What's the most wholesome experience you had with a stranger?

I would love to take credit for the prompt, but I saw it on Reddit. I loved it. It was such a cool idea. It really made me think about a lot of my own experiences. It’s a good thing to think about.

I was in a position one Christmas where I had to work and be far away from my family. It was a tough end of the year for me. I was working on what was commonly known as the detox unit and surprisingly, the unit was full. It was Christmas Eve and I had just come on shift. That evening I had to do a check-in group with all of the patients before they received their medications and went to bed. At that time, it wasn’t common for staff to do anything but ask them to report their mood, goal, etc.

I decided that I would have a message that night and that I would ask everyone to share their favorite Christmas memory. I distinctly remember one woman talking about her days as a flight attendant, which sounded quite glamorous. Most people just seemed happy to talk about happier times. The important thing was that we all bonded in a unique way that night. I think those people felt heard and less alone. That experience always struck me.

I know it wasn’t a single “stranger”, but it was my favorite story that related to the prompt. There were some other ones too, and I’m probably forgetting some of the best ones…but I’d love to see what others have to share if they are willing.

One year headed down to St George over Presidents Day for a soccer tournament with what seemed like half of the Salt Lake valley. We stopped to eat in Nephi at a restaurant that was not ready for the influx of people headed south. The few workers were working their tails off, our kids were a bit impatient but we kept telling them they were working as hard and as fast as they could.

Our order number was called and I was waiting at the counter to get our order. There was this lady also waiting at the counter and I assumed she was going to complain or at the very least ask when their order would be ready. Instead she asked the young lady working frantically at the counter if she could help bus the tables. The young lady looked like she was going to cry at the offer and tried to turn it down but it was just too good an offer to refuse. I watched the customer go around and bus all the dirty tables. It was just an amazing act of kindness and I couldn’t keep smiling at the kind offer.

The funny thing is that I thought we were doing a good job of handling a bad situation, trying to teach our kids patience and appreciation for the hard work of those working. It never occurred to me that we could have chipped in and helped.

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Back in the day, I must admit, I had several experiences with strangers that probably wouldn’t be described as “wholesome” by most people. LOL

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Nominate for post of the year?

I was coming home to Centerville on a UTA bus from work in SLC. The bus goes along Orchard/400 E in Bountiful for the most part, but takes a loop up 500 S around Lakeview Hospital.

One day, a group was waiting for the bus at Lakeview. It was a couple of young ladies with a group of special needs individuals. As they got on, I noticed across the street that a special needs lady had stepped into a storm grate in the gutter as she tried to cross the street, and had gotten her leg stuck. It seemed that no one else had noticed. In an action that was quite unlike me at the time, (i was mostly shy and quiet) I jumped up and yelled at the bus driver to wait as I ran to help her.

I was able to help her get her leg out of the storm grate, and walked her to the bus. I went back to my seat. She and the leaders thanked me, and the special needs lady kept watching me and smiling at me for the next couple of miles until I got off the bus. It made me really uncomfortable at the time, I didn’t have enough life experience to know how to handle gratitude or recognition graciously (I still struggle with it, but have learned some better ways to deal with it). But after I got off the bus, I was kind of surprised and proud of what I did.

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That was great, thank you.

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Camping at Norway Flat in the Uintas.
We met a guy we would later call F**ked up Jimmy. He was camping by himself as he was mourning the death of his friend from a hiking accident. Jimmy seemed to have a bottomless bottle of Rum and an endless capacity for friendliness to strangers. I guess he was trying to make new friends since he was missing the one he had. Normally when a drunk guy stumbles into your camp unpleasant feelings or circumstances follow. This wasn’t the case with Jimmy, he was and still is (20 years later) my favorite stranger I’ve ever met. He insisted we listened to his tape of Robert Earl keen, I didn’t like it at the time but now I’m a huge fan because it reminds me of that drunk friend we found in the woods. I’ve never seen him since but I still have that tape.

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I have had a few great experiences over the years but there is one that really sticks out. In the summer of 1990 I was working in Tokyo. In August I arranged to have a 4 day weekend and took a sleeper train from Tokyo up to Hokkaido to visit some friends there. While on the train I happened to be sitting in the lounge car watching the lights of the countryside pass by when a couple in their 50s or so struck up a conversation with me in English. It turns out they were both travel agents on vacation. We had a lovely conversation for a couple of hours in both English and Japanese. Eventually it came time for their dinner reservation in the dining car and they insisted that I join them. I had already purchased a nice box lunch but after much prodding I accepted and went along. As we entered the dining car the man spoke to the server and informed him that they would have a third for both dinner and breakfast the next morning and to just add it to their bill. He had outflanked me and I had no way of trying to weasel my way into paying for the meals. I tried to slip him some cash but to no avail. We had a delightful dinner and then afterward returned to the lounge car to continue chatting. We exchanged business cards as well the custom and went to bed. In the morning we had breakfast together and shortly after we came to my stop. They came by my berth to see me off afterward as well. My only regret is that I lost contact with them in the years afterward. This was even a bit before email was a regular thing and long before social media. I will never forget that kindness that was shown to me and I have tried as often as possible to pay the favor forward.

