Strangers

Lauren - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on April 28, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Some strangers we encounter in life are gone in an instant while others are remembered for a lifetime. The strangers we remember might not have any obvious affect on us but for some reason they are unforgotten. When I was nine, I encountered a stranger who taught me something. My mom and I were walking to our car in a grocery store parking lot. We got out of the store with our bags in hand. I remember seeing a man, a stranger, walking behind us and I was scared instantly. Although it was dark and my mom and I were alone, it was just a man. I realize now that I was scared because my mom was scared; I felt her fear. We finally got in the car and she was frantic. She saw something that I had not. She saw that he was following us and I did not. Before she could assure our safety, the man was at the car. I remember her worriedly saying that she didn’t know how to get out of the parking lot. I recall looking behind my seat through the back windshield and seeing the man trying to keep up with the car. We were not hurt that night, but to this day I lock my car doors as soon as I get in. Other people don’t know why I do it, but I know why. It is because of a stranger that I met one night in the parking lot of a Shop N Save.

Some strangers teach through fear, and others can teach us through kindness. When I was seventeen, I was at Walgreen’s with a friend. That day at Walgreen’s was like any other. I filled my hands with magazines and makeup was on my way to the check-out when I dropped something. A man with his hands full was next to me. He bent over strategically to retrieve my lost item. Somehow he managed not to drop any of his belongings and so politely hand back my belonging, whatever it was. That day, a stranger did a favor for me. Because of him, this stranger, I try to do small acts of kindness for others, even when my hands are just as full as his were that day. Some people do not know why I bother, but I know why. It is because of a stranger at a Walgreen’s whom I never saw again.

I believe that strangers impact us more than we know. The fear a stranger instilled in my mother and I ensured that I will lock my doors when I’m in a car. The act of kindness someone did for me has caused me to return that favor many more times. These small habits make me who I am. Strangers have formed my personality. I do not know where they are now or if they remember me, but they have influenced the way I act.