“Meeting a stranger can be totally fleeting and meaningless, for example, unless you enter the individual’s world by finding out at least one thing that is meaningful to his or her life and exchange at least one genuine feeling. Tuning in to others is a circular flow: you send yourself out toward people; you receive them as they respond to you.”—Deepak Chopra
“Finding your soul begins by discovering our ability to listen! Alternatively, by sharing a smile, a laugh and just by being human to everyone—from friends, colleagues, family, and especially strangers, including those who are not from the same station in life as you.”—Om Malik
The whole "interacting with strangers" thing that we all deal with on a daily basis doesn’t have to be so weird. Take these Reddit stories for example. Often, all it takes is a little bit of kindness to connect with someone, and maybe even impact their life. It is worth staying in tune with the world, because one can never be sure of when they will need a hand from a stranger themselves.
When I was 16 I had to go to the hospital. I don't remember how it happened but I started talking to a guy in a wheelchair. His name was Harvey, he looked a bit like Jerry Lewis, was in his forties and told me he has brain cancer and only a few months to live.
We talked for about an hour and at the end he gave me some advice. He said don't whine about anything, whining gets you nowhere, either do something about it and if you can't try to accept it. I never forgot that. That was almost 30 years ago.
Harvey, sometimes I whine but I try to keep it short. Thanks for that nice conversation.
Was pretty drunk one night, out at the bars with a couple friends. We were walking to the next pub, and I hear some guy across the street, don’t remember what he was saying though. I pipe up and yell “you talkin crap?” And he responds “yeah I’m talkin crap.” I start walking across the street with my arms stretched wide, like bring it on.
I hear my friends behind me telling me to stop and asking what I was doing. The stranger walks towards me too, and when we get up close we both just go in for a huge hug. Never met the dude before, and honestly I’m surprised I didn’t get punched. I’ll always remember that.
This was last year it was my 21st birthday and I went to Moe’s for my free birthday burrito. As I was walking out I slipped on one of the mats ( they had just mopped and put the mats back down before the floor dried) and I busted my ass. I was so embarrassed and in so much pain but a few people helped me up.
One middle aged woman helped me into the booth she was sitting in and took charge of the situation. She had them remake my food and bring it to the table as well as a first aid kit and a manager. She bandaged up my hand and knee and elbow all while getting the managers information in case I needed them to pay for doctors bills and got me like $100 in Moe’s coupons.
When my food finally came out she made me sit with her and eat. We ended up talking for like an hour, she told me about her and her family and she said if it was her daughter in my situation she’d want someone to step in and take care of her.
When we were finished she helped me hobble to my car and gave me a huge hug and told me happy birthday. I was so beyond thankful for her and her small act of kindness towards me.
I'd locked myself out of my flat once when I was taking out the rubbish. It would have been close to midnight. Female, early twenties, and just out of the hospital. I had no way to get in and no money, phone, or nearby friends. I don't remember this boy arriving or explaining myself to him, but he sat with me until morning the whole night long beneath my block.
He had limited English so we barely spoke, and he shared a tin of pineapple with me he had in his bag. He was calm, empty of ill intent, quiet but watchful. Friendly, a big, open smile. When the sun came up, he walked on. I'll never forget him, or how kind he was to do that. Some people are so in tune with the world, they protect it. I hope he was ok too.
I crashed a wedding when I was 18 because it was on my bucket-list and ended up dancing with a woman who was maybe 24/25. Her name was Natalie. We danced for a couple songs then the DJ put on a slow song, and I was thinking in my head that's my cue to leave but I have this habit of when I think I shouldn't do something because of negative thought.
I just say screw it and do it, so I grabbed her hand and we slow danced. I didn't know anything about this woman, beyond her name and here I was slow dancing. After that I bounced because people were starting to look at me funny/ suspiciously so I left without saying goodbye.
Honestly, I look back and think I wonder what Natalie is doing. This was in October of 2013 and that was the first time I said screw it and did what my heart wanted instead of my head, life has been better ever since.
I was a horticulture student on a botanical tour of Europe in 1979. I am at a flower market in Munich and see a plant I don't recognize. The lady working it doesn't speak English; I don't know any German. I see a plant I do know; touch the leaf and say the Latin name for it. She nods and smiles. I name another plant I know. Her smile gets bigger.
