People From Around The World Talk About The Person They Only Met Once Who Changed Their Lives

People From Around The World Talk About The Person They Only Met Once Who Changed Their Lives

Sometimes you meet someone out of the blue who completely turns your day around; sometimes they may even turn your life around. You can't predict who you're going to meet, or when, or why, and some people just stick with you for a long time -- even if you never really got to know them.

Folks from around the world recently went online to talk about the person they only met once who changed their life.

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31. Gator Bait

When I was around eight, my mother and I were at a bank, standing in line behind a guy with two fingers missing on one of his hands.

He caught me staring and started telling me a long-winded story about how he'd gone to a gator show in Louisiana. The tamer did a trick were he had the gator hold its mouth open as he swiped his hand between the teeth thee times. He then offered a cash reward to anyone in the audience who could repeat the trick and the man telling me the story had volunteered. So the man went up to the gator and had it open its mouth. He swiped his hand through and nothing happened. He swiped his hand through again and nothing happened. Then he swiped his hand through a final time... and nothing happened.

The man then told me to always make sure a lawnmower is off before I try to unjam it.

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30. She Had Her Reasons

An insanely old lady walking down the road. Her back was so crooked it looked like she was bent 90 degrees at the waist. She stopped next to a park, pulled out a carton of eggs and started throwing them at the pigeons.

I feel that was an essential formative experience for me.

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29. Read My Lips

This random girl I sat next to on the subway. We both read our books the whole ride. At her stop she said, "It was really nice riding with you," and left. We hadn't spoken or made eye contact the whole time.

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29. We Could All Use A Little Change

When I was nine years old, I went to Walmart with my dad. So we're standing in line at the checkout and a couple of pennies fall out of the coat pocket of the guy in front of us.

So I reach down and pick them up, because I'm a little kid who thinks three pennies are a significant loss. And I'm really nervous because I don't like talking to strangers. But I got his attention and said, "Sir? You dropped this." And I gave him the pennies back.

He said, "Oh, thank you. But you know what? I also dropped this and this–" and he literally starts taking handfuls of change out of his coat pockets. This dude leaves this huge pile of coins on the conveyer belt, and he gives the whole thing to me. I've never broken my childhood piggybank but let me tell you, something like half of the coins in there were from that one guy.

I have no idea who he was or why he decided to give me all the change in his pockets, but it felt like one of those fairytales where the good witch disguises herself as an old person who needs help to secretly test people's characters and reward good deeds.

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27. My Hero

I was walking in Times Square about 15 years ago. A creepy guy was walking next to me for a long time saying super inappropriate things. Out of nowhere, an older man came up to me and was like, "Susan! Don't walk so fast, mom and I didn't know where you went." That man saved me and walked me to work. I think about him often.

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26. That's Rough

I was sitting in an airport waiting for my flight when I suddenly heard a nearby woman shriek. She was on her phone; she got up from her seat crying and started to run away. The guy she was with ran and grabbed her and said, "What?! What is it?!"

She said, "My kid's dead!"

"What?! Which one?"


They went off and I had to board my flight. I felt so bad for them and will always wonder what the story was.

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25. Airport Angel

This man in a Red Sox hat that I met on a connect flight from Pittsburgh to California. We both forgot our neck pillow and decided to go with each other to buy some because a kiosk had a "buy one, get one 50% sale." He ended up paying for mine too. I think about him every time I board a flight with that neck pillow.

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24. Reunion Tour

The older gentleman who knocked on my door one day and asked if he could possibly come inside and revisit the home in which he had lived over 55 years ago.

It was a pleasure to show him around and to hear his recollection of things that had happened within those walls many years ago - some of which were eye-openers.

I never saw him again because he was visiting from the other coast, where he now lives. Still, he told me tales of the house and neighborhood I won't forget.

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23. This Is Heartbreaking

I was a new cashier at a hardware store and this disheveled young guy came through my line buying a few cheap things like driveway markers and rope. It turned out he was deaf and when I tried to tell him the total he didn't hand me enough money. So I wrote it down on paper for him and he still didn't seem to be getting it.

It was busy and we obviously had a communication issue, so the people in line behind him were starting to get antsy/annoyed. He had me remove a few items but still didn't have enough. Eventually he flipped over the paper I'd written numerous totals on and wrote simply "I'm sorry" and left with nothing.

I still feel terrible about it and sometimes wonder if he's doing okay.

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22. I Feel Like You Wandered Into A Horror Film

I was probably about 8 and in this daycare section of a church when I hit my knee on something, and I said "ow" because it hurt. And this guy with a mop just stops in the middle of the hallway and stares me dead in the eyes and says in this sadistic Donald Duck voice, "Oh, did you get a boo boo?" And then he walks away. It was probably one of the most unsettling things I've experienced.

