Almost all of us were taught as children not to talk to strangers.

And then the Internet happened and that’s more or less what we all do all day now.

But at least online there’s a nice physical distance between you and the potential weirdo. When you don’t have that luxury, things can get dicey pretty fast.

What’s the scariest encounter you’ve had with a total stranger?
byu/anchovy7 inAskReddit

Here are Reddit stories illustrating exactly why we were told to avoid the stranger danger.

1. Pop his jaw

I was eleven, and at the park with my cousin who was three. My cousin being a stubborn three year old told me to leave him be, and I sat out on the bench.

I was just reading my book, and occasionally looking up, until this like fifty something year old man sat down next to me, and just started talking.

He asked me, which kid was mine like four times, even after I made it quite clear I was uncomfortable, and then he get’s all close to me, and was like:

“Do you want another one?”

So I started freaking out, until this homeless man, (who I later knew to be Marty) pulled me off the bench, and told him that he was lucky he didn’t ‘pop his jaw’ and told me to go home.

I’m glad Marty showed up, because I don’t know what I would have done.

– UrDadTxtMe

2. The parking lot

I (21F at the time) was in a store picking up some items for my house when I noticed a man was literally peeking at me from around a corner. I first brushed it off and continued my shopping, but was aware that this man was following me around the store. He then sang out to me and said I looked familiar and asked if I went to the local university, I didn’t so I said no.. at this point I got creeped out so I checked out and went to my car. I heard footsteps behind me and knew he had followed me so I just jumped in my car and locked the doors.

It was dark so I hadn’t noticed him go around the back of my car until he banged on my passenger window. I ignored him and started the car, this prompted him to Run around the front and start banging on my drivers side door trying to open it and asking me for a ride.

I was terrified and just pulled out of the parking space as fast as I could and drove off, with him chasing my car until i rounded a corner. I have no idea what his plan was but to this day I am nervous about dark parking lots at night.

– southside_best

3. And a large coke

I was at this run down movie theatre we had in town. Only one we had at the time, it was pretty bad. Turned into a place where the bad crowd hangs out.

Walking up to pay for my ticket and a guy approached me asked “want to by buy some coke?”

I said “no thanks”

Dude gets closer to me and pulls out a knife “don’t tell anyone” and then he walked away

For a split second there I thought I was going to get stabbed. I left and never went back

– Jeff-IT

4. The scoped rifle

I was once threatened by a man with a scoped rifle while walking my dog. I was out in a field behind my apartment building at night, and I heard a voice from behind me say “you better run fast, boy”. I turned and saw a backlight silhouette of a man on a balcony with a scoped rifle, and I heard him close the bolt. I decided that running would only add tension to the situation, so I yanked on my dogs leash while calmly yet quickly walking towards the closest cover I could find.

I immediately called 911, and when it was all said and done, the guy with the rifle claimed he was just showing the rifle to his friend.

BS, but I couldn’t prove otherwise.

– cqmqro76

5. Adult in the bathroom

I was taking a shower in the bathroom of the walkout basement. My 3 year old son was upstairs with my mother eating breakfast. I heard him open the door and told him “Mommy is in the shower, you have to wait.”

The door didn’t close but he didn’t respond either so I asked him to go back upstairs and ask grandma for whatever he needed.

Instead I see a shadow and outline of a hand touching the shower curtain and realize that there is an ADULT in the bathroom, not my son.

I scream and punch through the shower curtain. I don’t think I connected, but I heard the man run out anyway. As fast as I could I jumped out and grabbed a towel to check on my son and mom. At the same time my mom was coming downstairs to see if I was ok from the scream.

The man never went upstairs and they didn’t even know it had happened. The walkout basement door and window were open.

I called the police and they didn’t find him, just my empty wallet about a block away. […]

Never been so scared in my life.

– like_big_mutts

6. The truck stop

I was in high school and worked at a truck stop.