I point at the unknown plant and look at her with an expression that I hope says, "You're turn." She tells me the Latin name. We don't speak each other's language but we can communicate in a language that has been dead for over a thousand years. Cool.
I had a similar story. I was going to a university party with a friend and there were a few people with cars there. My friend knew them, we all started chatting and they offered a ride to a bar. The party was kind of weak so we were like "sure, why not?"
The twist: Inside the car I realized my friend thought I was the one who knew them. Yes, we were inside a car with a bunch of strangers who weren't even from the University, and I already had noticed those people were already near their 30s.
After a moment of despair and holding firmly to my organs (Brazil is a violent place), we arrive at the bar and end up having a pretty good time, those people were really nice and even paid some beers for us.
Never saw them again.
I met a well dressed older gentleman at a train station in London, he struck up a conversation about the departures board, and being a 20-year-old woman I was hesitant to talk back, but I like chatting to people and decided to keep the convo going.
He ended up being extremely easy to talk to, I ended up telling him I was waiting for a train to take me to the airport so I could see my boyfriend in Hong Kong whom I hadn’t seen for months, and he ended up telling me all about his life and his amazing family, and just be all round charming.
He was in London for the day to pick up a passport so he could whisk his wife away on holiday, and he just made me smile the way he was so smitten with her.
He ended up leaving after about half an hour, and when he left he took my hand and kissed it, telling me it’s so beautiful to see a young woman in love.
I never caught his name, but I’ll always remember him
I’ll share the cliffnotes version since it sounds so unreal. Years ago I walked to a bridge with intention of killing myself by jumping off. Met a guy there who wouldn't stop hovering around me, eventually he approaches me and tells me that "I have bad spirits around me" and that I should keep my head up and not give in to them.
He then asks if he can smudge me.
I didnt know what that was but agreed anyway. He pulls out sage a lighter and a shell from his backpack and proceeds to bless me right there. As soon as he finishes a bunch of birds (seagulls, crows and pigeons) all come flying over and fly in circles above us. He said that they were telling me my life was about to turn around and then he said goodbye and left.
My life did change that day, big time. And when my mind occasionally creeps back to dark places, I think of him and it pulls me back.
I was at this event in a nearby provincial park that offered a shuttle service in and out of the park. They got more interest than bargained for I guess and people ended up having to wait about two hours for a ride out of the park. This made some people very angry at these poor rangers who were obviously just kids in their summer jobs.
This big dude was just screaming at this young looking girl, just going at her about "doing something productive." Poor girl was in tears just apologizing over and over again and trying to get to her co-workers but he wasn't letting her pass.
This pissed me off, so I yelled: "What is she supposed to do?" And this older lady a few people down joined in with me to pretty much shame the dude back to his family.
Of course, when the busses finally came he sat his fat ass down on one of the priority seats despite there being a woman with a walker almost falling down right beside him. Old lady from before swoops in and manages to kick him off and sat the woman down.
Bad ass lady, I miss you.
When I was fourteen, I was trapped in the rubble of an earthquake. I spent six hours crawling towards a man whose face I never had the opportunity to see... he was a citizen who didn't leave his name with anyone and never came forward, after the fact.
It has always bothered me that I will likely never find out who he was or tell him how much comfort his voice gave me during those horrible hours. When I saw pictures of the space I ended up in, much later, I couldn't (and can't) understand how he was able to stand where he stood for six hours without injuring himself or suffering some sort of emotional trauma himself.
He's my hero.
When I was studying abroad in Lithuania I volunteered at a soup kitchen and every now and again there would be an older lady helping out who dropped off supplies. We would smile at each other and say hello even through the language barrier.
Well one night I went to Easter mass in the town I was volunteering in and it was warmer during the day so I didn’t think about bringing a heavier jacket once it got dark, not to mention the church was this old massive building. So I’m sitting through mass and I’m getting colder and start shivering pretty noticeably, when all of a sudden I feel someone drape a scarf over my shoulders.
I turn around and it’s the lady who would drop off supplies at the soup kitchen! Once mass was over I tried to return the scarf but she refused to take it back. I did my best to extend my gratitude through the language barrier but I’m sure she knew.
It was the most beautiful and kindest thing that has ever happened to me. The was the last time I saw her and I will never forget her kindness towards me. It still tears me up thinking about it.
