Every day, we have countless little interactions that we probably forget about as soon as they’re over. But for someone else, that moment may be something they remember for the rest of their lives. People are funny that way – you never really know what’s going to end up mattering to them. I once got really great life advice from a total stranger on a bus, and I think often about that moment. That kind stranger’s words have stayed with me, but they’ve likely never given it a second thought.
These 19 stories from AskReddit are all about similar instances where a significant moment for one person was likely insignificant to everyone else there.
1. Kindly Nurse
“Well, back when I was a student I lost my health insurance for several months due to some bureaucracy reasons, and at the time I got really sick. I didn’t have much money with me, but I took all I had and went to the doctor. Doctor prescribed lots of urgent analysis for which I also had to pay. I went to do analysis and the nurse who was supposed to charge me for everything and let me in a hospital, realized that I am a student, looked at doctors diagnosis and just let me in by saying ‘It is OK, you don’t have to pay.’
2. Compliments where it really counts
“I’m in kindergarten, peeing next to a random kid at a urinal. The kid (same age as me), looks down at my penis & says ‘Wow, your penis is so big!’ Didn’t go pee in urinals until fourth grade.
I still see this guy on a daily basis since we have a couple of classes together. I bet he completely forgot about it, but I didn’t.”
“A girl complimented me REALLY EFFUSIVELY on my eyebrows, to which I had at the time done absolutely nothing, totally natural. She wanted to know who ‘did’ them and when I told her they just grow out of my face like that, she was super jealous, etc.
However, I have a feeling she has probably forgotten this interaction, whereas I still remember it and look at my eyebrows like, are they really so special? (I don’t think they are. They’re fine, but they’re definitely nothing exciting).”
4. Crying in Public
“At the funeral of my friend from college, I chose to stand next to my professor instead of sitting with my friends. He was there alone and there were no seats. He is easily my father’s age.
We stood in silence. When I started crying during the service he got flustered and actually handed me a tissue from his pocket tissue from his pocket and promised it was clean. It was probably the most emotional moment I’ve ever shared with another person. He probably doesn’t remember.”
5. “I just felt she needed it”
“Roughly 11 years ago my best friend and I went to go dancing. We were on our way to the bus at the central station so we could get to our favorite bar. Suddenly I see a crying girl, just sitting beside the street. No one seemed to notice. My friend and I didn’t know her, but she was around 18, all alone and seemed miserable. So we go approach her carefully, asking whats wrong. She tells us sobbing she failed her exam and her mother threatens to throw her out so she doesn’t wants to live anymore. Out of nowhere I hug her. I hate touching strangers but I just felt she needed it. My friend gives her a tissue, she calms down. I tell her she has her life to find out what she wants to do and can repeat her exams if thats what she wants. I reassure her. We leave her in better mood and never heard from her again. I forgot that happened.
When my son got into school we went to meet his teachers. One was a woman strangely familiar. She smiled at me the whole time, I couldn’t place her. She approached me after the meeting asking if I remember hugging a girl in the station. After some hard thinking, I do. She thanked me. It was awesome.”
6. The One Where Michelle Obama Is Absolutely Lovely
“My husband worked for Obama. One time we got to meet Michelle, and she shook my husband’s hand and then moved on to me, giving me the biggest hug, and telling me, ‘Thank you so much. I know it’s hard.’ It meant so much to me because my husband’s career had a big hand in destroying our marriage, and I was absurdly depressed at the time. I’m sure she says that to every person in my situation though.”
7. “And he was right”
“About a year or so ago I was at work, and I was walking to lunch with my boss. He and I were close friends and he knew my life outside of work in decent detail. I had been dumped (blindsided) and had lost my dad years before that and was still dealing with the grief of it. So both things came together and made life very hard for me and I wasn’t always able to keep it together at work for a short stretch.
I remember he and I were walking and he was asking how I was doing…I choked on my words a bit because I was having a particularly hard day. He patted me on the shoulder and said, ‘I know it’s hard right now and it probably feels like it won’t get better. But it will. This feeling won’t last forever, you’re going to be stronger from it and even happier than you were before, just take it one day at a time and keep moving forward.’
The way he said it, with such sincerity and that sense of ‘listen man, I’ve been there and believe me it’s going to get better’ just struck a chord with me and I knew he was right. I still remember it vividly. Such a small gesture but it meant so much to me. And he was right, things did get 10x better since then.”
8. “Before I die…”
“There’s a chalkboard on the side of a building in a city I used to live in which states ‘Before I die…’ And then people fill in the blanks with stuff they want to do.
I was on my lunch break and checking out all the things that were written that day (they erase it every night) and there was a man there from out of province. We started talking about the board and the things written on it. We ended up changing the topic of conversation and he began telling me of all the jobs he’s worked in his life and how happy he is to this day. He explained how he just took opportunities, he didn’t dedicate his whole life to one job. He took chances and worked weird jobs that others would’ve hated but he loved the experience. After talking with him it made me relax and put less pressure on myself to get started on a set path to success, there is no set path, there’s only opportunity and your willingness to take those opportunities.”
9. “Goofy cacklin'”
“A few months ago, I was going to meet my girlfriend at the movies.
I was thinking of a funny conversation from earlier, as I was waking into the mall. So I rounded the corner with a smirk on my face and passed a lady who looked like she was experiencing the same thing.
Our eyes locked and we both exploded into actual, genuine corny-ass laughter.
Like we both were in on some great joke. No words were exchanged. Just eye contact and goofy cacklin’.
It was oddly great.”
