Awesome moments with strangers

I spent around a year living off strangers, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and working for accommodation. It can really give you faith in humanity sometimes… Some of my favourite people were the Canadian couple that adopted me for 2 days in New Zealand; they told me they had a daughter about my age, who was off travelling herself, and they hoped someone else would be being ad nice to her. They just picked me up from the side of the road, then took me touring for the day (even paying for me to go in places, and really I was totally broke, so it meant a lot!) they bought me dinner, they drove me round the town we finished up the day in to find the best hostel, and even said ‘if you don’t like the look, really, we’ll pay for a B & B’, and then picked me up the next morning, and dropped me off at the place I was meeting my friend I was visiting.
I had so many people go way out their way it was amazing, but I think they put the most outright effort into it! I still regret the fact I lost their address a few days later.

I do the same. If I have the opportunity to say something nice to someone, I do.

Today, a woman approached me to ask where I got my boots (they *are *awesome boots), and we wound up chatting for a bit. We had other stuff in common, and as we were wrapping up she handed me her card and said “We should grab lunch, I *knew *that anyone in those boots is someone I want to know.” :slight_smile:

I’ve got another one, also from the same time period, also airline related.

I was leaving Indira Gandhi airport on PanAm. Now PanAm was on a severe downhill slope, and in fact, filed for Chapter 11 a couple of years after this.

So I get on my plane at 6 am, and at 9 Am I awoke to a strange feeling. I asked my neighbor, who said there was something wrong with the plane, and we were going back to Delhi. :eek:

Now, in Delhi, they said they would take us all to a hotel. I didn’t know at fifteen that the airline would pay for it for you, and I didn’t have enough loose rupees on me - my uncle had just given me enough for small snacks, and treats.

I went to call my uncle on the pay phone, but it took only rupee coins and I didn’t have any. So I went over to this lady at the desk and asked her if she would give me a rupee coin and I promised to her pay her back, or I could give her some of my larger bills and she could break them.

She refused, saying it was against policy.

So I’m all alone in the airport now. Everyone has disappeared. I’m scared and don’t have any idea what to do. In frustration, I sat down and started crying.

A security guard comes over, and in Hindi, asks me what is wrong, beti? I respond in the same language. He goes over to the woman and berates her for not giving the “poor little girl” one measly rupee coin. She, thoroughly ashamed by now, pulls out two rupee coins and gives them to me. I call my uncle, who is shocked and immediately leaves to come get me. The security guard couldn’t stay, but he came back and checked on me twice before he left.

Ah, the days before cell phones. I always think of that security guard with so much fondness.

BTW, I have been the nice stranger, too. I have flown to India enough times on my own. What I did generally is find some nice old lady who is traveling back - some grandma or grandpa - and attach myself to them, and carry their bag, and make sure they switch planes correctly. This way they get help and I am not seen to be a young girl traveling alone - someone will be at least halfway keeping an eye on me.

My favorite random stranger story happened when I had first moved to this town. I was walking home from work down a road that had a wall running along the sidewalk and very bad drainage problems. It had been raining all day, and a huge puddle lined almost 100ft of the street. I was oblivious, but suddenly this huge burly dude that was in front of me turned with a complete look of horror on his face. He lurched toward me, grabbed onto my arm and backpack, and then proceeded to haul ass down the road all the while screaming “WE’VE GOT TO RUUUUN!” I was so surprised I just obeyed.

It turns out a bus had been coming down the street at high speed. We had nowhere to go thanks to the wall, and we did not in fact make it to safety. A huge wave of muddy water rained down on us, and we both screamed like little girls. After the bus passed, we just stared at each other, drenched, and then could not stop laughing. I never saw that guy again, but he was so comically animated, I’ll never forget him.

Time Stranger, I’m laughing my butt off!

I know, that one is priceless.

It really is reassuring to know that people can be so funny and kind to complete strangers! Especially when people have been stranded on a road or in a different country when you’re more vulnerable than usual. I guess we’re all in this together whether we like it or not.

For reasons I won’t get into, I was stuck in Salt Lake City, Utah a few days after 9/11 with no knowledge of what had happened, no cash on me and half of my Earthly belongings with me in large black garbage bags. I had been taking a bus from Riverside, California to Spokane, Washington via Las Vegas, NV, SLC, UT and Butte, MT when I had been unceremoniously forbidden to continue my journey by a bus driver who took personal offense by my usage of the F word.

