30 People Reveal The Most Intimate Moments They Had With People They’ve Never Seen In Their Lives Before
A kind word, a hug when needed, and a pinch of empathy are sometimes all that’s needed to make someone smile when they’re down and to feel supported when things seem darkest. We’re all human after all, but sometimes we forget that as we’re busily rushing about doing whatever it is that we do. However, when we slow down, when we get outside of our heads, we can start to notice strangers in need. Strangers who might need a helping hand. Our helping hand.
In a series of honest, emotional, and soul-healing posts on Reddit, internet users shared the most intimate moments they had with complete strangers. The posts are like chicken soup for the heart and soul, dear Pandas, and we thought they’d warm you up and inspire you to be just a bit kinder today. This is the kind of content that the internet was made for!
Scroll down for some truly heart-warming stories. Remember to upvote the ones that touched you the most, share your own stories in the comments if you’re feeling up to it, and read through Bored Panda’s interview about the benefits of kindness with British psychotherapist Silva Neves.
I had to put down my dog Rocco last Christmas because of age-related health problems. I spoiled him rotten the whole week before. On his last day, I took him for one final walk at the local dog park. He was a big guy, 135 pounds of pure love. The first thing I saw as we began our walk was an older lady with a tiny little dog that was not even the size of Rocco’s head. Of course, Rocco went on his way to say hello and I called out to reassure the woman that he was very gentle. She smiled and replied she wasn’t worried.
As our dogs got to know each other we started chatting and she commented on what a beautiful, wonderful dog Rocco was. I thanked her and told her that sadly it was his last day and I had to put him to sleep later on that day. She immediately burst into tears and looked at me with such compassion and asked if she could hug me. I agreed and we were both in tears.
Afterwards, she told me that she knew how much a dog could make a difference in your life and that just two weeks prior her husband had passed away and she didn’t know how she would have got through it all without her dog. At this point, I was crying again and I asked if I could give her a hug. So there we stood, two complete strangers, hugging and crying. I will never forget that woman and the genuine love and compassion she showed me when I needed it the most.
I was living in Houston and working at a FedEx Kinkos when Hurricane Katrina happened. An older woman came in a with photo of her son who was missing that she wanted to post online. She had no idea how to really use a computer and certainly no idea how to scan and upload a photo. We were way backed up on the in-house side of things, so I set her up at a self-service computer and did it all myself. I scanned and burned her a copy of the photo, uploaded it online to where she wanted, and walked her through everything I did in case she found other places to post the photo. She was immensely grateful.
Roughly two months later, she came in and brought her son because he wanted to thank me for helping his mom find him. We hugged. I cried. Most intimate stranger moment of my life.
I broke my hand very recently in a bad, should-have-died car accident. The State Trooper who arrived almost refused to help me get my ID out of my wallet even with my express permission, let alone help me get out of my car. Then there was Vance.
Vance was a normal-dude tow truck driver with AAA. When he got to me, shaking in my car, eyes and nose running like a faucet, he offered to help me out of the car. His tone was thick with empathy, something severely lacking from the trooper. He helped me open the door and offered to scoop me out of the vehicle, though I just needed an arm. He grabbed me around the lower back and told me I could lean into him as much as I needed. Our faces were touching as he helped me out of the car.
Vance went above and beyond his duty. I wouldn't think twice about a firefighter or police officer doing this, but the tow truck driver gave me pause.
Thank you Vance!
Redditor u/Pielef’s thread on the r/AskReddit subreddit touched a lot of hearts. It’s incredibly difficult not to smile when reading these stories because they touch something primal in all of us—the beauty of seeing an altruistic act when it’s least expected.
The Mental Health Foundation explains that, at its very core, being kind to others makes us feel good. “Helping others can also improve our support networks and encourage us to be more active. This in turn can improve our self-esteem,” they explain that kindness does wonders for our social network.
What’s more, altruism creates a sense of belonging and reduces our feelings of isolation if we have any. We can start feeling connected to our local community by helping our neighbors or complete strangers in need.
