There are so many moments in life when we end up feeling totally unlucky – like we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and everything in our lives exploded because of it.
Those are the moments we tend to remember, anyway, but sometimes the opposite is also true – sometimes we dodge huge, deadly bullets and there’s nothing to do but look around and thank the universe for the great (for once) timing.
These 15 people had those cosmic moments, and they’ll certainly never forget them.
15. Immediate regrets.
Around the time I turned 30 (2010), I lost a large amount of weight. While I’d previously always looked my age or older, I suddenly looked to be about 5 – 10 years younger than I actually was. I started hanging out in Allston, an area of Boston known for its nightlife, often with people in their early-to-mid twenties.
There was a guy who also hung out down there who who really stood out. I never saw him in the bars, just walking down Brighton Ave. or North Beacon Street, usually carrying a gym bag, always alone. Unlike most understated Bostonians, he dressed in a very “eurotrash” sort of way. He had a light olive complexion with smooth skin and dark hair, which he wore slicked back.
What I remember most vividly is that every time I saw him he was wearing reflective aviator sunglasses, so I never got a look at his eyes.
I thought of him as “Aviator Dude.” Enjoying my new confidence, I decided to try to befriend Aviator Dude.
The first few times I tried to make eye contact, I got exactly zero response. No acknowledgement whatsoever. I suspected he was unfriendly and not interested, but maybe he just didn’t see me. I wasn’t done trying yet.
Finally, one day in early autumn 2010, Aviator Dude and I stood across the street from each other, waiting for a light to change so we could each cross. I decided that this was my chance.
As the light changed to the “walk” signal, I made direct eye contact with him. I gave him a flirty smile… and then I winked at him.
I immediately regretted this decision.
Aviator Dude stopped dead in his tracks. His jaw dropped a little bit, then his lips hardened into a sneer. I didn’t need to see past the aviators to know that his face had twisted with disgust.
More than a bit taken aback, I kept walking past him. I looked back at him briefly. Aviator Dude was still standing there, in the middle of the intersection of North Beacon and Cambridge streets, staring at me with a disgusted look on his face. He shook his head, rang his hands, and walked on, muttering under his breath.
Well, okay, then.
About five years later, I saw Aviator Dude again, but not in person. In 2015, I was watching the trial of the Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, online via Twitter and the news updated in real time. Some of the evidence presented included photographs of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother who was killed in a shootout with police.
I immediately recognized him – Tamerlan Tsarnaev was Aviator Dude. Not only was he a radicalized murderer responsible for the worst terrorist attack in Massachusetts history, one of the points brought up repeatedly by the surviving marathon bombing suspect’s defense lawyers was that Tamerlan was abusive to those weaker than him, including and especially the women in his life.
A domestic violence charge regarding an ex-girlfriend held up his US citizenship application, and his widow’s college friends testified that they heard him getting verbally abusive and throwing furniture at her. It has been speculated that the man may also have been responsible for a triple homicide in suburban Waltham in September of 2011- about a year after the events described above.
I’m really glad he rejected me.
14. That little tree.
I was driving home from visiting my brother in Vermont when a snow storm started. I didn’t have much experience driving in serious snow and I completely lost control.
Car careened off the road and I was heading for a giant boulder at around 50 or 60 mph. 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 20 or 30 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. Car was totaled, but I was completely fine because of that little tree.
There is no way I would have survived the other impact.
13. Without a scratch.
When driving in the upper peninsula in Michigan last summer a truck full of logs flipped and barreled straight into my car.
Completely demolished the car, someone else had to come open the door for me after the fact because they were all pinned shut by logs.
I walked out of there without a scratch on my body.
12. Tongue cancer.
24 years old, had a pesky sore on my tongue that was really bothering me. My boyfriends 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 it was feeling better so I tried to cancel my appt but my boyfriend’s dad insisted I go. 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 chemo and radiation.
Given how aggressive it was, I often think that if I had put off the doctors visit any longer I probably wouldn’t have survived. I’m coming up on my 10 year anniversary in January
11. There’s always that one mole.
My wife dragged my ass to the dermatologist for a cyst I have had for years. While there the doc noticed a mole on my ankle that he didn’t like. Turned out to be melanoma.
Would have never gone if my wife did not force me.
10. A killer icicle.
Walking to work in the winter. Half way through a step forward under a skybridge when an icicle taller than me (6′) and probably 2′ 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 pace…I would have been impaled from brains to balls. I was frozen in place for a minute, quietly surveying my near-death.
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.
9. Harder than it looks.
I have some acres of woodland that I take care of with a chainsaw to keep a desirable mix of tree species and avoid overcrowding. Often when I cut through the trunk of a tree that’s too close to other trees, it just leans against them rather than falling down. Then I have to make a series of angled cuts and let chunks of the trunk slide off, more or less vertically, onto the ground. Eventually, the trunk winds up vertical enough that I can push it toward a clear space and complete the process of felling the tree.
Well, a couple years ago, I was getting to that point. Tree was basically vertical, a few thousand pounds of wood balanced on its end, reaching thirty feet up. I made another cut, and the rest of the trunk slid down off the 3 feet or so of trunk that I’d separated it from at the base. And then it started to lean. That sucker was coming down.
