The expression "the kindness of strangers" will never go out of style. There are a lot of very terrible people around, so while it can seem hard to trust or accept help from a stranger, sometimes it changes your life (though, of course; trust your gut!).
Many people have had their lives changed by a stranger; mine is the one woman who thanked me for standing aside when I was trying not to block a busy, narrow Paris street with my giant suitcase, while everyone else just pushed past me angrily. It costs nothing to be polite.
These stories were shared over on a Reddit thread, which asked, "Is there a stranger you’ve never forgotten about, what was it about them?" So many people have beautiful stories about random people that made a huge impact on them--read on to find out.
"I remember being in an ice cream store with my brother when we were really young, we were digging through our pockets to muster up enough change to get an ice cream, an older gentlemen that was in line saw us and handed us a twenty and said "I counted a lot of change in my day, this oughta help." that kind soul made me want to be a more generous person."
"After my grandmother died, I went to the cemetery with some of her favorite flowers on the day that would've been her birthday.
As I arranged the flowers at the grave, a kindly lady stopped by and remarked about their beauty.
She noticed from the engraved monument that it was my grandmother's birthday, and said, "If I were your grandmother, I'd be proud to have a grandson like you."
She just left at that point, and I stood there amazed that someone would care enough to go out of their way to share something so special - so comforting - with a stranger."
"When I was about 12 I held the door open for a guy at KFC as my family was leaving. He mumbled "thanks, ya little do-gooder". I'll never forget that."
"I'm working on my computer in the study lounge in college when I notice my friend sneaking up on me through the reflection of my computer screen, trying to scare me. I let it happen, letting him creep closer. At the last second, before he is about to scare me, I spin around in order to scare HIM.
We both scream in shock!
It's not my friend at all. It's a random guy who was sneaking up on me, because he thought I was someone else, while I let it happen because I thought HE was someone else.
After the initial shock, we collapse laughing for a good long while, he is very apologetic, and then he goes on his way while I continue working. The memory still makes me smile and I still know what he looks like (not at all like my friend, turns out computer reflections are very deceiving)."
"I was at a concert with hundreds of thousands of people getting trampled and some big ass brolic dude came and literally pulled me out of the crowd bc I lost my friends and I was panicking. He was honestly my angel that night. He was also insanely handsome and if we spoke the same language I would have gotten his number."
"Old man came up to me and said "You look like you could use a high five." To which I replied: "I COULD use a high five!"
We high fived, laughed a bit and went on our way. Coolest old guy ever."
"I've shared this before...although, under different questions/experiences.
I was a victim of the Cypress Viaduct collapse in the Loma Prieta earthquake. To make a very long story short, I was still a child (and I was very tiny for my age) , and I was trapped for hours. A man who saw the collapse, and we believe lived or worked the area, was the first person to hear me screaming - most people thought they'd find more survivors in another part of the collapse, so most of the attention and resource was focused on another predicament. In any case, he heard me screaming for help, climbed up (putting himself at risk) and spent the next several hours trying to keep me as calm and focused on survival as possible. He talked to me and kept me sane for hours (which, given the circumstance, was a miracle because I was wedged into a space 24" tall and about 20" wide- I use my elbow to finger tip as an easy reference of the size of the space I had to crawl through. This person asked me about anything and everything and never left me for a moment. Unfortunately, by the time I was pulled out, there were floodlights that blinded me and my head was immobilized and due to the dust, blood, and pulverized concrete in my eyes, I couldn't see him. He squeezed my foot and said, "You're going to be ok." and I was whisked away. I hear him everyday. I think of him everyday."
"I boarded a plane for a four hour flight and found my seat in the center of the very back row. There was a girl in her twenties sitting in the aisle seat and the window seat was empty. I was hoping against hope that the window seat would stay vacant, but no, soon enough a guy with a backpack needed to climb over us. Everyone settled and the plane started moving. The guy hadn't said anything and neither had I, normal airplane etiquette. I don't think we had even looked at each other.
When you are in the center seat of a crowded airplane it's difficult to make sure you aren't invading your companion's space, especially when you can't even recline the seat. I'm trying to decide if I get the armrest or not when the guy looks at me and smiles. Surprised, I smile back. We both look away. Slowly, gently, he lifts his arm and places it on the armrest, over mine, where I'm almost snuggled under his shoulder, then puts his hand in mine. As if we were old companions, old lovers, completely at ease with each other.
Frozen in shock, a thousand thoughts race through my mind. He sighs. A relaxed sigh. I thought why not? Why not be comfortable? Why not have contact with another human? I relaxed as well.