Years ago, I was at the bus stop super early one morning. It was really cold as well.
Anyway, there was a guy that I used to see every time I would get the 7 am bus—looked like a builder, he always got off near one of the large building sites by the university. We were on "nodding terms."
One morning, there was a fireball/disintegrating meteor. We both saw it, he turned to me and said with a super serious face "you know our souls are forever linked now." We went back to nodding terms, and I never saw him after I quit early morning classes.
I guess because I remember it, he was kinda right and the guy is still trolling me.
Back in the late '90s we drove a dark blue '84 Volvo wagon. Hardly ever saw another car like it. One day at a grocery store we see another couple in the exact same car.
I rolled down the window and raised my fist in the air. The other driver saw and raised his fist. Solidarity!
The day I found out my grandmother had a stroke and would never walk or talk again, I was away at college. I finally broke down in a bathroom.
A girl came in and asked if I needed a hug. I was crying so hard that I really didn't get a look at her face. I cried on her shoulder for about ten minutes and then had to pull myself together and leave for class.
I never explained myself and she never asked. I never recognized or spoke to her again. I wonder if she sometimes saw me on campus and wondered what was up and if I was okay.
I was on a long late night bus ride. It was express so it made very few stops. The bus had maybe ten people on it in total. Half way through the trip it made a stop at a small town station so people could grab a snack or use a public restroom and maybe stretch their legs.
I went up to the counter to buy what at that point was my dinner even though it was after 10 pm and when the cashier rang it up I passed a $50 bill to her and she told me that she couldn't make change. Defeated I went back to my seat on the bus.
As everyone piled on and the bus drove away I lovely middle aged lady walked up from her seat near the back and politely asked if I minded if she sat with me. I told her she was more than welcome. She sits and proceeds to unpack a small lunch bag.
She then split the entirety of her meal with me. She said she had been waiting for the washroom to clear out and had overheard what happened. She said: "I've gone hungry in my life and it sucks. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, so you can share with me."
When we were done I jokingly asked if she could break a $50 and we had a good laugh. She stuck with me for the remainder of the trip and was a very interesting lady besides being incredibly generous.
I hope she is well.
When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get ten 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 ten books to take home.
It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was over 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.
While out for a long walk to take some photos in Wellington, New Zealand, I stop to drink some water, and get chatting with a guy sitting on the park bench.
He was homeless in that he didn't have a permanent residence, but he considered himself more of a nomad, touring around the country, and had made his way from the UK to New Zealand over the course of a few years.
He went on about how he used to work in London, got sick of his corporate job, and went traveling with the remainder of his savings, never looking back. He's eventually burnt his savings, and was now happily stranded in New Zealand.
I still remember his initials were DG, and he asked if I wanted to take a photo of him. I'd taken hundreds of photos of landscapes, animals, and people, but his one was my favourite from the day.
I was on a flight once and my seat was right next to a woman with a screaming baby. I love babies so I offered to hold her for the woman, who was clearly frazzled and had her arms full trying to get settled. She handed the baby over and I calmed her down and held her for most of the flight.
At one point the mother went to the bathroom and the flight attendant came over and offered me another seat so I wouldn’t be bothered by the baby. I declined and played with the baby the whole flight. I loved it. It was a win-win-win. The mom got a few minutes to herself, I got to play with a baby, and the rest of the passengers didn’t have to listen to a screaming baby anymore.
Got on the metro north headed out of NYC to visit family for Thanksgiving. A woman in her 70s got on the same stop as me and sat directly across from me. She had a newborn strapped to her chest and was singing in Spanish.
After riding the train for about 20 minutes she signals for my attention and I take my headphones out. I being towards her and she gestures to the baby and says you take? So I held her infant (grandchild I presume) while she got herself organized to feed and change the baby.
After she was done she gestured for me to help her strap the baby back on. She waved goodbye when she got off the train and that was that. Its weird to know there is some random newborn that I've held and will never know.
It was the night before Christmas Eve, about 8:30 pm. My mom was trying to sell our place, we’d moved a few blocks away in with my new stepdad. The driveway needed to be clear and there was about a foot and a half of snow to shovel. I was still pretty young and it was going to be a big job.
