Sometimes, if the stars align and fate smiles on you, you might be able to share a moment with a stranger that could change your life, your outlook, or just grant you a really cool story.
It happens every day, people come together and forge their own bonds, and even if you never see that person again, the moments you shared will live on forever in your heart and mind. In honor of the human spirit, we have gathered stories from all over the world of the most memorable moments people have shared with total strangers.
26. Too Precious For This World
My 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 and I still keep that little puppy on my dresser and think of that sweet child.
25. Wedding Crasher
I crashed a wedding when I was 18 because it was on my bucket-list and ended up dancing with a woman who was maybe 24/25. Her name was Natalie. We danced for a couple of songs then the DJ put on a slow song, and I was thinking in my head that’s my cue to leave because I have a habit of being negative and leaving potentially awkward situations.
On that night, however, I just decided to say forget it, so I grabbed her hand and we slow danced. I didn’t know anything about this woman, beyond her name and here I was slow dancing. People were starting to look at me funny/suspiciously so I ended up leaving right after without saying goodbye.
Honestly, I look back and think, I wonder what Natalie is doing. This was in October of 2013 and honestly, that was the first time I said whatever and did what my heart wanted instead of my head, life has been better ever since.
24. Pikachu I Choose You!
I was playing on my Nintendo DS in the subway when I caught a random connection. I looked up to see if I could spot the other person with a DS, and wound up locking eyes with this incredibly intense little boy who was seated a few benches away from me.
“DO YOU HAVE POKEMON?” he asked, and as it turned out, I did, in fact, have Pokemon. With that, our fate was sealed. There’s this thing in the Pokemon games where, if you meet the gaze of another trainer on your journey, then you must do battle. I had just experienced this in real life.
He destroyed me. All level 100s. Felt like I was an extra in the anime doing battle with the protagonist.
23. Are You Not Entertained?!
A 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.”
22. I Wonder If They Lived On Memory Lane?
An older gentleman knocked on my door one day and asked if he could possibly 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.
21. Life Is Like A Hurricane, Here In Duck Burg
A 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. (For those who think this is weird, it was an excuse to say “Hey, that is a big duck!” And then eat bad food and drink for a few hours.) So the station was playing as many duck-related songs that 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 dude, started chatting with an elderly man.
“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 this old man raise his head, scan the crowd, gives me a nod and a smile, and then he turns back.
20. Prepare for trouble, And make it double!
At the St. Louis Zoo there was a fountain that had five spouts to drink from that always had water running. When I was about ten I discovered that by covering up one of the spouts with the water coming out, the other four rose a bit.
The set up was nearly perfect. We walked by the fountain and my younger sister goes to drink out of the center one. I immediately walk to her right and raise my hands to cover the two spouts on that side. I couldn’t help but be sad that there was no one to cover the spouts on her left. Then it happened. A boy across the path saw what I was going to do and ran over to the other two spouts. Then he silently looked at me and mouthed “one” “two” “three.” We both covered the spouts and the water in the center one shot straight into my sister’s face (it was beautiful). Then he took off to his family and I ran away for my life.
19. Good Advice From A Stranger
I was on a school trip to France when a friend of mine died in a car accident. I spoke with my brother on a payphone while he was at the viewing. Afterward, I stayed in the phone booth in my hotel lobby crying. It was late at night there, as I’m from the East Coast of the USA. When I came out of the booth there was a guy standing there. He told me he saw me crying and wanted to make sure everything was alright. I told him in my broken French what had happened. He switched to English and said, “The only thing you can do is cry and remember the good times.” He shook my hand and left the lobby. Just one of those people I’ll never forget.
18. They Took The Midnight Train Going Anywhere
I was on an eastbound train from Colorado two days before Christmas. There was some kind of incident in another car around 11:00 pm that night. A dude had gotten wasted and started threatening other passengers so we had to make a stop so that the local police could come and collect him.
After the delay, the conductor came over the speakers and announced that if anyone was feeling upset or shaken by the incident one of the passengers had offered to play his guitar in the snack car and anyone who was awake was welcome to come down and join in for a singalong. I’m always down for weird train activities so I decided to grab my harmonica from my bag and head down.
There were about fifteen of us in the car, ranging in age from 16 to mid-70s and from all over the country. We sang every song we could think of that even kind of referenced a train – we were somewhere in rural Nebraska at that point and nobody had cell service to look up lyrics, so at times I was pretty sure that we were making up more of the words than we actually remembered. The conductor came through after a while and offered to play a few songs, so the guy with the guitar handed it off and pulled out a mandolin, and my harmonica got passed around the group while one guy drummed along on his backpack.