Was flying back to the states from Europe. It was about a 14 hour flight. I have health problems and toward the end of the flight I got very sick. Had a very high fever and the shakes. My boyfriend was to my left, an empty seat to my right and next to that seat was a Middle Aged Muslim woman she was wearing the full headscarf. I was getting so sick that I couldn’t hold my head up anymore so I kinda started to lay down on the empty seat. My boyfriend covered me with his blanket and mine. Anyone who has used an airplane blanket knows it’s basically a sheet. You know why this woman does? Without any communication what so ever, she put her blanket on me and rubbed my back till I fell asleep. I cried so hard when she started to rub my back. She was a mom who saw a kid who was sick and needed help. Granted I’m in my 20s but nothing compares to a mom rubbing your back when you’re sick. I don’t think I would have survived that flight without her. I tried to thank her but she didn’t speak any English. But I hope she knows how much that meant to me and how much it taught me.
Once, when my dog was just a few months old, we were out for a walk and we passed this guy on the street who was just leaning against a wall. My dog stopped, and refused to budge. She looked at me, looked up at the guy, then looked back at me and wagged her tail a little. So I said, "Do you want to say hello?" And she turned to the guy and put her paws on his knee. Just for the record, my dog doesn't like people — she's really shy and doesn't approach strangers — so I was kind of surprised that she wanted to interact. The guy bent down and petted her for a minute or two. Then, he stood up, looked at me, and said thank you. The look on his face was so vulnerable, like he was about to cry. That was over a year ago and I think about that guy once in a while. He was so grateful to just pet a cute puppy for a few minutes, and my dog just seemed to know that he needed it.
I was in Manhattan and I had bought a bunch of otc pills to try to commit s**cide. I stepped outside the pharmacy and opened one of the bottles, but I dropped it and the pills went all over the sidewalk. A homeless woman came up and somehow knew what was happening. She grabbed me and kept saying "don't you take all these pills. Don't do this" etc etc. She had me give her the pills and she threw them in a dumpster. I have no idea how she knew what I was planning to do but she probably saved me that night
“Helping others, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can help to put things into perspective and make you feel more positive. There is some evidence that being aware of your own acts of kindness, as well as the things you are grateful for, can increase feelings of happiness, optimism, and satisfaction. Doing good may help you to have a more positive outlook about your own circumstances,” writes the Mental Health Foundation.
Furthermore, acts of kindness are contagious. Well, in a way. We’re far more likely to be altruistic ourselves when we witness kindness or are on the receiving end of it. In short, kindness begets kindness.
When I was like 10 or 11, I was outside playing in the sprinklers with my little brother and sister. There was a car crash right in front of our house, women in a yellow VW Bug got t-boned on the driver side.
Her collarbone broke and was sticking out, and had cut an artery. I ran out to try to help (cub scouts I guess, not really sure what I thought I could do at this point.) And she was obviously very distraught and grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go. I watched her bleed to death while holding her hand, and never knew her name.
It was at my year 11 inter-school dance. I had what I can now say was a panic attack and retreated to the bathroom. My best friend tried to get me out, but I couldn't leave. I told her to go back out and I would be fine.
A girl from another school came in and saw I was obviously distressed. She didn't ask me what was wrong or if I was okay. She said she loved my dress and asked me about it. She then told me about hers and we started talking about school and what we wanted to do when we graduated. Her friends eventually came in and found her and she said goodbye. I felt so much better so I went out and joined my friends.
I never got her name and don't remember which school she went to, but I am so incredibly grateful to her and I hope she is having a wonderful life.
On a cold winter day, there was a homeless man sitting on the front steps of the church where I was music director. As I unlocked the door to enter the building for practice, I noticed the man was shivering and looked especially destitute. So I invited him inside and fixed food for him in the parish hall kitchen. I noticed a profound difference after I fed him some food, coffee, and cookies. Also, the church's rummage sale had a heavy winter coat and hat that fit him perfectly, so I gave that to him. As he departed, the man gave me a warm smile, followed by a bear hug — a moment I'll never forget.