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21. That Poor Man

I work at a library. A few months ago, we were closing up when the supervisor found a man with no legs in a wheelchair that had fallen asleep in the stacks. She politely woke him up and told him that we were closing in a few minutes and asked if we could call someone for him. He said he didn't have anyone and he basically refused to leave.

This was the middle of winter in Iowa, so my supervisor felt terrible about throwing him out. She called our director and the police to help him find a place to stay. The director showed up and told the man that we had closed and that the police were on their way, at which point he decides that now he would like to leave.

He took off and wheeled himself across the parking lot and out of sight. Of course, then the police showed up. Apparently this guy was basically a missing person and his family had been looking for him for months. The cop circled the neighborhood looking for him but he was gone. He never came back to the library. I just hope that he's okay.

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20. The Book Fairy

When I was a kid, we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift store. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which one I wanted to get and then decided after I'd gone through them all.

One day an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read. I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked. She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me and said, "Promise me that you'll keep reading." I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away and I went back to my piles able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.

This was probably about 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.

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19. A Win-Win

A couple of years ago I was seated on a plane next to a woman who looked at me after we sat and said "please talk to me." I'm a nervous flier, so instead of asking for a seat change I said "yes."

We chatted for the entire coast to coast trip about her pregnant teenage daughter. She found out immediately before boarding the plane via text message. She was just shocked/traumatized and needed to try to make sense of things. It was fascinating to watch her process everything, and watch her ebb and flow with anger, excitement, fury, happiness and worry.

I sometimes think about her and her daughter and wonder how they are doing.

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18. Just Like My Dad

I was just a 6-year-old kid maybe. I was at the pool and just having a fun time when an older girl walked up to me. We became friends in an instant. We ran and played and as evening came around we got hungry.

She decided she would buy us a pizza, I waited at the table and she never returned.

Even now I still wait for her to come back with a pizza.

To my pool friend from 15 years ago: if you remember me, please send me the pizza.

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17. "I Know You..."

I was working at a pizza place and a random lady came in to pick up her pizza. (I'm 18F for context) I stood at the counter about to ask her if she was there for a pick-up but I was just at a loss for words. She wasn't beautiful or significant, just a normal middle-aged woman that would blend into a crowd. Suddenly, I was just overwhelmed with a nostalgic feeling as I looked into her eyes. I knew her. I don't know where or why or when, but I knew her, and she knew me. Weirder, I could tell that she felt the same weird feeling. I could see it in her eyes.

Maybe we knew each other in a different lifetime. That's the only way I could ever explain the feeling that I felt.

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16. Get Your Goat

I saw a guy walking a baby goat down the street on a leash.

He told me that the goats name was Pepper and he would sell it to me if I wanted. When I politely declined he said I could just have it for free. I told him that I couldn't and if I just brought a goat home my mom would probably flip her lid. He kept asking me to take the goat but eventually just left.

I don't think he liked Pepper very much.

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15. Bittersweet Snack

I was in an airport and my flight was delayed for ten hours due to mechanical problems. Around hour six, I got hungry, so I walked to the food court. After walking around looking for some decent food, I decided to go to the Cinnabon.

So I'm waiting in line, and the guy in front of me asks for a cinnamon bun. The cashier tells him they're out of singles. He can either buy a two-pack or five mini-buns. He thinks for a moment, then turns to me. "If I buy the two-pack, will you take the extra?" he asks. I accept his offer, and I try to give him some money for mine, which he declines.

We decide to sit together while we eat them, and as we're eating, I ask why he wouldn't let me pay him. "I'm flying out for my mother's funeral," he says. "She always tried to make the best of a bad situation, so I wanted to honor her good nature."

I've never seen or spoken to that man since then, and he's probably long forgotten about me. But every time I smell a cinnamon bun, I think of him.

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14. I Wish, I Wish

I was on clinical rotations in the Nursing school. A janitor at the hospital I was at got in the same elevator with me. Not recognizing me, but in full scrubs, he asked me who I was. I told him I was with the nursing school. He asked me how it was, and I told him how rigorous the program was and how far along the class was. His response, as he got off on the fourth floor, was striking.

"It must be nice to be in a nursing program. I wish I could go to nursing school. Good luck."

It was in that moment that I realized how lucky I had it as a human being. And when I switched my major, he was the first person I thought about. In reality, I felt as though I had let that man down by switching my major. But in that one moment, in those fifteen seconds we spent in that elevator, he taught me how much of a privilege it is to get an education, far faster than any high school counselor, faster than any college bureaucrat or advisor ever had, and far, far faster than my parents.

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13. Everyone Needs A Hug Sometimes

I was sitting in a bus stop crying my eyes out because my fiancé asked for his ring back. This girl from the local high school sat down next to me to see if I was okay. She was really nice; she gave me a big hug, and she just sat with me for ages with her arms around me while I cried on her shoulder, and basically blubbered my problems at her.