After a while, the conductor got up and left, then came back with a copy of The Polar Express. He read it out loud to our absolutely captivated group of mostly adult travelers while the snow flew all around us in the night, and I swear that for a few minutes our trip felt every bit as magical as the visit to Santa Claus in the story.
Sometime well after the snack car was supposed to have been vacated for the night, we capped things off with the most ridiculously earnest rendition of Don’t Stop Believing that has ever been performed and went our separate ways. I never saw anyone from our little makeshift band again, but I’ll always remember that weird, wonderful late-night celebration of Journey and the magic of winter travel that came about because some guy was a jerk on a train.
17. There Are Good People Everywhere
I lost my iPhone 3g back in 2008. The 2nd-gen iPhone that was the first to have 3g, and among the first massively-produced “smart” phones. I camped out for that dumb phone like an idiot. That next day, I went overseas on a government work trip to Taiwan.
I lost my phone on my first night there. I retraced my steps but nothing. I resigned to the fact that I had lost my brand new iPhone.
The next day, I was walking to the shipyard in the busy city of Keelung (the port city of Taipei); and this guy runs out of a restaurant and flags me down. He motions to me to go to his cab. I said, “Ah it’s ok, I don’t need a cab.”
He shakes his head, runs inside his cab, and GIVES ME MY PHONE BACK, along with a work pen that fell out of my pocket into his cab. I was absolutely shocked. I thanked him so much and he just smiled this biggest smile. I couldn’t speak Mandarin or Taiwanese, nor could he speak English. But body language is universal.
He motioned me to join him for breakfast back at the restaurant he ran out of where he saw me stroll by. He ordered some super delicious Taiwanese-style noodles and I ate them. He PAID FOR THE MEAL. I tried to compensate him for all his troubles; HE REFUSED.
This old man worked double-duty at that restaurant and as a taxi driver, and you can see on his hands and face all the hard manual labor he did through the decades of his life. Oh, ya, his wife worked at that restaurant too.
I demanded that I know his phone number.
For years after, my colleagues and I used him exclusively for our taxi rides around town. I’d post his number on our ship’s quarterdeck and label it “TAXI.” Also, my colleagues and I would make the trip to eat at the restaurant where they worked as much as we could.
I even called him to take me to and from the airport; which is comparatively a large fare over there. I didn’t mind. He deserved it. I couldn’t find him anymore when I went back a few years ago for vacation. I am hoping he finally retired to the countryside in a small home on the hillside and living out his days in quiet with his wife.
16. A Visit From The Spirit Of Canada
Twas the night before Christmas Eve, about 8:30 pm. My mom was trying to sell our place, while we’d moved in a few blocks away with my new stepdad. The driveway needed to be clear and there was about a foot and a half of snow to shovel. I was still pretty young and it was going to be a big job.
I trudged over there with my shovel, and just started the first row when a random guy in a snowplow turned in and cleared the whole driveway in two minutes easy. He was wearing the red plaid jacket and toque combo – classic Canadian look.
I was worried as we hadn’t hired a snow removal guy, but he just waved and said Merry Christmas and drove off. Thanks, snowplow guy, you taught me a thing or two about Xmas spirit.
15. Brought Together By Diabetes
I’m a type one diabetic. I was on a cruise ship with my family, and sometimes I would be stopped on my way out of the ship because of my insulin pump (it can’t go through an x-ray scanner). I was stopped at one point with this other guy, who jokingly asked me “what are YOU in for?” I said insulin pump. He said no way and took out his pump! We laughed and shared diagnosis stories. The next day, he came up to me in the buffet, thanking God he found me. His pump wasn’t waterproof and he’d jumped into a pool, and forgot to bring insulin vials that could fit into a manual pen. I was able to give him insulin and we got some coffee together. I never traded contact info and never saw him again. He was a cool dude.
14. He’s A Silent Guardian, A Watchful Protector, A Dark Knight
I’d locked myself out of my flat once when I was taking out the rubbish. It would have been close to midnight. I’m a female, early twenties, and had just gotten out of the hospital. I had no way to get in and no money, phone, or nearby friends. I don’t remember this boy arriving or explaining myself to him, but he sat with me until morning the whole night long beneath my block. He had limited English so we barely spoke, and he shared a tin of pineapple with me he had in his bag. He was calm, empty of ill intent, quiet but watchful. Friendly, a big, open smile. When the sun came up, he walked on. I’ll never forget him, or how kind he was to do that. Some people are so in tune with the world, they protect it. I hope he was ok too.
13. A Kind Friend From The Soup Kitchen
When 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 through the 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 old massive building. So I’m sitting through 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. This was the last time I saw her and I will never forget her kindness towards me. It still tears me up thinking about it.