Psychotherapist Silva from the United Kingdom explained to Bored Panda that human beings have two opposite instincts within themselves. One of them is directly linked to kindness and altruism. The other relates to survival and the desire to protect ourselves.
In other words, we’re constantly balancing the pros and cons of whether or not we should lend a helping hand (because we fear it might backfire on us in some way).
I was at a bus station a few years back. A girl I didn't know was being bothered by some guy. He was being very pushy and she had a hard time telling him off. I walked up and acted like she was a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. She immediately went with it, and we walked away from the guy but he hovered. So we kept up the act, and we had a conversation as if we were old pals catching up. I learned so much about this girl and her life in those 10 minutes we spoke. I made sure she got on her bus, and the guy disappeared. I never saw her again, but I hope she's still doing well.
I was in a long line at a 7-11 and and old black lady behind me started braiding my hair and humming. When she was done, I said thank you and left with my purchase.
I accidentally made eye contact with another Londoner on the underground once.
I haven't felt so guilty and ashamed in my life.
The therapist listed a number of reasons why being kind and altruistic benefits us and why we’re driven to these behaviors.
“Being kind is good for us because it gives us a sense of purpose, it raises our self-esteem, and it releases feel-good brain chemicals,” he told Bored Panda.
I dropped my keys on the way to my car once. I had just begun to retrace my steps when a dude walked by on the sidewalk. He gave me a small 'Hey' to get my attention, and without hesitation, threw my keys over to me. Mid-flight I said, 'Thank you,' and in one fluid motion, I caught the keys and sat down in the drivers seat. It was so smooth and effortless. Good on that guy, my hero.
I'm a dude in my mid-twenties and I drive for Uber/Lyft. One time, on a really busy night, a young woman got in my car while I had my Guardians of the Galaxy Pandora station playing. We were exchanging simple pleasantries when "American Pie" came on. Now, I don't really sing along with my passengers, or sing in general on account of the fact that I'm not good at singing. But this young woman in my car just started singing along to the song. After a verse or two, I decided to join in. She then started to harmonize with my off-pitch singing. The song ended right as I pulled up to her hotel, we exchanged minimal pleasantries again, and went on our separate ways. I don't even remember her name or face, but I definitely remember the random jam session that was good enough to join in on.
Not quite a stranger as I'd seen this guy around my college. But one day I was waiting outside the classroom between lessons and I was wearing a ring on a strap around my neck that looked kinda like the one ring from Lord of the Rings.
This dude walks past, does a double-take at the ring, looks at it and says "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them."
Instinctively, I replied "One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."
He high-fived me and carried on walking. My friend who was standing next to me at the time called me a f**king dork, but I think he was just jealous.
This was also circa 2002, so before pretty much the same thing happened in Clerks 2.
“It [kindness] is also good for others, obviously. So kindness is actually something that we, humans, are naturally driven to be,” the expert shared how we’re hard-wired to act kindly towards others.
However, there is a catch. While we do tend to want to help other human beings, we’re also wary of strangers. “The sense of kindness is in competition with our survival mode, so, as human beings, we tend to live in contradiction, between kindness (opening our arms) and protection (closing our arms),” he said.
I’m not sure how much this counts but I had lost my passport in China and I met this Chinese girl halfway through my day of mad searching. I spent the rest of my day with her, she told me everything about her really, and she stayed with me for at least 8 hours translating to police for me, calling them and staying with me when we ended up in a police office. She even bought me food because I’d lost all my money as well and insisted I have something. When I finally found my passport and everything at the end of the night I burst into tears and hugged her so tightly and she was just comforting me, telling me ‘Didn’t I say everything would work out? Didn’t I say so?’ She was without a doubt one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. I bought her a drink, shouted her a snack and walked her home. I never saw her again. Probably never will but I hope she’s well.
I also had a Russian guy help me out that day but I’d know
I once sat next to a middle-aged lady on an airplane. It was her first time flying and she was freaking out. I held her hand and arm through takeoff, landing, and during the slight turbulence during the flight. Normally I'm not a touchy person, but this felt natural.