I lugged my weary self and belongings up the street to the nearby train station only to find out once there that all the trains had been suspended due to the terrorist attacks on the east coast.

I must have appeared quite a mess (it had been a long couple of days), standing there dazed without even a quarter on my person to call someone. There happened to be two Amtrak employees hanging around the station who took pity on me and, after telling me how they lived on the train and were stranded here, they suggested I call Enterprise Rent-A-Car, because “they’ll pick you up!”

They even gave me a pull on their whiskey flask to settle me and gave me a couple of quarters to make the call.

I drove home the rest of the way in luxury.

Way way back in my hitch-hiking days in college I had various cool encounters with strangers. A couple I remember are:

In northern Michigan, mid-August, drizzling and about 52 degrees F… a hick kid about my age picks me up. He explains how he’s been swimming in every one of the Great Lakes except Superior, and now he’s going to take care of that… so (after sharing a joint) we pull over and I stand in the mist watching while he jumps in, then we go on our way.

In Ontario, an executive type picks me up. He shares a snack of Brie and apples, and when I say I’m planning to stay at a youth hostel in Sudbury or someplace, he calls the hostel from his car (this was, I think, 1977, when mobile phones were virtually unheard of) and drives me right to the door. There was definitely a different attitude towards hitchhikers in Canada than in the States.

A non-hitchhiking story: I was trying to move myself from Nashville to Pasadena, towing a trailer behind a compact car in record summer heat. Car threw a rod in Oklahoma City. I got a motel room and was out in the street going through a pile of boxes trying to get enough to ship all my stuff. Three guys approached me and asked what I was up to. I explained my problem and the one who seemed to be the boss said they might have some at their office, so I went along. When we got there he introduced me to his secretary saying, “This here’s my brother,” to puzzled looks from her and general merriment.

They only had one box. I think he was just testing to see whether a white guy would follow three black strangers into a building. But it was amusing.

OMG, you guys! What a great thread! Time Stranger and** Olives**, I’ve got major warm fuzzies from your stories! I mean, they are all good, but those two are killer.

I love this thread!

After I graduated college, my friend and I were in the UK without a car, so we were taking trains and buses all over the country. We went to Hay-on-Wye, the book town, and had a great time looking at books.

…Until I realized I had left my bag on the bus. With my wallet. And (even worse) my passport. I broke down. (Which I’m a little ashamed of now, but hey, I was a sheltered college student.) These two nice ladies at the counter of the bookstore we were in at the time took total pity on me, calmed me down, gave me tissues and tea, and called the bus company, who had in fact found my bag. The ladies then told us to go enjoy ourselves and they would get the bag back for us when the bus came back around. And they did.

I suppose neither of those nice ladies reads the Dope, but I wish they did so they know I still remember how awesome they were to a random American stranger who needed help, more than ten years later. (I did send them sweatshirts from the place in England we were staying, but I still wish I could have done something more for them.)

When I was in my 20s, getting on for a while ago, I lived and worked in the DC area. On Veterans’ Day (or was it Memorial Day?), we went down to the Mall for the dedication of the Viet Nam Veterans’ memorial. My brother had been in 'Nam, and he lived a long way away, so I clipped every newspaper article, took pictures, etc., for him, and was later able to fill him in on how it was.

Anyway, during the ceremonies, the crowd was huge. Supposedly a quarter million just in front of the Wall alone. We were quite a ways back in the crowd, but I am tall, so I could see just fine. A mother stopped me and asked if I could hold her child up so he could see. I hoisted the kid up onto my shoulder and let him watch for a few minutes, which he enjoyed. When I took him down, I found a half dozen other mothers waiting for me to do the same for their kids.

I suppose this was a cool thing for them, but it really was an awesome moment for me - a young man, still finding his way in life, to be able to do such a simple thing that made so many people happy. I went home that evening feeling really good.

Amazing thread.

Last week I was at a Rihanna concert with my 16-year-old little sister. We were in the standing area, and we ended up three rows of people back from the front, an excellent position to be in. My sister was feeling a little bit sick and had just gotten back from school camp that afternoon, but she was hardly going to let that get in the way of seeing Rihanna. We sat in the line outside the doors for an hour, then stood in position patiently while the support acts came and went. By the time Rihanna came on we’d been standing there for two and a half hours, plus the hour in the line outside. It was very hot.