One night a trucker came in and stared at me for a long time. Wherever I moved to he was staring me down. I told him that if he needed anything that he would need to come to the counter and order it.

He just grunted and kept staring.

I’m not a small person and at that time I was in football, wrestling, and track. I was also at the gym 6 days a week. I was 190 pounds of muscle and teenager hormones. But the vibes I was getting from this guy were making me nervous.

I called up my other co worker and told them I was going to be in the freezer for a while. So I was stocking the freezers and coolers for a while and then went to the bathroom.

As I entered the bathroom the trucker jumped up and walked in behind me and just stood in there while I took a p*ss and washed my hands.

As soon as I got out I grabbed the trash bags and bee lined outside to take care of the trash at the pumps until he left.

My co worker asked me why the trucker kept following me after I finally came in.

I had no idea why. He never said anything. Didn’t order anything. Just filled up his semi and creeped on me.

I’ve never been as creeped out by a person as I was with that guy.

– memikeme

7. Such a sudden change

A very cheerful guy approached me and my friend in a park, in a very non-threatening way.

He was holding a frisbee and explained he was putting together an impromptu game of ultimate frisbee and looking for people to join him. Which was fine, but then he tried to grab me by the throat.

It was such a sudden change of mood.

My friend (an athletic dude, fortunately) got between us and just stared him down and he ran away.

The whole thing was just bizzare

– Jabberhakke

8. The yard sale

Went to a yard sale with my aunt when i was like 5. A little boy, about the same age as me, approaches me and tells me to come inside to meet his dad. I wander off with him without my aunt noticing, and he brings me into the house where the yard sale is taking place.

we go down to the basement and There was his NAKED dad, lying on a couch excitedly greeting me as if he’d been awaiting my company or something. I actually don’t remember much after that.

I just got out of there as fast as possible and it’s been a strange memory of mine ever since.

– Pale_Strength_7916

9. Come calling

I had just left my apartment to go for a walk down towards the beach at night when it was pitch black. There was a park along the way.

Some guy came up to me asking to use my phone. I apologized and lied and said I didn’t have one.

He didn’t believe me and started to get aggressive. He asked me where I lived and if I had a boyfriend. He started following me and that’s when I started to run and went back to my place. I didn’t feel comfortable going where I wanted to.

– pickledcheesecake

10. Fight me

I was 16 and sitting on a train station with my mother. Some man came over and started talking to her.

After a while I looked at the clock and informed my mother that we needed to go because our train was about to arrive. He flew up from the seat and started screaming at me and wanted to fight me. My mother was confused and tried to explain to him that I was her daughter and that we really did need to leave. He just continued screaming which of course made teenage me scream back at him. She had to pull me away from there.

I never understood what made him see red like that. All I did was inform my mother our train was coming and we needed to leave.

– WrestlingWoman

11. Ghostbusters 2

I will never forget it. When Ghostbusters 2 came out I wanted to see it. My mom took me to the local theater I think I was around 9.

I needed to use the bathroom so I ran down the small hall and turned the corner. When I saw a much older man come out of the bathroom. When he saw me he stopped went back in. When I didn’t move he opened the door peeking his head and arm out motioning me to come towards him.

I probably looked like a deer in headlights I didn’t move. It was frozen until he said: come on, come on in. Panic rushed over me and I ran back towards my mom, who said I was pale white. She quickly left the theater with me and went home. Stranger Danger worked out that day in the 80s.

I can still picture him, or at least the picture my brain made of this memory.

– butters991

12. Cat calling

I was walking home from the bus stop after school. About 15 years old. It was really not far but there were construction workers drinking on the side of the road. One of them got up and followed me home calling suggestive things. I honestly can’t remember what but his intentions were clear. This was about 200m from home so I sprint home. We have an automatic gate so I realize he will catch me if I wait for it to open or he’ll follow me in. So I climb over which is normally not easy but that day I flew over.