Except it wasn’t going the direction I’d planned. No big deal, just move out of the way. Except I’d gotten careless and left a bunch of branches down there at my feet and I was disturbed to find that my legs couldn’t move. I was stuck rooted to that spot, which was very close indeed to the way the tree was moving. It wound up just nicking my head on its way down. Another few inches and it would have done a lot more than that.
I’m always very careful to make sure the ground is cleared of branches when I do this now.
8. Thankful for a stomach bug.
On a road trip in college with 4 friends. We stopped halfway for a pit stop because I had explosive diarrhea and was getting more sick by the minute. Friends carried on to Vegas and left me with one of the guys who rented us a car to return home.
The friends that carried on got into a roll over: 1 died, 2 will be injured for life.
7. A happy error.
Yesterday I was driving and waiting for the left turn arrow to turn green. I kind of spaced out, and then realized the arrow turned green about a second ago, and took my foot off the brake. As soon as I did that, a huge pickup truck ran the red light from my left and didn’t even tap the brakes.
If I hadn’t zoned out, the truck would have hit my door right where I was sitting in my car and I probably wouldn’t be typing this right now.
6. Not once but twice.
Uncle Sam wanted to draft me during the Vietnam war. At the last minute during the physical I pointed to the surgical scar on my shoulder and said to the doc, “I don’t really trust this shoulder. Any problem?”
Next thing you know they take x-rays and 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.” And home I went, a free man.
Second one: Leaving a campus tavern on a sunny summer afternoon and walking barefoot with my friend on the warm rails of the train tracks, we commented that if a train were to come we’d feel it in the tracks the same way the Original Inhabitants could put an ear to the tracks and hear a train coming from miles away.
Not two seconds after that comment the train horn sounded behind us. It was coming on at about 20-25 mph and we jumped off with only a few feet to spare. Glad the engineer happened to be looking!
5. This takes quite the turn.
I was engaged to someone, but then came to my senses and broke it off.
Nine months later I found out she got married to someone else, then about 1 year after that she killed her husband.
4. Definitely dodged a bullet.
My wife and I were prepared to buy a nice riverfront property in 2019, but the owners ( 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.
3. Lucky to be alive.
Broke my belly button over eating at a company lunch, went from an innie to an outie (Hernia).
Put off going to the doctor for a few weeks before going to see a specialist. Hernia doc said yep its a hernia we’re in a pandemic we can schedule you for whenever if you want to wait a bit there shouldn’t be any problems no hurry.
I decided to get it out of the way they had a cancelation so I scheduled for a week later. I wake up from surgery and the Doc says there was a complication they didn’t get to the Hernia when they were going in they noticed my appendix was about to explode so they took that out instead (still not the tactical nuke). I asked about when they could fix the hernia 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 from the pandemic so several weeks later I get a call from the doc. It was a really rare appendix cancer something that happens to around 1000 Americans a year, not only that but of the 2 kinds of appendix cancer based on lab work I had the worst of the 2, the kind that spreads everywhere really fast and cuts your lifespan down considerably even with treatment.
The 1st kind grows slow and stays put but every once in awhile 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. The cut off for it turning from good into the bad kind is 1 cm tumor, mine as 1.5 cm, 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 it’s own ball of tactical nukes. I stew over that for a few weeks till they can get more tests scheduled (still in pandemic so it takes awhile). Go in for a barrage of scans, poking’s and prodding’s and the scans are all clean no signs of cancer spread (mostly).
It had just turned from the slow growing kind that stays put into the fast moving kind and 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 everyday 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’s 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.
Update Dec.30: My scans in December came back great. The thing they were keeping an eye on got smaller not bigger which is what they would expect if it was scar tissue from the surgery and not a tumor.
Although not completely out of the woods (they’re still going to do routine scans for the next 5-6 years) pretty much every scan is expected to improve my odds. I get to do the hernia surgery in 3 months, my oncologist will be there to take a look in case the surgeon see’s anything weird while he’s in there
2. He’d been holding his breath.
This happened before cellphones 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 fifteen minutes before he did. On the stretch of Highway 101 that I needed to be on for about twenty miles, 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. In my rear view mirror, I saw the big rig run over the car in front of him, flip to it’s side crushing the cars in the next lane (where I had just been).
My husband was behind the accident and as the police were letting cars file past 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. That he’d been holding his breath as he turned down our street because he really expected me to be under the big rig.
1. A rough summer.
After a night of partying a bunch of us wanted to go watch the sun come up at a local beach when we had just graduated HS.
There wasn’t a sober one amongst us, and one guy volunteered to drive in his mini van. A few of us said no let’s watch it from the deck, but he Said he was sober enough.
I just had a bad feeling and a bunch of us stayed back and slept it off at the house.
We were all woken up a few hours later about 8:00 to phone ringing off the hook, cops, and freaking out parents. (Pre cell phone days)
They were in a really bad single car rollover accident. 4 of 6 dead. No one wearing seatbelts. They would have had to have taken a curve at about 160 km/h
That was a rough summer.
Oh, and survivors guilt and depression is a real thing.
It really can be an amazing moment, to just step back and realize you’re lucky to be alive.
Have you ever dodged a massive bullet? Tell us about it in the comments!