For the entire flight we held hands off and on. There was nothing sexual about it. It felt completely natural and in some ways, a little amazing.
When the flight landed he turned to me and smiled again. I smiled back. I think I was a little bit in love. That was it. We never spoke and had only looked at each other twice and I've never forgotten him. To this day I wish him well."
"I was 17, and had been living in a facility for several years. I was outbound on a flight to the east coast to go see one of my brothers graduate from high school. It was the first time I'd left the facility since being committed.
While I'm waiting in line to board, a handsome, early 30's guy in front of me in a business suit is cracking jokes via a bluetooth headset. I'm watching him thinking, "damn, tech has come so far... I have missed so much." and sort of daydreaming about the kind of life he must have. He looks (in retrospect) like a cross between Steven Colbert and Chris Trager from P&R. Handsome, slightly aged, smile for days.
To my surprise, we end up sitting next to each other on the flight. As we're getting settled, he's cracking up watching something on his computer. I'm curious, but don't want to be nosy. He's laughing so hard he keeps having to sigh to get the breaths out of him after each fit of laughter. Just as I'm about to put my headphones in, he leans towards me and asks, a little puckishly, "Do you like satire? Do you want to see something really fucking funny?"
I'm a little taken aback. I'm sitting there with my CD player (we weren't allowed to have mp3 players where I was living), feeling so painfully out of date and out of place next to his guy, and I'm only a teenager, why is this successful business man who could be talking to anybody he wanted, talking to me? "Uhh yeah man, I like funny stuff. Whatcha got?" I respond.
He pulls out and fancy pants apple computer (which I'd never seen before, due to being away from tech for so long) and shows me [this video] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AyVh1_vWYQ
).We both just lose it. We are laughing so loud, he is slapping his knees, I am fucking crying.
We aren't allowed to watch youtube where I'm at, so all of this is so new to me. I love this type of deadpan humour, and it's ahead of its time for being from the mid 2000's.
After it's over, I have this incredible desire to watch it again, to relive that moment, where I have laughed harder than I have in my entire life, with this total stranger, but realizing the moment has passed. He then turns to me, smile just stretching out his beautiful face, and says, "Okay okay I'm sorry but can we please watch that again?"
I just groan, "UGH, YES?? PLEASE?" So we watch it again! It's even better the second time around. We're quoting it as it happens, through breathless laughter, and people around us are starting to lean in and figure out what's so funny. We may have made a minor scene, but folks around us were smiling inquisitively. Laughter, and smiling, is contagious. This is the happiest I've been in years.
When the video is over, the guy turns to me and asks if I have an ipod. I look down at my CD player and bashfully say "no, not yet.. I don't really have any money for that anyway."
"Well, do you want one?" he asks, "I have about.. 16 in my backpack. My company got our business card information printed on the back of these nano ipods since we have a contract with them. Now, don't get too excited, they're only 16gb (at the time, 32gb was the largest there was for the nano, he explained) bur it should still be a bit of an upgrade from that CD player you got there!"
I'm sitting there kind of freaking out, thinking there's no way this is real. He's going to forget, or he's just trying to be nice, or it's all some sort of joke. I've learned not to trust anything until it's in front of me. False promises are like currency where I've been living. Nothing nice comes for free. Just enjoy the moment.
The rest of the flight was fun. For 4 hours, we'd take turns so naturally at talking with one another, then doing our respective things for an hour, then talking again. The flow with this guy was insane. And I forgot, completely, that I wasn't an equal to this guy. He made me feel like I was just another work colleague or friend. He asks me about my goals in life, the music I'm into. And none of this is predatory "older man" type stuff. He's just a genuinely friendly guy who genuinely wants to share his happiness with whoever is around him, and it happens to be me.
Once we deboarded the plane, he stops me at the gate and said, "Hey wait up! Don't think I forgot about that ipod, little lady! Here ya go!" and hands me this brand spanking new, electric blue ipod nano.
This thing is like gold to me. It is so beautiful, I can't stop turning it over and over in my hands. I feel like I might cry. I don't know what to say. He's just smiling at me and says, "I can tell you're a really smart kid. Crazy smart. That must drive you insane sometimes, I'll bet. But you're gonna make it, and you're going to do great things. I can see that. I hope you don't forget it. Sorry again that's only a 16g. I'd have given you mine if I didn't need the music that's on it right now. Anyway, good luck!"
And then he's gone.
I will never forget him. He did a wonderful thing for me that day. I still tell that story time to time. I can't remember the name of the company but I will never forget that guy. He did a small thing for me in his eyes--but in my eyes, he gave me a profound gift. Kindness.