Saved a girl from a creep on a bus. I was inside at a gas station and I saw that He was hitting on her at the bus stop right outside, obviously getting too close and she wasn’t into him at all. When the bus came, I walked out and boarded with them. He made sure to sit down right next to her lol. I walked and pulled the old “ oh hey (insert made up name here), how are you? Etc. etc.” then I asked if the dude would mind moving so I could sit next to “my friend”. I’m a pretty big dude (6’6” 340lbs) so I can be pretty intimidating when I want to. He moved and I stayed with her till he got off the bus. She thanked me and then I just rode the bus back to the gas station so I could drive home in my car. Never seen her since
Human beings aren’t the only ones capable of altruism and kindness. There’s a case for biological altruism that doesn’t even require a species to have the same level of consciousness as human beings do.
Or, in other words, altruism doesn’t necessarily need kind intent to be altruistic. However, complex social structures seem to lead to more instances of kindness.
I was walking down the street when this white-haired hippie woman looked me up and down and said, 'OK, now I'm going to hug you.' And she did. It was a strong, loving hug. Then she said, 'A lot of people need you to be strong for them. So keep on keepin' on.' And off she went to run her errands. As it turned out, my family went through some rough times soon after, and I was there for them all, though it was a struggle. And now, years later, everyone's doing just fine.
Back in highschool I was on a school trip in a downtown city. I was lighting up my last smoke I had when suddenly a hand tapped me on tbe shoulder. As I turn around I see some 6"5 300 pound black man leaning over me with tears in his eyes. Through a crying stutter he asks in the politest voice ever "excuse me sir could I trouble you for a cigarette".
At this point I tell him I literally just lit my last one and he gives me an understanding nod and walks off. Seeing his sad face broke my hoeart so I tell my friends to give me a smoke each and I run probably 2 blocks away to catch up with this dude. Immediately this man erupts in a smile and thanks me over and over after the warmest hug ever. I have no idea why he was crying but I know we both had a great appreciation for each other that day.
Former EMT here. I remember crying with a family whose grandfather got his pulse back after five minutes of me giving him CPR. Unfortunately, he didn't survive the brain damage, but they were so grateful to me for giving them a chance to say goodbye.
“Vampire bats regularly regurgitate blood and donate it to other members of their group who have failed to feed that night, ensuring they do not starve. In numerous bird species, a breeding pair receives help in raising its young from other ‘helper’ birds, who protect the nest from predators and help to feed the fledglings,” the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy shares some examples of altruistic behaviors in animals.
“Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.”
I got into a car with a stranger who was asking for directions so I could show him the way — in hindsight, a little naïve and would not recommend. We ended up spending the entire day together. I talked about all of my problems, including my inferiority complex, with him. He had a degree in psychology so he gave me some useful tips. Afterwards, we became kind of friends. It's crazy how sometimes a complete stranger can care about you more than some of your 'friends.'
Went to a wedding the weekend just gone. Spot a guy across the room at the start of the evening do and felt something I haven't felt in a very long time. At some point get talking to him and we end up spending the whole evening laughing and we go back to his room. Now I haven't slept with anyone for over 2 years and am currently in psychosexual therapy because I've been too frightened to have sex due to past trauma. I basically prattled off with my whole life story and it ended with me feeling comfortable enough to sleep with him. Anyway it was a one night stand and I doubt he felt the same way I did about the evening and night. He'll never know how much he helped me in a single evening. It's been such a long time I've felt intimate with anyone. It was a pleasant reminder of what it's like and how good it can be.
I used to live abroad a couple of years ago and when I came back to my "new" country after being home for Christmas I was waiting for the airport bus to go into town.