I was really shaken up. For me this story is actually about what happened next. Which is that I called my mom who had an intense job. She dropped everything at work, came home immediately, made me hot chocolate and pancakes. We had a long conversation where she validated my feelings and fear. She’s the best.

– Vonnybon

13. The hitchhiker

I was once driving in the country and is was pouring rain in the d&&d of night. So hard that I was driving very slowly and couldn’t see any of the signs (before GPS). I mean I had never been in rain this heavy.

I had to pull over to the side of the road to try and see the sign to see if I was going in the right direction. I didn’t get out due to the rain so was craning my neck forward to try and make out where I was when suddenly the passenger door opened and a man got inside the car, sat down and looked at me.

Here is South Africa, there is a fair amount of violent crime and hijackings, so I instinctively started panicking and yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs, flailing my arms to try and do something, anything to stop this guy from attacking me. He started screaming as well in terror and jumped out the car.

I quickly leant over and closed the passenger door and sped off down the road. I was breathing so heavily at this point and trying my best to calm down, nearly in tears.

I kept replaying it in my head the whole time, and suddenly remember that the man smiled it at me. It suddenly dawned on me that it was probably a hitchhiker that I hadn’t seen, who thought that I was pulling over to give him a lift. Only to be greeted by me screaming and trying to hit him. Was probably his scariest encounter with a stranger as well.

– AndFinrodFell

14. Josh, Austin, Mason, and James

I was traveling home to California and I was in Nevada. It was an emergency so I’d packed and left at around midnight. It was about five thirty am or so in rural Nevada. I was at a stop on my usual route. I was very familiar with the particular stop, and it was just an hour or so before the California border.

Being a lone female, I concealed carry (I have my extended permit which allowed concealed through several states, except California) and I was at my truck at an empty spot, and I was in the cab disassembling and putting away my gun to be in compliance. Stepped out to go to the restroom and someone had managed to get close to my truck and was hiding along the passenger side, and I didn’t know it until I’d walked passed them.

Whoever it was grabbed me from behind. I let out the loudest, most blood curdling scream. Oscar winning scream. But there was no other people at this stop. I fought and tried to buck the guy off of me, but I wasn’t doing very well. Kicking lead him to lift me off the ground where I couldn’t get him, and trying to break through his arms made him bend me over with him still behind me.

I’m not sure how long I was screaming and fighting, but then I heard tires screech and I figured it was the creepy van my parents told me to avoid as a kid coming to take me away. Nope. It was a Toyota Corolla full of local teenagers headed to the gas station before school. The teens jumped out and ran towards us, and the driver stayed in the vehicle. The guy who grabbed me took off, two of the kids chased him through the desert beyond the gas station on foot, and the driver and the other kid made sure I was alright.

I send these four boys Christmas and birthday cards every year. I’m sure if it wasn’t for them I would’ve been kidnapped or k**led. Josh, Austin, mason, and James, thank you guys.

– kittyonthet*tty

15. You can come with me

When I was about 6 I was with my family at an incredibly crowded street festival we’d go to every year. I remember we had stopped to watch a band play for a minute or two, and then my mom (I assumed) took my hand and we continued walking.

After a few seconds I realized the hand I was holding was puffy and hot, and my mom’s hands were always cool and more slender, so I knew it wasn’t her hand I was holding. I looked up to see a woman with long blond hair and sunglasses grinning down at me. I said “You’re not my mom” and she just laughed and said “That’s okay, you can come with me anyway!”

Obviously my mom and dad had realized I was not with them at this point and were freaking out. My dad just happened to look in the exact right direction at the right time and saw this lady leading me away through a break in the crowd. He ran over to us, grabbed her shoulder and she dropped my hand and disappeared in the crowd.

I still can’t believe he spotted us. It was like shoulder to shoulder people at this thing.

– I_Want_A_Llama

16. A long walk in the woods

Years ago I used to work as an ecological surveyor. Basically I got paid to take long walks in the Peak District National Park here in the UK and note down all the plant species I saw.

