When people go out in public, they probably don't pay that much attention to those around them. Strangers just kind of blend in the background, and usually don't have much of an impact on the person's day. Although, sometimes that's not the case. The stranger might not even realize it, but a simple action can change the entire course of someone's day.
People on Reddit shared the nicest interactions they've ever had with a stranger. Content has been edited for clarity.
“A storm was coming in a day or two, so the waves were decent, enough to body surf a bit. Then 5-7 monster waves came out of nowhere. I dove under each one and when I came up after the last one, all of the water receded and dragged me out. I swam at an angle to shore, parallel and directly towards shore. No progress… Out I kept going. I was getting tired so I stopped to tread water, way out.
A surfer paddled up out of nowhere and asked ‘Do you need help?’
‘If you don’t mind,’ I responded.
He had me climb on his board to rest and tried to tow me in. We were both getting sucked out. So then we both held onto the board and swam for everything we were worth. Finally got back to the breakers, and I told him I’d probably be OK from here and cut loose. Got tumbled back to shore, rougher than I expected. Got back on the beach, puked out some salt water and just laid on my side for like 20 minutes.
Never tracked down the surfer, and that was all we said to each other.”
“I Was Caught In The Worst Of It”
“There was a massive storm in my area. The roads were under 6-10 feet of water in some places, basements were flooded for 50 miles in every direction, and I was caught in the worst of it. I was trying to drive home in my little Corolla, which proved to be a mistake.
The trouble was that I had to get to the other side of a set of railroad tracks, but the roads around the tracks had some of the worst flooding. Police were closing highways left and right, so I had no choice but to attempt side streets and even try going through neighborhoods. Of course, I had no way of knowing whether those streets were under a foot of water or four feet of water.
Out of nowhere, a huge grey pickup appeared. Big ole Ford F-350, with a Marines sticker in the back window. It edged past me and went exactly the way I’d been trying to go. That truck ventured into every flooded street, testing the depth. If it was passable, they waited at the far side for me to cross before continuing on. If the truck could have made it but my car wouldn’t, they turned around.
Thanks to them, I made it home safe without flooding my engine. I lived in that area for another three years and never saw that truck again, but I’ll never forget that driver.”
“It Was Terrifying For Me”
“When I was a young kid, I would go with my family to watch the AFL (Australian Football League) every week.
While coming back on the train from a match, a brawl started. Two men were beating the heck out of each other. One of them ended up with a broken nose, and was spewing blood everywhere. Obviously it was terrifying for me.
But once they were removed and my family and I went onto another carriage on the train, a lovely man saw that I was crying (from fear). He leant down to me, pulled out a chocolate bar from his backpack and gave it to me to eat to cheer me up. He got off a couple of stations later, but I still think about his kindness from time to time.”
A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way
“I used to be a touring musician, and I remember one day about 11 or 12 years ago I had stopped for fuel. Now, one of my guitar cases was covered in stickers with one of them saying ‘Hug a Musician, They Never Get To Dance.’ These were visible through the side window of my car. An older retired couple pulled into the service station in a big Winnebago, and while the husband was filling up, the wife spotted the sticker.
She jumped out of the winnebago, ran across the service station, gave me a hug then just went back and hopped back in the van. I never got her name and I didn’t give her mine but I hope she remembered me. It was honestly one of the nicest things to have ever happened to me on the road.”
She Had No Idea Of The Impact Of Her Words
“I was a very sad, self-conscious teenager in public, and it was raining. I was standing outside a grocery store waiting for my mom to drive the car up, wearing these knee-length green striped tights that I was a little self conscious about but decided to face my fears.
A random (adult) woman walked past me and then backtracked right away to tell me she loved my tights.
Twelve or thirteen years have passed since, but I still think about it. Back then, it really helped me be more bold and experimental with my fashion and boosted my confidence. It was just a passing comment to her, but it meant a lot to me, so I try to do the same for people now.”
If Only He Knew Who He Helped
“My girlfriend does this thing when we travel where she buys a drink for a stranger in exchange for their best story. I’ve started doing it myself.
I was in Chicago at a small bar called Pippin’s Tavern. I was outside having a smoke, and struck up conversation with an elder gentleman also having a smoke. I offered him a drink while he told me his best story.
He was in the Air Force after high school, and worked as a mechanic fixing planes. He was stationed near Las Vegas and was the top of his class. One day while working on a plane, his Supervisor comes in and says they have a problem with a plane in another hangar and no one can figure out how to fix it, not even the instructors/supervisors. They blindfold him, walk him to a neighboring hangar, show him the planes engine. After some time he finds the issue and fixes the plane. Smart guy.