I trudged over there with my shovel, and just started the first row, when a random guy in a snowplow turned in and cleared the whole driveway in two minutes easy. He was wearing the red plaid jacket and toque combo—classic Canadian look.
I was worried as we hadn’t hired a snow removal guy, but he just waved and said Merry Christmas and drove off. Thanks snow plow guy, you taught me a thing or two about Xmas spirit.
So about 11 years ago I visited India. I went to a Sikh temple and sat down to enjoy langer (free food served by Sikhs to anyone who walks in). I was served food by this volunteer and we started chatting after lunch and became buddies.
So fast forward I am visiting another Sikh temple in the Himalayas and in the kitchen there was only one volunteer when a large bus filled with people pulled in.
I went up to the guy and asked if he needed help and he gladly accepted it. So I start serving food to people sitting in the lines and guess who I see sitting down? My buddy from the first Sikh temple. It was great seeing him and we said our hellos.
I was in the US Navy at the time and we pulled into port in Norway. We had a couple days to explore and I went to the closest city, Bergen. While in the main square area of town just down the road from their fish market there was a small boy, maybe three years old, and his father.
The boy had a large red balloon but it was windy and it got away from him. His father made a grab for it and missed but obviously couldn't run after it and leave his kid. It was blowing generally in my direction and I made a quick dash for it and managed to catch it out of the air before it blew away.
I then crouched down and held it out for the boy. He looked like he was about to start crying but immediately brightened up with the kind happiness only a child can have. He took the balloon and his father just gave me a small smile and a nod. I returned the smile and nod and we went on our way. This moment always sticks out to me.
I was a cashier at local grocery store chain about a decade ago. Guy bought some lottery tickets off of me. He asked for some certain things, but I put it into the system wrong. I told him that I could change it out and it wasn’t a big deal, but he just sort of shrugged and said it was alright.
He came in the next day and handed me two hundred dollars. Turns out he won $20,000 off of the “incorrect” tickets I had sold him. Never saw him again.
A stranger gave me $300, no strings attached.
I met him and his wife in Oklahoma City, while on a road trip across country alone. I was seated near them at a restaurant bar.
Didn't ask for any money and don't even know his name, but he rules.
I was in an ice cream store with a few friends, and I made eye contact with some random guy walking to the counter. For some reason, neither of us broke eye contact, and for those few seconds he made an incredibly goofy face, to which I responded with another goofy face. For the rest of the time we were in there, him and I didn't even look at each other again.
I was 13 and waiting for a taxi. It was raining and I had no umbrella, so I got soaked. This guy next to me sheltered me from the rain with his umbrella. We talked while waiting for the taxi and he was so easy and fun to talk to! (Note: I was a shy kid with few friends so this was a unique event).
After about 15 minutes another guy came up on his scooter. My guy told him that I was a friend of his and if he could drop me at my destination. So yeah, I just climbed on this stranger's scooter and took the lift home.
Perhaps that was dumb looking back on it... Anyway I still think of this guy and the kindness he showed me to this day even though I don't even know his name or remember his face.
I was about ten years old and I had a pair of HEELYS and they were the coolest damn thing on the earth. I would roll all over on those things and thought I was hot stuff.
We were in China, spending a few weeks in Beijing. I was rolling around in Tiananmen Square, hit a crack and lost one of the wheels. I looked around for about an hour, but to no avail. I was probably visibly bummed, as my Heelys, the things that made me hot stuff, were now ineffective and basically ruined.
The next morning, I was walking through the square on the way to meet my friends, and an older gentleman ran up to me and stopped me—he had found my wheel. He said that he had seen me rolling around and saw me looking for the wheel after I fell.
He saw that I gave up, and stuck around for another hour to keep looking after I left. He came there the next morning with no expectation that I'd pass through, but wanted to be there just in case. I'm not sure who was happier, me that I got my wheel back or him because he didn't think he'd see me in literally the world's busiest square. I said thank you and... that was about it.
We both had places to be and that was that.
I love this story. It reminds me of a time where I lost my iPhone 3g back in 2010 or 2009? 2008. The 2nd-gen iPhone that was the first to have 3g, and among the first massively-produced "smart" phones. I stupidly camped out for that stupid phone like an idiot. That next day, I went overseas on a gov't work trip to Taiwan.
I lost my phone on my first night there. I retraced my steps but nothing. I resigned to the fact that I lost my brand new iPhone 3g.
