As people go through their lives, they often have experiences or make decisions that they later realize have helped them dodge the unimaginable. Thankfully, these individuals can recount those times. From false pregnancies to literally being missed by rockets, read along as these people tell the most distressing details from when they truly dodged a bullet.
1. What’s On The Other Side?
When I was younger, I used to skip school. I would hide in the garage till my parents left and then go back in the house. One day, I was in there waiting for them to leave and I thought they had already, when I heard their footsteps approaching the garage door. This had never ever happened before as they always just got in their cars and ran.
I crept to the door to listen closer, but then I heard a sound that made my heart stop. They started messing with the lock. I ran out the back, the other side of the garage, out into the garden and into the bushes. I was so scared. When about half an hour later, I dared to look back, I couldn’t see anyone. I went inside and made a terrifying discovery.
The place was trashed. My parents had actually left at the normal time. We had been burglarized and I had stood maybe six inches from the burglar on the other side of the door and made a run for it, because I thought it was one of my parents.
2. Swindled By The Sweetheart
I married my high school sweetheart when I was 23 and she was 21. We had been together for roughly five years at that time and were madly in love. We were married in April and she announced in mid to late May that she was pregnant. She had taken a test with her friend after feeling sick. I was so happy and excited that I didn’t take the time to ask to see the test…she had just thrown it away!
Fast forward a bit, and she wouldn’t let me attend doctor’s visits and I gave her the benefit of the doubt for privacy and such—but then, I started to suspect something was off. She wasn’t getting bigger at even the six-month mark. I was suspicious and confronted her about it and she went off on me with the standard barrage of, “How could you?!” and, “Don’t you trust me?!” As a rebuttal, she pointed out some weight gain.
I was skeptical but loving and supportive of my wife. She had a rough life growing up and I felt as if I needed to be more patient and understanding. I reminded her that I will help her find help if she’s not really pregnant; that I would love and support her and we would work through it. She said it wasn’t necessary. My wife started gaining more weight, especially in the belly, so I kept moving forward as if she was pregnant.
We had a name picked out, a full wardrobe of the first three clothing sizes, a fully decked-out bedroom, etc. My family was suspicious but still supportive. Around month eight, it was painfully obvious she was not pregnant. I had already found her ultrasounds on Google, the weight gain stopped because she had a pancreas issue that she couldn’t even eat enough to gain much weight so she had to be making herself sick to gain, and our relationship was deteriorating fast.
I was remarkably patient. The due date came and went and I asked what the doctor was saying. She would reply, “Oh, it’s ok, the baby can sometimes be up to two weeks past due!” I had my date. I gave it two weeks and then laid down the cold hard truth. I told her: “Go to the hospital with me to see what’s up with the baby/pregnancy or I’m gone right now.”
She went. I was not allowed to go back with her as she requested the doctors not share with me. The wife had told the doctors that she was there for an issue related to her pancreas issues. She never mentioned the possible pregnancy. I was permitted to “visit” her in her room and I looked her in the eye and told her it was over. I took the bullet from that issue. But, I avoided being gaslit and manipulated for the rest of my life.
3. The Difference Between Tragedy And Comedy Is Timing
I had some chest pains one night and woke up my wife to tell her. She got a little scared that it might be a heart attack and we agreed that I should go to the ER. The nurses were pretty sure it was a false alarm, but would run an EKG as is common practice. In my head, I was hoping that the chest pain would come back, not to prove a heart attack, but so that we can find out what the chest pain was.
The EKG was done by one veteran nurse and a new nurse. I was watching over their shoulders—and I didn’t like what I saw. Something was flashing on the screen that made both nurses look at each other with disbelief. They ran it again and one nurse went out to the station for help. The other stayed with me and very nicely told my wife and daughter to go back out to the waiting room.
A few seconds later five or six more people came into the room slowly and calmly and began preparing me for something. It turns out that I was having my second heart attack that night in the ER. The doctors and nurses found an obstruction in my heart and were preparing me to have it cleared and a stent placed. When I got out of surgery, the doctor who placed the stent told me, “You probably picked the best time and place to have a heart attack, right here in the ER.”
4. Swimming With The Fishes
When I was 16, I had a good friend whose father was a wealthy businessman of some kind. This is in Chicago, and I guess his dad started screwing around with the wrong guy’s woman. My friend told me it had something to do with the wife of a scary guy. I never knew for sure, but do know that I saw firsthand his dad get threatened, at a tennis court of all places, by two well-dressed clearly-Italian men who drove up in a black Cadillac.
I was sitting right there with his friend as they talked to him, and it was exactly as I imagined it would be in the movies. My friend said there was a contract on his dad. He actually said it like it was cool, and at the time, I guess I thought it was too. I was invited to go with them on a fishing trip in Lake Michigan that week. It was supposed to be my friend, his dad, his dad’s friend, and I.
