30 People In This Online Group Share ‘Unforgettable Stranger’ Stories
Our minds work in very random ways sometimes: things like buying that one particular snack you know your partner has always loved, and has just asked for, slip your mind immediately after leaving the door.
But, the thought of that one person who, multiple decades ago, gave you a heartwarming compliment—something you’d expect your mind to forget—keeps coming back to you on random occasions. Thanks, brain.
Well, people on Reddit were asked to exercise their memories recently for that exact reason. A Reddit user by the nickname u/coggonflorence asked the lovely community of the r/AskReddit subreddit what stranger will they never forget?
Over 15,000 comments later, and with over 53,000 upvotes, the post went viral. Loads of people shared some of the most heartwarming and sometimes pretty hilarious life stories of complete strangers that they still remember today, whether it’s because of who they were or because of something they did.
Bored Panda has compiled a list of some of the best entries from the post for you to read and enjoy. And while you’re at it, why not leave a comment and vote on the stories you liked the most!
I went on a spontaneous, long ride with my bicycle along a couple of beaches in NSW, Australia one day and had forgotten my wallet or the fruits I'd usually take with me. Couple of hours later, I sat on one of two benches, watching the waves crushing along the shore of the empty beach whilst listening to the rumble inside my stomach, announcing it requires feeding.
A man twice my age (I was 25,f) sat down on the bench next to mine and we shared a smile and a nod. He got comfy and my attention wandered back to the blue horizon over the sea when suddenly I heard
"Hey, you hungry?"
I looked over and he held out this bag filled with plums. I moved to his bench, biggest smile on my face, where we shared his plums and our names. He introduced himself as 'Captain Cook', a name his mate's had given him. He told me how he's been homeless for many years after losing his job and wife, how his daughters are embarrassed about his situation and how he's never met his grandkids before. When he talked about his daughters he had such a shine of pride in his gaze despite the sadness that followed along. I hugged him then and that tipped him over the edge. He cried and cried, not moving his head out the crook of my neck. I've never heard a grown man's heart break like that before. He wailed so loud, not even the seagulls were a match for him.
Within the blink of an eye Captain Cook peeled himself out of my arms, put his sunnies back on, grabbed his bags and turned to leave.
All he said was
What really got me, like really really got me, was that he couldn't bear showing me his tears. He was embarrassed for his sadness, embarrassed for his vulnerability. He ran-waddled as fast as his legs allowed with all the bags and backpacks swinging on his shoulders.
I never saw Captain Cook again. All that was left of him was the bag of plums, still sitting where he had sat before. He'd left them for me.
When I was super overweight, I was just starting to workout somewhat regularly. Being morbidly obese at the gym is terrible - I have never felt more eyes on me before in my life.
I was on a treadmill, grinding out some inclined walk/ light jogging, and a super fit girl got on the machine next to me (this was all pre-COVID). She did a short warm-up, and before she got off the treadmill she turned to me and gave me a high five and told me to keep it up.
It was so encouraging to have that support, when I was used to getting stared at by everyone else in the gym. Her small, kind gesture went a long way!
My son was a week old, and had to go to the doctor. I had severe early onset post partum depression, and I hadn't slept more than an hour at a time since his birth.
I locked my keys, phone, and son in the car.
This incredibly wonderful older couple calmed me down, called CAA, parked beside my car and sat with me until the tow truck came and unlocked the car. The tow driver refused payment.
I will never forget those three people.
When I was a broke-as-sin 18 year old trying to make ends meet, I had a side hustle providing IT support for households (like a geek squad sort of thing).
In practice, I would mostly set up computers for elderly people and the tech illiterate, and teach them how to use them ... Or get them out of technical binds (usually with printers) by googling on their behalf.
This elderly Korean gentleman hired me to set up his new computer for him; I spent an hour setting it up and teaching him how to use it, and two more hours eating a wonderful lunch with the man and his wife. He wouldn't accept my invoice (for just the first hour) -- instead, he paid me 3x my hourly rate for all three hours, and asked me to come back to train him the next week.
Over the course of about a month I came back four times, worked with him, had a lovely meal, and he would tell me about his family and his kids (he was so proud of his daughter, who was about to finish her residency and become a pediatrician).
