Everyone knows about the butterfly effect—at least, anyone who is old enough to have seen the 2004 movie starring a young Ashton Kutcher. A butterfly flaps its wings in Africa and, through a chained series of seemingly random events, causes a deadly tsunami in Japan. Of course, it’s possible to say that the entire existence of humans on Earth, or even life itself, is the result of the butterfly effect—but sometimes, when we look a little closer to home, it can be downright shocking how just one thing can change an entire life. These Redditors shared their stories of real-life instances that seemed random, but ended up having profound repercussions.
1. Babies and Bladders
My pregnant cousin usually took the bus at around 5:10 pm after work. She was about to hop inside the bus one day, but she needed to use the bathroom really badly and the commute was about an hour long. Consequently, she decided to go to the restroom instead and just catch the next bus. That 5:10 bus that she was supposed to be on ended up falling from a cliff.
If the baby hadn’t pressed on her bladder at that moment, they both would have died.
2. Train-Crossed Lovers
I went to Amsterdam to meet up with friends. On the way back, there was a train at the station, but the display didn’t show information about its destination. I decided to ask a random guy who was entering the train if this was the right one. It was, and we started chatting. A few minutes later I realized that this guy was a perfect match for my Mom.
I asked him he would like to go on a date with her. He agreed, because of the unique situation. They had a relationship within a month, lived together within a year, and 11 years later are still together, married for four years. All because of a broken display screen on a train.
3. How Dare You Clean My Carpets
I was supposed to go to a U2 concert with this girl I was friends with, her boyfriend, and a couple of other people. I had a knack for getting good seats at shows, so it was up to me to get tickets. Right as I bought the tickets, my friend went a little nuts and accused me of trying to break into her house to clean her carpets while she had been away in Croatia.
I had no idea what she was talking about, and I told her so, but she didn’t believe me. Consequently, I kept the tickets because I still wanted to go, but not with them. I went to a street fair in town a couple of weeks later and ran into a girl I was friends with from high school who loved U2. I sold her a ticket and she asked if she could bring a friend, which was great for me.
The girls showed up at my place the day of the show and her friend smiled at me while she was walking in. I saw the smile and knew that was it, I was going to be spending the rest of my life chasing that smile. It’s been well over 20 years now and we’re still together, a couple of kids and dogs later.
It all started with the first week of my college freshman year. I drunkenly wandered into a frat party one night and thought, “Oh sweet, they have a fire pit, that’s cool.” I joined that fraternity, mostly based on the fire pit, drank a lot of beer, got the freshman 15, and looked terrible. My roommate suggested that I start boxing with him to get in better shape and to get girls (for the record, it did not help me get girls).
A year later I had my first sanctioned amateur boxing bout. Two years later I won an amateur U.S. national championship. Thanks to that, I became the captain of my college boxing team and dipped into coaching new people. I realized I really liked coaching and teaching people new things, so I decided to try becoming a teacher and got my Masters in education.
I’m now a teacher, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun and fulfilling job. All of that because I was really drunk one night and liked that one frat house with a fire pit. I have a fire pit in my back yard now.
5. Take Time To Appreciate Nature
I was walking in a state park when all of a sudden, this iridescent blue butterfly set down on the path in front of me. I decided to pause and squat down to get a better look at it and as I did, a huge 15-foot tree branch fell down a few steps ahead of me on the trail, where I would have been had the butterfly not landed.
6. Sometimes, Procrastinating Pays Off
I procrastinated one day in high school by watching a foreign musical on Youtube. I ended up trying to learn the lyrics, and eventually the language. That led me to discover the field of linguistics, which I’m now majoring in. I don’t know what I’d be doing now had I actually started doing my homework that day instead of procrastinating.
7. Mad Matchmaker
When I was 19, I was working a crappy retail job and had an awful store manager. One day I snapped and stormed out. I never went back. Even so, I felt guilty, as the store manager only scheduled two people at the end of the day and the other person was a colleague who was also leaving the job. Me leaving made my colleague have to stay late on his last day, with the terrible boss.
The colleague stayed on an extra hour or two on his last day to cover for me and, I guess because I’d left so abruptly, agreed to work a few extra shifts until I was replaced. I felt horrible—but I never imagined what happened next. My replacement was a woman—who would later become his wife! Now they have two children. If I hadn’t quit in anger that day, they never would have met and those kids would never exist!
