, I’m his twin brother Aaron". Thirty-four years later, I still tell that story at parties. I only met Aaron that one time, but I always wish him and Adam a very happy birthday on Facebook.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

47. An Open Letter

I was on my way back from Disneyland Paris. I was sitting in the airport, and a guy beside me was typing away on his laptop. Being a little curious at what he was writing, I peeked over. My heart dropped when I saw the title: "The Last Letter I'll Ever Write".

I was frozen for a few minutes. I was 24 and had absolutely no idea what to do. I thought maybe he was a writer and if I asked I would look stupid. Eventually, I turned around to him and said, "Look man, I really hope I'm making a fool of myself, but are you OK?"

That's when I learned the sad truth. It turned out that he and his long-term partner had broken up, and they were meant to be coming on this holiday that he was now on with his dad. He blamed himself, and he'd been going to therapy for a while to get out of a pretty dark place, but some days were better than others.

Writing the letters was an exercise from his therapist. We chatted for a bit about her, his dad, me, and life in general. It turned out his brother lived near me and frequented a coffee shop right by where I used to live. Eventually, my plane got called.

We hugged. I told him I really hoped things would get better for him and that at the very least I had a lovely time talking to him. We parted ways, and I still wonder what happened to him. I hope he's happy now, but I guess I'll never know for sure.

Unforgettable StrangersPexels

48. In-Flight Fright

I was on a long, transatlantic flight, which turned into one of the worst days of my life. An older woman was sitting directly behind me. Her granddaughter had called the flight attendants over in a panic, saying her grandmother was not breathing well and needed help or to lie down—anything. The flight attendants said the flight was full, so she would have to stay where she was and that lying down in the aisles was not permitted.

They mockingly asked her if she wanted them to turn the flight around, saying she would have to pay for everyone's tickets. The granddaughter was pleading for help at that point. She spoke minimal English, and although at the start of the flight it had been announced that the flight attendant spoke her language, no one went to get him.

They asked the granddaughter if she wanted them to give her grandmother oxygen. The granddaughter couldn't understand what she was talking about and asked for a doctor. The flight attendants said it was the granddaughter's responsibility before the flight to make sure her grandmother was in adequate flying condition. They said they would call an ambulance to meet her upon landing—which was over eight hours away—if necessary.

I wish more than anything that I had said something, but we can't predict the unpredictable. I could have never imagined what was about to happen. It was also my first solo flight, and I was 17. I listened to the grandmother's heavy breathing for a while. It sounded strained as she coughed. The granddaughter seemed to calm down after a little while, which I thought was good.

I went to the washroom, and when I came back, there were three flight attendants by the seat. Notably, the one who spoke her language was now there. I heard gasps all around. My most vivid memory, however, was hearing a flight attendant say, "She's not breathing". I sat down in my seat, honestly just hoping beyond belief that they could fix this.

The granddaughter was sobbing behind me. They finally called for a doctor. Everyone on the plane started to stare, trying to get a glimpse of the action. Some even walked past to get closer. I felt sick, just hoping beyond belief that everything would be okay. A retired doctor and an emergency nurse came running. They asked the doctor for advice and got the nurse to start compressions.

I later learned the nurse was on the flight with her very new daughter, who her seatmate was holding while she tried to save this woman's life. I was sitting in the middle seat. The person on the aisle beside me volunteered to move so the granddaughter would have somewhere to sit while the nurse used her seat. I immediately grabbed the girl's hand and just held it tight.

She had stopped crying and was just whispering in her language the same phrase over and over again. The thing that still haunts me, over three years later, is the feeling of my chair rocking as the nurse did compressions, then hearing her say, "I'm going to keep going, but this won't work, she's cold". Per the retired doctor's orders, they brought over the defibrillator.

Hearing "all clear" as I sat only a couple of feet away really dug into the fact that this wasn't going to be okay. I was barely holding myself together, but just squeezed the hand of the granddaughter tighter, trying to give her something to hold onto in one of the most awful moments imaginable. The flight attendants were loud and frankly, incredibly disrespectful.

One just said, "She's gone. We have to get the pilot to confirm with the ground so that we can declare". She was saying this because the nurse had been doing chest compressions for probably 15 minutes, which is hard. She wasn't permitted to stop until the woman had officially been declared deceased. The doctors with whom the pilot was communicating on the ground told him to get the retired doctor on board to call it.

Three and a half hours into the flight, the girl's grandmother was declared deceased. The flight attendants covered the woman with a blanket and got several stronger men to volunteer to carry her. They carried her to the back of the plane as if they were carrying a casket. I do not know where they put her since, as they had stated, the flight was full.

Once the granddaughter moved back to her seat, I just sat there, shaking. I had experienced the passing of my own grandparent the year prior, and this was resurfacing old wounds. I cried silently and then just sat there for the rest of the flight. I don't really remember anything after that, but I'm pretty certain I just sat and stared, trying to cope with what just happened.

The flight attendant brought water and questions of "are you doing okay" to the surrounding rows. No one else on the flight except our little bubble was even aware that someone had just lost their life in the same tiny enclosed space as them. I think about the granddaughter often. I don't know what happened to her after the flight or what happened to her grandmother.

Unforgettable StrangersFreepik,DCStudio

49. Rubber Duckie Was The One

My boyfriend was getting ready to deploy to Iraq, so I flew out to Hawaii where he was stationed for one last weekend with him. When it was over, and we said goodbye at the airport, I was upset and cried all the way to the gate. When I sat down—still crying—a woman walked over and sat down next to me with her carpet bag.

Without a word, she just started pulling random items out of her bag to show me—an hourglass, some plastic stars, and a lime green rubber ducky that lit up. The rubber ducky made me laugh instinctively, and she reached over to put it in my hand.

Then, she got up, collected her other things into her carpet bag, and walked away. I think I met Mary Poppins. I don’t remember if she even said a single word to me, but I still have that rubber ducky!

Unforgettable StrangersFlickr, Jo Naylor


Sources: ,


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