We were always taught as kids not to talk to strangers. Then the internet happened and that’s more or less what we all do all day now.

But at least online there’s a nice physical distance between you and the potential weirdo. When you don’t have that luxury, things can get dicey pretty fast.

What’s the scariest encounter you’ve had with a total stranger?
byu/anchovy7 inAskReddit

Here are 15 Reddit stories illustrating exactly why we were told to avoid the stranger danger.

1. A long walk in the woods

Years ago I used to work as an ecological surveyor. Basically I got paid to take long walks in the Peak District National Park here in the UK and note down all the plant species I saw.

I was walking down a trail one morning along the edge of a woodland when suddenly about 8 of the bushes stood up and produced rifles. I nearly shit myself and they were laughing like h*ll.

It was a bunch of British Army guys on a camouflage and concealment exercise and they had been following me to practice. Apparently I had nearly trodden on one of them earlier as he was hiding right by the trail.

We all ended up sitting around talking about football for a bit. Nice bunch of guys but very scary indeed.

– rob_cornelius

2. Here’s your price

While working a late shift at a restaurant at 16, I had a customer who just wouldn’t leave. He was like 50, and just stared at me the entire time he ate his food, which was like two hours for some reason.

When he came up to pay, he was super weird about it. Like I’d say “okay here’s your price” and he’d pause and say “do I get a discount?” Or something and I said “no, will you be paying cash or card?” And he said like “cash” and I was like “okay” and then he just stared at me while i waited for him to hand me his cash.

After like 2 minutes of this weird interaction, he has his change, the bill, and he can leave. So I say “have a good night” and he says “can I go now?’ And I say “yup!” And he says something like “am I pestering you? Why don’t I take you home and pester you there?”

So I just thought “NOPE” and walked right back to the backroom where I got my coworker to deal with him.

Apparently she scolded him and said it was shameful he would say that to a minor, and he said “well then can I take you home?”. What a f*cking creep.

– usernameemma

3. Fly away

I was in Paris, in the train station that takes you to the airport, my flight was very early in the morning, so I planned to stay in the station until 5 am or so and then go to the airport.

This dude started talking to me very friendly, he praised my french and all that, he asked me where I was from and I was totally lying because who the h*ll gives a stranger his information. He asked me if I’m going to the airport and I said yes, tomorrow early in the morning.

At some point I realized another guy was kind of circling us, they were from the same ethnicity. For some reason this gave me a bad vibe, I was kind of far away from the other people because I was using a machine to but tickets and several of them were not working. I started walking towards the entry were more people was seated and he’s still trying to talk with me. The other guy is still following us and then he says do you know that the station closes in like 15 min no? I wasn’t able to hide my surprise, he told me they didn’t close before but due to the amount of vagrants they do now.

He tries to touch my arm and I asked what the f*ck are you doing? He said you don’t want to spend the night here, is a dangerous neighborhood and a pretty lady like you, one can only imagine what is going to happen to you. He offered to go to a hotel room with him, I was looking at the reflection of the glass wall and the other dude was getting closer to us and f*ck at the moment I thought I was going to be abducted I was nervous AF.

Until I hear a latin woman speaking spanish, I looked at her and she was with her two adult children, I almost cry. She was Mexican and for some reason I was convinced she was going to help me. I said, I don’t think my mom is going to like that and I walk towards her and said very fast a low in spanish, that guy and his friend are harassing me, please help me. She did and we stayed together the rest of the night until the train station open again.

I’m forever grateful to her and her family, they saved me.

I was able to return home to my real mom thanks to her.

– sapheless

4. The man in the walker

I dropped my son off at school one morning and then went to the grocery store with my infant daughter. It was so early, there was only 1 or 2 other customers. There was an older man with a walker that I didn’t really pay too much attention to that kept popping up in the same aisle as us.

I got out to my car and put my groceries in and then was putting my daughter in her car seat when the man came up behind me. He asked me a question and when I turned to answer he shoved his walker into the back of my legs pinning me against my car inside the open door. I tried moving around but couldn’t go anywhere except forward and he started pushing me down to the floor of my car. I was so scared that once he had me down there he was going to go for my daughter so I threw myself over her so my whole upper body was in her car seat and wedged myself in tight trying to cover as much of her as possible.

He grabbed me by the hair and was trying to pull me up when someone started honking their car horn. Another mom had been sitting in her car with her own baby asleep and had seen what was happening. Another car pulled up behind mine and the man ran over and got in quickly, obviously never needing the walker. The police were called but the plates on the car that he left in were stolen so as far as I know he was never found.

– lostmyshade

5. The nightmare park

When I was around 10-11 a “friend” invited me me to a water park.

During swimming at a wave pool he found some random kid around our age and decided to tell this kid that the game we were going to play was hold me down in the water. I didn’t get that memo so I thought him and this kid were just trying to drown me. This went on for what felt like an hour of me swimming away and hiding. I didn’t hang out with him afterward.

Same trip.. after we were done with the pool I got to the changing rooms and there is a couple people in there. Old man on the bench asks me if I wanted him to help me change. I just said “no thanks” and quickly changed and ran out.

– BloodThursty

6. The gentle giant

I was about nineteen and driving home from dinner one night, probably a ribeye sandwich from the local truck stop, because those were cheap and excellent.

A woman standing next to a motorcycle at the side of the road waved me down, so I stopped. She said that she’d run out of gas, and that she didn’t want to scare me, but her boyfriend was hiding down over the bank.

Uh-oh. This giant comes up over the bank in dusty road leathers. He’s a d*mn mountain of denim, leather, and hair. Sh*t. Fake damsel-in-distress, I’m an idiot. I was so close to home I felt safe, maybe? Maybe I can leg it home. Surely he’s too big to be fast?

The giant apologizes for hiding, but “we ran out of gas, and there was no way anyone was going to stop on an empty road to help with me standing here”. He’s embarrassed. Now I felt a little guilty for agreeing with him. He’s intimidating as h*ll without putting any effort into it. He doesn’t have to. We’re out of sight and isolated on a secondary road, but it’s less than a mile to I-80. I can almost see my house from where I’m standing.

It gets boring from there. I tell him I’ve got got a can of gas for the lawnmower with at least a gallon left in it. He says he can go 70 miles on that (the truck stop is two-three miles up the interstate) and is happy to pay for it. I’m home and back in two minutes, he insists on paying me ten bucks for a two dollar gallon of gas because “I’m not sure I’d have come back if I were you.”

There was just that fifteen seconds of ice-cold, slow-motion terror between the girlfriend saying she “didn’t want to scare me” (who says that?) and the mountain coming up over that bank and… apologizing.

– Vizzini_CD

7. Absolutely mental

Not scary per se but deeply disturbing.

Random dude at my local library accosted me while I was enjoying a new sci-fi novel and was absolutely convinced I was his son. Kept telling me he was sorry and he never meant to kill my mother who he called Pink and said some other heinous shit I wont describe.

Bat sh*t crazy but he sounded so rational and calm the whole time. Shit gave me the creeps for a long time after

– roguechimera

8. Like what you see?

14 years old, walking home it was dark.

Man gets off the bus, opens up his coat and says “like what you see?” He was in his 40s. Completely naked.

I’ve never run so fast in my life.

– TattedAngel71

9. Language barriers

more creepy than scary but one time I was in a public library browsing books. mind u it was rather packed with most of the seats taken. there’s a bunch of couches near where I was browsing & I had a gut feeling that this guy sitting there was staring at me.

I continued minding my own business looking for books when suddenly that guy stands up & walks directly towards me. I pretend not to notice until he says “hey little girl” . I was probably 14 at the time, and he didn’t speak english but I understood. I thought that if worst comes to worst he was just looking for a book, so I looked up. he then asks “do u wanna be my friend?”

I was f*cking creeped out. This dude here was at least in his 60s, asking a 14 year old girl to be his friend, in public. I pretended I only understood english & I didn’t get what he was trying to say and walked away. Thank goodness that library was packed.

– icantthinknow

10. God only knows

I was at a storage depot with my ex, picking up some stuff or other. Suddenly & without warning, this old-ish guy approaches out of nowhere and starts a conversation with my ex. I’m in the unit at the time, so it’s possible he didn’t know I was there, but the clipped tone and monosyllabic answers from my ex were enough for me to know he was making her feel uncomfortable.

That’s when I heard him say “Don’t worry, I’m not going to r*pe you or anything.” Like, literally two or three sentences into a conversation with a total stranger, he felt this would be a reassurance?!

So I stepped out of the unit, making my presence known by moving some stuff around in the hall, and his whole demeanor changed…somewhere between contrition and aggression that I’d dared insert myself into whatever the f*ck he thought this was. My ex stayed back while I kept the old b*stard’s attention on me, and he took me to task for calling him ‘mate’ (A common thing British people do when they don’t know someone’s name), saying it was rude & disrespectful to a stranger. I responded with “As rude & disrespectful as talking about rape to a young woman you thought was alone?”

He shuffled away, mumbling something about knowing the management, leaving us both a little shook. To this day, I have no idea what his damage was, but it was clear that he wasn’t used to being confronted like that. God knows what he would have done if my ex had been alone.

– RWMagpie

11. The close talker

Back when I was 16 working at Lowe’s, some customer who was an old man walked up behind me without me even noticing and whispered in my ear “Do you know where I can find the hoses at?” He said that so close to my ear where I could feel his warm breath while he was caressing my shoulder…

My body froze up and all I could say was “I think they’re in aisle five” Welp, shortly after I found out that he never even went to that end of the store where they were… lol

– virginianhillbilly

12. In the dark

Drove up solo from California to Seattle super early in my early 20s. First solo road trip. Maybe around 5 AM I somehow was on a road parallel to the main highway, just a lot darker. No cars around me for miles.

5-10 minutes down this road I’m just patiently waiting to get back on the main highway, when lights just appear maybe 4 car lengths behind me. I stress that there is no way this car could have creeped up on me, and I don’t remember seeing any cars parking on the side.

It was a 2 lane stretch so I sped up and merged to the right, and this car followed and sped up. This went on for 20 minutes, no matter what I did.

It’s still pitch black out, but we finally get back to the highway and this car refuses to let up.

I tried to keep the paranoia to a minimum, but I last minute hit and off ramp to throw this car off.

– gnomeythe

13. The yell

Only passenger in a train car in Europe late at night. A disheveled man, wild hair and beard, tagged sweater entered the car and started pacing up and down the aisle. He is talking to himself in a language I couldn’t understand. Every few trips he would stop in front of me and yell at me in whatever language he spoke.

I would try to respond, but he didn’t know English anymore than I understood whatever language he was speaking. He would eventually give up yelling at me and would go back to pacing the aisle and talking to himself.

This went on for hours. Really wish I could have recorded him back then so I could eventually find someone to translate it.

– OozeNAahz

14. The following

Me and my siblings were walking across the road to a gas station. We frequently went there to grab snacks and such and then we leave and go for a walk down a road behind it.

Well a car starts following us with it’s head lights off so I quickly dip telling my siblings to follow me.

So we start running through a field and lay on the ground to wait for them to leave.

Well the drive down the road and then circle back.

This happens about 4-5 times before they gave up and we went home.

– Shadow_Of-Dusk

15. Horrifying

I was about 10, getting back home from the park with my sister. She, being the stubborn younger “I need no older sister playing mom to me” sibling walked purposely 20 metres ahead so nobody would even THINK we were together. She rounds the corner, and I hear a blood-curdling scream.

I never covered 20 metres so fast in my life.

I round the corner and there’s a man, holding my sister by her throat, dragging her into an opened car parked nearby.

When he sees me advancing and yelling incomprehensibly (I honestly don’t know what I yelled, I was scared out of my wits) and he realises there’s two of us, he drops her, jumps into the car and drives off.

She had fingerprint-shaped bruises on her throat for days.

– cototudelam

God, I’m glad everyone in these stories is alright. People really are too much.

Do you have a stranger danger story like this?

Share it with us in the comments.