8. Bumblebee Effect
When I was six, I was riding my bike and a bee was chasing me. I ended up ditching my bike in the middle of the road in front of a random house. A guy came out and helped me by swatting the bee away and getting me back on my bike. His daughter came out to observe and we became good friends. When I was eight, I moved away and we lost touch.
When I turned 18, I got my driver’s license and decided I was going to drive over to see if she still lived in the same house. She did! We ended up hitting it off, and I was head over heels in love with her. She moved three hours away to Chicago for college, so I applied to college in Chicago and moved with her. I spent one semester there before I ran out of money.
I ended up joining the Navy to support us, but once I got out of boot camp, she decided that she wanted to stay in Chicago. A month later it was too difficult for us to have a long-distance relationship. Fast forward six years, I was in the Navy and I got stationed in Washington State, where I met the girl of my dreams. I never would have met my wife if I didn’t join the Navy.
I never would have joined the Navy if I didn’t move to Chicago and go broke. I never would have gone to Chicago if it wasn’t for the girl. I never would have met that girl if it wasn’t for the bee that chased me off my bike. I love bees.
9. Prophetic Q-Tip?
My dad’s boss pushed a Q-tip too far into his ear and had to cancel a meeting with my dad that day. The meeting was on 9/11/2001 in one of the Twin Towers.
10. Cats Rule
I think I was around 8 or 9 when I befriended a street cat near our future house, which was under renovation. I took the cat inside the partially renovated house and cleaned her up and fed her. We played for about three hours before my uncle told me we had to go. I let the outside cat and left. We moved in a couple of months later.
According to all of our neighbors, the area had a bit of a mouse and snake problem. Fortunately for us, we never seemed to have much of an issue. A few years later, when we had the place renovated again, we found the orange cat and her kids living inside our ceiling and figured out that they were the ones killing the mice and snakes on our property!
They also caught some of the cockroaches too. It’s been years now and the orange cat I unknowingly adopted has now died but her legacy still lives on because one of her kids moved into my apartment with me. My place is the only mice-free one on my street.
11. Punctuality Is Overrated
My best friend and I were going to get breakfast and then ride to an event together one morning. She was running late, so we decided to meet at the diner and drive separately instead of meeting at my house and leaving her car there. After breakfast, I got in a crash, and the seat where she would have been sitting if she had ridden with me was totally smashed.
She would have died if she had been on time for breakfast.
12. Social Media Sparks
I unfollowed someone on Twitter because my phone was having this weird issue. I received a notification for every single Tweet, and I couldn’t turn them off. One guy in particular tweeted constantly. So, I unfollowed him until I could figure my phone out. It was the tiniest thing, but it changed my life forever.
As I found out later, he was a Youtuber whose channel had been losing traction. When he noticed I had unfollowed him, he decided to message me to ask what he could improve with his content and to say he was sorry to see me go. I explained myself and we kept talking. I was in a very bad place in my life at the time.
I worked from home and totally isolated myself. I never talked to people normally, but I just couldn’t stop talking to this guy. After coming to visit, continuing to talk every day, moving in and becoming my roommate, we are now happily in love and are even now trying to start a family. I’m so glad I unfollowed him!
13. Brisk Boost
At university, we took an exam in a large gym hall. It was so cold in there that you could see your breath. Enough students complained afterward that the university agreed to give everyone an extra 5%. That 5% was the difference between a pass and a fail for me, not just for that exam, but for the entire year. If it hadn’t been cold that day, I would have had to retake the year or drop out of university.
It completely altered the course of my life.
14. Political Exposure
Jack Ryan, the all-around handsome successful guy, took his wife Jeri Ryan (of Star Trek fame) to a club and tried to convince her to get naked in front of some strangers. She objected, being a self-respecting woman, and this ultimately led to their divorce. The details of the divorce are sealed, in an attempt to shield their children from scandal.
Sometime later, Jack Ryan, still handsome and successful, decided to run for the Senate in Illinois, where he is beloved for his handsomeness and his success. He’s a shoo-in and everyone knows it, but the opposition tried to dig up some dirt anyway. As the campaign got rolling, the divorce details were unsealed and the story about Jack’s sketchiness and grossness got out.
His political career was over, and he dropped out of the race. Against the odds, his pretty-much unknown opponent is elected to the US Senate, where he becomes a standout freshman, and in 2008, is elected as the President of the United States. So, in short, a guy tried to impress his friends by getting his wife to flash him at the club, and Barack Obama got elected President.
15. Relatively Unlikely
We would have never appreciated the intelligence of Albert Einstein if World War I had not happened. Einstein needed mathematical proof for his theory of relativity, and to do that, he needed pictures of a total solar eclipse, which was scheduled to take place in Crimea, then in Russia. He sent an expedition to the country, but by then, World War I had erupted.
The Russian army confiscated the appliances that the expedition had carried, and Einstein waited for years for the conflict to be over. One day, while skimming through his calculations, he realized he had committed some errors in his equations. He re-engineered his calculations and sent a fresh expedition once the fighting ended. The pictures that finally arrived proved his theory correct.
If the ongoing conflict had not prevented the arrival of pictures in 1914, Einstein’s theory might have been proven wrong, and our understanding about cosmology might have never reached this level.
16. Photo Finish
The first year I lived in San Francisco, we always parked on the street but never locked our car. We figured that it was old, so unlikely to be stolen, and that it was better to let people rummage through it than break a window trying to get in. One night, it finally happened. Someone must have been going through cars and at some point ended up in our back seat with the night’s haul.
Maybe the person fell asleep or got scared off, but they left a Canon AE1 35mm camera in our back seat. And that’s how I got into photography. That was 15 years ago. I’ve seen been published in countless magazines, I’ve had a number of gallery shows, sold loads of prints, I was profiled in the Wall Street Journal and I’m working on a book.
I couldn’t live without photography. I still have that AE1 too!
17. Wrong Turn
World War II occurred because of a very small incident in June of 1914. Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince of Hungary, was going on a ride in a street of Bosnia, when his driver mistakenly took a wrong turn, and by chance bumped into a revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip. The revolutionary, seeing the opportunity, instantly shot Ferdinand and his wife, who both succumbed to their injuries.
Their deaths led to the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary (supported by Russia) on Serbia, and the frenzy was soon joined by countries like Germany, France, and Britain due to several diplomatic treaties signed during that time, which blew into a full-scale conflict. If World War I had not happened, the Versailles’ treaty would have never been made, leading to Germany’s humiliation.
Fanatics like Hitler would have never had the opportunity to come to power, and World War II could have been averted with six million Jews and 60 million other lives saved. Also, Britain would have never drained its resources through financing the effort, and there might have been three superpowers instead of just two, possibly avoiding the nuclear arms race, and the Vietnam and Korea conflicts. All because of a wrong turn.
18. Paying it Forward
About ten years ago, I went to Paris and stayed in a hostel. I wasn’t feeling the best, and a stranger offered me his copy of The Picture of Dorian Grey, saying he’d read it when he was feeling a bit down, and the book had actually cheered him up. I read it, and it quickly became my favorite book. It pulled me through feeling really lonely.
After I was done, I wrote my name and the place I left it in on the inside cover, and asked others to take it on a trip and leave it for someone new to find. I set it on the bookshelf and checked out at the end of my stay. When I was back at the same hostel three years later, I saw a copy of the book so I pulled it out, intending to read it, never dreaming that it could be the original copy.
I opened it up, and couldn’t believe what I saw. There on the cover page was my name—at the top of a long list. The book had traveled through most of Europe, the US, Australia, and parts of Asia. The back was filled with notes. Some were like mine, kind words to strangers, others told stories of adventures they’d had, others told about how finding those notes helped them through dark and difficult times.
I reread the book, wrote my name down again and added a note thanking everyone for sending the book on its journey, and asking the next reader to continue it. That stranger’s small gesture to me turned into something that was cherished by a lot of people and helped others along the way.
19. Lucky Mistake
I was based in Japan in March of 2011 with the Air Force. For about two weeks, some friends of mine and I had been planning a trip to Amori Prefecture. We had made hotel reservations, carpool plans, everything. Then, the day we were supposed to leave, I woke up too late because I set my alarm for PM instead of AM. We ended up not going because everybody was waiting for me to go.
