We don’t expect a perfect stranger to be there in our most vulnerable moments, or to change the way we think or view the world in the span of a single conversation.
That’s exactly what happened to these 14 people, though, and the stories will warm your heart.
14. A sweet start.
A couple days ago I had mine.
I stepped outside the shelter to smoke a cigarette and met a 31 year old guy doing the same thing. I (21M), started talking to him about going to jail soon. He shared with me his experience in different jails and prisons and assured me the one I’m going to is pretty laid back. We even have one of the same charges and grew up in the same area haha. He then gave me a $20 bill and went to bed.
Anyways, besides this settling my mind, giving me money to buy a charger, and wanting to change so I’m not in the same place in ten years, that wasn’t his biggest impact. He up and left two days later and told me where he was going. He gave me a big bag of chips and a banana because he knew I was hungry and that it was my second month of being homeless.
Not long after I left, I went too the door to see if the box and charger I had been sneak charging my phone on was gone. He kept it up there for me to use and had to have known it. You just don’t leave those kinds of things out. But he did.
Well shout out to you man, I’ll always remember, appreciate, and try for you
13. Focus on yourself first.
So, a couple months ago, I had a really awful breakup and decided to go see a longtime friend play at a bar. While there, I met this older lady. She asked if my friend and I were dating and she jokingly said that I must be a groupie then because I traveled nearly an hour out of my way to see him.
She then told me that she had been an actual groupie back in the 70s, although she never got famous for it. Our conversation which started out very light hearted ended up turning into a very deep but sweet conversation about love and relationships. I told her about my situation with my ex and how I was still kind reeling from it. She knew how I felt, as she had been there before with plenty of men.
She told me, “Even though it hurt a lot when these guys would break my heart, I never wished to take it back. I always used that time after a break up to reflect on myself. I would learn how to love myself, and learn what kind of love I was worthy of.
12. Sounds like a good parent.
I can’t remember the exact topic of conversation but this always stuck with me.
“Your mental disability may explain your behavior, but it will never excuse it.”
It changed how I view everything.
11. Definitely life-changing.
I had to go to the ER with a terrible migraine – my family has a history of Arnold Chiari Malformation so any bad headache I’m quick to get checked out (it turned out to be a bad ear infection).
At the time I’d been smoking basically since I was 18, about 6 years, and had smoked off and on in my adolescence. I had at this point heard everything about why it was bad for me and it just never registered. I couldn’t bring myself to care.
Went to the ER, was going through triage. My nurse was a tall man with the geeky stickers on his scrubs and name badge. He gets to the question about smoking. I don’t know what it was, but something about how he explained why I should quit flipped a switch in my brain. I think just because of how earnest he was. Like it wasn’t just a script to him. He put down the clipboard and looked me dead in the eye and like “Look here’s why you need to quit”. I was not even there for something related to smoking and he still took that time.
A few weeks later I smoked my last cigarette. I have been smoke free for 5 years now. I still get dreams about it (which are obnoxious because I’ll feel guilty in my dream for smoking and then wake up and be made that my subconscious is making me feel guilty). And I attribute a lot of my success to that one guy.
10. A little kindness.
I was 16 on vacation in Portland, Oregon. I was there for the 2016 Rubik’s Cube National Championship. The day before i had to compete we were at a hibachi restaurant and there was another family sitting across from us at the table. We started chatting about why we were there.
He said he was visiting his family from China, where he moved there from Portland after meeting his wife. I told them about the competition. When he heard about it he asked, “You plan on winning?”
I said no because I average around 40 seconds a solve, and to win a major competition like this you need to average 7 seconds or less to win.
He raised his glass and he said “Well anyway, godspeed solving tomorrow. Hell, godspeed in life, too.” And clinked glasses with me and my dad.
As a naturally nervous person 3,000 miles from home at a competition, you can imagine how nervous I was before competing even if it was just for fun. The godspeed in life thing resonated with me, too, as I had 3 deaths in my family right in a row on top of an abusive (now ex) girlfriend.
Not the most profound impact, but I still think about it from time to time.
9. That’s a good night.
Chatting with a complete stranger at a bar about some random stuff. Both drunk and desperate. We see two girls. “I speak to the blonde you go for the dark haired one?” Let’s do it man! The stranger said. The blonde is now my wife and mother of our two children.
Thank you kind stranger. I hope you are doing well.
8. A random inspiration.
One day I was going for a job interview downtown. It wasn’t anything absolutely wonderful but it was certainly something to wear a suit. This specific building had a ground level with various places to eat and even an old timey shoeshine place. The old man was friendly and chatted while I waited (it was raining so my shoes got kind of messy). I told him I was going for a job interview upstairs and at the end when I went to pay refused payment. When I insisted he told me that he does it for every young lawyer so they can get a job and pay him in the future.
…well I wasn’t a lawyer and told him that. He responded that maybe I should be. In all seriousness I was going to the interview to convince myself not to go to law school because it seems like the typical white guy thing to do and I assumed everyone just suppresses the desire or talks themselves out of it because of debt. but that conversation ended up being the final straw and the next day I started studying for the lsat.
7. Sometimes they show you the wrong way.
A friend brought an older friend or cousin or something (don’t remember) to a school dance when I was 14-ish. I was sad because my crush was with someone else. This dude told me “Think like a dog: if you can’t eat it, or f*ck it, piss on it and walk away.”
I knew right then I never wanted to be like that guy.
