Everyone goes through stressful situations. Some are minor and there are some that are unforgettable. These people share the most intense moment they’ve ever experienced. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
"While working in a prison teaching high school equivalency classes, new students could show up at any time without warning. I had a class of 32 female offenders who were required to get their GEDs before being paroled. Every table was set up and every chair was being used. That was when my new student arrived. She looked like she could easily be Michael Clarke Duncan’s twin sister. Her face was stern, yet there was a distant look in her eyes as if she just found out that a loved one had died. She didn't say a word as she robotically handed me her enrollment slip.
I told myself, 'Keep a smile on your face. Welcome her to the room. Do not show fear!' It seemed, however, that she could hear my heart beating and see my forehead start to sweat.
'Oh NO! Where is she going to sit?!' I wondered. I suddenly found myself sliding my desk off to the side, right under a map of the world, and I gave her my chair. She was separated from the rest of the class and in the front of the room, but that was the best I could do with no notice.
My new student was completely silent. When she was not studying the map from her seat, she looked at me as if she hated my guts. When class was over, my students filed out into the hallway, but my new student remained seated. She continued to stare at me as if she wanted to say something but was waiting until we were the only two in the room. Flashbacks to my training sessions when we were warned to never be alone with an offender flooded my brain.
I visualized the poor teacher before me who was stabbed through her knee with a pencil. I scrambled to remember those self-defense moves that we had practiced for a whole week, but then I realized, none of those tactics were going to work with a woman at least three times my size. She stood up and blocked the door with her massive body; her eyes locked on mine. She motioned for me to go to the back of the room.
I thought, 'Oh no! This is it! She’s going to kill me!' My heart was racing.
When we were both in the back corner of the now empty classroom, she spoke, 'I need to talk to you in public. I have some questions and I don't want anyone else to hear.'
Public? What? Then I realized what she meant and I answered her, straining to keep my voice steady, 'Yes, you can ask me some questions in private.'
Her questions completely shocked me, and I suddenly felt like a mother figure comforting a confused, terrified, and vulnerable little girl.
She asked, 'What does it mean to have a 79 IQ?'
An average IQ is 90–110. A person with an intellectual disability has an IQ of 75 or lower. I figured she didn't need to know that. That would be an unnecessary hit to her self-esteem.
I replied, 'That score could be considered within the average range.'
She asked her second question, 'Is the world round or flat? I thought my third-grade teacher said it was round, but I can't remember, and on that map, it’s flat.'
I explained that the world is in fact round, but it would be hard to tape a globe to the wall. So the world is shown as flat on the map so we could see it easily.
I thought unless the third question was, 'What are your final words before you die?' this encounter was going to be just fine.
Then she asked, 'Is there a cure for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome? Magic Johnson has it and he’s still alive.'
Upon being admitted to prison, tests are performed (including IQ and blood tests). My 22-year-old student had just found out she had Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Any fear I had instantly turned to sympathy. My throat was so tight with sadness, I had to swallow in order to speak.
I replied, 'There is not a cure for it yet, but treatments are much better than they used to be and people can live a long time with the syndrome.'
I felt so guilty for thinking my new student was going to kill me. Her life situation was horrible, some would even consider it hopeless, but she kept plugging away at getting an education. She even formed a tutoring group in her dorm and helped other students with their homework.
My student, who had also been scared she was going to die, found out how strong she really was. One year and three months after she handed me her enrollment slip, she passed the high school equivalency test and received her GED."
"One day in the late summer, I took my three-year-old daughter and newborn son out to the park. My daughter played with other kids, did her rounds on the swing, slides, and other fun playground rides, and then it was time to go home. The evening was slowly creeping in.
As we went towards our apartment building, my daughter was running around me, picking flowers, and chatting about what some little girl said to her in the playground. The entrance of the building is facing the playground. It stands on a wide plateau, next to a bank, a library, some weird workplace-injuries offices, a pizza place, and a grocery store. There are also pillars on the plateau, and my daughter loves to hide behind them, screaming with laughter when I look for her and finally find her. So as usual, she ran and disappeared.