Two days before the fishing trip, something happened with a member of my family and we had to go to Cincinnati for a few days. When I returned, I got absolutely devastating news. I learned my friend’s body was found floating in Lake Michigan. He was wearing a life vest. His father, his father’s friend, and the boat were never found. Officers questioned me about what I knew and who I’d seen talking to his dad.
I think I was lucky that I said I couldn’t describe what they looked like and didn’t get wildly specific. Either way, the coolest kid I knew, Chris, was dead. And they never found his dad, the dad’s friend, or the boat. It was a nice boat on a calm day on Lake Michigan. And something bad happened. I always felt I dodged getting caught up in something I wouldn’t have escaped from.
5. You Are Not The Father
Back in college, my ex-girlfriend cheated and got pregnant. She blamed it on me, involved her family and all. I was willing to file a case in court with medico-legal as needed. My ex-girlfriend got too pressured as I was talking to her dad about medical tests, etc. Out of nowhere, she admitted that I wasn’t the father and that it was some classmate she had a fling with.
6. Stopped For Speeding
Back in 2004, when I was only 20 years old, I was on a road trip with my friend and her dog from California to Washington. I was on the I-5 north at around one in the morning, using my cruise control to keep my speed right at the speed limit. I’d gotten speeding tickets in that part of Northern California before. I was familiar with this drive because my boyfriend was in LA and I lived in Seattle, so I made that trip a few times a year for a few years.
All that is to say, I had learned my lesson and used cruise control to keep myself from speeding. Never going more than five over the posted speed limit. So, it’s pitch black in the early morning. My friend has her seat reclined all the way, taking a nap on the passenger side, her dog on her chest. I see what I assume to be lights from a cruiser come up behind me.
The car slowly pulls alongside me, and matches my speed exactly. I kept my eyes straight ahead…but I had a terrible feeling. I knew this person was staring at me. I wasn’t panicking though, not like I had in the past when I’d encountered an officer on I-5, because I knew I wasn’t really speeding. I kept glancing at the speedometer to assure myself I was good. I may have even slowed down a notch or two, just to be certain.
After what felt like an eternity of this cruiser just keeping pace with me, he finally slows down, swerves in behind me, and puts his lights on. As I’m slowing down and pulling off to the shoulder, I nudge my friend awake and tell her I’m getting pulled over. She asks if I was speeding since she knew my history. I assured her I was not and had been using cruise control.
I was really starting to shake by this point. Officers make most people nervous—but something just didn’t feel right about this stop. I knew there was no reason for him to pull me over. It was pitch black, in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t seen a gas station or rest area for miles. The guy strolls up to the passenger side of my car as my friend is using the lever to get her seat upright again.
When he finally gets to the passenger side window, he looks visibly surprised that I have a passenger. He begins to fumble over his words, claiming that I was going 15 over the speed limit. He was so flustered he forgot to ask for my license. I actually asked him if he needed it. He trots back to his car and my friend and I look at each other like, what in the world?
Her dog, by the way, was going absolutely crazy during this entire interaction. I never saw that dog act like that before or after this happened. Now remember: I’d gotten a few tickets on that same stretch of road, within that same year or two. I was very familiar with this process and knew how long it should take and what to expect. In my previous experience, most officers go back to their cruisers for a good six to eight minutes.
This guy came back after about two minutes. He kind of tossed my license and registration into my friend’s lap, like he was annoyed, and yelled at me to slow down and told me he’d just give me a verbal warning for now. I thanked him, despite how creepy it was, and while I was putting my license back in my wallet and registration back in my glove compartment, he fired up his cruiser and floored it back onto the highway.
This is also not normal. Any time I’d been pulled over, they would always tell me to pull out ahead of them, so they could make sure I merged carefully back onto the freeway. My friend and I were freaked. She was more freaked out than me. I think I was trying to explain it away, give him the benefit of the doubt, at first. But the longer I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became.
I couldn’t shake that nasty feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Fast forward many years later—and I learned the terrifying truth. There was this officer that had just been incarcerated. He’d been patrolling the I-5 N in Northern California during that same time period I’d been on road trips, stopping unsuspecting young single female motorists, and taking advantage of them in his cruiser.
His M.O. was to pull up alongside their cars, scan them to make sure they were single females, and pull them over in desolate areas at early morning hours. He ended up murdering one of these girls when she put up too much of a fight. I can’t remember his name and I don’t know what he looked like since it was too dark to see his face well. But, my blood turned cold when I heard that. I definitely dodged a huge nuclear life-changing, possibly life-ending, event thanks to my tired friend and her protective little dog.
7. Closer To Home
My father-in-law was working on the construction of a power plant and was scheduled to work Sunday. He was a union pipefitter. On Saturday, he got a call from another company asking him to run a job much closer to his house. I think it was a five-minute commute vs 50 minutes, so he accepted and didn’t go to the power plant job Sunday.
That day, there was an explosion at the plant, and people in the crew he was working with wound up dying in the explosion.