The next day, I was walking to the shipyard in the busy city of Keelung (port city of Taipei); and this guy runs out of a restaurant and flags me down. He motions to me to go to his cab. I said, "ah it's ok, I don't need a cab..."
He shakes his head, runs inside his cab, and GIVES ME MY PHONE BACK, along with a work pen that fell out of my pocket into his cab. I was absolutely shocked. I thanked him so much and he just smiled this biggest smile. I couldn't speak Mandarin nor Taiwanese, nor could he speak English. But body language is universal.
He motioned me to join him for breakfast back at the restaurant he ran out of where he saw me stroll by. He ordered some super delicious Taiwanese-style noodles and I ate them. He PAID FOR THE MEAL. I tried to compensate him for all his troubles; HE REFUSED.
This old man worked double duty at that restaurant and as a taxi driver; and you can see on his hands and face all the hard manual labor he did through the decades of his life. Oh, ya, his wife worked at that restaurant too.
I demanded that I know his phone number.
For years after, my colleagues and I used him exclusively for our taxi rides around town. I'd post his number on our ship's quarterdeck and label it "TAXI." Also, me and my colleagues would make the trip to eat at the restaurant where they worked as much as we could. The restaurant closed down about five years ago though :(.
I even called him to take me to and from the airport; which is comparatively a large fare over there. I didn't mind. He deserved it. I couldn't find him anymore when I went back a few years ago for vacation (~2016). I am hoping upon hope he finally retired to the countryside in a small home on the hillside and living out his days in quiet with his wife.
I found a rock formation that looked like a penis and balls in a cave in Vietnam. I laughed and pointed at it, some Chinese tourists started doing the same thing and then some Russian tourists followed suit.
Great bonding because no matter what, phallic shaped objects are funny.
NYC bar: I was on a first date and there was an old guy at the bar—looked like an old fisherman from a novel—and he was convinced my date and I were already married. He went on and on about it.
We said we weren’t married and he told us we were meant to be together and would be married a long time. He talked with us for a good 15 minutes about this.
My date and I did get married about a year later and have been together almost 25 years now.
The day my dad died I was holding it together pretty well. Late that night I went to Target to have a moment to just zone out, and buy a few groceries.
As I got to the checkstand with my arm full of stuff I dropped a container of sour cream and it exploded everywhere. I completely lost control of myself and started to cry. The ugly cry.
I was instantly surrounded by a group of women who just took charge of the whole situation. They helped me get everything paid for, cleaned up, and one lady even got a new sour cream.
No words were spoken, but their compassion and take charge attitude have stayed with me since.
When I was at Disneyland a few years ago, a woman approached me out of the blue in the middle of Main St. and asked if I'd like to dance. I obliged her, and we spent the next few minutes chatting while her friends filmed us dancing.
It turns out it was her birthday and she was traversing the park on a birthday scavenger hunt, and one of the items on the list was to dance with a stranger. I wished her a happy birthday, we said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.
I never even got her name, but it still makes me smile when I think about it.
Standing in a notoriously long line for a particular ride, we notice this girl wearing straight up stilettos and a small knit dress in the middle of November who is becoming progressively more and more unsteady on her feet. Her boyfriend was also growing less interested in supporting her or keeping her warm, even mentioning how he suggested a different outfit for a theme park.
It was only a matter of time. Sure enough, apparently while trying to lean on the rope railing, this girl absolutely eats it.
Nobody laughed. She was fine. However, I immediately made eye contact with a guy who just uttered "Oh my god" in the most hilarious way I've ever heard. I lost it and we shared something special for the rest of the wait time in that line. I will never forget him.
I had about a two-hour drive from Columbus to the Cleveland area. I tend to drive on the faster side, and therefore pass a lot of people. I noticed about 20 minutes into the drive that the car behind me was still the same one that got onto the highway right behind me.
We ended up driving the entire two hours right next to each other or in front of/behind each other. We created space in lanes to help the other pass the slower cars and made sure the other wouldn’t fall behind. As I was getting off the highway, he honked his horn, gave me a big smile, and waved. It has been my favorite driving experience so far,
Same first name, same birthday, same interests and same workfield. Saw them at a network creation event and never seen again.