The next day, the earthquake happened, and the city was ravaged by a tsunami. The hotel we were going to stay at was wiped away. We all could’ve died, but did not, all because I set my alarm the wrong way.
20. Life For A Life
I was working at a fitness center in high school and a regular had a heart attack on a row machine. Luckily I was nearby and there also was an AED machine just as close. 9-1-1 was called while I got this man all prepped for a good shocking. It did its magic but did not revive him enough for my comfort. The ambulance arrived and carted out this fella in a coma.
I stressed for about four days until his son came in and let me know the regular was awake! A few weeks later, loaded up with a pacemaker, the gym regular is ticking normally again. I was delighted and even more joyful to give him a hug a few weeks later when he started walking laps again! But the story doesn’t end there. Not by a long shot. Fast forward a few years and I was in my early 20s.
I was hammered drunk from the bar and trying to get more drunk at a keg party nearby. I was burning red lights in a smaller/suburban area. My 50cc moped is topped out and flying around for a few miles…until I was pulled over by the police. I was instantly thrown in handcuffs by two officers and placed on the curb. Another police cruiser arrived and the two original officers got in their cruiser and left.
Then, I thought I was imagining things. It looked like the new cop walking towards me was the gym regular’s son again, this time in his police uniform. He first told me I was an idiot, then said. “This is your get out of jail free card. Lock up your moped and go home.” That saved my future undoubtedly. Not only did I avoid the DUI, but I had enough party favors in my seat to go to big boy jail for a long time if anyone had searched my car.
That was the best trade I have ever made in my life. You never really know how or when your actions from the past will change your future. Be good, do good, feel good.
21. Educational Reform
My great-great-great-grandfather was arrested and sent to Pentonville Prison in London for handling stolen goods. He was an Irish immigrant, so he got twelve years. While in prison, he learned to read and write and then heard about an MP championing the cause of literary—George Dixon—and wrote him a letter saying “The working-class man’s greatest enemy is no access to education.”
A relative still has a copy of the letter. George Dixon wrote to the governor asking him to release him into his care in Birmingham so that he could help at his poor school. My great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather became school principals, and I continued their legacy; I have worked for 25 years teaching English in inner-city schools.
22. Clothes Make The Man
When a friend of my parents’ was a senior in college, the professors would set up job interviews for students with companies. He was majoring in Agriculture Business, with the intention of working on a farm after he graduated. One of his professors set up some interviews for him that day, so he wore a suit to school.
Another professor of his saw him in his suit and told him that he had set up an interview for another student, but that that student was sick. The professor asked him if he was willing to go to the interview so that the professor wouldn’t look bad for having his student not show up. My parents’ friend went to the interview.
It was with a company he didn’t really know anything about, so he didn’t really think about it too much. He got a few job offers from farms that he was interested in, but he also got an offer from the company from that extra interview. The pay was $2,000 more a year than his other offers, so he decided to take the job.
He thought that he would work there for a few years, and then go work at a farm after he had saved some money. The company was IBM. He ended up loving the job and never did quit to work on a farm. He retired from IBM as an executive and a multi-millionaire.
23. Grossness Is Transient
I owe my whole career to dog diarrhea. You read right. My boyfriend had a dog in college, and I was staying over at his house one night. He left for school in the morning. I was alone with his dog in the house—and the worst happened. His dog had a massive poop inside the crate, all against the wall, and it went down into the floor vent too.
The idea of picking up any kind of poop would have mortified me, let alone diarrhea, but there was no choice; I had to get it cleaned up. It was gross for sure, but I realized that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, and after a super long shower and washing my hands 100x, I got over it. A couple of years later, I got laid off from my job and decided to go back to school.
I chose nursing, which is something I never, ever would have done before cleaning up dog diarrhea because of the gross factor. Cleaning it up made me realize that grossness is just a temporary thing and besides, we get gloves for the gross stuff. I love being a nurse, and yes, it can be pretty gross sometimes, but I feel like it is truly what I was meant to do. And I owe it all to dog poop.
