When you're a child, you learn to avoid interacting with strangers because it can be dangerous.
As you become older, though, you start to learn that, while you should obviously be cautious, interactions with strangers can actually be totally lovely.
If you're lucky, a brief interaction with a stranger could have a lasting positive effect on you for the rest of your life.A recent AskReddit thread gave people the chance to share their own stories of memorable interactions with strangers. They're all so wonderful!
Meteor BrothersYears ago, I was at the bus stop super early one morning. It was really cold as well. Anyway, there was a guy that I used to see every time I would get the 7 am bus — looked like a builder, he always got off near one of the large building sites by the university. We were on "nodding terms." One morning, there was a fireball/disintegrating meteor. We both saw it, he turned to me and said with a super serious face "you know our souls are forever linked now." We went back to nodding terms, and I never saw him after I quit early morning classes. I guess because I remember it, he was kinda right. –cosi-veloce
Need a hug?
Finding a Common LanguageI was a horticulture student on a botanical tour of Europe in 1979. I am at a flower market in Munich and see a plant I don't recognize. The lady working it doesn't speak English; I don't know any German. I see a plant I do know; touch the leaf and say the Latin name for it. She nods and smiles. I name another plant I know. Her smile gets bigger. I point at the unknown plant and look at her with an expression that I hope says, "Your turn." She tells me the Latin name. We don't speak each other's language, but we can communicate in a language that has been dead for over a thousand years. Cool. –toastie2313
The Innocence of a Child
via: ShutterstockMy son was in a pretty serious accident. I was a wreck in the ICU waiting room. A little girl maybe about 9 or 10 years old was with her family, saying goodbye to her great-grandmother. She waltzed right up to me and said, " Sir, why are you crying?" I explained my son was very sick. She handed me a miniature puppy doll and told me it was lucky, and my son would get better. She was right — he did. I still keep that little puppy on my dresser and think of that sweet child. –Stillloveyou112 This next story is sure to bring a smile to your face.
True EntertainmentA few years back my wife and I visited Italica; a Roman ruined city a few miles from Seville. The ruins are glorious, and we had them to ourselves, so when as we emerged from the gladiator gate in the amphitheater I stalked out into the sunlight, threw out my arms and roared "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" It rang off the old seats in a satisfying manner. Turns out we weren't alone. I spun to find a Japanese tourist staring at me in wonder, who then grinned nervously, snapped a picture, and gave me a thumbs up. My wife: "You're an idiot." –Kevin_Uxbridge
A Place from His Past
via: ShutterstockWhen an older gentleman knocked on my door one day and asked if he could come inside and revisit the home in which he had lived over 55 years ago. It was a pleasure to show him around and to hear his recollection of things that had happened within those walls many years ago - some of which were eye-openers. I never saw him again because he was visiting from the other coast, where he now lives. Still, he told me tales of the house and neighborhood I won't forget. –starcz0
There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch
via: ShutterstockI was on a long late night bus ride. It was express, so it made very few stops. Halfway through the trip, it made a stop at a small town station so people could grab a snack or use a public restroom and maybe stretch their legs. I went up to the counter to buy dinner, and when the cashier rang it up I passed a $50 bill to her, and she told me that she couldn't make change. Defeated, I went back to my seat on the bus. As everyone piled on and the bus drove away, a lovely middle-aged lady walked up from her seat near the back and politely asked if I minded if she sat with me. I told her she was more than welcome. She sits and proceeds to unpack a small lunch bag. She then split the entirety of her meal with me. She said she had been waiting for the washroom to clear out and had overheard what happened. She said: "I've gone hungry in my life and it sucks. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. You can share with me." I hope she is well. –Theearthhasnoedges
A True Angel
via: ShutterstockWhen I was 14, I was trapped in the rubble of an earthquake. I spent 6 hours crawling toward a man whose face I never had the opportunity to see. He was a citizen who didn't leave his name with anyone and never came forward, after the fact. It has always bothered me that I will likely never find out who he was or tell him how much comfort his voice gave me during those horrible hours. When I saw pictures of the space I ended up in, much later, I couldn't (and can't) understand how he was able to stand where he stood for 6 hours without injuring himself or suffering some sort of emotional trauma himself. He's my hero. –trailangel4
Mosh Pit BudsI was in DC last May for the Gaslight Anthem's 59 Sound reunion tour. In the back of the mosh pit, there were a few of us that would bob in and out depending on the songs. There was a guy in a blue raglan shirt who I was standing close to for almost the whole show, and I sort of felt like he might have been keeping an eye on a few of us back there. During the song "The Backseat" we both jumped into the pit, and at the crescendo of the music we grabbed hands and jumped around together for a little bit. Don't know his name or story, but we had that pure connection over the music, and it was great! –r8ny The person in this next story literally saved someone's life.