8. Just A Little Sore
I was 24 years old and had a pesky sore on my tongue that was really bothering me. My boyfriend’s dad was a dentist, so when I was over at his house one night, I asked him to take a look. He recommended I go see an oral surgeon the next day for him to check it out. The next day, I decided I was feeling better. So, I tried to cancel my appointment. But, my boyfriend’s dad insisted I go—thank heavens he did.
I went, and the oral surgeon pretty much diagnosed it as cancer on the spot. It was aggressive and by the time of my surgery to remove it, it had already spread to multiple lymph nodes. They ended up removing over half my tongue followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Given how aggressive it was, I often think that if I had put off the doctor’s visit any longer I probably wouldn’t have survived. I’m coming up on my 10 year anniversary in January.
9. A Total Cheat
I was briefly engaged to a man who has since cheated on his gorgeous, intelligent, sweet wife hundreds of times. They are separated, but have two children and will likely reconcile. I broke our engagement when he said that he thought it was perfectly fine for a man to cheat on his wife if they’d been married for a while and “he’d gotten bored.” Oddly enough, he didn’t believe a woman was entitled to do the same.
I feel so badly for his poor wife now. He began cheating on her two years into their marriage when she was pregnant with their first child.
10. Best Not To Buy
My wife and I were prepared to buy a nice riverfront property in 2019, but the owners, who were her dad and uncle, were dragging their feet. We had our down payment, we were approved for the mortgage, and we had even been living there paying rent. Then, the river rose 30ft (10m) and we had to evacuate. The water kept rising. The house was destroyed before we bought it. So, we didn’t buy it.
11. Red Flags All Around
I interviewed at a company in New Hampshire that made jams, baking mixes, lollipops, and more for a technical job. The president, the owner’s daughter, spent most of the interview dumping on their current consultant and making fun of, of all things, his degrees. That initially turned me off. Then, speaking with the owner, he makes it a point to take a call and tell the person on the other end, “I’ll pay you when I pay you!” Did they have cash flow issues?
His question about my education was, “What can your fancy degrees do for me?” Then, it got even worse. When I met the VP of Marketing, she asked me how many recalls I’ve done. “Uh, none, that’s not what I do.” “Wait, what interview is this?” I declined their offer. Fast forward maybe five years, I’m talking to a guy about doing some consulting work for him, and we get into the subject of this company.
He had interviewed there as well. He also got the vibe and declined. Then he revealed what he later found out about this total joke of a company. As it turns out, they were planning on selling the company and were beefing it up for appearances. It also turns out, after the sale, that they had spent the previous months sending current clients to their next endeavor.
They almost got in serious trouble for their financial and business shenanigans. I would not have been happy to get caught in that mess.
12. The Icy Walk To Work
I am walking to work in the winter, when halfway through a step forward under a skybridge, an icicle a foot taller than me and probably two feet around at the base crashes down right in front of my nose. If my bus had been a half second earlier, if I had walked even a tiny bit faster…I would have been impaled right down the middle. I was frozen in place for a minute, quietly surveying my experience.
There was another pedestrian nearby who witnessed it and the wide-eyed, ashen look on his face as he stared at me confirmed just how narrowly fortunate I was that day.
13. Tables Have Turned
My manager was trying to have me fired for underperformance, and I was so depressed at the time that I believed I was an awful employee. The place I worked had a whole song and dance routine just to get someone a verbal warning, let alone fired, so she tried to get me to take a severance payment so that I’d leave and save her the trouble.
I had to take sick leave shortly after that conversation, and while I was gone, she initiated the formal process to have me fired. I was able to drag things out for a couple of months, and during that time, I discovered she’d falsified documents to make me look like a lost cause. Well, I got my revenge. I presented a dossier to HR demonstrating how her statements were probably misleading, and documenting every time she failed to follow proper procedures, which turned everything around.
I got moved to a better job on a better team, and spent a solid year rubbing it in her face how well I was doing, and ensuring it got back to her whenever I got praise from the department head. It was pretty annoying that she didn’t get fired, but there would have been too much blowback on management if she had. Still, I went from the verge of unemployment to unequivocal success.
14. Limbs In The Vehicle
A few years ago, I was in a small fender bender. Someone merged into my lane, with me in it, and smashed my driver-side door and their passenger door together. I had pulled my arm in from having it hanging out the window about 15 seconds before that happened. I would have most likely had my arm ripped off.
15. Faking The Flu
I quit a job after my boss yelled at everybody for faking being sick when one guy came in with the flu and passed it around the office. He claimed that people don’t get sick by being near each other. One guy got the flu so bad he was hospitalized for two weeks. I quit with no back up in October 2019. By February 2020, his company went out of business.
16. The Chronic Liar
I was dating this coworker who lied all the time. I told her from the beginning that I didn’t want to start anything if she wasn’t serious and if there was someone else. She assured me no, and that she had deep feelings for me. One day out of the blue, a random girl stopped by our workplace and asked around for the girl I was dating.
