(the) next thing (one) knows

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(the) next thing (one) knows

All of a sudden; out of nowhere; without warning. I was standing in line, minding my own business, when the next thing I know, a gunman runs into the bank and starts screaming at us to get on the ground! Tammy had only been on a few dates with Mark, but this one had been going smoothly. Next thing she knew, he got on one knee and proposed to her.
See also: know, next, thing

the ˈnext thing (I knew)...

(informal) used when somebody tells a story and wants to say that something happened suddenly or unexpectedly: I was just walking down the road and the next thing I knew someone was pointing a gun at my face.
See also: next
References in classic literature ?
At length the master and mistress appeared by themselves in the shop; money and papers were secured, and the female was just retiring to an inner room, when she suddenly came back to the counter, opened our drawer, seized us with no very reverent hands, and, the next thing we knew, the whole twelve of us were thrust into a trunk upstairs, and buried in Egyptian darkness.
The whole head popped out and the next thing we knew, the whole baby came out,'' said Green, adding that a handful of expectant moms give birth in the hospital parking lot each year, though he has never heard of an elevator delivery.
We got Ontrack's engineers on the phone, they effectively explained to us how to connect to their remote system, and the next thing we knew, all of our data was recovered.
Then he went to the National Basketball Coaches Association and the next thing we knew we were dressing coaches from all over the league.