Awesome moments with strangers

Inspired by This thread about times when a stranger has said something random/weird/disturbing. What are some random but awesome moments you’ve shared with complete strangers? Here’s mine.

I normally buy my underwear in a package at Walmart. I was getting married, though, and I wanted to buy something fancy for the wedding night, so I went to Victoria’s Secret. I was looking through some cute black lacy undies when one of the employees asked if she could help me. I wasn’t real sure of the sizes, so I asked her if they had them in a size that would fit someone who wears size 16 jeans. She says, in the snottiest tone, “These are European sizes”. I say “Is that a no?” She mouths the word No and points me to the plus size section. :frowning:

She was not the awesome stranger. The awesome stranger was a customer in the plus size section who saw my interaction with the employee. As I start dejectedly picking through the slim selection in their plus size section, the customer starts up:

“You got banished to the big girl section to, huh? These tiny little girls they got working here, what are they doing working in a lingerie store when they got nothin’ to fill it out? Not one of them here could handle a real man.” etc, etc.

I couldn’t help but smile. Totally cheered me up. I ended up telling her about my wedding and how I’d never bought “fancy” undies, and she helped me pick something out.

Spouse and I were flying into Frankfurt, Germany. Had to catch a train to meet some friends near Heidelberg. Flight was delayed, realized we were going to miss our train, which meant we would miss our connecting train (last one of the evening).

Spouse and I were separated on the plane due to to an asshole greek tourist (long story) and she was sitting next to a nice German Woman, who struck up a conversation. When we landed, the nice German Woman drove us to Heidelberg station so we could make our connecting train. Gave us her card, and sped away.

All emails I sent to her bounced back, and the thank you card I send to her address was returned “recipient unknown”. Never heard from her again.

I have always had a lovely time in Germany.

You anecdote totally is cool and beats mine. Regardless, I’ve had strangers tell me I look nice before. And since those were times that I was struggling with my self-esteem, it was much appreciated.

So to that one woman who liked my brown velvet dress: I still haven’t forgotten you 15 years later.

ETA: That was to the OP.

20 years old, in Greece for the summer on a college research trip. Spent a couple weeks traveling by myself and was heading back to Athens to meet up with my fellow school-mates. I was exhausted by the time I got there, and very much looking forward to spending time with people I knew, who spoke English, in a nice apartment where I could relax.

Problem was, I didn’t know where the apartment was. I had left Athens a few weeks earlier, and I knew the plan was that the students who were remaining in Athens were moving into an apartment they had rented for the summer. I assumed I could find it because I had address of the apartment, and the phone number of our professor who was staying in a different apartment, also in Athens.

I got off the bus, climbed into a taxi, and gave the driver the address. He asked where it was. I repeated the address. As it turns out, in Athens in 1990, you pretty much have to know where you were going if it wasn’t a major street. The guy had no clue, nor did any of the other taxi drivers at the bus station.

I tried calling my professor. No answer. I waited around for an hour or so, repeatedly trying to call, and asking any new taxi drivers who showed up if they knew where the address was. No luck. By now, I was exhausted and hungry, 20 years old, halfway across the world, by myself, and only barely spoke the language.

I finally took a taxi to the area in the Plaka (an area of Athens) where I’d last been with my friends. I figured that they’d probably taken an apartment near there, and maybe someone there would know. I stumbled into an antique store, and asked the owner if he knew where the address was. He didn’t, but he thought his son might, and called him over.

The two of them poured over a map for an hour, gave me a cold drink, and did everything they could to find that apartment for me. They asked friends, made phone calls, and let me use their phone to try calling my professor. Ultimately, they couldn’t find it, but were so damn nice to me that I remember them clearly, over 20 years later. I left refreshed, got a room at a nearby hostel, and finally got in touch with my professor the next day (he’d been out of town) and found the apartment, which was in a different neighborhood altogether.

I’m still very grateful to that store owner and his son. I was really down, and they really made me feel a lot better.

Walt Disney World, October 2005. Mrs. Homie and I are seated in a huge ampitheater, waiting for the big show of the night to start. Apropos of nothing, a little British girl in front of us turns to Mrs. Homie and says, in a thick Cockney accent: " 'ave you 'ad your tea?" Mrs. Homie responded “Excuse me?” Little girl: " 'ave you 'ad your tea?" Mrs. Homie: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking.”

The little girl’s mum turned around and helped us out. In a very refined Mayfair accent, she said “She’s asking if you’ve had your supper, love.”

Mrs. Homie and I still giggle about it all these years later.

I went to a Yankee Candle store sporting a full cast from my wrist to half-way up my upper arm. Sales clerk asked me if I needed hlep. I said “No, I’m going to be looking for a while.” She immediately went away to do sale clerk things.