I was walking down a trail one morning along the edge of a woodland when suddenly about 8 of the bushes stood up and produced rifles. I nearly s**t myself and they were laughing like h*ll.

It was a bunch of British Army guys on a camouflage and concealment exercise and they had been following me to practice. Apparently I had nearly trodden on one of them earlier as he was hiding right by the trail.

We all ended up sitting around talking about football for a bit. Nice bunch of guys but very scary indeed.

– rob_cornelius

17. Here’s your price

While working a late shift at a restaurant at 16, I had a customer who just wouldn’t leave. He was like 50, and just stared at me the entire time he ate his food, which was like two hours for some reason.

When he came up to pay, he was super weird about it. Like I’d say “okay here’s your price” and he’d pause and say “do I get a discount?” Or something and I said “no, will you be paying cash or card?” And he said like “cash” and I was like “okay” and then he just stared at me while i waited for him to hand me his cash.

After like 2 minutes of this weird interaction, he has his change, the bill, and he can leave. So I say “have a good night” and he says “can I go now?’ And I say “yup!” And he says something like “am I pestering you? Why don’t I take you home and pester you there?”

So I just thought “NOPE” and walked right back to the backroom where I got my coworker to deal with him.

Apparently she scolded him and said it was shameful he would say that to a minor, and he said “well then can I take you home?”. What a f*cking creep.

– usernameemma

18. Fly away

I was in Paris, in the train station that takes you to the airport, my flight was very early in the morning, so I planned to stay in the station until 5 am or so and then go to the airport.

This dude started talking to me very friendly, he praised my french and all that, he asked me where I was from and I was totally lying because who the h*ll gives a stranger his information. He asked me if I’m going to the airport and I said yes, tomorrow early in the morning.

At some point I realized another guy was kind of circling us, they were from the same ethnicity. For some reason this gave me a bad vibe, I was kind of far away from the other people because I was using a machine to but tickets and several of them were not working. I started walking towards the entry were more people was seated and he’s still trying to talk with me. The other guy is still following us and then he says do you know that the station closes in like 15 min no? I wasn’t able to hide my surprise, he told me they didn’t close before but due to the amount of vagrants they do now.

He tries to touch my arm and I asked what the f*ck are you doing? He said you don’t want to spend the night here, is a dangerous neighborhood and a pretty lady like you, one can only imagine what is going to happen to you. He offered to go to a hotel room with him, I was looking at the reflection of the glass wall and the other dude was getting closer to us and f*ck at the moment I thought I was going to be abducted I was nervous AF.

Until I hear a latin woman speaking spanish, I looked at her and she was with her two adult children, I almost cry. She was Mexican and for some reason I was convinced she was going to help me. I said, I don’t think my mom is going to like that and I walk towards her and said very fast a low in spanish, that guy and his friend are harassing me, please help me. She did and we stayed together the rest of the night until the train station open again.

I’m forever grateful to her and her family, they saved me.

I was able to return home to my real mom thanks to her.

– sapheless

19. The man in the walker

I dropped my son off at school one morning and then went to the grocery store with my infant daughter. It was so early, there was only 1 or 2 other customers. There was an older man with a walker that I didn’t really pay too much attention to that kept popping up in the same aisle as us.

I got out to my car and put my groceries in and then was putting my daughter in her car seat when the man came up behind me. He asked me a question and when I turned to answer he shoved his walker into the back of my legs pinning me against my car inside the open door. I tried moving around but couldn’t go anywhere except forward and he started pushing me down to the floor of my car. I was so scared that once he had me down there he was going to go for my daughter so I threw myself over her so my whole upper body was in her car seat and wedged myself in tight trying to cover as much of her as possible.

He grabbed me by the hair and was trying to pull me up when someone started honking their car horn. Another mom had been sitting in her car with her own baby asleep and had seen what was happening. Another car pulled up behind mine and the man ran over and got in quickly, obviously never needing the walker. The police were called but the plates on the car that he left in were stolen so as far as I know he was never found.