I was playing on my Nintendo DS in the subway when I caught a random connection. I looked up to see if I could spot the other person with a DS, and wound up locking eyes with this incredibly intense little boy who was seated a few benches away from me.
"DO YOU HAVE POKEMON," he asked, and as it turned out, I did, in fact, have Pokemon. With that, our fate was sealed. There's this thing in the Pokemon games where, if you meet the gaze of another trainer on your journey, then you must do battle. I had just experienced this in real life.
He destroyed me. All level 100s. Felt like I was an extra in the damn anime doing battle with the protagonist.
I was leaving the gym and walked down a long hallway, and didn't remember having any money on me.
As soon as I stepped outside, I heard a coin drop, and looked down and $2 seemed to have fallen from somewhere on me. It was strange because I didn't have any money on me, and it would have fallen off of me inside while walking, I thought. It rolls and I pick it up. I was confused because I don't know where the $2 came from.
I look up and there's a homeless man in a wheelchair playing harmonica who I otherwise would have passed by. I gave the $2 to him. He said thank you, I said no problem. I began to walk away and he said "Good, and you?." I played along and said, "oh, good! Where did you learn to play the harmonica?"
He proceeded to tell me that he used to play all sorts of instruments until he had his stroke, and showed me that one of his arms didn't work anymore.
He was a nice guy, and it made my day a bit better. It was a nice and humbling moment.
My son was in a pretty serious accident. I was a wreck in the ICU waiting room. A little girl maybe about nine or ten years old was with her family, saying goodbye to her great-grandmother. She waltzed right up to me and said, " sir, why are you crying?" I explained my son was very sick.
She handed me a miniature puppy doll and told me it was lucky and my son would get better. She was right, he did and I still keep that little puppy on my dresser and think of that sweet child.
This was about two years ago, when I was in university. I was having some gas pains, so I went to use the bathroom. I was the only one in there, but someone came in shortly after, so I decided to wait until she was done. She apparently was in the same situation as me, so we were both just sitting in silence waiting for the other to leave, occasionally letting out tiny toots.
Finally, she says, "can we both just fart?" I laugh and say "yes please!" And for about a minute after, both of us are simultaneously laughing and farting. Laughing because we're farting, and farting because we're laughing.
We finished at about the same time and said "hello" as we washed our hands. I never saw her again. I still giggle every time I think of it.
On a night out, I was feeling pretty rough so I was sat down on some steps eating a box of hot chips.
This group of girls walked past, one of them in a yellow with black polka dot dress and a flower halo broke off and sat next to me. She had a thick Irish accent.
"What's yer name?"
"Anette. Ask me where I live."
"....alright, where do you live?"
She grabbed one of my chips, put it in her mouth and said "in the damn moment," kissed my forehead and ran off to join her group again.
Still think about her.
I was on an eastbound train from Colorado two days before Christmas. There was some kind of incident in another car around 11:00 that night—a dude got wasted and started threatening other passengers—and we had to make a stop so that the local police could come and collect him.
After the delay, the conductor came over the speakers and announced that if anyone was feeling upset or shaken by the incident one of the passengers had offered to play his guitar in the snack car and anyone who was awake was welcome to come down and join in for a singalong. I'm always down for weird train activities so I decided to grab my harmonica from my bag and head down.
There were about fifteen of us in the car, ranging in age from 16 to mid-70s and from all over the country. We sang every song we could think of that even kind of referenced a train—we were somewhere in rural Nebraska at that point and nobody had cell service to look up lyrics, so at times I was pretty sure that we were making up more of the words than we actually remembered.
The conductor came through after a while and offered to play a few songs, so the guy with the guitar handed it off and pulled out a mandolin, and my harmonica got passed around the group while one guy drummed along on his backpack.
After a while the conductor got up and left, then came back with a copy of The Polar Express. He read it out loud to our absolutely captivated group of mostly adult travelers while the snow flew all around us in the night, and I swear that for a few minutes our trip felt every bit as magical as the visit to Santa Claus in the story
Sometime well after the snack car was supposed to have been vacated for the night, we capped things off with the most ridiculously earnest rendition of "Don't Stop Believing" that has ever been performed and went our separate ways. I never saw anyone from our little makeshift band again, but I'll always remember that weird, wonderful late-night celebration of Journey and the magic of winter travel that came about because some guy was a jackass on a train.
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