What a Hero!
via: ShutterstockI was bartending at a place with outside tables. Taking a half break smoking a cig with some regulars when they pointed out “this wastoid." He’s stumbling, hacking, dry heaving, and spitting down the block. He leans on a couple of poles for a few minutes. He gets to his truck which is parked right in front of us and is struggling to get into it. I go over to talk him out of driving, and he explains he’s not drunk. As a responsible bartender, I urge him again not to drive, and he says “something's not right man, I really don’t feel well." So I say, “I believe you but maybe you should go to the hospital." He tells me he is but he can’t afford the ambulance. I convince him to let me hail him a cab. At this point, he’s doing much worse. So I hand the cabbie $20 and tell him to rush. The next day, the guy comes back for his car and to thank me. He was having some sort of respiratory attack and would have surely died without medical treatment. After a million “thank you"s and “I owe you my life," he drives away never to be seen again. –BuckleupBirds
A Simple GiftI was on the bus home, and this girl sitting next to me was making paper cranes. Before I got off the bus, she stopped me and gave me the crane she was working on and smiled at me. I still have it, and I think about it a lot. –sunnylia
via: ShutterstockI had about a 2-hour drive from Columbus to the Cleveland area. I tend to drive on the faster side, and therefore pass a lot of people. I noticed about 20 minutes into the drive that the car behind me was still the same one that got onto the highway right behind me. We ended up driving the entire 2 hours right next to each other or in front of/behind each other. We created space in lanes to help the other pass the slower cars and made sure the other wouldn’t fall behind. As I was getting off the highway, he honked his horn, gave me a big smile, and waved. It has been my favorite driving experience so far. –livecaterpillarflesh
via: ShutterstockI wrestled in high school, and after a match, tradition dictates that you walk over and shake the hand of your opponent's coach, then cross the mat diagonally and shake your own coach's hand, crossing paths with your former opponent as you do so. Once, after a match with a kid I'd never met before, I said "round the world" as we approached each other and we high fived as we crossed paths and then did the round the world high five thing and high fived down low behind our backs. It was one of my proudest moments. –Orthoff
Lucky DucksA few years ago the Big Inflatable Rubber Duck came to our city. A local radio station got a permit, and we had a street party. So the station was playing as many duck-related songs as they could. Mostly any rock song that said "duck" in any context. Well, my wife and I were standing around waiting for the duck. Me, a mid-30s fat white dude, started chatting with an elderly black dude. "Man. They should play the DuckTales theme song," I said, knowing full well he may not have any idea what DuckTales was. He was definitely old enough that his child would not have watched it, but maybe a grandchild? "Yes, they should." He said. Well, like an hour goes by and we get separated in the crowd. Then the radio station starts blaring the DuckTales theme song. In the crowd, I see an old black man raise his head, scan the crowd, gives me a nod and a smile, and then he turns back. –lessmiserables This next story is just too sweet!
A Kind Old Woman
via: ShutterstockWhen I was studying abroad in Lithuania, I volunteered at a soup kitchen, and every now and again there would be an older lady helping out who dropped off supplies. We would smile at each other and say hello even though there was a language barrier. Well one night I went to Easter mass in the town I was volunteering in, and it was warmer during the day, so I didn’t think about bringing a heavier jacket once it got dark, not to mention the church was this massive old building. So I’m sitting through the mass, and I’m getting colder and start shivering pretty noticeably when all of a sudden I feel someone drape a scarf over my shoulders. I turn around, and it’s the lady who would drop off supplies at the soup kitchen! Once mass was over, I tried to return the scarf, but she refused to take it back. I did my best to extend my gratitude through the language barrier, but I’m sure she knew. It was the most beautiful and kindest thing that has ever happened to me. That was the last time I saw her and I will never forget the kindness she showed me. It still tears me up thinking about it. –Lithuanian_Rooster
Let's Duet!My touch football team was sponsored by a local bar that does karaoke on the same day of the week that our games are. We went for a beer after our game. I don't sing well but I enjoy singing, and I'm not shy. Wasn't planning on singing this time but a girl went up on stage and asked if anyone would sing that song from Grease: "You're the one that I want." I thought, why the hell not? Went up and we f**king nailed it. People were dancing and cheering. When we finished the song, we both sort of said good job like stuff. She went back to her table of friends. I went back to my football team. She and her friends left shortly afterward. That was more than 20 years ago. I still think about that night from time to time. –Fiascoe
via: ShutterstockBack in the late '90s, we drove a dark blue '84 Volvo wagon. Hardly ever saw another car like it. One day at a grocery store we see another couple in the exact same car. I rolled down the window and raised my fist in the air. The other driver saw and raised his fist. Solidarity! –reacher
via: ShutterstockThis was last year on my 21st birthday. I went to Moe’s for my free birthday burrito. As I was walking out, I slipped on one of the mats (they had just mopped and put the mats back down before the floor dried), and I busted my ass. I was so embarrassed and in so much pain, but a few people helped me up. One middle-aged woman helped me into the booth she was sitting in and took charge of the situation. She had them remake my food and bring it to the table as well as a first aid kit and a manager. She bandaged up my hand and knee and elbow all while getting the manager's information in case I needed them to pay for doctor's bills and got me like $100 in Moe’s coupons. When my food finally came out, she made me sit with her and eat. We ended up talking for like an hour, she told me about her and her family, and she said if it were her daughter in my situation, she’d want someone to step in and take care of her. When we finished, she helped me hobble to my car and gave me a huge hug and wished me a happy birthday. I was so beyond thankful for her and her small act of kindness towards me. –CoolNod