I called her name and started looking for her, saying the same silly things as usual, 'Where is my little girl?' 'Oh, no, the goblins stole her! Or she is playing tricks on her mommy!''Ready or not, here I come!'
Whenever we played like this, I could hear her giggling behind one of the pillars. Not this time. My voice became strange as I called her name, half playing and half panicking. I knew she was not there. I walked fast around the plateau, looking behind the pillars, now yelling her name loudly, trying to be strict and order her to come. But there was nothing.
I realized that I had a baby in a stroller and that I was not mobile enough to start running, in search of her. I couldn’t leave my baby, but time was passing with my daughter gone, and I had none to lose. I ran into my building, banging on the door of our apartment. My mother opened it, startled by the look on my face.
I pushed the stroller in and yelled, 'MOM, I LOST HER!'
Then I ran outside. I saw a neighbor with her little son. I told her my daughter was gone, and she ran into the playground to inform the other parents, so they could look for her across the playground. I ran through the plateau, down to the pavement next to a busy street, and towards the parking lot.
As I was running, I kept calling her name. I also called my husband at work, asking him to inform the police so I could keep searching. My brain became a battlefield.
If someone threw her in their car, she could be at the other end of the city already. I saw her in someone’s car, scared, hurt, and sold. I heard her cry for mommy, daddy, and her little brother.
As I ran and called out for her, I saw an old woman in the distance, walking across the field next to my daughter’s kindergarten. The woman was holding a little girl by the hand, and they were walking together. It was my child, but I did not recognize her. I did not dare to hope. And I could not waste time on some woman and her granddaughter, while I needed to search for my child.
And then I heard the most beautiful word in this universe, 'Mommy!'
As I heard this, I saw her running across the field towards me. She ran into my embrace, and it felt as if life returned into my blood.
She had gone for a little walk. She thought I was coming, too. She wanted to show me how grown up she was.
The old lady said my daughter came up to her and said, 'Hi, lady, I lost my mother. Her name is Iva and if you see her, can you please tell her that I am looking for her?'
And so the lady took her hand in search of mommy or police. I thanked the old woman profusely. I informed my husband and the neighbors that the little fugitive had been found. Then I took my daughter inside. I told her how dangerous it could be to wander away like that. She understood.
She hugged me tightly and said, 'I will never do that again, mommy.'"
"I used to go to work with my dad on weekends and summer breaks. He managed a pharmacy, bakery, and lunch counter combination store. He would assign me little tasks like putting away stock, peeling potatoes for the kitchen, and allowing me to ring up customers’ purchases with his supervision.
On one Saturday evening, two gentlemen walked into the store and one placed his leather jacket on the counter. It made a thud sound which didn’t register with me until later. My father turned to me and said go get some tape. I told him there was some right there behind him. He sternly repeated himself and I looked around and in a millisecond realized what was going on.
I told him, 'No.' I never did that before, but I wasn’t going to leave my dad’s side.
The men were looking around the store from the same spot they had stopped by the entrance. In another few seconds, the owner walked behind the counter with a double-barrel 12 gauge and pointed it at the men. My dad told me not to move but either I ignored him or didn’t hear him.
I walked behind him to the telephone on the wall and dialed the police department. This was before 911 was implemented. The owner, my father, and I were within a foot of each other so we were easy targets. The two men mumbled something to each other and began to leave. The one-man reached out to retrieve his jacket and my dad said to leave it. They grumbled and left the store.
The police walked in less than 30 seconds later and pulled a weapon from the jacket. It was only then when I realized my father had his own weapon in his hand and was placing it on a shelf behind the counter.
And the scary part of the story was waiting for my dad to rip his 14-year-old son a new behind, which he did on the way home without raising his voice.