24. Heads Or Tails
1940s, the communists took over China. My Grandfather was out at sea at the time, and the whole crew debated over which China to go to (Taiwan or the mainland). They flipped a coin to decide and ended up in Taiwan, which is where he met my Grandmother and where my Mom was born. I exist, in part, because of a coin flip.
25. Sweet Smoke
My mother worked as a waitress at a local truck stop. A tractor-trailer hauling candy caught on fire one night, so the owner of the truck gave away smoke-damaged candy to anyone available. My mother got packs and packs of Mike and Ikes and Baby Bottle Pops. It was summer vacation and after a month of my family and friends having access to this candy surplus, no one was eating the Baby Bottle Pops.
Meanwhile, the teachers were at a training seminar over the summer on the topic of drugs in schools. Apparently, this seminar outlined how, in some schools, kids were using Baby Bottle Pops to transport drugs. Not knowing this, on the first day of my senior year, I took five cases of Baby Bottle Pops to school and passed them out to students and teachers alike.
It took me three days to get rid of all of them. Everything was fine up to this point—but the tiniest little thing made it all go wrong. On the fourth day, my little sister and I overslept and, in a rush to get to school, I didn’t remove my pipe and less than 1 gram of marijuana from my car. Then, to make matters worse, I left my headlights on after parking in the school parking lot. Teachers had reported my Baby Bottle Pop activity for days, leading the administration to be vigilant of me.
Seeing my headlights on gave them the opportunity to escort me out to my car and subsequently to search it, due to an empty pack of cigarettes peeking out from under the driver’s seat. My car was searched and, of course, they found the pipe and less than a gram of weed. Police were called, and I ended up in the juvenile penitentiary.
And that is how a truck catching on fire while carrying Baby Bottle Pops ended up with me being sent to juvy.
Last night there was a snowstorm, so I was outside trying to shovel my car out of the parking spot, but it was stuck in the extremely deep snow. At the same time, a naked lady in clear psychosis came out of her apartment, sat in the snow, and started screaming numbers and random words. So I left my car, helped her back inside and called the police.
Five minutes later, police and ambulance showed up to take care of her. Additionally, the police helped me get my car out of the snow! If my car hadn’t been stuck, the lady might have died of hypothermia. At the same time, if she hadn’t entered psychosis, my car would have stayed stuck.
27. A Well-Timed Birth
My Grandfather was conscripted into the Romanian army as a medic, and his unit was one of the many acting as a defensive barrier, covering the Nazi supply lines to Stalingrad. When my Aunt was born, he was called back to Bucharest from the front. While he was on leave, the Russians launched Operation Uranus, which decimated the Axis forces.
He received word that his unit had been completely destroyed. He was never reassigned, and in 1948, my Mother was born. If my Aunt had not been born at that exact time, I would not exist.
28. Metal and Movies
In 2003, I put an ad in a store window that said, “Heavy metal guitarist available for band.” I had carefully cut out 10 tags on the bottom of the paper with my name and number on it. In mid-2004, the store had closed and moved across town. Sometime after that, I was minding my business and about to go into a movie when I got a phone call.
It was a guy named Joey asking if I was still looking to start a band. At first, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I said yes anyway, and promised to call him back. Guess what movie I was seeing? The Butterfly Effect. After the movie, I called Joey, and it started a continuing and excellent relationship with one of the greatest drummers in the state and membership in multiple bands, some even with paying gigs!
All because he’d kept one of my carefully-cut tags.
29. Finders Keepers
Today I had to pick up a juice for my vape, so I went on the train to my friend’s house to get it. On the way there, I saw a train ad about the NYC lottery, and I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll try it.” I got the juice, and I was almost about to walk to the train station when I realized I had forgotten to buy the ticket. I spent a long time just finding a gas station to buy the ticket, since I didn’t know the area well, but eventually, I found one.
I bought the ticket and decided to go home, realizing that I had wandered so far that I was closer to a different train station than the one I had originally planned. Once in the station, I decided to find a seat since I had just missed my train. There were a bunch of people sitting in the first seats, so I moved further along the platform and found a seat.
I looked to the left of me and froze: there was a $400 Gucci wallet with no ID or anything, just lying there on the seat next to me. The seats were facing the direction of the train where no one was waiting for it, so I knew it couldn’t be anyone’s that was still there. I also knew that I was in a shady train station, so I figured someone else would just end up taking it if I didn’t…so I decided to keep it.