They blindfold him again and lead him out of the hangar. After awhile they take his blindfold off and thank him for his help. He later finds out from a peer, that Air Force One was on the manifest for a last minute maintenance stop. With a U.S. President on board.
That story was worth the Budweiser I bought him, and we’ve stayed friends on social media since.”
The One That Got Away
“I was on the London Underground, when a girl got on and sat opposite me.
Almost right on cue, the train then stopped abruptly in the tunnel for what felt like forever. This came after a recent terrorist attack and so everyone was quietly freaking out, except my friend who found it hilarious.
During all this, this girl and I maintained eye contact and she kept smiling at me. It’s the one time I felt a very strong sense of instant and intense chemistry with a girl, which otherwise I’ve only experienced a tiny bit of with an ex I later dated for 3 years. We even had a brief chat, but suddenly the train moved again, and she left at the next stop.
She turned around to me just before she got off almost to say something, but ended up just waving and leaving before I could ask for her number. To this day I still regret not having the courage to ask. Years later I even went on a few dates with someone at university because she resembled her, to no avail.”
“I Was Happy To Help”
“I was on the bus and a little girl aged about 2 or 3 was sitting on the seat in front of me next to her mom. She turned around and did the creepy non-blinking stare that kids do so well with the prettiest big brown eyes. Her mom was a bit busy trying to get her other kids to sit down in front of her, and didn’t notice when the little girl climbed down and moved to sit next to me.
I tapped the mother on the shoulder and motioned to the little girl and offered to help her up onto the seat. She nodded so I lifted the kid up. Still staring. I pulled faces, grins, nothing but wide eyed stares.
So, me, being the weirdo I am, pulled out some stickers from my wallet and let her stick them up and down her arms. The mother noticed and smiled and I would hold the back straps of the girl’s overalls when the bus braked suddenly so she wouldn’t go flying.
No words were exchanged between the little girl and me, but her mom said ‘Thank you’ when they left.
She was super cute and I was happy to help.
He Appeared As Quickly As He Disappeared
“The Wii had just come out, and my brother and I were desperately trying to convince my mom to buy it for us for Christmas. She was really on the fence and was not convinced with our argument. Out of nowhere, literally, this tall dude comes over and gives this 2 minute speech of how great the Wii is and how much fun it is. I don’t know why, but my mom was sold and she bought it.
This dude literally took 2 minutes to convince her it was a good buy. He literally appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared. I’m convinced this guy was an angel sent to help our Wii argument and then went back to Heaven.
Wherever you are, thank you Wii Angel.”
A Kindness To Remember
“It was early morning and I was in the subway getting home after a night spent drinking way too much. I was bawling my eyes out because of a guy I was involved with at the time treated me like garbage.
I had my headphones on listening to some sad music (because that always helps), and there was this lady sitting across from me.
For awhile she just had a concerned look on her face and then she reached into her purse, handed me a tissue and simply asked, in such a kind voice and with a really genuine, caring smile on her face, if I was doing okay.
I nodded and that was it.
Usually people just ignore what’s going on around them and knowing that this stranger cared even a tiny bit made me feel so much better.
I don’t know why but that just stuck with me, although it’s been years since it happened.”
Always Listen To Your Gut
“I was coming back from college on a train from my capital city, and the train was commutersville because it was around 6 in the evening. A guy called Mark sits next to me, coke bottle in one hand and peanuts in the other, obviously also some kind of commuter. He told me he had just come back from his work do that night, offering me some peanuts followed by a sip of his coke (he was pretty tipsy, he said not to tell his wife it was actually coke mixed with another drink). I really wasn’t in the mood to chat, but then I had a weird feeling I might regret not talking to him.
We ended up talking about university and life and what a human’s ambition for life should be; turns out we agreed on a lot of things. He told me not to do what he had did and end up in an office job he hates. Later, I found out that he used to run a nightclub in my hometown. He didn’t look like that kind of guy, so never judge a book by its cover I guess. He ended up giving me his email and telling me to let him know when I went on to change the world, because he was sure I’d do it.
It’s still a compliment that means a lot to me and it was much needed for a student who was losing hope in the system and in society at the time. I’m glad I met him, and I’ll be sure to send him that email; I suppose there’s a little magic in these strangers you meet.”
It’s Free, So Why Not?
“It was a hot summer day when I was 13 or 14, and my family decided to go to the beach. After driving an hour or so we get there, find parking, unload the car, and bring everything down to the beach.