After a pause, he said, 'I am proud of the way you handled yourself tonight and for not abandoning your daddy.'
We stopped at a joint on the way home and he was telling everyone the story like I was Wyatt Earp and he was the helpless storekeeper. When we were leaving I asked him what all that was about, but he cut me off like, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.' That was when I noticed him trembling just a bit and a single tear. It was the adrenaline wearing off and the realization kicking in.
When we got home he said, 'You realize you can’t tell your mother or anyone else about this because you’ll never be allowed to work with me again.'
I said, 'Yes sir.'
We never spoke of it again."
"I am a girl from Mumbai, India, but I lived in another state for work where they spoke another language which I didn't understand. I had few friends there. Some of them drank, some smoked pot and some of us didn't indulge at all, I included.
A few months ago, I was at their place and found seeds of weed in a paper bag that they were going to throw away. I am very fond of gardening. I told my friends that I was going to plant it on my balcony and see if it grows. They all said that it wouldn't, since 'the climate here is not right for it.'
I took it up as a challenge and planted few seeds in my balcony and waited. The plants grew beautifully and became my height. It was visible to the world as it was on my first-floor balcony and it never occurred to me to keep the plant inside. Although I knew it was illegal.
One afternoon I came early from work. When I was about to enter the building, the cleaning lady who worked in the building stopped me and was pointing towards my balcony, and was saying something to me in the local language. She had a worried tone, but still was smiling in between.
I panicked but since she was smiling, I gestured for her to come up to my house and explain to me. She came up and rushed straight to my balcony and pointed at the plant. No smile now. I was shaking. She was uttering words like ‘Police…patrol...jail...illegal..arrest.'
She was pointing inside the house too for some reason. And I derived that someone had come in to investigate while I was at work. I took her to the second floor of the building, hoping that someone would help me understand what exactly she was trying to say. The couple that lived there were not proficient in English or Hindi.
They told me that she was saying, 'The plant you are growing is illegal, and police had come for inquiry. They are going to come to arrest you tomorrow.'
By this time I was about to faint. I took the lady down on my floor, uprooted the plants, and put them in a plastic bag to throw. Then I knocked on my neighbor's door, I wanted to hear what she was saying once again as I couldn’t believe how my life had gone to zero just like that. He was a young guy proficient in the local language as well as English. He listened to her.
He told me this, 'She is saying that she knows what that plant is and she knows it is illegal. She is telling you that police patrol here every night and can arrest you if they find the plant. She wants you to either keep it inside the house or throw it away.'
I felt like somebody had breathed life into me. I got rid of the plants and am forever grateful to the cleaning lady."
"Not long after I married my first ex-husband, he decided to go to grad school for a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA). A Boston College grad, he had always wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame, so he applied and was accepted into their two-year MBA program. So we made our move from Boston to South Bend, Indiana.
Two years later, we had a double celebration. Our parents arrived to attend his MBA graduation and to meet the first grandchild on both sides, our daughter, Carrie. The next few weeks were filled with a flurry of interviews in different states and businesses, but mostly banks. His third interview was at a major bank in Chicago, however, this one was different. This CEO wanted to also interview me. They paid for our airline tickets, the downtown hotel, and all of our meals for the two days we would be interviewing at the bank. Our hotel was elegant and the room was spacious, but when we asked for a crib for the baby, there weren’t any available. So, to make do, we pulled one of the larger drawers out of a highboy chest, lined it with folded blankets, and made a crib for her.
The next morning, I awoke to a frightening silence. I had been nursing Carrie since her C-section birth three weeks earlier and I was used to her waking me several times during the night for her feedings. I wanted to jump out of bed and run to the drawer to see if Carrie was okay, but I was too frightened to move.
I held my breath and listened, straining to hear a sound that would let me know she was okay, or maybe waking up. The only sound I heard was the pounding of my heart. Terrified, I nudged my husband awake. I told him Carrie hadn’t been up during the night for her feedings and I was afraid something was wrong, would he please go see if she was okay?