After picking out a few small candles and votives, I asked the clerk for a plastic bag. She gets one, snaps it open and hands it to me, and disappears again.

I finished and went to the counter to pay. She asked me if I needed anything else.
I said “No, and I so want to thank you for not treating me like an invalid and waiting for me to ask for help. I am so tired of sales clerks hovering over me and treating me like a child.”

It was the best example of doing something awesome by knowing when to do nothing.

When I went to visit some friends in Mountain View, CA last summer, I spent the last day on a bus tour of San Francisco, by myself.

I ended up befriending another girl on the trip, a young Australian who was seeing America on her way to be with her boyfriend in Oklahoma.

We had great fun talking on the bus. The best part was that she took my pic with my camera, and I took hers with her camera, and now I have pictures of myself around San Francisco.

After the bus dropped us off, she said she really wanted to experience a baseball game. Since I am a HUGE baseball fan, and she was going to Oklahoma where there was no baseball, I decided to try to help her get tickets to the Giants’ game that night. We rode the subway together and walked up and down the street by the stadium trying to get her scalped tickets. Unfortunately, it was a Giants/ Dodgers game so there were no tickets to be had.

After all that, she asked for a ride to her hostel. Having walked up one SF hill already myself, I told her absolutely. So I took her in my big American rental car (her first time in an American car) and we drove to her hostel, picked up her bags, and I took her to her new hostel.

Really fun time and it made my trip to SF so much better to have met her. Of course, with Facebook, now we’re “friends” and not strangers. But she’s still technically a stranger.

This happened 30 minutes ago - I was at the pickup counter at Penara Bread waiting for my turkey sandwich, and I was right next to the people in line for the drink machine. This lady looked at my and said, “I like your beard! It’s so well-trimmed! I like beards like that.” I thanked her and since my order was ready I picked up my sandwich and left. It was a little odd but it was nice to get a compliment from a stranger.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way to work one day, dressed for work in a simple black dress, cardigan and heels. I was staring at the Lean Cuisines in the freezer section when a woman pushed a cart past with a 4 year old girl in the seat. The child said “Mommy! That’s a pretty girl!” Made my day forever.

This is pretty minor, but, you know, whatever.

Yesterday I was heading back to my car - it was parked in a supermarket parking lot. Three teenagers were standing where I needed to back out. They were not paying attention to anything but each other, messing around, jumping up and down. They looked like gang-bangers.

They did not see me approach. I considered saying something, but I figured they would see me get in my car, or at least see me put it in reverse and get out of the way.

So I’m in my car, I start it, I put it in reverse. They’re still there, right behind me, goofing around. I debate. I didn’t want to get back out, I knew honking wouldn’t be cool…so I backed out slowly (probably a stupid thing to do).

Well, one of them finally sees me, gets this look of shock on his face, and pulls another one away from my path. I hear yelling as I continue to back out, and I’m prepared for some sort of semi-confrontation.

So, the one kid who is closest to my vehicle bends over and peers in and raises his hands like WTF? I gave a shoulder shrugging ‘sorry!’ gesture. At this point, he breaks into the biggest smile and gestures like, ‘it’s cool’.

I smiled, thinking he acted more mature than I did.


Umm…this thread.

Thank you Arglefraster (a stranger to me) because you gave me something to smile about today in reading of other’s happiness over small things.

By extension, I am blown away when a group of strangers actually seems to care about a fellow poster whether they know him (or her, of course) or not.

I used to drive a crappy car that left me on the side of the road all the time, and every time it did, someone stopped to help me.

Once my tire went flat and started coming off in shreds; as I pulled to the side of the road, some guy was pulling off right behind me to change that tire.

Another time my hood flew up while I was driving. Before I could slow down and pull over, the wind had crumpled the hood out of shape, and once I had stopped, I couldn’t close it. Some guy stopped and beat on that piece of metal until it agreed to latch shut again.

I recently told the story of how I stupidly pulled the dipstick out of my car in a dark parking lot, and the three nice young people that borrowed a flashlight and helped me get the car started again.

To all those people and any one else that stops to help people having car trouble, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Long before we were married, Mrs. Duc had an 8-5 job in a midtown office, and I was a cop working 11p to 7a.

She’d leave her car at the train station and ride the train to town. The intown station was about 3 blocks from her work, so I would often wait for her on my motorcycle and give her a ride before heading home to bed.