In a building filled with hundreds of people, I happened to be the only one at the front, and asked what’s going on. As it turns out, this random person was pretty much there to start a fight. The girl I was dating was sending photos to this girl’s boyfriend. Whoops. If I had not been at the front, I would’ve never found out. One angry text later, I never heard from her again.
17. A Saving Grace
I was driving home from visiting my brother in Vermont when a snowstorm started. I didn’t have much experience driving in serious snow and I completely lost control. The car careened off the road and I was heading for a giant boulder extremely quickly. I felt time slow down and I reflected on my life for a moment and then said goodbye to my body.
Suddenly, I was jolted out of it by an abrupt impact, but I could see that the boulder was still quite a few feet away. When I got out of the car, I saw that I had hit a little skinny tree that I could have easily grabbed with one hand. However, it had a giant root system that lifted the car off the ground and stopped me. The car was totaled, but I was completely fine because of that little tree. There is no way I would have survived the other impact.
18. Gas Tank Goners
Yesterday, I was helping my fiancée’s dad cut some tree limbs from his yard. He was on a lift trying to cut some limbs that were dangling dangerously high over a steel propane tank. The tank itself had $1500 worth of propane. The keyword is “had.” He cut off a limb and it hit the tank with the largest bang I’ve ever heard. Propane came pouring out the top like smoke from a mortar. He struggled to get the lift down enough to jump out and run for his life.
We would later find out that the limb hit the gas valve and it fell straight down into the tank. If it had sparked once, it wouldn’t have mattered how far we ran. We would have been goners. Him, me, and my fiancée who was showering inside, unaware. Now he has no gas, is out $1,500, and almost died. There’s no way we should be alive. The gas is still leaking out even after 24 hours.
19. Nail In The Coffin
We came up shy of our financial goal for a wedding and decided to save again for another year. We were gonna go on an adventure and elope. I’m so lucky we didn’t. Our relationship fell apart in the following year. Both of us put nails in the coffin. I was the only one to acknowledge mine. She could do no wrong, and I was being gas lit pretty bad.
When we split, my depression evaporated. I was able to go off my medication and realize just how deep she had her claws in me. I thank god every day we didn’t get married or my mental health would have been horrendous.
20. The Mistake Missed
When I was a kid, about six years old, I somehow threw a piece of metal in the sky and watched it fall in my face. It opened a large and bloody cut right under my right eye. When my mom saw me rubbing my closed eye with a sea of blood, she almost had a heart attack. But no, I was fine. I got some stitches and it was really scary, but all good.
The cut didn’t even leave a scar. If my dumb self was hit just a bit higher, I would have lose an eye.
21. Dangerous Debonair Dude
When we were younger, a guy we knew a little, who was extremely charming and debonair, asked my best friend on a date. Everybody liked him and urged her to say yes—but she this chilling feeling about him. So, she turned him down. Fast forward 20 years later, he’s all over the news because he’s been incarcerated as serial murderer who would approach women, charm them, take them on dates, and take their lives.
He started doing this to women right about the time he asked her out. If she’d gone out with him, she would have been one of his first three victims. The detectives even interviewed her as they tried to piece together the early years of his killing spree.
22. The Physics Fling
Back when I was a physics major, I was in quite a romance with a fellow physics major starting when I was a teenager. He was always talking about marriage and the like. I was rather infatuated, so I didn’t mind the marriage talk, but was definitely a bit unenthusiastic when he kept talking about how we’d be having our first kids by the time we were in grad school and stuff when I was about 20 years old.
Oh, and I was dealing with harassment from a professor at the time, and when I told him he said, “That sucks, but it’s going to happen to women in physics.” Anyway, when we broke up, it was because he chose another girl who was an artist. I actually got to hear his reasons why. It turns out he really liked that, “She doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I get back at the end of the day,” and had the chutzpah to add in, “And she’s even a good cook!”
20-year-old me was really devastated because I really liked this guy, and shouldn’t have hung back. Now that I’m in my 30s and a professional astronomer, while he kept to the schedule we’d discussed and has three kids, last I checked. I’m just relieved it didn’t happen. You don’t know everything about yourself at that age, and holy Batman we were just so incompatible and he was kind of really rude with traditional attitudes.
I’m not sure I would have had the rich life and career I have had if we stuck together, that’s for sure.
23. Just Far Enough
We were in Italy on a school field trip. We decided to play “schweinehaufen,” pig pile…dogpile? Anyways, one person is declared the pig and everyone has to jump on them. We played this on a beach at night. Just sand, no danger, right? Well, during the last round, we got up and realized we formed this pile next to a metal pole sticking out of the ground.
It was maybe ten centimeters away and could have easily impaled the first three or four people if we were just a bit closer. We didn’t play that game again.