He said, 'What if something is wrong?' He shook his head. 'No, I can’t do it. You go look.'
Taking a deep breath, I got out of bed and tip-toed over to the drawer to look inside. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes were open and I could swear she was looking right at me. I cried tears of relief.
Carrie had slept through the night for the very first time."
"It was midnight. I was asleep, while my roommates were busy on their phones. There was a lot of turmoil outside. They both ignored it, assuming it to be a birthday bash which was quite normal in hostels. But the sound from outside became louder and even woke me up. We unlocked our door and to our surprise, two girls were banging on the next room's door. All the girls from other rooms on that floor were gathered too.
We asked, 'What happened?'
'My roommate is not opening the door. I have been shouting and ringing the doorbell for so long. I called on her phone too but she's not picking up. I am really scared,' the girl replied.
Now we all got worried and started banging the door. We all shouted together but still no reply from inside. The chaos attracted girls from all the floor and everyone was gathered around. The amount of tension and terror was evident on everyone's face.
'What if she collapsed or got an attack and is lying inside?' said, one girl anxiously.
Everyone was really scared as the room was locked from inside it and couldn't be opened with the spare key.
'What if she isn't alive?' said another girl.
'She was so pretty. I loved her hair,' commented another girl.
I looked at her and said, 'Dude shut up. Don't say stuff like that.'
After listening to this, her roommate began to sob. We asked her to calm down and be positive.
It was one-thirty am when we called our warden and asked her to come right away. We thought about breaking the door. After arriving, the warden told me not to break the door but just shout.
I told her, 'What if it's a medical emergency? There is no way to find out. We have to break the door. Think about the girl.'
Her cold heart didn't melt. But we were all ready to push and break the door down when suddenly it opened.
We yelled, 'She's alive.'
She explained, 'I was tired after the dance practice so I slept off while listening to music. My earphones were on that's why I couldn't hear anything from outside. I was thirsty so I woke up to have water. As soon as I removed the earphones, the noise from outside startled me.'"
"When I was in sixth grade, my uncle forgot to pick me up, so I sat obediently on the waiting shed in our school. I waited for him for hours until I could see no more students playing on the school ground. When the sky was getting darker, and I was practically alone now, there was this guy who looked up at my school building as if waiting for his child. I ignored him and walked to the school gate to wait there instead. When I did, he approached me. We stood there silently as I waited for my uncle while he just stood there as well.
'Are you waiting for someone?' He asked. 'I’m waiting for my daughter.'
I merely nodded at him, quite nervous. For the next minutes, he engaged me in a casual conversation about the school and about his daughter. I didn’t mind at first, but the sky was really getting darker, so I was very worried and ended up not listening to him. Then he started to come closer.
'Look, it’s going to rain,' he pointed out, voicing out my concern. 'The van’s going to come anytime soon to pick us up, so let’s just wait there.'
Immediately, I got chills when he mentioned 'van', because, during that time, vans were popularly used by kidnappers. Alarmed, I moved away from him and decided to wait by the bakery across the school. However, as I distanced myself from him, he reached out to grab me. This provoked me to flee.
'Hey wait! You see, you really look like someone I know,' he spoke, thinking that it might distract me. 'You really look my niece. Do you know Samantha? She must be in the same grade as you.'
He then started to follow me, and that provoked me to run. It drizzled as I headed for the bakery, but I figured that he might still catch me there because the old baker wouldn’t be able to fight him off. Instead, I went straight to the gasoline station which was ten minutes away from school. I kept running until I lost him. When I finally got there, I was soaking wet and alone as I held my sling bag. I didn’t realize that I was so scared until I felt my knees shaking when I decided to walk home, which was fifteen minutes away from the gasoline station. When I got home, I went to tell my mom about the creepy guy and brushed it off later that night.
