(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 ?
And the next thing you know, you are lined up at the bar, pouring drinks down your throat and learning the gentlemen's names and the offices which they hope to fill.
H, by email THE next thing you know the Tories will be proposing children go down the pits again as slave labour - just as my forefathers did.
The next thing you know, you've ingested sake and martinis and wake up with a hangover, coupled with a tattoo and an orange safety cone stuck to your car's radiator.
I'd be drinking my Pisco Sour, enjoying a pleasant meal, and the next thing you know I'd talked about complete bullshit for five hours straight.
The next thing you know, the Supreme Court has fobbed off the parliamentarians.
Then a Shi'ite majority would prevail and they would "go in for shariah [Islamic law], and the next thing you know, you've got a mini-Iran in there.
During the 1998 Games, "I was in the lowly rinks of Connecticut, watching it on TV, and then the next thing you know, three and a half years later--I can't even believe I'm here," Chu says.
Satva DJ battle, and the next thing you know you're finger painting at the funny farm.
One of O'Reilly's comments was, "If we pass this, the next thing you know, we'll have guys wanting to marry basset hounds.
Our skate shoes coupled with our obvious American-ness finally forced a connection, and the next thing you know we were on the business end of Matty's sales pitch.
Remember those old Judy Garland--Mickey Rooney movies in which the youngsters would innocently decide to "put on a show" and the next thing you know they'd be doing full-scale Busby Berkeley musical numbers--in a barn?