– lostmyshade

20. The nightmare park

When I was around 10-11 a “friend” invited me me to a water park.

During swimming at a wave pool he found some random kid around our age and decided to tell this kid that the game we were going to play was hold me down in the water. I didn’t get that memo so I thought him and this kid were just trying to drown me. This went on for what felt like an hour of me swimming away and hiding. I didn’t hang out with him afterward.

Same trip.. after we were done with the pool I got to the changing rooms and there is a couple people in there. Old man on the bench asks me if I wanted him to help me change. I just said “no thanks” and quickly changed and ran out.

– BloodThursty

21. The gentle giant

I was about nineteen and driving home from dinner one night, probably a ribeye sandwich from the local truck stop, because those were cheap and excellent.

A woman standing next to a motorcycle at the side of the road waved me down, so I stopped. She said that she’d run out of gas, and that she didn’t want to scare me, but her boyfriend was hiding down over the bank.

Uh-oh. This giant comes up over the bank in dusty road leathers. He’s a d*mn mountain of denim, leather, and hair. Sh*t. Fake damsel-in-distress, I’m an idiot. I was so close to home I felt safe, maybe? Maybe I can leg it home. Surely he’s too big to be fast?

The giant apologizes for hiding, but “we ran out of gas, and there was no way anyone was going to stop on an empty road to help with me standing here”. He’s embarrassed. Now I felt a little guilty for agreeing with him. He’s intimidating as h*ll without putting any effort into it. He doesn’t have to. We’re out of sight and isolated on a secondary road, but it’s less than a mile to I-80. I can almost see my house from where I’m standing.

It gets boring from there. I tell him I’ve got got a can of gas for the lawnmower with at least a gallon left in it. He says he can go 70 miles on that (the truck stop is two-three miles up the interstate) and is happy to pay for it. I’m home and back in two minutes, he insists on paying me ten bucks for a two dollar gallon of gas because “I’m not sure I’d have come back if I were you.”

There was just that fifteen seconds of ice-cold, slow-motion terror between the girlfriend saying she “didn’t want to scare me” (who says that?) and the mountain coming up over that bank and… apologizing.

– Vizzini_CD

22. Absolutely mental

Not scary per se but deeply disturbing.

Random dude at my local library accosted me while I was enjoying a new sci-fi novel and was absolutely convinced I was his son. Kept telling me he was sorry and he never meant to k**l my mother who he called Pink and said some other heinous s**t I wont describe.

Bat sh*t crazy but he sounded so rational and calm the whole time. S**t gave me the creeps for a long time after

– roguechimera

23. Like what you see?

14 years old, walking home it was dark.

Man gets off the bus, opens up his coat and says “like what you see?” He was in his 40s. Completely naked.

I’ve never run so fast in my life.

– TattedAngel71

24. Language barriers

more creepy than scary but one time I was in a public library browsing books. mind u it was rather packed with most of the seats taken. there’s a bunch of couches near where I was browsing & I had a gut feeling that this guy sitting there was staring at me.

I continued minding my own business looking for books when suddenly that guy stands up & walks directly towards me. I pretend not to notice until he says “hey little girl” . I was probably 14 at the time, and he didn’t speak english but I understood. I thought that if worst comes to worst he was just looking for a book, so I looked up. he then asks “do u wanna be my friend?”

I was f*cking creeped out. This dude here was at least in his 60s, asking a 14 year old girl to be his friend, in public. I pretended I only understood english & I didn’t get what he was trying to say and walked away. Thank goodness that library was packed.

– icantthinknow

25. God only knows

I was at a storage depot with my ex, picking up some stuff or other. Suddenly & without warning, this old-ish guy approaches out of nowhere and starts a conversation with my ex. I’m in the unit at the time, so it’s possible he didn’t know I was there, but the clipped tone and monosyllabic answers from my ex were enough for me to know he was making her feel uncomfortable.