I now own an expensive Gucci wallet with no money to put inside because I saw an ad on the train.
30. What Goes Around Comes Around
When the Korean War broke out, my Grandfather lived in what is today North Korea. He was a landowner, so he was thrown into jail and would have stayed there except that one of the soldiers recognized him. That soldier used to be a homeless kid on the streets with his brother, and my Grandfather had frequently brought them food in the past.
The soldier sneaked him out one night and my Grandfather was able to escape and join the rest of my family on a small island off the West coast. The rest of the prisoners were executed a few months later. Because that soldier recognized my Grandfather, my Dad (who was an infant at the time) grew up knowing his father.
31. Feline Frenzy
One time I missed almost every bus/tram to university, so I was super desperate to find anything that would take me there. I looked it up on Google and there were two buses left, let’s say the 136 and 126. I decided to take the 136, and as I was running to get my keys and shoes, my cat jumped on the shelf and started to throw everything from it onto the floor.
I didn’t stop to clean it up, so he jumped on me and started hissing, which is extremely unusual for him, so I stopped to calm him down. I had to take everything he had thrown down and put it back into its place before he would leave me alone. By the time I was done, I was too late for the 136 and had to take 126.
Tram 136, the one I missed, was hit by a car, directly in the place I would normally be sitting. Two people died and almost everyone in the tram was hospitalized. My cat might have saved my life!
32. Lucky Lockout
One day in 1999, I left my house in Streatham Hill, South London with my two kids to go shopping in Brixton for gym shoes for my oldest, then eight. Right as I was closing my front door, I realized that I didn’t have my house keys, and would not be able to get back in when we finished our shopping. I walked to the phone booth and called my sister-in-law, the nearest person with a spare set of keys.
I asked her what time would be most convenient for her to come over and let me in, and she told me an hour. I figured I still had time to get the shoes and hurry back, if the kids and I rushed. After getting the shoes, we were getting off the bus back in Streatham Hill when I heard a loud bang that sounded like thunder. But it wasn’t thunder—it was something so much worse.
Later on, I found out the noise had been caused by a nail bomb that had been left in Brixton Market. Had I had my keys, I would have lingered at the stores longer instead of rushing, so I would have been in the path of the explosion with my two young kids. Forgetting the key might have saved our lives.
33. Beneficial Backlog
Around five years ago I was going to live in Australia for around a year, but there were issues processing my visa. The delay meant that I had to leave one week later than I had originally planned, so I had to reschedule my flights. The original flight I would have been on was flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which was tragically shot down by a rocket above Ukraine.
Everybody on that flight died. I took flight MH19 instead, thanks to the delay caused by slow bureaucracy. I would have died had I received my visa on time.
34. The Power of Reaching Out
A good friend of mine is only alive today because I sat down with him at a party once and we got drunk together. I’d never met him before, just sat down with him and cracked open a beer. It turned out that we had a lot in common, and we became great friends. Years later, he told me he’d planned to die by suicide after the party that night. What did I say that turned it all around?
“Nothing matters as long as you have beer and good company.”
35. Wardrobe Malfunction in Madrid
A friend of mine worked in Madrid, and as she got to the train station one day, the strap on her shoe broke. She only lived ten minutes away, so she decided to go home for different shoes. In the twenty minutes it took her to make the return trip, 193 people died and 2,000 were injured by explosions, including the one on the train she would have been on.
A broken shoe saved her life.
36. Fateful Decision
My Great-Grandmother lived and worked in London during WWII. One day on the bus home, the air-raid sirens started going, so they stopped the bus and told everyone to get into the nearest bunker. My Great-Grandmother decided she was close enough to home to get there in time, so instead of getting in the bunker, she set off walking.
The next day, she realized that the bunker she had been told to get into from the bus had been flattened in the night’s bombings. If my Great-Grandmother hadn’t decided to ignore the guidance to get in the bunker, my Grandmother wouldn’t have been born, therefore my Mum wouldn’t have been born, and therefore I wouldn’t have been born.
It’s never really quite sunk in before how much lasting effect her decision had.