10. Free Entry
“My two little kids and I went to an event that I had been told was free. We packed a lunch because I couldn’t afford to buy us one. Got there and found out it would be $6 to get in. I didn’t have it, we turned to leave, I was on the verge of tears because I was so angry with myself that I couldn’t afford it. The gate person let us in. Still cried because of his kindness.”
11. The Little Old Man
“I was working one night (cop) and was busy. I didn’t have time to take a meal break, so I stopped into a Wendy’s quick to get a couple belly bombers to eat on the go. I was standing on line and feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and there’s a sweet looking little old man standing there. He smiles and says ‘You be careful out there young man.’ And then gave me a hug. It made my whole week and I’ve never forgotten it.”
12. Free Parking
“I was standing at a parking lot pre-pay machine, dismayed by the ridiculously high price but there was no other parking lots around (craft show in the middle of nowhere). A lady who was leaving walked up to me and gave me her permit that was good for the rest of the day. I will never forget her or how good it felt to be on the receiving end of a random act of kindness.”
13. “More class at age 11 than I’ll probably ever have”
“When I was in 6th grade, I tried out for the class play. During practices, everyone was sure I would be cast as one of the leads – the Lawyer. I was a shoe-in for the part. Literally everybody knew that the Lawyer was mine.
On the day that the cast list came out, I wasn’t chosen for the Lawyer – I was Guest 13! Lisa Williams was cast out of nowhere as the Lawyer. I was heartbroken. I burst into tears and cried and cried the whole way home. It was awful.
Once I got home, I was in my room devastated when the phone rang. My mom told me it was Lisa calling for me. Lisa and I weren’t friends (or enemies, we didn’t really run in the same circles at all). Was she calling me to mock me? To rub salt in the wound?
I answered the phone and Lisa told me that she was sorry I hadn’t gotten the part. That’s all – just that she knew I was upset and wanted to try to make me feel better.
That was 34 years ago, but it still sticks in my mind today. Sometimes when I want to be petty or vindictive, I remind myself that Lisa Williams had more class at age 11 than I’ll probably ever have. And then I try to be a better person.”
14. “Thank you kind lady”
“I don’t know how old I was, really young, possibly a toddler. My mom took my brother along to go shopping in a kiddie store. It had a small play area in the corner, and I went in there while my mom and brother shopped.
I remember looking up and seeing my mom at the cash register, and thinking to myself, oh okay, we’re leaving soon. I went back to playing for a few minutes, and I looked up again to find my mom and brother gone.
I assumed they left and forgot about me, so I left the store and walked to where our car was parked. They weren’t there, so I decided to go back to the store, they probably went back inside.
I was crossing the street and was on my way to the store when a nice lady with blonde hair stopped me. She bent down and said ‘Hello sweetie, do you know where your mommy is?’ I didn’t know, so she took me by the hand and called the police. We waited by my car, and I remember being bored, standing by the car.
She was very nice, and I was reunited with my hysterical mom. I sometimes wonder if that woman is still around somewhere. Thank you kind lady, I hope you’re living a good life, even if you don’t remember saving a toddler from being run over on the street.”
15. Children: Telling it like they see it
“On a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. We were in line for our shore excursion. It was blazing hot, I was sweating and uncomfortable. I had put on about a million pounds because I was recovering from major surgery and in a wheelchair. A little girl in the next line looked at me and told her mom, ‘She’s pretty.’ I desperately needed to hear that. Bless that little girl, wherever she is.”
16. Meeting Your Hero
“I gave a thumbs up to Kobe Bryant from a distance
He gave me a thumbs up back.”
17. “I remember for them”
“At my mother’s nursing home there was a resident who kept asking the aides, over and over, for a pencil or something to write with. She didn’t really need one, she was just obsessed with it. So I went over and gave her a pencil. She asked me, ‘do I have to give it back?’ and when I said ‘no, it’s yours. You can keep it’ she almost started crying. She had forgotten by the next day.
Lots of interactions like that with other residents and with my mother. Just trying to offer comfort in the moment, knowing they won’t remember it, or even me. But I remember for them.”
18. The Thing That Keeps You up at Night
“My 4th grade girlfriend (4 year relationship that I wasn’t really aware of) was moving away at the end of the year. In retrospect I think she was pretty upset about it. Anyway, her friend gently tapped me on the shoulder on the bus (I was talking with friends) and told me my gal wanted to break up because of the moving. My dumb boy priority was to save face in front of mates so I said ‘Oh, I don’t care.’ The friend looked scandalized and went back to the girls, I turned back to my mates. One was like ‘Dude, ice cold.’
It was nearly 20 years ago so I doubt anyone else remembers but I’m worried I really hurt the girl’s feelings, she was lovely and I really liked her.”
19. Picture Day
“Definitely the time I was in second grade, and it was picture day. Instead of wearing the usual t-shirt and cargo shorts combo, my grandpa decided that I should dress up a bit. He put me in a nice dress shirt with a tie, a good pair of khakis, and some nice shoes. I was a little nervous going into school though. Everyone was all so comfortable, and here I was all dressed up. I felt left out in a way. So I walk into class and my teacher, Mrs. Shepard, looks at me and says, ‘Well aren’t you dressed up today. You’re the most handsome little man I’ve ever seen!’ And then she reached underneath her desk, pulled out a Jolly Rancher, “‘t’s picture day, and you know what? I think you’ll take the BEST picture. You deserve this.’ To her it’s probably nothing much. But to me, that made my entire day. She made me feel really valuable that day. Thank you so much, Mrs. Shepard. Thank you so, so much.”