Story Weekend: Encounter with a Stranger
Have you ever had an encounter with a stranger that changed your life? I hope you’ll share it with us.
If you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:
▪ The story must be true
▪ Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge.
I encountered an article written by a young college student that appeared in our church newsletter. She wrote about how she couldn’t accept a compliment very well, never really believing that she had done anything to deserve it. Reading that article was like reading something I myself had written and her reasoning, based on scripture, was sound. It made me more than just stop and think. It is very hard to change your ways, but I have experimented in trying to enjoy praise when it comes my way, and darned if I don’t feel better about myself for trying!
Hey, can you send me a link of the article you mentioned? The one with the college student not accepting compliments well?
I once met a man on a train returning from a holiday with his wife, they couldn’t sit together so I offered to move so they could, but the man refused. I wondered why the man didn’t want to sit next to his wife and we continued to chat for the two hour journey. When I got up to leave the man said “We’ve been married 40 years, I don’t need to sit next to her to know she is there”. What an expression of love, it made me feel joyful, my marriage had just ended, it gave me hope.
Last July I encountered an older lady at work who pointed out a handsome well-dressed man who was waiting for her several feet away. She told me he was her husband of many years and that he was being treated for cancer. He gave me a big smile and waved. I could see the love in her eyes. I told her he was really handsome and expressed surprise because he didn’t look sick. I wished them luck as she left.
Last month I saw her again. She asked if I remembered her and her husband, and I did. She told me he passed away just two months after I saw him. I was so sorry. She told me that before he died, he had left his burial clothing in the front of his closet, which she didn’t know until she opened it after his death. This really touched me. Even in death he was still looking out for her.
Coat pulled up around me I scurried down the walk in front of a strip mall when I encountered the sexiest man alive. Don’t get me wrong. No bared chest here, no young hormones coursing. I was all of 66 years and he seemed about 75. Every inch 6’5” and wrapped in a black coat and a wide brimmed black fedora, he looked like John Carradine or Raymond Massey in their Lincoln modes. I was long past longing for a hookup, but he looked at me, from my head to my toes and back again, smiled and walked on. The smile of that encounter still lingers when I think of him.
My now grown-up grandsons, from Colorado, used to spend their school spring breaks with me. One year when they were about the ages of 8 and 12 we were watching the movie “Pay it Forward.” The youngest, Matt, was really absorbed in it and the oldest, Christian, was too until near the end, when in his mind the story had reached an obvious conclusion, and he assumed the credits were about to roll. He stood up and announced he was going to sit in the hot tub. I shook my head and told him, to wait, the story wasn’t over. Of course, he argued with me and I finally blurted out that the little boy dies. “No way,” he said, but still sat down and finished the movie which ended as I told him it would. They sort of understood the “pay it forward,” concept but were more bummed that the little boy had died. I took them to McDonalds to cheer them up. While we were sitting there eating, I noticed a woman sitting at the next table. She had papers spread all around her and seemed upset, very agitated. She stood up and looked around, spied me and I just smiled and said, “I’ll watch your stuff for you.” She looked so relieved, said thank you and went outside to make a phone call. Matt questioned the reason I had done that because I didn’t know the lady. I told him it was like the movie we’d just watched, that you should be always be kind to people and no reason was needed to kind. He looked skeptical–so much for the lesson I’d hoped they’d learned from the movie–and went to back to eating his chicken sandwich. The boys didn’t even notice when the lady came back and we nodded to each other. My act of kindness finished, I focused on my French fries. Before I realized she was there, the lady was at our table. She placed a locket in front me and two piles of chocolate candy in front of the boys. “Thank you for watching my things,” she said. I told her it wasn’t necessary, it hadn’t been any trouble. She said, “I’m just paying it forward.” She was gone before I could respond. Christian paled and Matt, eyes wide, said, “No way.” (I still have the locket.)
A few weeks ago I took my son and daughter to Toys R Us to return a defective toy. My son kept asking me for things and I kept saying no, we have no money this week. There was a lady behind us also waiting to return something. As we were later browsing the store with the $10 credit we had, the lady comes up to us looking like she was about to cry. She said, “I notice your son has a hole in his sneaker. Please let me buy him new sneakers. Someone helped me out once.” I didn’t know what to say. I think she would have felt bad if I said no. So she took us to Payless next door and let my son pick out the sneakers he wanted. I was so touched by this woman’s random act of kindness. I told my son God sent her to us to help us out.