Redditor _GuyOnABuffalo_ asked Reddit "What is the best thing you've done with a stranger that was never to be seen again?" and the answers were delightfully varied: some were stories of brief meetings with homeless people, caring strangers, and random others. Still more were stories that marked them for the rest of their lives — stories that you know that they'll fondly look back on as they grow old, chance encounters that changed them.
"I was wandering around San Francisco Mission district drunk late at night. An old homeless guy asked me for a dollar, I gave him one and then sat down to roll us a joint and we got to talking. Turns out he had just gotten out of prison for killing a guy when he was driving drunk and had served almost twenty years. He told me his whole story, it was fascinating and heartbreaking. I could see that he was a good man with a serious problem. We talked for almost an hour. I asked him what he missed most when he was in prison, and he said "being touched. No one has touched me in a loving way in twenty years." I gave him a great big hug, and he burst into tears. We just sat there hugging for a few solid minutes. I asked him if he was feeling alright and he said "I feel like I've been forgiven". It was such an intense moment. I felt incredibly powerful and vulnerable all at once. I never saw him again, but he really stuck with me."
2. High five on this one.
"A stranger and I shared a really epic high five in a crosswalk. I was walking with a couple of friends and there were two guys walking the opposite direction. Impulsively I threw my hand up for a high five and one of the guys and I connected perfectly. It was a crisp, clean high five from a total stranger. We both kept walking and never looked back. I hope you're having a good life, high five bro."
3. Shell game? Checkmate.
"When I was 20 I got kicked out of a music venue for trying to drink some of a friend's drink. My ride was inside, so I hung out by the curb while the show played. This older homeless man on a bike showed up, he had a chess board and a giant conch shell on his necklace. I love chess, and we began a game. He was really good, and it was neck and neck. His 'friend' kept telling him where to move, but Mr Conch kept shouting at him to shut up and keep out of it. Eventually he tricked me out of a queen and the game ended quickly in his favor. Right as it did the show was let out, and he stood up and blew his conch shell. I had never seen anyone do that before and was startled at how loud it was, I thought that was something that only happened in fiction."
4. Stair down.
"My best friend and I were in Europe last year, and one night we were in the London Underground going back to our cheap hotel. He was exhausted and going a little slow, and I was exhausted, but going at full pace. My friend decides he's going to sit down and rest a little, so I leave my bag with him and decide to go get some cheap dinner from a cheap sandwich shack set up above ground, just outside the Underground entrance. As I'm walking up all these flights of stairs, I briefly make eye contact with this guy who's about my age (early 20's). With out saying a thing, we both glance at the stairs, and then just take off running to the top, dodging people all the way up. All the way up to the surface, people on the escalators are chearing us on. We both got to the surface at about the same time, and this guy looks at me, and says "Jesus, bruv. You can run!" We both laugh a little, he walks off down the street, and I get my sandwiches."
5. I'm sure he remembers, too.
"When I was 16, I worked at a candy kiosk in the mall. A Navy recruit (he was like 20...I guess he was fresh out of boot camp) started talking to me. He was from the Midwest and had never been to the beach. When I got off work, I took him to the beach for a while (like 20 minutes away), and then took him back. It seemed like I had given him a lifelong memory. What's crazy is that I was a teenage girl. Doing that today would seem so dangerous. I still remember it 30 years later."
6. Should've gotten HIS number — good friends are hard to find.
"Was at a bar; lots of loud music, dancing, etc. A gay dude walks up to me and hits on me and asks me to dance with him (he was very clearly gay). I told him strait (sic) up that I'm not gay, but flattered nonetheless. He made it up to be by being the single best wingman that has ever existed. I ended up with about 10 phone numbers from various ladies and a date; all in one night."
"Drove by a homeless guy that looked like shit. 1 block away got gas, bought scratch off. Won $25. Turned back around and gave him $10. Then he told me it was his birthday."
I was 17 and staying in San Francisco for the summer. I just had my heart broken, which, to 17-year-old me, seemed like the end of the world. I had no real outlet except to sit and write, so one night, I went to a diner on Valencia Street that I knew would be empty. There was one other person there, sitting by himself in a corner across the restaurant from me. I ordered coffee and more coffee, and spent a couple of hours writing or trying to. I felt completely cut off from my friends and pretty painfully injured by this romance gone bad. If ever I needed someone to say "it'll be OK," it was that night.
But no one said that.
By the time I was done mope writing, I was alone. I got out my wallet and asked the waitress for the check. "No, hon," she said. "the guy who was in here paid for you." It was the first time I had ever experienced a truly random act of kindness, and although I left with the same pain I walked in with, I also left knowing something:
It'll be OK.
Thank you, stranger.