12. Food Is The Universal Language
I was on a long late-night bus ride. It was express so it made very few stops. The bus had maybe 10 people on it in total. 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 what at that point was my dinner even though it was after 10 pm 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 is the worst feeling. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, so you can share it with me.”
When we were done I jokingly asked if she could break a $50 and we had a good laugh. She stuck with me for the remainder of the trip and was a very interesting lady besides being incredibly generous.
11. Come Back, Balloon! Come Back!
I was in the US Navy at the time and we pulled into port in Norway. We had a couple of days to explore and I went to the closest city, Bergen. While in the main square area of town just down the road from their fish market was a small boy, maybe 3 years old, and his father. The boy had a large red balloon but it was windy and it got away from him. His father made a grab for it and missed but obviously couldn’t run after it and leave his kid. It was blowing generally in my direction and I made a quick dash for it and managed to catch it out of the air before it blew away. I then crouched down and held it out for the boy. He looked like he was about to start crying but immediately brightened up with the kind happiness only a child can have. He took the balloon and his father just gave me a small smile and a nod. I returned the smile and nod and we went on our way. This moment always sticks out to me.
10. Everyone Gets Their 15 Minutes Of Fame
A friend and I use to take short road trips over to the coast when we were 18 or 19 years old. One trip we decided to rent in-line skates, skate the boardwalk and then up to this lighthouse. We were going along, having a great time, when all of a sudden I hit a pebble just right, causing the one skate to lock up as my other foot kept going. Trying to save myself, I wrenched around causing my knee to scrape along the cement. I managed to stand back up, but by this point, there was too much momentum and no balance. Both my feet went up in the air in a classic pratfall and I landed with a thud on my back.
My friend was in hysterics at this point. She was laughing so hard she had to squat down so she wouldn’t fall, and was of no help to me. I gingerly sat up, surveying my bleeding knee and elbows, yelling some choice words at my friend, and looked up to see a whole group of Japanese tourists stopped nearby and filming me in all my messed up glory. Seeing me notice them, they promptly stopped filming and walked on.
Somewhere I was once the star on some tourist video/pictures as the “Stupid American girl we once saw on vacation”.
9. In The Afterlife, They Will Nod To Each other Once More
Years 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
8. What Are The Odds
When I was 11 I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a very rare form that’s hard to treat. I went through the treatments and bone marrow transplant really well though and got better etc. When I was 14 I was picked to go to a ranch in Colorado for kids that had health issues like myself. Anyways on one of the connecting flights, I sat next to an older woman and she noticed a car magazine that I had. We started talking and I told her I liked Mustangs and turns out she had 2 82 GTs, had won awards with them, etc. It was really cool to talk to her and when we landed we went our separate ways. Fast forward 2/3 years (can’t remember exactly) and my dad and I drove to Arkansas to pick up a mint 82 GT. We get there and start talking to her and she starts saying the other cars she has and it finally clicked in my head, she was the lady on the plane! When I mentioned that to her she remembered me and it was just pretty amazing that in a population of over 300M we found each other again! Just my mildly interesting story.
7. Successful Communication Through Plant Expertise.
I 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 were able to communicate in a language that has been dead for over a thousand years.
6. The Most Interesting Man In Wellington
While out for a long walk to take some photos in Wellington, New Zealand, I stop to drink some water and get chatting with a guy sitting on the park bench.
He was homeless in that he didn’t have a permanent residence, but he considered himself more of a nomad, touring around the country, and had made his way from the UK to New Zealand over the course of a few years.
He went on about how he used to work in London, got sick of his corporate job, and went traveling with the remainder of his savings, never looking back. He’s eventually burnt his savings and was now happily stranded in New Zealand.
I still remember his initials were D.G., and he asked if I wanted to take a photo of him. I’d taken hundreds of photos of landscapes, animals, and people, but his one was my favorite from the day.
5. Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright
The day I found out my grandmother had a stroke and would never walk or talk again, I was away at college. I finally broke down in a bathroom. A girl came in and asked if I needed a hug. I was crying so hard that I really didn’t get a look at her face. I cried on her shoulder for about 10 minutes and then had to pull myself together and leave for class. I never explained myself and she never asked. I never recognized or spoke to her again. I wonder if she sometimes saw me on campus and wondered what was up and if I was okay.
4. Sometimes You Meet Really Cool People
I was in Legazpi, Philippines, and Avengers just came out, and I went to go watch it at the local theater in town. The ship just left the city, and I was relieved of duty; as now it was vacation time for me after months at sea sailing from Perth, AU to Legazpi, PI via the treacherous Makassar Straits. So Avengers it is?