37. High Stakes
One of my flight instructors was supposed to fly Senator George Heinz in 1991, but was unavailable. That particular flight had a mid-air collision with a helicopter and everyone involved died. If my instructor had been available for the flight, he might have managed to land safely, as he was very experienced. More importantly, Senator Heinz probably would have beaten out G.W. Bush for the Republican nomination and therefore the presidency.
As Heinz was a moderate, the second Iraq War might not have happened if my flight instructor had piloted that flight.
38. Buried Treasure
When I was 5 or 6 I was out in a big open field by our house, where contractors dumped rubble and dirt. I saw a bit of black metal in a pile of rocks, so I dug a little more and found a toolbox filled with a decent set of automotive tools. We figured they were stolen and that the thieves had buried the box in the field, so we turned it into the police.
Nobody claimed it, so we got it back after two months or so, and it mostly just sat in the corner of the garage from then on. 15 years later I was pretty drifty, still thinking about what to do with my life. My sister called out of the blue from three states up, wanting me to move there and help her get an apartment, and our Dad was having some car trouble too…so I thought of the toolbox.
On a whim, I packed up my life and headed out, and grabbed the old toolbox on the way from the old house where I’d stashed it. That toolbox would change my life forever. Once there (and after fixing my Dad’s car), I began searching for a job, and the first thing I saw was a decent-paying job changing oil and tires—but they wanted tools and experience.
I kind of lied about the experience, but I had tools! I got the job and luckily, it came pretty easily to me, so I was promoted to full-time mechanic a year in. 15 years after that, I’m still turning a wrench, still using some of the tools I found when I was six years old, and finally settled on a career, all thanks to a box I dug up when I was a kid.
39. The Mosquito Effect
One night, I was home alone and sleeping in the basement. It was probably around three in the morning when I was woken by a mosquito flying around me. After a few unsuccessful swats, I decided to get up to get some water and hope the mosquito would follow me upstairs. When I got upstairs, I noticed my dog was acting strangely, like he was scared, so I looked around my house to make sure everything was ok.
When I got to the living room, I heard a crackling sound. I looked outside—and my stomach dropped. My neighbor’s house was on fire! I have never had my heartbeat as fast as it was while I was on the phone with the fire department that night. If it wasn’t for the mosquito being annoying, I could have very well noticed too late to help!
40. Money Problems
I withdrew some cash from a drive-thru machine one day, and the money would not properly fit in my wallet, so I spent a few minutes trying to jam it in there without crumpling it. With that done, I headed off and when I got to the first stoplight, a pick-up truck was in front of me. The light went green and the truck began to move, before suddenly slamming on the brakes.
I watched in shock as a white work van ran the stoplight from the left and hit the car to my right diagonally, causing a T-bone accident that would have killed me if I was in the pick-up’s position and did not see the van.
41. All That Glitters Is Not Gold
In January of 1894, a priest walked by a river in Passau and saw a child about to drown. Quickly, the priest jumped into the icy water and fought through it to rescue the four-year-old boy. A heroic feat worthy of praise—or at least it would’ve been, had the child not been Adolf Hitler himself.
42. Unlikely Legacy
A young Holocaust survivor named Shoshana Ovitz owed a lot to dumb luck, as she was one of Doctor Mengele’s human guinea pigs, but she somehow survived one of the worst extermination camps in history. Like most other Jews that survived the war, she went to Israel and got mixed up in a series of even more wars.
Despite this, she survived, and she went on to marry and have a large family. Like, humungous. On top of that, against all odds, this lady became one of the oldest women in the world when she turned 104 last year. All four generations of her decedents posed for a photograph on her birthday; there were 400 people!
It’s incredible that she had the strength, will and opportunity to survive, and as a result, she is literally the reason that 400 people are alive today.
43. Tragic Irony
When my Great-Grandmother was a teenager, she and her older sister had a huge fight one night. They were meant to be going out on a boat trip with some friends the next morning, but due to the fight, her older sister didn’t wake her up and went on the boat trip alone. Tragically, the boat sank and everyone on it died. My Great-Grandmother survived because of the fight she had had with her older sister.
44. Beware Broken Heels
My mother wore heels to work and one day, she slipped on the carpeted steps, resulting in a broken high heel—and a broken leg. While she was at home recovering, she somehow developed an infection that led to her needing penicillin. The penicillin interfered with her birth control—and now I have a brother 13 years younger than me.