24. The Summer Sociopath
I went to summer camp between my junior and senior years of high school, and became friends with a group of guys. For reference, I’m a girl. I dated one of the guys in the group. It was both of our second relationships ever, and so we were a little handsy with each other, but I flat-out refused to go all the way with him, because I sure as heck wasn’t losing my virginity to a summer fling I’d only known for a couple of weeks.
He was a little pushy about it, but ultimately backed down after I repeatedly refused. We broke up when summer camp was over and remained friends, though he lived in another state. After the breakup, not only did he start to emotionally harming me, threatening his own life if I stopped talking to him, saying he’d never had anyone understand him except for me, that sort of thing…but I found out from one of the other guys in the group that he’d made jokes about attacking me in my sleep. I blocked him on all social media and haven’t talked to him since.
25. Company Cutting Costs
I worked for a company years ago which had a rather autocratic head. They randomly appointed a new manager to oversee our team one day. He was swiftly promoted and the two of us would butt heads every other day to the point where I was made to look like a complete troublemaker. Meanwhile, I just pointed out inefficiencies and possible regulatory abnormalities in their processes.
His promotion, I would later learn, was due to his appointment having been aimed at restructuring the company to get rid of “troublemakers” from the get-go. He was appointed to stir and eliminate. Myself and a few senior staff at the company were served with retrenchment notices. I was livid and wanted to take matters further, but the other “retrenches” told me to be patient.
The staff who weren’t retrenched refused to speak out or have our backs…they were pretty smug and feigned sympathy. For a moment I wanted to concede, give into their demands and beg to save my job and income, but luckily I didn’t. The CEO who retrenched the other seniors had bargained on majority shareholding as he’d assumed the other directors would sell their shares to him on exit.
He had less than 50% at the time, and their shares would have secured his majority shareholding. He’d dangled a pretty juicy carrot in front of them. Instead, they collectively, and legally, came up with a devious plan. They sold/handed their shares to an opposition company and did so pretty stealthily. They did this months after I’d already left, so I wasn’t there when the pawpaw hit the proverbial fan.
The retrenchment plan aimed at ousting us few to make a point and eliminate non-conforming staff backfired. I ended up with a pretty nifty settlement and given the nature of my exit I could immediately contact their direct opposition for a position. The staff who remained ended up under the employ of an international corporate entity. Many of my coworkers had to accept demotions, pay cuts and/or were prompted to relocate. I would not have been in the same space in my career today had I groveled and stayed on.
26. New Year, New You
We were troubled teens in the mid-1990s. Me and the missus met a bunch of my mates who had done something illicit on New Year’s Eve the morning after. Two of them were regaling me with tales about how great it was. They looked totally horrible. They had pale green faces, while the third was throwing up in a waste bin at the bus station where we ran into each other.
I just took in the whole situation and internally went, “Nope, I’m not doing that.” It turned out I was right, because that New Year’s Eve was the start of a biblical flood of misery and death for those that didn’t turn down the stuff.
27. Goodbye, Cruel World
It was Saturday, January 13th, 2018 I was on a beach in Hawaii doing yoga. My phone pinged with an incredibly terrifying message. It said: “INCOMING BALLISTIC MISSILE. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” I called my daughter and got her voice mail. I told her goodbye. I thought about my friends and family facing this missile and I watched people around me running and panicking.
I fully prepared to die. It was 38 minutes and 13 seconds before the false alarm message was sent. It changed the way I look at the end of my life. I thought that I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it. I no longer have any fear of what’s after life.
28. What A Way To Go
My brother followed through with a knife and hit my neck. We were installing a piece of drywall vertically. We were staggering the boards, so he was standing on a stool or something as there was already a half piece below. So this board was a few feet off the ground. I was standing to his left and he was on my right with his right hand trying to carve a hole into the board for a plug.
He is working the blade down to his left where I am standing. My head is at his waist, as I am not standing on anything. All of a sudden, the knife slips and the follow-through hits me hard in the neck. At this point, I am like, “This is it.” What a tragic way to go. Getting hit by your brother in a freak drywall accident. I immediately start feeling for my neck, think Richard Zednik.
It is completely dry. I look up and the knife has no blade. I look further and I find the blade lodged in the piece of drywall. I walked away with an intact and sore neck.
29. The English Major
I once spelled the word “Mom” incorrectly on a Mother’s Day card I was going to send to my mother. At the time, my parents were paying for me to major in English at a very expensive college. For those interested, I spelled it “Mome.” I barely caught it.
30. Distracted By The Drinks
I lived in Neiva, Colombia in the 90s. When we were getting ready to meet some friends, I think it was to watch a game or something…and by preparing, I mean drinking our butts off. We were supposed to go and meet with some friends in a building a couple of blocks away. But, at that point, I was too intoxicated to drive, and just decided to stay in the bar where we were drinking.
I remember my girlfriend making a fuss about it when we heard an explosion. It turns out that the Guerrilla attacked the building we were going to and kidnapped lots of people, including the occupants of the apartment where we were going to visit.