When you’re packed in with people like that, you often can’t help but make contact (physical and verbal) with strangers, and we made friends with this group of about four very short Asian girls, right in front of us. Compared to them I was a giant, and we all fought together against the push of the crowd that threatened to suffocate them, and made a few jokes with each other. When my sister was getting particularly crushed at one point they all helped her out and pushed back with us.

(A mini-awesome moment in the middle of this: one girl behind me said, as Rihanna was walking in front of us in a very small leotard, “check that ass!”, and I cracked up laughing with her despite the fact that she wasn’t talking to me.)

Anyway, about ten songs in, my sister is really quite sick, and she turns to me and says “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Then, her eyes roll back and she collapses in my arms. I lifted her up and tried to push her towards the barrier, but people at a concert aren’t going to let someone just push through to the front willy-nilly. So the Asian girls and a couple of people around us start yelling for the security guard and helping my sister get to the front of the crowd, and between myself, a few girls at the front and two guards, we managed to get my sister up and over the railing and out of the crowd like those fainting girls you see in old live Michael Jackson videos. This was all happening while an international superstar is singing a few metres in front of us.

I was in such a panic that I turned immediately and fought my way out to the side of the crowd where I met my sister (she was fine, mostly upset that we had lost our great spot), and I never got to say thank you or anything to the people all around us who helped and who let my sister through to the barrier. Nevertheless it was an awesome moment of concert-crowd-unity and I’m very grateful.

When I went to Germany a few years ago, I flew into Frankfurt, and had a 6 hour layover. I went to the cafe that is above the train station, and got invited to sit with a bunch of germans and they bought me breakfast and snacks and they practiced their english on me for the next 3 hours until it was about time to meet the train to continue on to Stuttgart. They were significantly younger than me, around 16-18 or so to my ancient 45 years. We had a blast.:smiley:

I bet you are! And that is such a nice thing to do, and so easy, I am going to shamelessly ape you. Instead of just thinking it, I’m going to say it aloud, too.

I had spent two months in Mexico attending a language school and staying with a host family. I adored my host family. My setup was pretty unique from the rest of the kids at the school in that we didn’t have hot running water where I was staying. So I started every day with a cold shower. No big. After awhile you get used to it. Besides which, I was living with some kick ass people. I was lucky.

However, close to the end of my trip, two new students came to live with us for a week while they were waiting for their official host family to be able to take them in.

The day after they moved to their new host family, they called me.

“You have to come over here right now. Pack a change of clothes and come over here right now. We have hot water.”

So, even though it was like three in the afternoon, I threw my shit in a bag and high tailed it over there.

After two months of daily cold showers, I just… stood there in the shower… and stood there… God, I can’t even describe what that felt like.

So, to those guys who didn’t know me from Adam, but opened up their shower to me, I am grateful.

I was riding my motorcycle in upper Michigan, heading for home. It started raining, but I really wanted to get home, so I kept going. I was going around a curve in the highway, maybe going 40 mph, when the rear wheel slipped on the slick surface and the bike and I ended up in the ditch.

This was a rural area, semi-desolate. I’m laying in the ditch and here comes an elderly couple who lived across the street. They ask me if I’m OK. The guy picks up the bike. The elderly woman starts cleaning the mud off of the dented cycle, carefully washing the headlight. The man pulls the fender away from the wheel and straightens a bent light bracket.

I offer them money, they refuse. They wish me luck and I ride away.

Yeah, that was 30 years ago. And I still think about it now and then.

I’m trying to figure out how to make this story short, since it’s a tiny bit convoluted. Like others, it involves air travel.

I was flying to London, UK via Toronto from Montreal. Due to Air Canada being Air Canada, I wasn’t able to board my original evening flight out of Toronto. I got put up in a hotel, came back to Pearson early in the morning to be on standby for the morning flight to the UK, but didn’t get a seat and took the evening flight instead.

Had I taken my original flight, I would have met my husband at Heathrow, since he was flying in from a business trip in Madrid. As it was, there was hectic emails and phone calls via my mom to reach him at the airport (“Mr M, please report to Air Canada customer service”) and he went on to the town with his next business trip, and I ended up taking a bus to get there when I finally arrived.