One day while waiting, a pretty, young girl approached me and asked “Aren’t you the cop with the blond girlfriend?” I admitted I was ( I wasn’t in uniform this day), and she told me that I’d missed her by 5 or 6 minutes. I thanked her and prepared to leave, when she asked if I would give her a ride to work. I said sure, and gave her a helmet and told her to hold on. It was nice, because she held on tight, and pressed her face to my shoulder. I took her the 8 blocks or so to her work, where she told me I smelled nice, gave me a peck on the cheek, and walked away. Never saw her again, but I think of that now and then.

When my two sons were pre-teens, they wanted to buy Xmas gifts for family and we headed out to spend their hard earned allowances.

We drove to a nearby strip mall and parked in the only available spot. As we approached the store a cluster of teenagers effectively blocked the sidewalk. They looked a little rough and I didn’t want to get into anything with them. We had to plow past them to get to the store we wanted, and I was muttering “excuse me” and resolutely marching my children by them.

We were almost past when one of them started yelling at us. Instinctively I herded my sons ahead of me and opened the door to the store guiding them in. The obnoxious teen was still yelling something and now kind of running toward me.

I turned to face him ready for anything. The young hooligan held out his hand and the $50 bill my son had dropped and said, I think your kid lost his money.

Bless his young heart. All I could say to him was “Thanks. Your mother would be so proud of you”.

I try very hard to not prejudge those things that frighten me a little. You never know when that prejudice is completely wrong.

When I was about 8 years old, I had to take the bus to a neighbouring town to a specialist doctor every now and then. Not really a problem usually since I knew where to go and my mother would pick me up from the nearby library afterwards on her way home from work. Well, this one day the weather was absolutely atrocious: it was raining heavily and mixed into that were big hailstones. I ended up in the middle of that with the rain and the hail pelting me, looking like a sad, lost puppy when a car stops next to me and a woman tells me to get in from the rain.

I comply and she drives to her home, gets me a bunch of dry clothes from her own kids, gives me her address and tells that my own mother should send the stuff back to her afterwards and then she drives me to my doctor’s appointment, me in dry clothes and my own wet clothes in a plastic bag with me.

Been 25 years and I still remember it, even if a bit vaguely. The part I remember best is when she asks what size shoes I use and in my dazed condition I answer 46 instead of 36, getting huge (but dry) shoes to wear. Amazing person.

This is kind of a weird story, but awesome to me.

Years ago I started engaging in prolonged exposure therapy. Even though the target was general anxiety/panicky feelings, we started by focusing on my fear of heights. So every day around the same time I would go up to the 5th floor of the local parking structure, lean over the railing for about an hour, work myself up into an anxious mess and then wait until the panic subsided. It was during the summer and the structure was mostly empty so it was usually a pretty solitary hour.

One morning, this guy roughly my age appeared. I think he was maintenance, I dunno. He was vaguely scruffy, like someone you would expect to bust out a joint or start smoking from a bong at any minute.

I don’t remember how the conversation got started, but I remember there were no basic pleasantries, no introductions, no small talk. We just started talking about the nature of fear, the importance of fear, how to come to terms with suffering, the inevitability of death, life. We talked about Nietzsche, and existentialism - it was pretty much the philosophical conversation of my dreams. He just stood there beside me chatting for a good hour while I hung over the railing.

Then he said, ‘‘Well, I gotta go. If you need me again, I guess just manifest me back into your life.’’ Then he disappeared.

It’s been 5 years and I still wonder if I’ll ever run into him again.

Which is why, whenever I see an awesome pair of shoes, or great boots, or a great dress… I compliment the person, even if it’s a total random stranger in the airport. Wherever, whatever, whenever.

Most people seem to appreciate being appreciated. Once, a lady in the airport acted like I didn’t even exist. I think, because of the way she was dressed and carried herself, she must have thought my compliment was beneath her. She didn’t even acknowledge that I’d spoken to her.

But I keep doing it, because I hope I’m making someone’s day.

olives, you win the thread.

ETA: But please, folks - try to take her crown! These are all great stories.

I compliment people, too. That was one of my New Year’s resolutions both in 2010 and 2011 and it is working well.

These stories all make me happy. I always tell the same one:

I was fifteen or so and flying back from India with my mother on Air France. There was a lot of turbulence over the Atlantic, and everyone was getting sick around me, and eventually I succumbed, too. I was throwing up along with everyone, including my own mother. The woman to my right was Ukrainian? Some kind of Eastern European? Anyway, I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, and she couldn’t speak a word of English, but she rubbed my back and said soothing things in her language, and she was just so kind.

Can we just make two crowns? I’d rather like to hang onto mine - it’s my birthday!*

*I have it on good authority that ‘‘it’s my birthday’’ officially trumps all argument about anything ever. Whose authority? See above.

Ana, I love your story. Compassion is a universal language!

This is, indeed, a wonderful thread.