And a smile that lasted for days."
"My car ran out of gas and I was walking to the nearest gas station. On my way there, a lady stopped and asked me, "is that your car over there?" I responded, "yeah... I ran out of gas." She said, "is that all?! Well, hop in!" So I did. And she didn't murder me. Lol. She was so nice! She talked about her kids that were around my age at the time and said I looked like her niece. When we got to the gas station, she filled up her gas can and even got me a drink and a snack. She took me back my car, made sure my car turned on, then went on her way.
Thank you random lady from years ago! The world needs more people like you."
"3 years ago, i was a casual labor Room Service staff at a 5 star hotel in an Asian country ( Vietnam ) , then one day, i got an order from a old couple who just checked in to their room.
so when i brought food into their room, the husband was already slept leaving his hungry-wife ordered the food by herself. So when i knew that, i teased her a little bit by saying :" why your husband let a beautiful lady like you have to be hungry and ordered food by herself ?"
She laughed and then reached for her purse to get some tips for me but can't found any small note, so i said it's okey, to be able to serve and see our customer's smile is an honor for me ( i really mean it due to my family own a Restaurant and i just want to go to work for experience only , money was not a big deal for me back then )
She said no and then took out her pen , wrote down my name onto a paper , then she smiled and said thank you , so i just left .
The next day, she sent an envelope straight to the Room Service office with my name on the envelope also with her name on it and room number , Inside was 2 one-dollars bills .
It made my heart melted, that was the first time in my life someone gave me a tips by put it inside a envelope and took the effort to send it directly to me, but sadly i didn't have the chance to say thank you to her, i still keep the envelope and that 2 one-dollar bills until this day.
And then after 3 years of hard working and a little bit of luck, now have become the receptionist of that same hotel, it meant that i got the access to Hotel system and Guest's information.
So i was searching for her name on the system, her room number and her email address. I took my chance and sent a thank you email to her, to showed her my gratitude and how much i appreciated for her act of kindness.
So i sent it and wait, a couple days later, she replied, she was surprised that i still remember her, that i still kept that envelope, and also she is planing on coming back to stay the Hotel i'm working for the near future.
What is the moral of the story i just told you, is that by just a small act of kindness, you can made a huge impact on someone's life, like the way her envelope did to me :) ...."
"Guy walked up to me, put a quarter in my hand, and said make a decision. I had nothing to decide on so I flipped it and said "heads I go out for lunch". I caught it and before I could see it he took the coin off my hand, said "you should have decided to keep the quarter" and walked off.
To this day I feel as though I failed some sort of secret organizations entry test."
"When I was about 5 years old I was at a restaurant with my family and they had one of those claw prize machine games. My mom gave me a dollar to play and I was fixated on a little teddy bear stuffed animal prize. Naturally I was horrible at the game and had to walk away defeated. I returned to the dinner table and had we had our dinner. Apparently in that time an old man went up to the machine and kept playing for that teddy until he got it. He walked over with the prize and handed it to me. It was such a kind gesture. However, at the time I was freaked out a man I didn’t know was trying to hand me something. My mom ended up taking it from him and gave it to me in the car because all I did was just stare at him and sit frozen like a statue. Kids can be assholes. I hope he somehow knew how much I did end up appreciating the bear. I still think about it 25 years later and cringe at my reaction."
"Over 20 years ago a woman on the bus told me that one day everyone would have to have a micro-chip in their hand in order to buy anything. She told me, "One day it will happen and you'll remember an old woman on the bus told you so!" Because she said this, I always remembered the interaction."
"I was flying home from a business trip and my flight got canceled for weather reasons. There were direct flights that didn't have to pass through the weather but I wasn't on one of those.
I went to the flight desk and tried to rescheduled, it was my son's birthday the next day, either his first or second. So I was begging with the woman at the desk to help me get home for it. They told me I was likely not even to get a flight home THE NEXT DAY and I was going to miss it entirely because of demand, etc.
I was begging, I was offering to pay more (didn't matter, all booked), have them switch me to a different airline (no other airlines from this airport can get you there - not sure I believed that), offered to do 2 or 3 hops overnight whatever it took. She just kept steam rolling me.
A guy in the line heard me, stepped up, said he was whoever he was and would give me his ticket on the next direct flight. He was some VIP and listening to the conversation was like night and day. The second they stone walled him he just told them to get the manager, then they basically did whatever he said.
I tried to thank him and he wouldn't take anything from me. Just told me he knew what it was like when he had young kids and I should enjoy it while I can.
It was one of the the greatest things anyone ever did for me."