While waiting for my luggage…that never arrived…in Pearson before going to the hotel, I ended up chatting with another passenger in the same situation. We talked hockey, and I’ve concluded that this guy was England’s Biggest Hockey Fan. He actually took an entire trip to North America and in the span of 10 days saw something like 7 NHL games and an NBA basketball game, starting in Detroit and travelling via Buffalo, Toronto, New York, Ottawa and Montreal (or somesuch). He’s a Red Wings fan, because during their insane late-90’s power trip, it was the only team that regularly got shown on TV (in the middle of the night) in the UK. He agreed, though, that Montreal has the best fans ever.

Anyways. since I didn’t get onto the morning flight, I spent the next day at the airport killing time to the evening one. Turns out he got rebooked onto the same flight.

We talked about a bunch of stuff, and I expressed my concern about making my way to the town my husband was in, because I didn’t know anything about Heathrow, the bus/train system, etc. He told me to take a National Express bus, pulled out his phone and looked it up - found the price, told me how to get to the terminal, etc. Just incredibly helpful, and I ended up with a very easy trip to meet my husband.

We waved to each other on the plane (seated far apart) and at the airport before going our own ways (he was going straight in to work, as it was a Monday!) and I never saw him again.

Through all that, I somehow never got this guy’s name. So whoever you are, England’s Biggest Hockey Fan, I think you are awesome and appreciate your company and help on my trip.

Though stop rooting for the Red Wings. Go Habs Go! :wink:

I do the same thing as Dogzilla. I am always the person who is randomly complimenting strangers.

When I was a teenager, I essentially ran away from home for a little while. Ended up in Myrtle Beach living with my aunt. After about nine months, I came back to Ohio. My mom drove down to pick me and my stuff up. On the way back, the Jeep broke down on the WV turnpike. It was July and about 90 degrees and 95 percent humidity, and this was before the time of cellphones. We sat on the side of the road for about 30 minutes. We weren’t far inside WV, but we were essentially in the middle of nowhere. We waited for about 30 minutes, hoping that a cop might come by. A guy with a tow truck came and asked us if we needed help. Seeing no other options, my mom agreed, and he hooked up the Jeep and had us both sit in the cab.

He took the next exit and drove us up into the hills, up windy roads. I saw no sign of civilization whatsoever. My mother later told me that she was certain we’d be raped and murdered and they’d never find us. Instead, after about fifteen minutes of winding around the hills and hollers, we emerged into a tiny town. There was a post office, a restaurant, about three houses, and a very small junkyard. The tow truck pulled us into the front of the junkyard.

We got out, and were greeted by Methuselah’s uncle. Seriously, the guy had to be at least 80, and he talked about five words per minute. Thankfully, he didn’t say much. My mom told him what happened to the Jeep, and he said “I…think…I…can…help. Go…on…over…to…that…pizza…place…next…door. I’ll…come…on…over…when…I’m…done.”

40 minutes later, he comes on over. He’d gotten a part from the junkyard and fixed the Jeep. Charged us $65 total, including the tow. Damn Jeep ran for another decade after that.

Twenty-five years ago my husband and then two little kids decided to go on a ‘proper’ (non-camping) holiday for a couple of weeks. The first day involved driving 600km, and we found a nice motel, booked in, then I decided to get some take-away food in town. Luckily I had paid up front for the motel room, because as we were leaving the next morning, my bag which held both our wallets was nowhere to be found. This was a Saturday and all of the banks were closed so I couldn’t get money from any source. :frowning:

Now luckily again, we had in fact packed a small tent, so we found a camping ground (no fees) to hold up until Monday when I could access a bank to get more money. I had written off the $700 in cash, but had enough in my bank account to continue the holiday (albeit maybe ONE week rather than two).

Having very little food in the car, we went fishing to a spot that I’d always been successful in bringing a good haul in. Of course, on this occasion we caught nothing, so it was a very lean weekend in all ways. :frowning:

Monday morning came, left camp and ran out of petrol on the way into town…luckily a passing motorist had a little in their gerry-can so we thanked them profusely and finally got to the bank @9.00am, withdrew some money and proceeded northward on our journey. I decided to report my missing bag to the police station in the town where it was lost, whereupon I was informed that they indeed had the bag AND all of its contents (including a squishy banana) as it’d been handed in by two lovely people after finding it on the roadside.

The cops gave us the address of the folks, and we went to offer them a reward that they REFUSED to accept. But I thanked THEM profusely as well, and we then had a fun two week holiday afterall.

To all the people who helped us then, thankyou. :slight_smile: