The Most Important Word in the World



This article has been written as part of the “Most Important Word in the World” series; a collaborative project to inspire people to step outside their comfort zones and find adventure and friendship. Other contributors to the series are:  Wandering Earl1 Year SabbaticalNomadtopiathe Dropout DiariesDisrupting the RabblementBeyond Norms, and A World of Inspiration.

Around midnight in downtown Minneapolis, I was heading home after a long night of hanging out with friends. I was standing at a crosswalk when two gorgeous women stood next to me and waited with me for the light to change. I smiled and they smiled back. And then I gave a short hello to which they reciprocated.  I didn’t realize at the time that this hello would be the start of a unique adventure for me.

Their mannerisms were odd and their bodily movements flighty. They didn’t seem drunk or on drugs, more like they were having a caffeine rush. They started to ask me weird questions such as, “Are you Chester the Molester?”. I didn’t know how to react other than to say no. Eventually the light changed. I figured that I’d walk across the street with them, our paths would diverge and they would take their baffling behavior with them. But that didn’t happen.

Drunks Can Be Troublesome

Soon after we had crossed the street, a group of about five drunk men started to call out to them. They asked the two flighty women if they were prostitutes. Admittedly, the women were provocatively dressed, but in no other way were they coming across as prostitutes. After a few more outbursts, the women naturally told them to go to hell.

Things would have ended there but one of these men had become angry with the women and shoved one of them causing her to fall. It started to get out of control; the situation was getting serious. By this point I had walked slightly further up the street. I knew I faced two options: go back and help or keep going forward. I knew I had to go back.

With no time to waste, I analyzed the drunks quickly. The trouble was principally coming from one of them. The others seemed timid and unsettled by his actions. If I could just get him to back off, the rest would follow.

I walked up to the two women, put my hands on their shoulders and in a confident firm tone announced to the men that they were with me. The lead man was taken aback at first and initially didn’t know what to say. He finally composed himself and scrounged up another verbal attack on the women. I told the girls to ignore him and walk with me away from the scene.

Both girls started walking with me. Each one linked arms with me on either side. As I expected, the ringleader of that group backed down. Other than a couple of shouts emanating from his general direction, they left us alone.

Making New Friends – Flighty Behavior Explained

The two women turned out to be very nice. Their behavior that seemed so bafflingly earlier started to become clear. They were just out for a good time and having a lot of fun. It was just their personality to be a little over-the-top.

I told them that I would walk with them to wherever they were going just in case those guys came back. One of the women called her boyfriend who happened to be a police officer to come and pick them up. In the meantime they said I could walk them to their workplace just down the street.

They pointed in the general direction of a strip club. Now, I don’t know that they were strippers or if that was indeed the workplace they were pointing to, but they were beautiful enough and dressed provocatively enough to have been.

The girl without the policeman-boyfriend started asking me a lot of questions. I could tell that she really liked how I came to their rescue. She seemed to want to get to know me better and even asked what I was doing later. The thought of hanging out with her after this and seeing where things would go was filling my mind. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly, the policeman-boyfriend showed up and scooped up both of them before I could arrange a meeting.

But it’s just as well. I still had a short adventure with them that makes me feel good to this day. I had the courage to face down five guys and save two women from unnecessary violence. It’s good in another way too. One month later, I would meet my future wife. That meeting also started with a hello.
photo credit: chrisinplymouth

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  1. Great story Steve! That would be scary not knowing if the 5 of them would attack back but good on you for both assessing the situation first and helping the girls. You had me at suspense and I thought it was one of those girls who ended up being your future wife…. but its another..right?

    • It was a little scary at the time, but I was really certain that they wouldn’t do anything. Plus, I had plenty of room to run in case it came to that.

      I haven’t seen either of those girls since this incident. I met my fiancee about a month after this incident.

  2. Interesting story indeed. Who knows what would have happened to them if you didn’t greet each other before crossing the street….

    Even that tiny bond proved to quite beneficial in the end!

  3. Cool stuff, Steve. That took some serious guts to turn back around and go help them. Bravo.

  4. Great story man, a very interesting read :)

  5. Great story! I will smile at people and I get annoyed when people don’t smile back. When we just say hello, it seems to relax things and I’ve had some fun conversations with people I’ve never met just because someone greeted a fellow human being. Why are we so scared of one another?

    • Good question. Some people really do seem scared of meeting strangers. I think they really miss out on meeting cool new people.

  6. Wow. Way to go Steve! It’s so great you were there to take the pressure out of the situation and have a great story to tell in the end.

  7. Hello is indeed one of the most important words to start a connection. When traveling, the statement ‘Where are you from?’helps to bridge the gap and make a connection as well. Thanks for sharing this story Steve!

  8. “Hello” is a traveler’s best tool down the road I must say. It’s usually the first word we say to strangers and a great ice-breaker.

    Your story even puts it up on a higher level – that “hello” has turned out into a “help” situation for the girls. I’m sure they both still remember you.

    • I agree that it is a great traveler tool. I’ve met many people in other countries just from that simple little ice breaker.

  9. Steve, that’s a really interesting story. I’m actually glad to hear it happened before you met your wife, because I was thinking as I was reading it that your wife was at home in bed while you were out with friends and then escorting these two girls around. You didn’t seem like that kind of guy, so it’s great to hear that wasn’t the case! :)

    I agree saying hello opens doors. But you know what my ex-boyfriend always told me is the most beautiful word in the world to everyone? Their name. I think it’s true. Hearing someone say my name, especially someone I don’t know that well, makes me feel a little more valued, recognized and important in their eyes. Because of this, I try to use people’s names when speaking to them as often as possible.

    • Yeah, I’m not that type of guy. My fiance likes that I would come to someone’s rescue like this, but I don’t think she would like how I considered hanging out with them afterward. I’ve told her this story a few times before so it isn’t anything new to her.

      I’ve noticed that people love to hear their name too. In fact, I try to make sure I use someone’s name when I first meet them. And I use it for exactly those reasons you mention.

      Now we know what the most important and beautiful words in the world are. I wonder if there are any more “power” words out there I should know about.

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