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This was a good idea. We need to recruit more people to this thread.

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Does this fit here? If not feel free to have me delete or move it:

In high school and into college my group of friends hung out with a group of girls from another high school. The group of girls was interesting because there were a wide range of personalities, so kind of a weird mix. One of those friends, we’ll call her Kim, was pretty introverted but also pretty sarcastic.

One time as a joke we’d teased her that she was in love with one of the guys in my group. Everybody seemed to be in on the joke except Kim, who promptly made it very clear that while she ‘loved’ all of us, she was not in love with any of us. This concerned her enough that she hadn’t properly friend-zoned us all so she came up with the word ‘flove’ which stood for ‘friendship love’ - because you know if she said she loved us we might get confused. Being high school kids we of course had a great time riffing off that, coming up with terms like ‘flust’, contracting ‘flerpes’ and of course if there was friendship love there had to be ‘slove’ too.

Many of us went on LDS missions and when we returned she was still concerned that we understood she was not interested in dating any of us upon our return. Of course at that time the group dynamic had changed a lot, and while I was happy to continue to be friends with her, I also was less interested in just hanging out with the group and more interested in actually dating. To be clear, the disinterest between my group of friends and her was mutual.

So, my friend who was part of this group and I were walking down the streets in NYC and began talking about Kim and her weird obsession with making sure we knew we were just friends. We were joking about the ‘flove’ terms and I said something like, “Yeah, that’s just what I need right now is another ‘friend’ that is a girl.” I then said in a high pitched girl-sounding voice, “I need more friends that are girls!” To which some random stranger standing in the entry of a shop eating an ice cream cone said in a deep thick NY accent, “You probably do…”

Fully owned we continued walking down the road in shame. I’ve since admired the whole situation, especially his quick wit.

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Oh it fits.

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Not the most wholesome, but this was a positive experience that I have to chuckle about to this day.
Almost 15 years ago, I was presenting a poster at a conference in Baltimore.
A Delta courtesy policy for military people was unbeknownst to me at the time.
Here we all were in a fully packed, jumbo something or other. You know, three or four seats in the middle aisle and three seats on each side… One of the last people to board was a tall hay-seed looking kid in military camos with a duffel. He couldn’t have been much more than 20 years old. Anyway, he packs his stuff as the plane was settling down for pull back, when two flight attendants came up to him and said “Sir we have a seat for you in first class.” The young man was completely caught off guard and actually pulled his ticket out of his uniform. He was clearly confused by the offer and he’s like, “but this is my seat, it says so on the ticket.”
“Yes sir, we know, but we do have a seat for you and we’d like you to come to first class.” By now everyone is watching this go down in rapt attention. The kid was clearly just as innocent as the day is young. It was really a rather touching moment fir us all. He made one more feeble attempt to remain his seat but the flight attendants were quite insistent and he slowly got up and grabbed his duffel bag.The whole section bearing witness - including myself - broke into applause.Being moved by the experience right next to me, I got all teary eyed. With that, a young woman sitting next to me who observed the whole thing and seeing that I was emotional looked at me and said “Awe! That’s nice. What a good guy you are.”
Not wanting to miss the opportunity for a joke, I looked at her and with the best mock ernesty I could muster I said: "I’m crying, because I wanted to get bumped to first class! "

  • Ba dum Tsss!!!
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Back in the mid 70’s I was driving back to SLC from Reno. As I was pulling into Elko my car just sort of went “poof” and died. We happened to be at a light with a gas station right across the intersection. My girlfriend (who later became my wife) and I pushed my car into the gas station. There was some guy sitting there leaning against the wall. He asked what was wrong and I said I wasn’t sure, my car just died.

He looked under the hood, said what it was (I can’t remember now what it was), and ran down the street toward a junkyard. He came back about 10 minutes later with a part and installed it. I asked him how much and he said “10 bucks”. Come to find out, the guy was just hanging out at the gas station, he didn’t even work there.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that guy bailed me out.