When I'd calmed down, she told me everything was going to be okay, and that it didn't matter if I was single or got back together with my fiancé, because she had faith that I was strong enough to handle anything life threw at me.

And she was right. Every time my life feels hard, I remember her, and things don't feel so bad.

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12. Welcome Wagon

I was in a small town, best known for a dinosaur museum, eating at a restaurant with a friend. This lady who looked to be about in her 80s, came over and asked if it was our first time here. My friend shook his head no, I said yes, then she stared at me and reached into the pocket of her jacket. She slapped a postcard on the table, welcomed me to the town and left. I think I still have that postcard in a drawer somewhere.

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11. What A Tool

I attended a Tool concert while I was in the midst of going through a divorce. I was in a line to buy a drink and a beautiful girl in a parallel drink line kept staring at me. When I caught her gaze, she smiled at me. This happened a couple of times. I was too awkward to go over and talk to her, but it made me feel good about myself at a time when I needed it.

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10. The Screamers

There were these two guys in front of me in line for the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point and I was pretty much freaking out because I was so scared. They launched the coaster one time and it didn't clear the hill and came back down (normal thing that sometimes happen) but that scared me witless. But we had already been in line for like two hours so I couldn't back out now.

The two guys in front of me started cracking jokes and just talking to me about random stuff to get my mind off how scared I was. Then they sat behind me and my friend on the ride and screamed like little girls. They were so awesome, I hope they're still out there cheering people up.

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9. The Empty Chair

I actually never spoke with him (something I regret) but for the longest time there used to be this old retiree who would drive out to the end of his driveway in his little scooter chair and sit on the side of US 259 coming out of Kilgore, TX, waving at traffic. Every time I passed through there, he'd just be chilling on the side of the road waving at people.

Then one day his scooter was sitting there with a wreath in the seat.

I never even spoke to the man but that wreath sitting there was a real gut punch that day.

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8. Te Amo

I was about fourteen when the Bali bombings rocked the psyche of the Australian public. I was shocked and in mourning - like the rest of the country. But in many ways I wasn't allowed to be.

I still wore my head scarf back then - not because I was religious at that point - but because I had become suddenly angry that despite being born and brought up in Australia, there were still people that would tell me to my face that I wasn't Australian because I'm Muslim.

Being 14 and a 'rebel,' I was determined to keep my scarf on.

Anyway, I was on the bus on my way to school and I see this old white lady staring at me. I give her the edgy death glare and resume my angry mulling. Someone had written a really ugly opinion piece in the newspaper that morning about how Muslims should be put in camps - similar to Japanese citizens overseas during the Second World War - until the 'war on terror' was over.

The bus stops, and I see the old lady has moved to be closer to me. "Screw her," I thought. She was probably going to ask me my opinion on the Iraq war or something, like the old guy a few weeks back.

The bus stops again and she's suddenly sitting next to me. I'm steaming mad.

"Excuse me," she asks, pulling something out of her bag. I ignore her (like the mysterious loner I thought I was). "Excuse me," she insists, a little louder this time. "Yes?" I answer as obnoxiously as possible.

She hands me a notebook with her little trembly hands along with a pen.

"How do you say 'I love you' in Arabic?'"

Without thinking I had opened the book. Inside there were about ten pages of carefully hand-ruled paper, divided down the middle with a red pen. On the left was a column headed 'language'. The words in this column were in alphabetical order and written in a neat, though somewhat shaky script. The column on the right had sentences that had been written by more then one person.

This old woman appeared to be collecting how to say 'I love you' in different languages - the old fashioned way. Not with Google translate, but by talking to actual people.

For the first time since I had turned about twelve, my anger vanished. It was a weird feeling - this oasis of peace in my teenage memories beside this old lady, on a bus somewhere in the mid-2000's.

"I don't know how," I replied, suddenly incredibly embarrassed. I'm Australian. I only spoke English.

"Oh, that's alright," she said, her face wrinkling into a smile. "I think you look very pretty," she added.

My stop came up and I went to leave.

"I hope you have a good day," I said, suddenly the politest I'd been to an adult in a long time.

She said something in a language I didn't understand, but I was already off the bus by the time my brain caught up enough to realize she probably said 'I love you'.

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7. Confidence Is Key

I was in my late teen years and was already balding. In fact I would shave my head a few months later after this incident. I was depressed, so I went alone to this independent movie in the city. It was packed an there was this attractive girl sitting in a row in front of me.

Her boyfriend came to sit next to her with their popcorn/drinks and he looked at me and said: "You need to shave your head so we could be twins." He chuckled and had such a warm smile and it really made my day. I hated the fact I was losing my hair, and he showed me it wasn't the end of the world. He had this confidence about him that just made him seem so charismatic. I was a shy, overweight, and balding teen with low self-esteem.