After the movie, It got dark out, and I wandered around town and got lost. I was trying to find a way back to the hotel, but Legazpi was a bit difficult to navigate on foot.
This guy in his motorcycle-sidecar taxi/tuk-tuk zooms up to me and asks if I’m lost. I say I’m ok, that I don’t need a taxi. But he insisted I enter his tuk-tuk; that he’d take me to the town festival that was going on for free.
I obliged, and he sped off with me inside. He goes, “My friend, you were about to get mugged by those dozen squatters.”
He may have been fishing for a fare, or maybe he wasn’t. To me though, his face and demeanor genuinely came off as a hardworking super nice guy. If he didn’t, well.. then I applaud him for being an amazing actor and he’s in the wrong line of work.
We chilled at the festival and got to know each other over a couple of beers (on me). Afterward, he took me down this dark dark path, and I got a bit apprehensive. He kept saying “Don’t worry, I’m taking you to my house for dinner!”
And yes, he took me to his tiny shack of a house near the ocean for dinner. His wife was cooking, and he had two tiny kids running around happy their daddy is back home. We ate a great meal, and he dropped me off back at the hotel. No charge. “Take my $20!” “Nope.” “Ok fine, how about $40, and you show me the Mayan Volcano and all the cool stuff around here tomorrow?” He accepted.
Next morning comes around, he shows up at my hotel. We take off and he takes me to these Dutch church ruins that got decimated by a volcanic eruption in the 1600s or 1700s, hiked all around these awesome caves, and strolled around the black sand beaches. We had a fantastic time. I give him $60 USD (hid another $20 behind another $20 as the bills were crisp enough that you can kind of make it seem like one bill).
He discovered this as I was walking away and I laughed at him and waved back… He had no choice but to keep it. I wished him and his family well. He is/was a good person.
3. How To Save A Life
I was bartending at a place with outside tables. Taking a half break with some regulars when they pointed out “this wasted dude.” He’s stumbling, hacking, dry heaving, and spitting down the block. He leans on a couple of poles for a couple of different moments. 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 hammered, in the same fashion that all people who’ve had too much to drink do. 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 he can’t afford a car accident than either and it will only take a moment for me to hail him a cab.
He concedes and in under a minute I grab him a cab and tell the cabbie to take him to the hospital. At this point, he’s doing much worse. So I hand the cab driver $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. He tried to pay me the twenty back and at that point, his tears have me really choking up and I refused his money telling him, “Pay it to the hospital $5 at a time, that will keep the hospital off your back for at least four months.” After a million “thank yous” and “I owe you my life” he drives away never to be seen again.
2. Is That You, Loki?
I was in Paris getting on the Eurostar back to London, traveling for work. I took my seat then proceeded to put my bag in the overhead compartment as well as my suit jacket. I always constantly check for my passport and tickets whilst traveling so I went to make sure I had them. Nothing in my pockets must have left them in my jacket. So I got up to look but they were not there either, so I really started to panic.
Just as I was pulling my bag down to check in there, I heard lots of giggling behind from many passengers and turned around to see one old gentleman waving my passport and ticket at me. I was so relieved to have found them and started to thank him but he stopped me and admitted as soon as I got up when I first took my seat, he spotted the ticket and passport on the seat and thought it would be entertaining to hide them.
He made quite a show of it for the other nearby passengers to see and everyone was just sitting there waiting for me to notice, hence why they were all giggling. It really broke the ice and everybody around us was chatting and getting to know each other after and it made for a very wholesome train journey. When we arrived, about six different people asked me if I had my passport whilst laughing. It was a funny journey.
1. Saved My Life In An Earthquake
When I was fourteen, I was trapped in the rubble of an earthquake. I spent six 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.
For most of the six hours, I had to work at pulling my way through concrete and rebar and various auto parts. So, my world became a very small area and the dust made it VERY dark…then the sunset and it got darker. This man heard me banging and screaming for help and put himself in danger to keep me calm and focused on extricating myself until more help and equipment arrived.
Once they arrived, he stayed at their request because he was literally the only thing keeping me from losing it emotionally. We talked about baseball, my school, my pets, favorite foods… Just anything he could think of. In that whole chunk of time, he only said his name once and it was just a first name.
By the time I was extricated on a backboard, I couldn’t turn my head and see his face. I was quickly loaded into an ambulance and the last thing I remember was hearing him say, “You’re going to be ok, kiddo,” and feeling a pat on my hip as I was passing through with the emergency service workers.
I also had tons of dust in my eyes, which made it really hard to see. 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 six hours without injuring himself or suffering some sort of emotional trauma. He’s my hero.