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One day walking the dirt roads of a yurt district in a remote Mongolian town I clumsily stumbled over a rock and seriously messed up my ankle. We (Yeah, I was on a mission, had a companion with me) had to keep walking, no choice. A minute or two later I saw a drunk-ish looking Kazak man wandering our way. As we approached the Kazak looking man said, in perfect (no accent whatsoever) english, “holy (expletive), what the (expletive) did you do to your ankle man? That looks like it (expletive) hurts like (expletive).” I was in complete shock, not because of his cursing, but because of his absolutely perfect english. I just stared at him for what felt like 10 minutes.

When I finally regained control of my mind, I asked him where he learned to speak english like that. He said he had been to prison in several countries around the world, including Mongolia, Kazahkstan, Russia, and Ukraine. He said he spoke fluently in 4 or 5 languages (I forget exactly how many). He proceeded to demonstrate his linguistic talents. I was completely floored that this guy, who had zero formal education of any kind could learn these languages.

I few of the other missionaries in the area ran into him as well, befriended him, bought him lunch, learned more of his insane backstory, and were subsequently followed home by him. He later stole their house key, and ransacked their house… which he later admitted to doing.,. right after he asked them to buy him a train ticket to the city, which they almost did.

Meeting that guy was a truly bizarre experience I will never forget. I’ve never heard someone from Mongolia speak such perfect english, and he allegedly learned it all in Prison.

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What great story!
Lot of books in the library. Anyone can read em.
"You ain’t gonna learn what you don’t want to know… "

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One time we took a vacation to San Antonio and took a day to drive down to Corpus Christi and go to the beach. We had 2 young kids at the time, 4 & 2. We had lived in Austin and had gone down to the beach a few times. Driving back, I was sure that there was a great gas station but apparently forgot where it was and so we went way too long without filling up the rental car. Realizing we were in trouble, I slowed down to be as efficient as possible. Finally, after a long stretch of nothing, an intersection came up and we exited the freeway.

Coasting down the exit, the engine shut off and we were out of gas. I had my wife get behind the wheel and I started to push (the gas station was on the opposite corner across the underpass. As I started to push, I guy in a truck pulled off the road at the stop sign and jumped out. He was in full military fatigues and boots and he didn’t say anything, just started to push with me. I was in shorts and flip flops but was not going not put in effort to match his since he was helping. Oh, and it was 100 degrees out with high humidity.

We pushed the car, keeping good momentum (almost a jog) under the pass and into the gas station parking lot and right up to a pump. Besides my flip flop almost breaking and my heart about to burst out of my chest, I had no breath left. I bent over to recover and catch my breath and when I stood up to thank him and offer to buy him a cool drink or snack, he was already jogging back to his car. He really helped me out and besides my wife thinking I was an idiot, was a wonderful experience and it still touches me today.

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Long time ago me and my brother Kyle we was hitchhikin’ down a long and lonesome road.
All of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon. In the middle of the road. And he said:

“Play the best song in the world, or I’ll eat your soul.”

Well me and Kyle, we looked at each other, and we each said. “Okay.” And we played the first thing that came to our heads, Just so happened to be, The Best Song in the World, it was The Best Song in the World.

Needless to say, the beast was stunned. Whip-crack went his whoopy tail, And the beast was done.
He asked us: “Be you angels?” And we said, “Nay. We are but men.”

Wish I remember how that song went.

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When I was a young child, my brother sister and I were playing out in the yard. Our mother had specific cloths we were allowed to play in the dirt mud and snow with. These cloths were worn and patched as you might expect back in the early 50s.
It was near Christmas and my mother had been quite ill and we hadn’t purchased the Christmas tree.
My dad worked at the old Vitro site acid cleaning uranium ore tanks. His work cloths were understandably frayed and holey.
That evening when he got home from work, he called us from our play and stated it was about time to find a tree.
Dad and three kids all piled into his old 1932 Chevy half ton and headed to the tree lot. We were looking around the lot trying to find that perfect tree when the lot attendant noticed us and came over. He looked us over and asked if we found a tree we liked. My dad who enjoyed negotiating said that depends on your prices. The attendant looked us over and offered any tree on the lot 50 cents. The price floored my dad, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
We brought our prize home to show our mom, she took one look at us and all she could say was, I can’t believe you went out looking like that.
Apparently the lot attendant must have thought we were about the poorest looking family he had ever seen so practically gave us a tree.
.

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Reminded me of this: “Hell that ain’t no tree, now this here, this here is a tree”

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Lol! One of my favorite scenes from that movie. RIP Darren McGavin. Man he just stole the show in that one.

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