The next day, when I went to school, during the flag ceremony, a teacher pulled me aside and hugged me so tight that she pushed my face to her chest.
'Thank goodness you’re safe!' She exclaimed as she held me tight.
I was very confused until later on, I was asked by my class advisor to see her during lunch. In her office, I saw the same teacher who had hugged me during the flag ceremony, along with a bunch of teachers. She narrated to them how she had witnessed a man following me as I ran away. They started discussing him and the recent two students who were kidnapped from my school.
When I went home, I was very shaken to have been informed that I could have been kidnapped, chopped, and sold to sick people out there. As I entered the house, I saw my parents talking with three officers. That night, they interviewed me about the old man, but since then I didn’t know what happened."
"My mother had a mother dog in the open garage with a litter of week-old puppies in a box. I heard the mother dog barking furiously and went to investigate. She had all the puppies out of the box but one. Inside the box was a Copperhead Moccasin curled up on one side and the puppy on the other.
I knew if I went to get a shovel or something the snake would probably bite or eat the puppy before I returned. I had a split second to make a decision. My hair was standing on my neck. I had the thought, 'If you hold your right hand up toward the snake, he will watch it and you can grab the puppy with your left.' It wasn't a conscious thought, but more of a 'this is what I'm doing.'
As soon as my hand entered the box, he struck. I was committed to grabbing the puppy and did. I instinctively pulled away and felt myself pulling the attached snake’s weight with me. It immediately started burning. The snake released and dropped to the ground outside the box. It slithered out of the garage with a crazed mother dachshund on its tail.
I looked at the puppy which appeared fine. Then I looked at my hand and there were the classic fang punctures on top and a row underneath from the lower teeth. It did not hurt as badly as I thought. I gathered up the puppies, placed them in the box. I took them into the house before I called my mother. She asked how my hand looked and when I looked again it was swollen to the size of a baseball. That's when I knew it was bad. My mother told me to call an ambulance."
"I was playing inside on my computer, and suddenly the doorbell rang. I went over and unlocked the door. My dad was in the room, adjacent to the door and on a phone call with his company. There were two dog walkers on the other side of the door they looked worried. As I opened the door, I smelled something very odd, and I heard a sort of rushing noise.
The neighbors hurriedly said, 'You need to get out of your house right now! It looks like your gas main has a huge crack in it.'
I grabbed my dad and he went around the side of the house with them. Sure enough, the gas pipe had a ginormous gash in it and the smell could be distinguished all the way down the street. I ran inside and grabbed my cat. My dad was yelling at my siblings to get out of the house. We went to a neighbors house where my cat finally stopped scratching me. My dad called the gas company and ran back inside to grab the hard drives. My mom was really mad at him. I kept thinking that if there was one spark or if the light was too hot, our house would explode.
A whole hour later, the gas company finally arrived. They fixed the break and said it was okay to go back into the house. My three siblings and I were terrified to go back in."
"We had moved to a new city. My dad worked in another city so it was just my mother, sister, and me who lived there. The furniture still wasn't set up properly. So, one evening a man came to fix one of the beds. He had brought a toolbox with himself. My sister and I went to another room and began watching something while my mother told the man what to do in the other room.
Ten minutes later, I heard something. A chilling, blood-curdling scream from the other room. It was Mother.
'No! No! Help! Please!' She screamed desperately.
A sickness emerged in my stomach and I was frozen. In those two seconds, I began wondering why I left my mother alone and why I was such a horrible daughter. My sister grabbed my hand tightly and I got knocked out of my petrified state. I jumped up and rushed to the other room imagining the worst, ready to fight whoever I had to.
I ran into the room and saw my mother standing on the other side of the room beside the man. A towel in front of them was on fire.
I had never felt so relieved to see something in my house on fire. It was just a fire. Mother was fine. My sister had forgotten to turn the immersion rod off and that had set the towel on fire."