6. Advice for all.
A super senior (65 m) suddenly entered my hostel room (without knocking obviously), took a picture of him inside, talked to me about his college life and drinking stories in that room because it used to be his room back in the days.
Before leaving we just sat on the stairs at the entrance, after a minute’s silence he said: “DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME”.
Whenever I was wasting a lot of time in my college days, even today, those words cross my mind and I become alert.
5. A modern day wizard.
Jerry felt like a modern day wizard. I was flying back from New Zealand in coach. The douche bag seated beside me at takeoff complained constantly until they moved him up into the middle cabin with larger seats.
The seat beside me in an exit row was now vacant. I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hey little sister, would you mind if I sat in that seat?” He was at least 6’3” and I knew he wasn’t comfortable squashed behind me. I welcomed the move.
He moved up and we started chatting. He was in New Zealand with his wife, but she was flying first class with her company. I had gone down alone. Without saying a word, he knew I had gone down for some soul searching. He had all kinds of sage advice for living and loving.
He talked about “the tv static” of modern life, and making sure to put in the effort to turn it off. I was coming off a month of adventure and going back to the grind, and I wasn’t really in a happy place in my life. I had bought the trip as a gift to myself as a jump start for a new life.
I was feeling a bit down on post vacation blues and Jerry made me feel so hopeful. He wasn’t a complete stranger after the 14 hour flight, but he started as one. I’m forever grateful to Jerry.
4. All of the tears.
I’m a waitress. I’ve worked in a smaller restaurant the last few years. It was the only restaurant like it in the area so we got quite busy. Especially on Sundays. So we had a no take out rule for Sunday. There was a huge blackout across my city a couple years ago due to a big storm. I’m pretty sure it was a tornado or extreme winds that knocked down the power lines. But somehow this little cafe was one of the only places that was up and running in the area so we were unbelievably busy.
We had a lady come in and she placed a takeout order and the new waitress I was working with apologized and told her that we didn’t do takeout on Sunday. This woman nearly dropped to the floor with defeat. She said her power has been out for days, that she has nothing to give her kids for dinner and ended up leaving while crying.
Once I found out what had happened I chased her out to ever car. I apologized over and over again and told her that this other waitress was new and that she was right; we don’t do takeout on Sunday. But I explained to her that I was going to do it for her.
I took her order, went back inside and talked to the best cook we had and he agreed to the takeout order. I went back outside to tell this lady that it wasn’t a problem at all and that it wouldn’t be long. She was so appreciative but she was so embarrassed having cried inside that she didn’t want to come in to pay so she gave me her credit card and told me to give myself a $20 tip. I told her it wasn’t necessary but she insisted.
But I decided that I didn’t want to really charge this woman. I had told the other waitress that I wasn’t going to charge her and proceeded to go outside to give the woman her food and her credit card back. I told her I didn’t charge her for it and that I just wanted to do anything I could to help. She dropped everything and cried. She hugged me and thanked me endlessly. And I was so happy to help.
After this woman had left, a table of mine came up to pay for their lunch. It was an older couple. Probably in their 60’s I’d say. And this man began to talk to me about how incredible what I just did was. He told me that regular people don’t normally do things like that and that made me think. I hadn’t thought about it as me going above and beyond. I was just doing what I thought was fair; what I thought was the right thing to do.
He told me a story from when he was young and had nothing. How he spent most days defeated and broken down. He went on to tell me how an act of kindness changed his life; that he had faith that people did actually give a shit. And that seeing what I just did for that woman brought him right back to that moment someone had reached out to him.
He went on to tell me about his life and I was enthralled listening to his stories about growing up and earning a living doing the craziest jobs. But, somehow, kept coming back to me doing this nice thing for this woman. He wouldn’t let it go. He seemed almost shocked. On his way out he gave me a hug and told me to never stop being the kind of person he saw that day. He reminded me that the smallest thing can change somebody’s day, month, or life.
I will never forget this man. Or this day. He really did make me feel like I had made a big impact on this woman. And now I find I’m looking for ways to make people’s days better and brighter. I try everyday to make somebody smile. And it’s all because of that man.
And he tipped like $100 which made me cry. He had just changed my day too
3. The good kind of drunken yelling.
I first moved into college, and was unsure what it would bring because high school was rough for me. I was ugly, awkward, got picked on and had made no good friends. I didn’t want college to be the colossal failure high school was.
As I was walking down the sidewalk, I heard a girl yell down from a fourth-floor balcony, “Hey! You! Hello! You’re beautiful and I hope all your dreams come true!”
Little did she know her drunken balcony shenanigans would instill in me a small spark of confidence I had never felt, and helped to grow the inner confidence in me that now has grown tenfold.
It was almost as if, in my disbelief and worry, I’d received a sign saying “you got this, everything will be okay, go get after it”
2. It’s the little things.
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, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which one I wanted to get and then decided 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. She smiled and then 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 reading. This was over 20 years ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.
1. Something to hold onto.
I was about 15 and crying on a step downtown because social anxiety was really a struggle for me. After a while, a girl of about 20 stopped just to ask me what was the matter. It took a lot, but I just opened up to her as she gently held me on her shoulder and wiped my tears away.
As I smiled before we went our separate ways, she promised me that things would get better. I was skeptical at first, but I always remembered our words whenever I was feeling sad.
I really think she might have saved me from suicide. Leah, thank you again. I will truly never forget you!
I’m inspired to be more aware of others in public now, how about you?
If you’ve got a story like this, please share it with us in the comments!