While I was waiting there a woman my age (~20) comes up and asks me if I know the way to the airport bus and as I did we ended up waiting together there and then sat next to each other on the bus. She was so easy to talk to. The bus was about 50 minutes and we got talking really deep and it felt super natural. Then we got to the main station in town and we looked each other in the eyes and kissed before wishing each other well and going on our separate ways. I'm thinking of her quite often still, years later and it pains me that I didn't take her number or anything - just her name, Katja.
However I feel that maybe this is what made it so special, 2 strangers in a random country sharing 1 hour by destiny while sharing intimate stories and feeling connected in a way that I have not experienced before or after. Maybe she was my soul mate but in that case I'm sure we will meet again.
This altruistic behavior extends to insects, too. “In social insect colonies (ants, wasps, bees, and termites), sterile workers devote their whole lives to caring for the queen, constructing and protecting the nest, foraging for food, and tending the larvae. Such behavior is maximally altruistic: sterile workers obviously do not leave any offspring of their own—so have personal fitness of zero—but their actions greatly assist the reproductive efforts of the queen.”
Apart from being groped by hands elderly women, the most interesting moment was when I met a drunk one sad saturday a few years ago.
I was depressed and just milling about downtown. Stopped to have a beer and this drunk guy walks up to me, completely unfiltered. He goes "I got fired and none of my friends came to cheer me up. Wanna chug a beer and complain?". I agreed, being depressed myself.
Turns out this guy knew bartenders all around town. We went from bar to bar and got all kinds of preferential treatment. Free drinks, great seats and plenty of freebies. Turns out this guy was a local sports personality. Assistant coach, I think?
Note; I'm an unappealing fat dude. This guy was married with kids. There was absolutely no romantics involved. He just needed a bro to talk to.
We hung out all night, and he actually gave me good advice. We had a surprising amount of common interests and talked about everything. At the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and said we'd do it again if he didn't have to move to get a new job. Sadly, I never saw him again. I hope he's okay.
There's just another type of intimacy meeting a new friend and immediately dropping all filters. It was unique.
When I was 11 my dog got hit by a car the dude kept going but this very nice woman stopped and got in contact with my parents and made sure I was okay. I was crying so hard and she just let me cry into her shoulder till my parents got there
Once when I was in a public bathroom, a very pregnant lady was there with her two young daughters. Neither of the girls could reach the sink to wash their hands, and the mom was too pregnant to be lifting them. I'm a mom, so I offered. I held the girls up one at a time while they each washed and dried their hands and then sent them back to mom.
I was on a ski lift with a total stranger. For whatever reason we started talking about our respective faiths almost immediately, but in a totally chill kind of way, without any weirdness or awkwardness. The dude then admitted he was going through a pretty rough patch and was doing some soul searching as a result. I offered my consolations and encouraged him to open up if he wanted to, which is out of character for me since I'm an introvert.
So then this dude, who I had just met as we sat down on a ski lift, opened up and told me all about his struggles. I won't repeat what he said, as almost all of it was deeply personal, but he really did have it rough. Some of it was his fault, he acknowledged, but most of it was out of his control. He started tearing up at the end and had to remove his ski goggles just to wipe away the tears. As we neared the top, he thanked me for listening and gave me a coupon for a free hot chocolate from a restaurant on the slopes.
I wished him the best of luck with what he was going through and told him he seemed like an outstanding guy who had it in him to make it through this. He thanked me again, then we both parted ways. I never saw him again, but I truly hope things got better for him.
When I was about 14, I was at a road-stop restaurant with my family, and from the moment we entered, I made eye contact with this girl about my age at another table. Our eyes just kept meeting while we were eating and I couldn't really focus on what anyone in my family was saying. When we left the place, I looked over my shoulder outside, and met her eyes one last time. I held it for a good 10–15 seconds before my mother called me over to the car. I still think of her sometimes.
A homeless woman in front of a Wal-Mart asked me for a dollar because she was trying to scrape up 10 dollars for food I think but I gave her all the physical money I had on me which was 7 dollars. She was happy that she received so much from one person and extended her arms out for a hug. I gave her a hug and wished her luck then went on about my day. It makes me sad to see homeless people living the way that they do so I try to help out wherever I can.
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