45. When One Door Closes, Another Opens
When picking courses for high school, I didn’t get into the AP history class I wanted. I had to change my whole schedule, including a different gym class. I was heartbroken. I really wanted to teach, and without an AP class in my senior year, I was screwed. One day, I made a new friend in gym class who was wearing a volunteer firefighter shirt.
When I asked him about it, he told me he had just joined. It seemed interesting, so I tried it for a while, and then they paid for me to get my EMT. I fell in love with healthcare. Fast-forward quite a while, and I’m an ER Nurse and precept for students and new nurses, teaching them how to survive in the ER. I also do public outreach and injury prevention. And I love it.
I’m so glad I missed out on that one AP class in my senior year.
46. Always Finish Your Beer
The wife and I were having dinner in Hawaii one night while on vacation. As we were getting up to leave, I noticed that she hadn’t finished her beer. I told her she should finish the beer, since we had paid some ridiculous price for it. She finished it in about 30 seconds, and we left the restaurant and began walking the three blocks back to the hotel.
About 50 feet in front of us as we were walking, a car came flying out of a side street from the right and crossed through the street, hopped the sidewalk in front of us, and smashed into a wall. If my wife hadn’t paused to finish her beer, we would have been hit by the car and most likely squished between the car and the wall. We always finish our beer now.
47. Cattle Cure
I’m alive because a bunch of Romanian cows got sick. My Grandfather was a pharmacist back when that meant actually making medicines; he was also a Jew. The town he lived in was largely agrarian, and their cowherds came down with some illness that was killing them. He was able to create a medicine that cured them, and the townspeople were very grateful to him.
So grateful that when the chief of police heard that the Nazis were coming to town to take inventory of who lived there, he went to my Grandfather’s house with some train tickets for him and his wife. They escaped the Nazis and never got caught, because he cured some cattle.
48. Family Reunion
About 20 years ago, I was watching a TV show about a guy in Australia who feeds the homeless. At the end, they interviewed a few of the homeless who all said he was great, and their names flashed up on the bottom of the screen. To my surprise, one of the guys had the same name as my brother, who I hadn’t seen for about 15 years.
I looked at the screen, squinted…and there, under the dirt and grime, was my brother, who was an addict and had lost touch with us years before. I called the TV program and got the name of the feeder guy, and he contacted my brother and passed on my phone number. A couple of days later, I got a call and told him he could come live with me.
And he did. He moved in at my place, and then the next morning went up the road to get a newspaper to look for a job (this was about 2000). When he came back, he said he’d found someone advertising for English teachers in China. He asked me what I thought… I said, “What have you got to lose?”
So off he went. And loved it. Kept telling me to go too, so six months later I quit my job, sold my car, moved everything I wanted to keep over to my older brother’s place, and left for China. I was there for 18 years. I met a girl, got married, bought an apartment, and had two kids. Then the Hong Kong troubles came and I moved back to Australia a few months ago.
And it all started from watching a TV show.
49. Muffin Man
In fifth or sixth grade, I tried to confess my love to my crush by gifting him a strawberry muffin. I left it in his desk and my plan was to tell him that I was the one who gave it to him. However, it all went terribly wrong. Unfortunately, he ended up having an allergic reaction that caused him to be taken away by an ambulance, so needless to say, I never confessed. He was fine though!
Fast forward to junior year, and we all had group projects. His original project partner ended up moving, so he joined my group. At this point, I was over the crush, but it was nice having him as a friend. Then one day while we were working on the project, we decided that we should share a secret with each other to become closer friends.
I finally told him about the muffin, and he came out of the closet to me! We became close friends, and he even introduced me to my future boyfriend, his older brother. All because of that strawberry muffin.
50. Phone Addict
While walking towards a line for a ride at a fair, my phone vibrated. I paused to read the message, letting someone else go ahead of me in the line. That person got the last place on the roller coaster, so I had to wait for the next one. I didn’t know it yet, but I’d literally just dodged a bullet. Chillingly, the car that I missed due to the message broke down midway through the track, killing two people.
If I hadn’t received that message at exactly the right time, I could have died.