31. Lucky To Be Ghosted
In 10th grade of high school I was in love with a man who was at least 21 years old. He ended up ghosting me and dating my best friend. I was devastated, to say the least. Well, fast forward a few months, my beautiful ex-best friend with green eyes and a pretty body suddenly started dressing in oversized men’s clothing, she stopped participating in sports, and stopped going to events.
She looked tired and sad all of the time. It turns out this man was a manipulative, controlling, crazy person. He was extremely controlling of her and forbade her from talking or interacting with anyone at school, unless absolutely necessary. He got her a cell phone and made her call him in between each class, so he could be sure that she wasn’t talking with friends.
He knocked her up our senior year and, soon after graduation, he moved her to a new town where she didn’t know anyone, basically to isolate her and further control her. I look back at that and think that could easily have been me. I was a sucker in high school and boy crazy. I know I would have fallen for his trap.
32. The Cool Youth Minister
My dad worked at a church when I was elementary-aged. The youth minister was fun, had all kinds of cool stuff in his office, and my brother and I liked spending time with him and playing with his nerf guns and whatever else he had for students. We established a tradition where, on a monthly basis, he would take us to a restaurant for breakfast.
My brother and I thought it was awesome that he paid us any attention, since we were younger than the students he worked with for his job. But, he still took time for us. He had a parish which we’d visited, multiple car issues in which we occasionally would have to walk somewhere, and plenty of opportunities where we weren’t in public.
He took another job a couple years into this at a different church—that’s when we found out the chilling truth about him. He was incarcerated shortly after for molestation. People came forward from both before and after he was at our church, but none that I’m aware of from when he was there. So my brother and I were groomed by an experienced creep and we were clueless at the time. Nothing happened to either of us, we have no idea why because the opportunity was there.
33. Took A Real Turn
I really liked my professor advisor in college, and in my senior year, I took a graduate course he offered. It was on nuclear fusion history and technology, and he was an expert in the field, and it was a really interesting and challenging elective. As a senior in a graduate class, it was really interesting having a class with just two or three other students.
All of them were graduate students, and at least two worked with the professor at the side company he had founded. As the year progressed and as I tried to figure out where I was going after I graduated, the professor offered me a spot in his graduate program and a job at his company. I had recently married at the time, and my wife had already graduated from college.
The place she worked, the lead tech support for a start-up ISP, offered her a full-time business analyst job which was her dream job at the time. After much consternation, we went a different path and moved away. We had no idea just how much everything could’ve blown up in our faces. Within the next couple years, the start-up my wife worked for went out of business less than a year later and my professor was incarcerated while returning from an overseas seminar, for sharing classified nuclear information.
In addition, he ended up serving time in prison and his company was closed and one of his employees, a graduate student, also pled guilty and served time. I believe he was one of the other students in the class. One of his employees was identified as a foreign national and was both incarcerated and deported. I believe he was another student in the class. Often in life, you make decisions with the best information you have, and you’ll never really know if you made the right one. In this case, I know beyond a doubt that my wife and I made the right decision.
34. No Rooms Available
About 15 years ago, my girlfriend and I were young and she was eight months pregnant. We rented a nice apartment that was currently being built, and it was a few weeks away from being ready for us to move in. So, we decided to stay at a hotel until then. There was a really nice small bed and breakfast that we had heard about and wanted to stay there, so we called them to make sure there was a vacancy.
There was, so we made the drive up. But, when we got there, apparently there wasn’t a vacancy according to the owner and the woman who we spoke to on the phone had made a mistake. About a week or so later, the entire place burned down and several guests had died in the fire. I tried to find more detailed information on it, but never could.
All I know is it was some sort of electrical fire, it started in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, and six people perished that night. It’s terrifying to even think about.
35. Blown Up In Baghdad
While I was under bombardment in Baghdad in 2004, a Chinese-made Katyusha rocket landed a few feet away and blew me up. I stood up, dusted myself off, and discovered I was completely unhurt. As I was marveling at this, I watched another rocket come in. I knew from its parabola that my luck was up. I stood rooted to the spot, horrified, as it came down nose first closer to me than the first one.
I’ve never been so certain that my life was over. It failed to explode.
36. The Beautiful Boston Hero
Before I moved here, I got stuck in Boston overnight in the heavy rain with nowhere to stay. My phone was dead, so I couldn’t call anyone or use the maps app. As anyone who’s ever been to Boston can attest, the whole city basically shuts down after two in the morning. Unfamiliar with public transport, I got on the last train that I hoped would take me to my friend outside of the city, but at the last second I realized the train was going in the opposite direction.
I ended up asking this girl where I was, which she then responded to with, “Do you not have anywhere to go tonight? Come with me!” So, I followed her in a daze, not really sure what was happening. She was absolutely gorgeous, so I was sure I was about to get mugged. She took me to her house, blew up an air mattress and let me use her spare phone charger.
The next morning, I thanked her profusely and offered money, but she just smiled and waved it off. We said our goodbyes and I left. I still don’t know her name.