Anyhow something important, I can no longer remember what, was left in the car. I drew the short end of the stick and was tasked to go and get it. This was maybe a 5-10 minute walk back and I guess I had a displeased look on my face.
Some biker looking dude with tattoos all over comes cruising down the sidewalk on a beach cruiser, and says ‘Smile, it’s free’ as he passed me by.
Since then whenever I have to walk somewhere and people pass I smile because it’s free.”
They’re Forever Grateful To Steve
“It was sunset on a small beach behind some rental houses in the Outer Banks in 2015. My parents and I were on vacation, taking a walk and enjoying this rare opportunity together. We rounded a corner and saw a man in his 70s with a massive beard (just like my dad’s, a barely contained poof) fiddling with a nice camera. He was getting ready to take a picture of the sunset, but when he saw us his face lit up.
He asked if he could take a picture of our family, since he was well-equipped to capture the moment and the sun was just beginning to hit the horizon. After a few shots, he asked for our address. With no writing utensil or smartphone, he promised to memorize our address and mail prints of the photos in time for them to be waiting for us when we returned from vacation.
My dad was skeptical at first, but gave him our home address. A week later, five glossy photos were delivered to our doorstep with a Post-It that read ‘Hope your family enjoys these. Have a great summer! – Steve.’
Never heard from Steve again. Turns out that was my last beach trip with my Dad, and this stranger’s photos of us mean a lot more to me than Steve probably could have ever guessed.”
A Good Friend In A Bad Situation
“When I was 16, I went on a skiing trip with my dad. I had never been skiing before and my dad was solidly proficient at skiing. After a few hours of failing on the bunny slopes, my dad asked if I was ready to try going down the mountain. I was apprehensive, but I wanted to keep up with my dad, so I said sure.
We get to the top of the mountain and my dad says, ‘See you down there’ and takes off.
I head on down right behind him and almost immediately eat it. This started a particularly unpleasant process of getting up, skiing for 20 or so feet, busting my butt, and lather rinse repeating.
After probably my 8th wipeout, and having only made it maybe a quarter of the way down this stupid mountain, I came on someone else who was struggling just as hard as I was. It was a woman, probably in her mid 20’s to early 30’s, who had taken up the same strategy I had for getting to the bottom. I don’t remember who approached who, but the conversation came pretty naturally as we were the only two people who were seated on this mountain that was otherwise occupied by people successfully skiing. It turned out she was in the same boat I was. She sucked at skiing, and the people she was with had taken off, so now she was left to her own devices getting down this godforsaken mountain.
We made it a point to stick together. If she fell, I would go down intentionally, work my way over to her and help her get back up, and vice versa. We cracked jokes about how stupid the predicament we found ourselves in was. We stood up for each other when the occasional person would get mad about us falling down in someone’s way. It was slow progress, and we were both incredibly frustrated, but over the course of an hour or so we helped each other crash our way down this mountain.
When we got to the bottom, I thanked her for sticking with me and she did the same. I wished her luck with any future mountains she might try to tackle, and she laughed and said she had her fill of the mountains for this trip. We wished each other the best and I went off to find my dad, who true to his word, had been waiting for me at the bottom.”
“I Remember That Moment Of Pure Kindness”
“I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when my 2 older siblings and my mother and I were driving back from South Carolina to New York. We stopped at a gas station, and my mother pumped gas while my siblings and I scurried inside to use the bathroom. The exact details are foggy after 20 years, but I do remember that my brother and sister tricked me into thinking they were going to buy a brownie for me. When we got up to the front counter, they paid for their own treats and asked if I had my money for mine. When I said I didn’t – I’d only picked up the treat because they’d said they would pay – they just laughed and said they’d see me at the car and headed out.
I miserably walked away from the counter to put the brownie back, and the cashier called out to me a moment later. I turned to tell him I wasn’t going to steal it, but he was beckoning me over. I approached him again, and I’ll never forget his face and voice when he kindly told me to just take the brownie. He was an older Indian man, and I still remember that moment of pure kindness.
The looks on my siblings faces when I pulled it out in the car and told them what happened was the icing on the cake, and caused themselves to inadvertently throw themselves under the bus to my mom. Hey, I was the youngest of 3, and it was war. I don’t begrudge my siblings; it was over 20 years ago, and it was typical older sibling behavior. We are close now and no one’s ended up in jail, so that’s good. I’ll never know the name of the stranger who showed a sad little girl being bullied by her brother and sister such a simple kindness, somewhere along the long road between the southern and northern US, but I’ll never forget his face. He probably didn’t think much of the loss of a $1 generic brand brownie, but it was the best one I’ve ever enjoyed.”