By the end of the month he was pretty comfortable on the PC, and I thanked him profusely for how kind he was and how ridiculously he'd overpaid me.
He told me I reminded him of his son (who was estranged for some reason -- I didn't press), and that he hoped somewhere out there somebody was being kind to his son, and sharing a home cooked meal with him.
I don't know why, but more than ten years later I can't think of that guy without tearing up. I hope everything turned out well for him.
There are a few. The biggest one was when I was homeless and asked a lady for the time. She told me and asked if I wanted to share her sandwich and the paper. She was the first person to treat me like a person, like I was worth something in years. I never got her name but I will remember her fondly for the rest of my life. I know that she'll never, ever know what a difference she made in my life. Just that one simple thing she did and the humanity she showed me changed my life. I got sober just a few days later and completely turned my life around.
One person, one smile, one kindness that you may never think of again in your life can change someone else's life beyond measure.
The woman who pulled over in the pouring rain and talked me down off the railing of a bridge over a Florida highway when I was 18.
She looked like she had just left a business meeting, but she stayed with me for probably an hour, no umbrella, no raincoat, car still running, listening to me, offering words of encouragement. She truly believed that God had a plan for my life and it wasn’t supposed to end that night. She finally convinced me that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I’m 51 now. I still haven’t figured out what God’s plan is for me, but I’m starting to believe she was right.
My lost wallet was returned in the mail.
The anonymous stranger sent it back at their own expense ($9.75 postage) with all the money, credit cards, drivers license, and other items intact - nothing was missing.
A note enclosed read: "Please do something kind for a stranger whenever you have the opportunity."
When my oldest was a toddler, he went to daycare in the downtown area of our city. We took the bus, then the subway and then walked to daycare (didn’t have a car), then I’d get back on the subway for a few stops to go to work.
One afternoon, it was POURING. I’m by myself, holding a 2yo, his backpack, my work bag and trying to book it 4 city blocks to the subway station. No hands left for an umbrella. A businessman (prob a high priced lawyer, based on the area) walked us all the way to the entrance of the subway station, holding an umbrella over us the whole time.
I encountered a lot of nastiness commuting with a kid that year, but we also met with random kindness from strangers too.
When my wife and I first started dating, we were walking into a Trader Joe’s holding hands. This elderly woman looks at us and says rather loudly “CUTE COUPLE ALERT!!”
My wife and I still laugh about it, it’s been 12 years at least.
I was fiddling with my camera on a train platform in Melbourne, Australia, trying to take an artsy shot of the trains or something. I noticed through my viewfinder a guy about my age (early twenties or so at the time) full-on flipping me off on the train on the opposite platform.
I lowered my camera, laughing, and flipped him off back. He laughed. The train started to pull away, and I waved, and he waved back.
Took a train to NYC by myself for the first time. I was 18. Second time to NYC, first time ever on a train. I told the kiosk lady that I’d never been on a train before and asked if she might give me a quick run down of what to do. Another train station employee was nearby and was so interested and amused that I was taking a train for the first time and was alone. He walked me through what to do, down to the smallest detail. No judgement, no meanness. He was just a guy with a silly disposition, delighting in a young person’s naivety breaking up the doldrums of his week. I aspire to be that way when people ask me for help. Thanks, Frank P. You were a peach.
I was in the laundry with my dog and an old man with his dog approached, our pets met and the man said "When Jesus said love your neighbour as you love yourself, only the dogs understood it" After that we had an small chat, then he left and I have never seen him again.
I will never forget that man
I was in my freshman year of college and while alone in my dorm room a light fixture fell on my head giving me a concussion and a major gash. After being taken to the hospital and getting 10 staples in the scalp and simultaneously being diagnosed with a raging UTI I was dumped in the parking lot with glass in my hair and blood covering my face and 15 miles away from the campus at 2 AM.
This was before Uber and I didn't know who I could call to help me. A female cop drove by and offered to take me back to campus, along the way she stopped at a CVS and paid for my prescriptions out of her own pocket. Once back at campus she made sure I got back to my room and let my RA know what had happened and to keep an eye on me.
I truly don't know what I would have done without her. I was freshly 17, new to the area, it was very rural, I didn't have my wallet, and I was bleeding and concussed. I will forever be grateful for her help.