37. Stay At Home Mom
I used to be engaged and made a lot more money than my then-fiancée. She had a son and we planned on having children together, so I was supportive when she talked to me about quitting her job as a New York City teacher to be a stay at home mom. It made a lot of sense. She ended up quitting her job at the end of the year.
But, a couple of weeks into summer, she offhandedly mentions how she wants to look into hiring a full time babysitter for her son. I asked if she was going back to work in the fall, but she said no. She just wanted someone to watch her son from roughly when I left for work until I came home. I pointed out the whole point of leaving her job to be a stay at home mom was to do that very thing.
I already paid people to clean the home, do the landscaping, and vacuum the pool while I did most of the cooking. It’s not like I expected a whole lot. We ended up fighting a lot about this over the next couple of weeks until we broke off the engagement and broke up altogether. She’s still friendly with my friends’ wives/girlfriends and I’ve since learned she married a guy who basically works 24/7 to keep her in a life of luxury.
38. One In A Million
When I was 15 years old, I was suffering from dizzy spells and constant tiredness. They figured I had some kind of anemia. I had a blood test done on me and they found an abnormally high white blood cell count. This usually meant one of two terrible things. I either had Leukemia or Sickle Cell Anemia. Well, it turns out I had a one-in-a-million third option.
Genetically, I have much denser bones than a normal person. The doctor was suspicious of this when it took such an abnormally long time to get a bone marrow sample. Usually, it’s done in five minutes, but it took him nearly twenty minutes to jam the needle into my sternum. Denser bones accounted for higher white blood cell count. I was, and remain to do date over thirty years later, perfectly healthy.
39. Skipped A Ride
In university, me and my two best friends were drinking, playing Mario Kart, and just completely fooling around. We were hungry and wanted food. I said, “Let’s just make a tombstone pizza because we’ve been drinking and most delivery services were closed at 1:30AM.” One said that he’s fine to drive. I said no, I thought it was a terribly bad idea.
He got the other guy to go with him on the drive. McDonald’s usually doesn’t take two hours to get there, so eventually I went for a scooter ride since the McDonald’s was less than two miles away. I notice there’s a taped off spot on the bridge right before McDonald’s with a crane, officers and an ambulance. My friends curbed the car and drove it off the bridge and into the shallow creek top first and died on impact. I dodged that nuke…but ate the bullet of survivors’ guilt for nearly five years.
40. Going Into It Blind
When I was 11, I started losing vision in my left eye, and eventually went completely blind in about two to three weeks. After lots of testing, we found that I had a brain tumor in my left optic nerve that would likely spread quickly. They gave me a year and a half to live in the best-case scenario with treatment. They got the eye surgically removed, started me on radiation and chemo, and luckily I responded well to it.
The cancer’s long gone, I am now a cyclops, and happy to be disease-free.
41. Staying Home Safe
I had just moved to Colorado by myself and for whatever reason, my mom was encouraging me to get out of the apartment and go see the new Batman movie. That was the night of the theater shooting, and not only did it happen at that theater, but it was also the showing I was considering going to. I stayed up late playing League of Legends instead, and woke up to a LOT of texts and missed calls.
It was probably not ideal for my family’s blood pressure that I slept in pretty late that day too.
42. Stayed In The Frying Pan And Out Of The Fire
We went to Thailand in 2003 for Christmas. I spent a number of years there in the early 90s as a kid and loved it so much that we were going to do it again the next year. We wanted to spend Christmas watching the sun come up on a beach at Phuket again. We had the tickets and everything, but because of some new fallout from an Enron-adjacent scandal, my dad wasn’t allowed to leave the country.
He wasn’t even implicated, but was in the c-suite of a credit card company, and all such people were under a travel advisory. Anyway, the very hotel we were going to stay at got 100% wrecked by the tsunami, so I guess we got lucky.
43. Broke And Lucky
I was moving abroad to do a postgrad degree. My flight was going to leave out of the Newark airport early in the morning on 9/11. A family friend who worked in the Towers kept prodding me to move my flight to the afternoon and come visit him in the office so he could show me around. My parents were pressuring me to go as well since it was a good networking opportunity.
I was on the fence, but decided not to since I was a poor student and didn’t want to pay the cab fare from my hotel in New Jersey to lower Manhattan. Our friend made it out, thankfully, and I’m guessing I would have made it out as well, but there’s no way I would want that experience burned in my memory.
44. Need The Nuggets
My friend managed to avoid the Pulse shooting where they were having their birthday party because they had gotten an intense craving for McNuggets. So, he and his group went to McDonald’s down the road. They left roughly 15 to 20 minutes before everything went down.
45. Taking The Scenic Route
I almost wound up in the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis years ago. My uncle, cousin, and I were on our way to a Twins game. We were originally planning to take the route that crossed the bridge, but at the last minute, we decided to take a more “scenic” route. After it happened, we were talking and we figured it probably would have been within a couple minutes of the time the bridge collapsed that we would have been on the bridge.
