8 People Share The Chance Encounter With A Stranger That Changed Their Lives

“It's been years ... and I still think about her constantly."

You never know when, what, or who will change your life until it happens. After a chance encounter with a stranger, an ordinary day can suddenly become an extraordinary one. That's what happened to Kevin Finn, the main character in ABC's Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, when he met the celestial being Yvette. 


Now, you don't have to meet a literal angel for them to have that powerful of an effect on you. These eight people shared their stories of the surprising one-time encounters that forever changed their lives: 

1. She brightened an elderly woman's day — and that woman changed her entire life.

Samantha Burkard was performing in a show called Smoke on the Mountain when fate took center stage. "At the very end of the show, we went out into the audience [while] we sang a song … and we were supposed to pick a specific audience member to sing to," she told A Plus. "On closing night, I just happened to sit next to this little old woman." As she played her harpsichord and sang to the woman, Burkard looked at her and realized "she had tears in her eyes." When the song ended, the elderly woman took Burkard's hand, looked at her, and said, "My husband would've loved this." 

Burkard returned to the stage and finished the show, but as soon as the curtain closed, she ran backstage and changed as fast as she could. "After the show, I ran out into the audience, and I found her … and she gave me a big ole hug," Burkard recalled. The elderly woman then explained, "My husband bought me these tickets over a month ago, and he died just less than a month ago, and I wanted to thank you so much for bringing me so much joy. I haven't had this much joy since he passed ..." Now, Burkard looks back at that moment and it solidifies her love of theater and its ability to impact others. "She's someone that I think about every single time I perform," Burkard said. "And I keep her story with me all the time." 

2. A chance encounter with a stranger gave her a new perspective on the meaning of life.

Weronika Wozniak had been living in New York for two years when her life changed on an otherwise ordinary day. She was standing in front of the famous Strand bookstore when, she told A Plus, "It almost felt like in the movies — you hear the voice first and then you see the person's face." An older man struck up a conversation with her, and after hearing her response, asked where she was from. "I said, 'Poland.' And the guy said, 'Oh, I'm from Russia. My name is Alexander.' " "The two started chatting about work and life. "He just fully opened up to me," she explained. "I felt comfortable, so we walked from The Strand to Union Square." But that regularly 10-minute walk took four hours as they shared their life stories and personal philosophies. 

"I remember the moment I sat on the bench, it was already dark," she said. "At the end of the conversation, he shared with me his biggest discovery. He said that no matter how much research he's done in his life, it all comes to one simple conclusion: that the meaning of life is to preserve humanity." After Wozniak went home, she didn't think much about what Alexander said. "But it stayed with me … I never looked at my career [by] looking at the bigger picture; I always looked at myself as an individual," she said. "And now, I always think about how I can contribute to the lives of many ... He changed my life in a way that I shifted my focus completely and right now, I feel way more fulfilled." 

3. Even after a young woman lost her life, she still changed his.

Alejandro Ibarra was at a gay bar in Los Angeles when he heard someone behind him say "Hey!" When he turned around, he saw a young woman with short, blue hair and a big, "contagious" smile. "So I said, 'Oh hi!' and then we just started talking," he told A Plus. "… We hung out for no more than 15 minutes, but she was just so happy and bubbly. We added each other on Facebook by the end of the conversation." 

No more than a few months later, Ibarra was scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed when he saw that somebody had written "I'm gonna miss you" on her wall. Curious, he clicked on the young woman's profile and saw that she had passed away. "I saw on her feed, just the most messages I've ever seen of love ... This was unlike anything I've ever seen, it was less sad than I expected, it was just joy and happiness, and everybody remembered her as somebody so big and happy," he said. "… It kept me thinking about her for days … I only knew her briefly. I can't say I knew her that well at all, but that time that I spent with her — she just really brightened my evening, and I could see that she did that for everyone." Ibarra realized that was the exact kind of impact he wanted to leave. "It's not about how successful I was, it's about what I left people with emotionally," he said, reflecting on the young woman's life. "It's been years ... and I still think about her constantly." 

4. A peek into someone else's life taught this woman an important lesson that changed hers.

Francesca Volpe had just moved to New York City to pursue a career as a comedian when she decided to go to an open mic. A naturally shy person, she wanted to see what she'd be in for. "It's definitely a field where you have to put yourself out there and essentially be comfortable being uncomfortable because there's only so much you have control over," she explained to A Plus. "And this was the perfect example of a person not having any control over another individual's response." She remembered the host of the open mic as a "sweet" but "nervous" young woman who kept getting heckled by a man in the front row. While Volpe understood that heckling often happens at comedy shows, this was something else. "It was just ridiculous to the point where the manager had to do something about it," she said. "It kinda freaked me out, and I left the theater feeling pretty discouraged and unsure." Volpe asked herself, "Can I handle this if this is what it's gonna be like?"  

Without an answer, she decided to sit down, grab a drink, and think it over. That's when she overheard that same guy talking to his friends in the booth behind her. "And he was just moaning and complaining about various other predicaments in his life ... so then I thought, 'Of course this guy is being rude to the host,' " Volpe recalled. "It was a good reminder. It made me realize that 'So what if the woman did bomb at the open mic? His horrible, rude, abrasive reaction ultimately had nothing to do with her … It was all about his own issues." Learning this lesson firsthand, it has since stayed with Volpe. "That's definitely something I try to remind myself when I'm performing," she said. "… There's only so much control over how people will perceive you, so you just have to take care of yourself and have confidence in your abilities." 