I was by myself in a restaurant bathroom with my screaming newborn baby. As his cries intensified, I started to crumble knowing that we somehow had to walk all the way through the massive restaurant as the bathroom was tucked away in the back. A woman close to my age walked in, I apologized for the crying, and she immediately smiled and responded with “don’t even worry about it”. On her way out, she walked up to me and my baby and asked if this was my first. I responded with a yes. She was not a mom herself, but immediately became empathetic to my situation. After a few minutes of conversation, I told her that I was nervous about walking my crying baby through the busy restaurant. She looked at me and said “let’s get you out of here”. She then opened the door and walked behind me softly rooting me on all the way back to my table.. She had no idea how much I needed her in that moment and I’m forever grateful.
The lady who told me I looked great in blue, and that it was clearly my color.
To this day if I'm deciding between shirts to buy, or wear, I'll go with blue.
That compliment was about fifteen years ago at least.
A prisoner on a greyhound bus. There were two of them, but I remember one specifically. Apparently, they send prisoners who are transferring from max to minimum security on greyhound buses. They didn't have a guard or anything, and from what she said, they had no motivation at all to run. She had already served 5 years, and only had 6 months left. If she tried to run, she would serve at least 10 more years.
I was 17 and pregnant, and completely broke. I was starving and scared. My life was in shambles, and everyone in my family had abandoned me. She bought me food and was kind to me. She was old enough to be my mother, and I really wished she was. She didn't judge me...she just bought me food and drinks and offered kind words. I really wish I could find her and repay her kindness.
My dad is a truck driver, at the time he was probably about 55-56(it was a long time ago i cant remember) and we were waiting for a train to pass. so there was then this black guy that looked rather homeless and he knocked on the glass of our truck and he said something along the lines of "can i give you something for your grandson?" and pulls out this model freight train. my dad insisted on giving him $20 dollars but the guy refused saying "im just trying to make people happy"
I was driving down south with my girlfriend, we have a blowout so I put on the donut. The donut blows out while we’re exiting the very next exit. So there we are maybe 19 and at least a hundred miles from anyone we know at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking on what to do next, and probably looked like there was something wrong so this older man offered to help. He drives me 20 or so minutes to a junk yard to get a cheap tire. Then he puts the tires on the rim with no more than a pry bar and some soapy water. Had a compressor on his truck so he aired it up and I put it on. And we went on our way.
When I was in elementary school I fell through ice. A man who was walking his dog saw me fall and rushed to the shore. I frantically swam back to the shore, I was only about 5 meters in to the pond so it wasn't a long way, but it took some with soaked winter clothes. When I reached the shore, the man pulled me up by my jacket. It would've been difficult to get up, as there was a steep incline. I didn't thank him, because I was in shock, but I bet he knows I was grateful, and 20 years later I still hope I would had thanked him.
I volunteer at a suicide hotline.
Some guy, Bob, called in and we started talking about his home situation. Nothing absolutely horrendous... But he felt trapped, and stressed, and felt like he didn't have options. When people use language like that, our training says we should ask if they are thinking of suicide.
Many volunteers have trouble with this. But if you mention suicide to someone who is not suicidal, it doesn't make them more suicidal - they just correct you and say "No... I feel more like XYZ".
So I asked Bob, "Bob, you're using a lot of language that people use when they're thinking of suicide. Are you thinking of suicide?"
There was a pause. And then a huge wail. I could hear so much pain in his voice. I listened to him cry for at least 5 minutes.
I've talked to people who had suicidal ideation before "it would be better if I were dead" kind of thinking, but with no plan.
Bob said yes he was considering suicide and we talked it out a bit more.
After the pause and wail, that was the most concerned I've ever been for a human being outside my family. This wasn't just talking, I felt like he had already made up his mind about it which was so scary.
I only know what he told me. I know he was in his car parked somewhere. I know we got a few short laughs out of each other and we made some plans for him. Plans are important because it gives you a sense that if he has something to do, to plan for, he can't commit suicide.
Anyway, he truly is a stranger - I don't know his real name or what he looks like. I just know his story, and I know that he was in immense pain that day. He had a particular kind of accent, and, whenever I meet someone with that same accent, I think of him and hope he's ok.
