The impact of engaging with a caring stranger

Here is a discussion we started on our Facebook Community page. Copies of it are included here for those no using FB.

When was your life changed or even saved because a stranger cared enough to have a conversation with you?


Link back to Open to a Conversation


  1. Ermelinda says:

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  2. Chuck says:

    Profound, life impact is often the result of experiences that support our outlook. Chuck sent this to me.

    Yesterday I purchased a new bicycle seat from a local shop. As I was looking rather inquisitively at the seat’s underside the man who sold it to me asked; “Do you see how it attaches?” “Not yet.” my reply. “Bring your bike in and I’ll take the old one off and put this one.” And so this morning I rode my bike to his shop and he placed the seat, after measuring me and I had an excellent ride home being pleased at his generosity and helpfulness. This little event got me thinking about our human species once again.

    Each evening I listen to the news on the radio. A bit local, more national, most international. The news often contains unpleasant, nasty and egregious behavior carried out by individuals or collectives. Yet in my whole life (I am over 70 years of age, lived in many urban and rural areas) I have never had another person purposely do anything bad to me. Big acts of kindness and little acts of compassion have been my experience and I suspect that this is pretty typical. So there; nightly news.

  3. Christopher says:

    As a teacher, another teacher brought me a grade 10 boy and said,’ Can you do anything with him?’ He eventually became a friend to our entire family. In class he was my student assistant in my cutting edge computer lab in the late 1980s. ( 6 yrs before the WWW) We did some very innovative things. Eventually he was a guide through the Yucatan peninsula for us.

  4. Loni says:

    A friend of mine was on her way to a fancy party with her children and husband David. On the way over a bridge, there was a man standing alone. The husband wanted to stop and talk to him. The rest of the family went ahead to the party. David found out that the man was going to jump off the bridge. David stayed up all night with the man trying to find out what the problems were and what could be done. The man had no money and no way (he thought) to earn any. Between them, they figured out that he could collect used items and sell them. Pretty soon he opened up a second hand store. By the time David passed away, the man owned a string of second hand stores in different cities. He flew in to his funeral and told some of the people there this story.

    David was a very caring man, who didn’t care for B.S. At a party my parents held, he abandoned the ritzy folk socializing in the living rooms, and sat in the kitchen chatting with the teenagers of the family, making them feel that they mattered.

  5. Chuck says:

    Throughout my life I have been blessed with many supportive and pleasant encounters with my fellow humans many of them strangers and I am often saddened when I hear someone reporting a specific xenophobic story and then generalizing it. My life experience has been such that looking back I feel confident in generalizing a specific event which occurred some 52 years ago when I was just a whipper-snapper of 20. My sweetie and I joined a friend of ours to travel from our home in Minneapolis, Minnesota to San Francisco, California by motorcycle. On the first day out after an afternoon gasoline stop we took to the road in South Dakota spaced out so that a speeding auto could pass us one at a time. At about 20 minutes into this leg of the journey Judy, the middle rider of the three, came upon a set of unexpected railroad tracks at an unmarked crossing. She lost control of her bike the front wheel of which veered into a gravel shoulder, causing her and the bike to somersault and descent down a steep embankment of about 3 metres into a field below.

    When I reached her she was semi-conscious with bloody hands, arms and face and a helmet which had exploded on impact exuding foamed plastic through its shell. Later the doctor in the emergency ward would declare this helmet so absorbing the shock undoubtedly saved her life. I disentangled her from the bike and turned to see three people, two women and a man, descending the embankment. In my dazed state I somewhat helped them scoop up Judy and carry her to their waiting car. The next thing I recall we were at the emergency ward of a local hospital some distance away. I think I thanked them but I may not have. They just said good bye and were gone. Our friend, the third rider, being in front had gone on for some time before missing us and retracing his path. Upon coming upon the scene of the accident he encountered a couple of men who had dragged Judy’s bike up to the roadside and righted my bike which I had dropped on the shoulder of the road. When our friend, Tim, introduced himself they asked what should be done with the bikes and the three decided to bring them to the yard of farm nearby.

    Judy lost her front teeth which were replaced with cute ceramic ones within 8 weeks. Her pavement rash healed without scar and after a night in hospital for observation she was released. We took a taxi to a local motel and hence I continued on to the farmers place, picked up my bike and rode back to Minneapolis, picked up our car and returned to the motel for my sweetie whence we continued by car to San Francisco returning home some 6 weeks later. In case you are wondering Judy’s damaged bike was transported back to Minneapolis.

    Five, nameless to me, fellow empathetic human beings were there when we needed them. In the intervening years, though never so dramatically, strangers have emerged when needed and acted similarly. In a world of accurately reported bad human behaviour I rely on my personal experience to assert that compassion is the human norm and violence the exception. Am I right or am I right?”

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