I did end up shaving my head and I've received compliments over the years about it and being bald doesn't bother me anymore. Admittedly, I still don't have the confidence of that guy, but I think about him from time to time and smile, cause I know I could one day get there.

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6. A Famous Random Person

Mine was Robin Williams. I was the only person behind him in line at a cafe near his house so he bought my coffee for me. It was nice.

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5. Guardian Angel

During one of my darkest moments, I was on a bridge ready to jump. A Spanish man walked by and talked me out of it. He sat next to me, gave me tissues as I cried, and prayed with me. I'm not religious, but after going through so much pain it was just nice to feel like someone cared. To finally feel like a human and not just trash.

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4. Don't Drive Away!

A young, very attractive woman came through my drive thru one night when I was working. I was having a really bad day. Right before she left, she said, "Hey, you're really cute," and took off before I could say anything. Made my week.

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3. How To Save A Life

When I was 17, I was a party going little dweeb. I'd say during the summer of 2007, 4 nights out of 7 I was either downtown, at beach, or house parties. It was the highlight of my pretty empty life.

Now, it's about 3:30am at this point on the beach and I got bored, so decided to walk home solo. It was at least a two and a half hour walk with no lamp-posts or anything, so a lot of it is just me walking in the dark, kinda scared, and immersed in some Kingdom Heart and Final Fantasy music. Eventually, it was pretty obvious that I'd taken a few wrong turns.

The scenery was amazing though. Plymouth (England) has its fair share of views and it appeared I had stumbled upon a a large field approaching a cliff.

I sat under this tree, and decided that the climate was nice enough to just sleep outdoors for the night.

In the distance though, just on the cliff's edge, I kept seeing something. In the darkness it was incredibly hard to make out, but I eventually realized it was a person. My eyes were just fixated on this spot for a while. The person seemed to be walking up to the edge, then backing off again.

"What the...?" I remember whispering to myself, taking out my headphones. Very slowly, I approached.

Once I got close enough to , I noticed the figure was in fact a girl, about my age, crying. The fear on her face upon seeing me really sticks out.

"Sorry for giving you the willies there," I said, "I was just checking to see if... You are like, alright. So, uhhh what brings you here?"

She burst into tears, incoherently sobbing about how she wants to end it all.

If it wasn't already painfully clear at this point, the girl was on this cliff with the intention of jumping. I've never really handled anything like this before, so I probably managed it awfully. I sat down next to her in silence for a while; the only audible sounds in the vicinity were the waves and her crying. I was battling for something to say, something powerful, something witty, something supportive, anything.

"I dunno what to say, I wish I could think of something magical to say, to stop you from thinking about this, but I honestly can't. We can at least talk about why you're here though if you want. I'm not going anywhere."

She had calmed down and explained to me a good portion of her emotional journey to the cliff.

I looked over the cliffs, and remember the sensation of fear.

"It's freaking me out just looking down there," I said.

I'll remember her response forever: "Yeah, I was scared to jump. But I'm more scared of feeling this way for the rest of my life."

We stayed to watch the sunrise together. I don't know how many hours we sat there, but she eventually smiled, and decided that she wanted to live. She asked if it was okay to walk her home. I took her back and she thanked me, crying what I assumed and hoped were 'happy tears.' I continued my own journey home.

This was nearly 7 years ago. I've not seen or heard from her since. From our talk, it seemed she could go on to conquer the world if she wanted to, and I hope she did.

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2. A Bit Of Perspective

Once, years ago, I was in a plane waiting to take off from LaGuardia. Problems. Problems and more problems. FOUR HOURS of sitting in the plane. Waiting. Going nowhere. Stuck next to this old guy. What the heck, we might as well chat or something, we're both stuck in what I consider the worst situation imaginable.

Before too long, he shows me a tattoo on his arm. It turns out he's the youngest person to survive Dachau concentration camp. He survived by being a good dishwasher and eating garbage.

I have never complained about a delayed flight since.

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1. Customer Service

I had just been hired for my first job, working as a cashier at Walmart.

It was my first day. I'd received pretty substandard training, and I was really nervous since this was my first job ever and I really didn't know what I was doing. As I was ringing a man up, I couldn't remember the PLU code for something, and I couldn't find it on the paper fast enough for his liking. So he threw his pastries at me and called me a stupid piece of trash.

I was choking back tears a bit, was really upset that I'd already messed up on my very first day.

But an old lady behind the man in line was watching this all go down, and she FREAKED OUT on him. She must have been 70 or so. I've never heard anyone swear like her before. The guy was so dumbfounded he just stood there and took her abuse.

In the middle of her rant, she turned to me and said, "It's okay sweetheart. I'm doing this because I know you can't. " Then she proceeded to chew him out some more!

I think of her often. I was so grateful.

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