I was waiting for my appointment with an optometrist when an old haitian man walked in with a grocery bags. Thai receptionist knew him so he walked up to me and proceeded to ask me riddles. When I finally got the answer to one he reached into his bag and gave me a snickers then left. To this day I'm really curious as to what would motivate a man to become a wholesome riddler.
One day I was trying to park at the store and a lady was crossing in front of me in the lot. I was waiting patiently and she shot me a dirty look and yelled something like "What's your problem asshole?". I proceeded to return the profanities with some "eff you's" and other goodies. I went into the store steaming and proceeded to do my shopping. When I came out I had all but forgotten about the lady but as I drove away, there she was. Something came over me and I pulled up to her and said something like, " I'm sorry for yelling and cursing at you, I don't even know you. Who knows, we could have a lot in common or even be friends". Her face transformed in front of me. It went from twisted up angry, to soft and friendly. She apologized immediately and in the most genuine way, told me to have a good day. This is the day I really learned positivity and love is really powerful and the type of energy I want in my life. I know I sound like a lil softie but that was a big experience for me and I'm grateful for her.
When I was younger, I went grocery shopping with my dad. As we were walking, an old man stopped us and handed both me and my sister a shiny one dollar coin. He told us that he wanted us to have them and to have a Merry Christmas. I never saw him again, but I think of that kind old man from time to time.
Few years ago, I was stopping at a red light and there was an old man selling candy. He approached my car and I was ready to tell him I didn't want anything, but he motioned me to roll my window down, gave me a lollipop and some gum, and said “to the beautiful young lady, never forget you’re a star” and walked away before I could say anything. Needless to say he brightened my day.
Now, whenever I’m sad, I think about that man telling me I’m a star. Never fails to cheer me up.
back when I was like.... maybe 6 or 7 years old me and my big bro (maybe 10 or 11) were out playing and saw this cat that was being thrown around by some other kids. We took that poor cat away form the kids and with the help of two other girls we went around asking people if they wanted the cat (it was a stray in pretty bad condition) we were running out of people to ask until we found a woman who took the cat. The woman said that her cat had recently died and that she was still mourning its death, but she would take the cat so that it too could have a loving family
I was the closing cashier at a grocery store when a very tired looking lady came through. I'll never forget what she got because she got a steak and some seafood and a frozen bag of Arby's fries. I was just trying to make light conversation and said something along the lines of "looks like a good time." And she just in a hollow voice told me that it was the first thing she was going to eat in days because her son had just passed away and this is a meal he would have liked. I talked to the lady and found out more about her son, he was around my age and had died of cancer. She went on her way but would come back to my register when I was working. When I left, I told her it was my last day and she asked me for a hug. Never saw her again but I think of her when I see Arby's fries and hope that she is doing okay.
In college, I was dating a girl. I really loved her, but I realized that we were incompatible and we had to break up.
So I downed a handle of vodka by myself in my dorm. I was drunk as fuck, but still feeling s!@#$%, so I decided to head to the bars and drink some more. I actually don't remember if I made it there or not, but I remember getting off the bus from having come from the bars and was too wasted to continue the relatively short walk to my dorm.
I decided to just lay down where I was at, which was quite literally the gutter next to the railing. Luckily it was an empty gutter, but a gutter nonetheless.
This complete bro dude comes by and sees me laying in the gutter and helps me up. He helps me walk back to my dorm and on the struggle there he asks me what's wrong. I explained the situation. I don't remember much of anything from the conversation, but I do remember him saying something to the effect of "bro, your problems aren't gonna be solved at the bottom of a bottle".
This girl at my middle school, long story short I tripped and fell my knee was hurting really bad (I found out later I dislocated it) so all I could do was sit there on the ground as tons of other kids including some of my friends just walked right by. This complete stranger saw me got one of the teachers who then called the nurse and I'm just sitting here with a complete stranger talking to me asking if I was ok.
I was doing tech support and my customer was so happy with my service she offered to marry me to her daughter. I politely declined.
I was at a pool bar at a resort in Jamaica. A British lady next to me asked me the most random question, which turned into a nearly three hour conversation. The question: What is a redneck? It was a lot more difficult to explain than I thought it would be. I didnt realize that was an unknown concept to a lot of Brits.
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