46. Uncle Sam Gets The Cold Shoulder
Uncle Sam wanted to draft me when they wanted us off to Vietnam. At the last minute, during the physical, I pointed to the surgical scar on my shoulder and said to the doctor, “I don’t really trust this shoulder. Any problem?” The next thing you know, they take x-rays. After a bit of a wait, the colonel in charge of the place said to me, “I’m sorry son, but I’m going to have to disqualify you.” Thankfully, home I went, a free man.
47. Accidental Exposure
I accidentally found out that my ex of three years, before we were about to move in together and with whom I talked about marriage regularly, had a very creepy obsession. He was constantly soliciting photos/cybering with random girls online. He had an entire hard drive worth of creepy photos of random miscellaneous girls from the internet he had been accumulating for years since before our relationship and during.
I was absolutely mortified that this guy never ever mentioned anything about this during our entire relationship. He said to me, when I asked him if he ever planned to tell me, “I planned to tell you after we got married, I knew it was a problem and was committed to seeking help once we got to that point.” So many layers of messed up there I’m so relieved I didn’t ever end up married to him.
48. Red Flag, Red Bumper
This happened before cell phones existed. I had a long commute home and, on a rare occasion, my husband drove into the city to meet me. I started for home about 15 minutes before he did. On the stretch of Highway 101 that I needed to be on for a pretty long stretch, there was a big rig in front of me that seemed to be driving erratically.
I got this weird feeling and just moved over to the next lane and accelerated past him. When I looked back, I saw something so disturbing, it’s unforgettable. In the rearview mirror, I could see the big rig run over the car in front of him and flip to its side, crushing the cars in the next lane where I had just been. My husband was behind the accident and as the officers were letting cars pass in single file, he saw one of the crushed cars had a red bumper.
He got home a couple of hours after me and said he’d never been so happy to see my red car in the driveway. He’d been holding his breath as he turned down our street because he really expected me to be under the big rig.
49. The Chatty Bouncer
Back in the 90s, several of us went to a bar we knew had a dance floor. We’d been at a pub previously and were half intoxicated upon arrival. The bouncer checked most of our IDs as usual, but then tried to chat up my one friend. The whole time, he wouldn’t return her ID. She wasn’t interested and a line was building up.
He gave up and returned her ID. The rest of that evening was normal and we forgot about it. A few weeks later, we saw on the news that the bouncer had been taken in for murder. He’d memorized his victim’s address from her ID and again been totally obvious about being interested in her. He probably would’ve become a serial murderer if he hadn’t been dumb enough to get caught his first time around. It still freaked us all out—especially that one friend.
50. The Broken Belly Button
I once broke my belly button overeating at a company lunch. I went from an innie to an outie. Basically, I had a hernia. I put off going to the doctor for a few weeks before going to see a specialist. The hernia doctor agreed that it’s a hernia. He said that he could schedule me for whenever, but if I wanted to wait a bit, there shouldn’t be any problems, there was no hurry.
I decided to get it out of the way because they had a cancelation. So, I scheduled it for a week later. I wake up from surgery and the doctor says there was a complication. They didn’t get the hernia because when they were going in, they made a disturbing discovery. They noticed my appendix was about to explode, so they took that out instead. I asked about when they could fix the hernia, and he said the appendix looked funny and was going to send it to the lab and get back to me.
The lab was really backed up, so several weeks later, I got a call from the doctor. I really thought it was over—but I was so wrong. It was a really rare appendix cancer, something that happens to around 1,000 Americans a year. Not only that, but of the two kinds of appendix cancer based on lab work, I had the worst of the two, the kind that spreads everywhere really fast and cuts your lifespan down considerably even with treatment.
The first kind grows slow and stays put, but every once in a while, it will go into overdrive, differentiates, pokes out of the abdominal wall, and spits cancer slime everywhere that turns whatever it touches into more cancer. They cut it off, for it turning from the good kind into the bad kind is just a one-centimeter tumor, mine about one and a half centimeters.
Under the microscope, it had differentiated and they saw the cells that spit cancer slime had formed. There’s really only one treatment referred to as the mother of all surgeries which is its own ball of tactical nukes. I stew over that for a few weeks until they can get more tests scheduled. I go in for a barrage of scans, pokings, and proddings, and the scans are all clean.
There were no signs of the cancer spreading, for the most part. That was when I learned just how lucky I was. It had just turned from the slow-growing kind that stays put, into the fast-moving kind when they caught it. The tumor hadn’t had a chance to spit cancer slime outside the wall holding my appendix. If I had waited just a week for the hernia surgery, literally every day that I waited would have exponentially increased the odds of it spreading the mucin.
They think they got it all when they took the appendix out. There are a few things they want to keep an eye on that they’re reasonably sure is just scaring from the surgery, but they gave me an 80% chance of being cancer-free. I have more scans in December to make sure.