5. He was having a bad day until a man's unexpected kindness changed his life.

Anthony Duluc was stuck working at an AMC movie theater on Thanksgiving, the last place he thought he'd ever have a life-changing experience when that very thing happened. "I was completely miserable the entire day," he told A Plus. "Everybody was doing something, and everybody was also, as a family, going to the theaters." As Duluc ripped movie tickets for families, he wished he could spend the holiday with his own. 

That's when a man came up with his family. After taking their tickets, Duluc said, "Hey, have a nice day." The family started to walk away, but the man stayed behind. "Hey, buddy, you know you're my family for this thanksgiving," the man said. "Come here. Let me give you a hug." The man and his family ended up talking to Duluc for15 minutes before their movie began. "And it was one of the nicest deeds," he remembered. "… They felt so bad that I was one of the only people working there, and I've never forgotten that guy ever since." 

6. This woman's doctor gave her life-changing prescription for happiness.

Christina Farah was experiencing chronic pain in her stomach when her mother told her about a doctor she wanted Farah to see. "Normally, when you visit the doctor, you have a certain amount of time, and it's a very professional encounter," she told A Plus. "So this doctor was a bit different …" Within moments of meeting him, Farah could tell the doctor was not only "very, very wise," but "out of this world." Visiting him a week before coming to New York, Farah remembered, "I was very hesitant because I had just made a decision to change completely my career ... I had successful jobs, but I wasn't happy." Anxious about this "huge life change," Farah said, "I was not in my comfort zone, and I sat in front of this man, [and] it was like magic because it wasn't about my stomach anymore." They spent just a few minutes discussing her stomach before spending "more than an hour … exchanging ideas about life." 

Realizing she and the doctor "were so aligned," Farah was so inspired by the interaction that she knew they were meant to meet. "It's as if God sent him my way to tell me that I was doing the right thing," she said. "And God sent me his way to tell him that everything's all right." The doctor had told Farah that he hadn't the life he really wanted because he'd made sacrifices to take care of his family while doing what he loved. "He was doing his passion, and everything else was OK," she said. "And it was amazing, life-changing." 

7. Jury duty might seem like the last place to have a life-changing experience, but it was the first for this woman.

Sophia Gutchinov's life changed just two weeks ago at jury duty, of all places. Having just returned to the United States after studying abroad and graduating college, she told A Plus, "I'm in a weird, transitionary phase of my life ... And I was on this case that I really didn't want to be on because I don't have time," she told A Plus. As an unpaid neuropsychology intern for a private practice, she was currently busy looking for a paid research assistant position. One of Gutchinov's classmates happened to be on the same case as her, and they commiserated about on the difficulty of their job searches. Meanwhile, an older man overheard their conversation and advised them, "Just tell the judge the truth … You have to work. You have to pay your rent, and you won't be able to do the case." 

Gutchinov not only took his advice but continued to talk to him about her career aspirations in neuropsychology. Though he worked in banking, he knew a few doctors and arranged two interviews for Gutchinov. "And then he was telling me how I should never settle for a job, and how I should keep looking and know my worth," she added. "And know that I went to school for something specific, and it's relevant. I should get a job that is relevant in that and not just anything I can take because they're offering it to me." Taking his advice, Gutchinov interviewed for multiple jobs, and one was offered to her, but she decided not to take any of them. "I just really learned that I need to understand that this is a weird transitionary phase in my life, but I need to know my worth and not settle for a job, and keep looking until I find something that I'm excited to do," she said, reflecting on the stranger's advice and kindness. "Just to go out of his way to help me out as a recent college student ... it's just so nice and so thoughtful. I really appreciated that." 

8. When this woman was still a teenager, she met the person who changed her life forever.

Crystal De La Cruz was just 16 when she met the person who would change her life. While waiting outside an acting workshop, she sat down next to an elderly woman, and they got to talking. De La Cruz asked her, "So what got you into acting?" The woman told her that she had always wanted to be a performer since she was very young, but her parents were very strict and encouraged her to go to medical school and pursue a stable career instead. "And she did do that. She went to medical school, and she actually became a really successful doctor," De La Cruz told A Plus. "She had a lot of money, but she never was really happy with her career choice … She didn't feel fulfillment." 

At the age of 58, the woman quit her job and finally followed her acting dream. "You don't really hear of too many people doing stuff like that at [that] age, and the fact that she did … that, to me, just changed the way I view things because she told me she didn't want to die just knowing that she didn't go after what she loved." The woman's philosophy resonated with De La Cruz who, up until that encounter, had only intended to pursue acting on the side. "But now, ever since she told me her story, there's no Plan B for me. It's this — everything, 110 percent — because I don't want to waste years on something that doesn't make me happy," De La Cruz said. "She just gave me a lot of courage and she changed my life." 

Kevin (Probably) Saves The World is a new ABC show about a down-on-his-luck man whose life changes forever — and for the better — after a chance encounter with a celestial being, Yvette. Tune in to the series premiere on Tuesday, October 3 at 10 pm EST. 


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