That’s when I heard him say “Don’t worry, I’m not going to r*pe you or anything.” Like, literally two or three sentences into a conversation with a total stranger, he felt this would be a reassurance?!

So I stepped out of the unit, making my presence known by moving some stuff around in the hall, and his whole demeanor changed…somewhere between contrition and aggression that I’d dared insert myself into whatever the f*ck he thought this was. My ex stayed back while I kept the old b*stard’s attention on me, and he took me to task for calling him ‘mate’ (A common thing British people do when they don’t know someone’s name), saying it was rude & disrespectful to a stranger. I responded with “As rude & disrespectful as talking about r**e to a young woman you thought was alone?”

He shuffled away, mumbling something about knowing the management, leaving us both a little shook. To this day, I have no idea what his damage was, but it was clear that he wasn’t used to being confronted like that. God knows what he would have done if my ex had been alone.

– RWMagpie

26. The close talker

Back when I was 16 working at Lowe’s, some customer who was an old man walked up behind me without me even noticing and whispered in my ear “Do you know where I can find the hoses at?” He said that so close to my ear where I could feel his warm breath while he was caressing my shoulder…

My body froze up and all I could say was “I think they’re in aisle five” Welp, shortly after I found out that he never even went to that end of the store where they were… lol

– virginianhillbilly

27. In the dark

Drove up solo from California to Seattle super early in my early 20s. First solo road trip. Maybe around 5 AM I somehow was on a road parallel to the main highway, just a lot darker. No cars around me for miles.

5-10 minutes down this road I’m just patiently waiting to get back on the main highway, when lights just appear maybe 4 car lengths behind me. I stress that there is no way this car could have creeped up on me, and I don’t remember seeing any cars parking on the side.

It was a 2 lane stretch so I sped up and merged to the right, and this car followed and sped up. This went on for 20 minutes, no matter what I did.

It’s still pitch black out, but we finally get back to the highway and this car refuses to let up.

I tried to keep the paranoia to a minimum, but I last minute hit and off ramp to throw this car off.

– gnomeythe

28. The yell

Only passenger in a train car in Europe late at night. A disheveled man, wild hair and beard, tagged sweater entered the car and started pacing up and down the aisle. He is talking to himself in a language I couldn’t understand. Every few trips he would stop in front of me and yell at me in whatever language he spoke.

I would try to respond, but he didn’t know English anymore than I understood whatever language he was speaking. He would eventually give up yelling at me and would go back to pacing the aisle and talking to himself.

This went on for hours. Really wish I could have recorded him back then so I could eventually find someone to translate it.

– OozeNAahz

29. The following

Me and my siblings were walking across the road to a gas station. We frequently went there to grab snacks and such and then we leave and go for a walk down a road behind it.

Well a car starts following us with it’s head lights off so I quickly dip telling my siblings to follow me.

So we start running through a field and lay on the ground to wait for them to leave.

Well the drive down the road and then circle back.

This happens about 4-5 times before they gave up and we went home.

– Shadow_Of-Dusk

30. Horrifying

I was about 10, getting back home from the park with my sister. She, being the stubborn younger “I need no older sister playing mom to me” sibling walked purposely 20 metres ahead so nobody would even THINK we were together. She rounds the corner, and I hear a blood-curdling scream.

I never covered 20 metres so fast in my life.

I round the corner and there’s a man, holding my sister by her throat, dragging her into an opened car parked nearby.

When he sees me advancing and yelling incomprehensibly (I honestly don’t know what I yelled, I was scared out of my wits) and he realises there’s two of us, he drops her, jumps into the car and drives off.

She had fingerprint-shaped bruises on her throat for days.

– cototudelam

God, I’m glad everyone in these stories is alright. People really are too much.

Do you have a stranger danger story like this?

Share it with us in the comments.