The moments that change your life can be as small as a chat by a friend's locker or as big as a car accident.
When I was 17 I left school with no degree, no money and no idea what to do with my life. My dad managed to get me job in retail and on my way to work (first day) I got hit by a car. The manager didn't give a f*ck and gave my position to someone else. With literally nothing left to do I decided to go back to school.
That was about 7 years ago. I finished school with honors, went to university, got my bachelors degree in electrical engineering (something everyone I knew and talked to told me was impossible for a f*ck up like me) and now I work as an engineer making more money in my first year of work than I ever did in my entire life.
Sometimes I think about tracking the guy down who hit me with his car to thank him.
One day before homeroom in my junior year of high school, I went to hang out at my friend Marc's locker, like we all usually did every morning.
I came upon our other friend Dave trying to convince Marc to join a club called Junior Achievement at their first meeting later that night. It's a 'young business leaders' sort of extracurricular club. When I asked what they're talking about, Dave suggested I should give it a try as well.
Later that night, my parents were late getting home from my some event, so I figured it was too late for them to give me a ride to this Junior Achievement thing — but when my dad walked in the door and I reminded him, he hurried me out to the car and I go. Was in the club both junior and senior year of high school with my friends.
Our regional Junior Achievement club offered an annual full tuition scholarship to a local private university. A top tier school, but one I was not considering. However, Marc, Dave and our other senior year friends already had their college careers planned out, so they convinced me to apply for the scholarship so that at least someone from our club applied.
In the end, apparently only me and some other kid from some other local club in our region applied for the scholarship. And I must have wowed the selection committee, because I won the scholarship and got a nearly free ride into that university. Which was good news, since I wasn't accepted at any of the other colleges I applied at.
So I owe my entire college career, all the friends I made there and probably my current job to that random morning before homeroom.
If I had decided to tie my shoes when I noticed my laces were undone, I would have been run over accidentally by the woman who raised me when she hit the gas instead of the break. Instead I walked to the side of the car before tying my shoes and lived.
At age 15, I was forced to hang out with a family member on a vacation I didn't want to be on and ended up going to the zoo. I didn't feel like walking around with my cousin, so I hung out by the chimps for a long time. I ended up seeing one of them make a face of what appeared to be laughter and was surprised at how human-like it was.
I went home, did some research, and stumbled upon the discipline of anthropology, which turned out to be one of my greatest passions. Soon after, I denounced my old religion, and became a proponent of evolution, causing an enormous rift in my family life and sending me on a path of heathen adventures.
Back in 1988 I went to the grocery store with my mom. Local volunteer fire department was doing a demonstration in the parking lot so my mom let me stay and watch, even after she went home. I was given instructions to call home on the pay phone in the grocery store when the demo was done. 30 years later I'm a firefighter/Paramedic and have been involved in emergency services since I was 12.
When I was a kid, the pastor of my parents' church heard me practicing Bach on the piano. He asked if I'd like to try the pipe organ - something that had always fascinated me. I took to it like a duck to water, even though my feet could barely reach the pedals.
So right then and there - knowing my parents couldn't afford it - he offered to pay for my complete music education in preparation for college (including organ, piano, theory, keyboard harmony and ear training).
His act of generosity and kindness brought about my career. And all he asked in return was for me to substitute for the church organist when he was on vacation or away - something I was honored to do.
I was a lonely kid in my first year in university having just had a falling out with the first group of friends I made there. It was the 2nd semester and in my first class I decided to sit with a few people I knew from a previous class I had and decided to say hi. What ensued were long lasting friendships that still persists today. I consider them as a family I never had.
First week of freshman year I walked up and down my dorm hall asking people if they want to make tea with me in the kitchen. It was an engineering co-ed dorm so I wanted to be inclusive. as I was asking people a guy playing Minecraft randomly said yes.
He wasn’t even paying attention but three years later he’s my best friend, my boyfriend, and has given me the greatest love ever. It all started because I wanted tea and didn’t want to drink alone.
I was really bored and figured I would watch some tv while I did some sketches. Nothing really seemed interesting but then this weird show called 'Mythbusters' came on. I went from a high school art student to computer engineer just from background noise.
Random college love match here too! This girl was on campus to preview the school and wanted me to show her around. She followed me all day like a lost puppy until finally it was time to crash. She was assigned to sleep in another dorm, but coincidentally the girls assigned to sleep in mine wanted to sleep where she was assigned so they decided to switch.
As she’s getting ready for bed she suddenly has to puke, and while she’s barfing up bad cheese in my bathroom her phone rings. I’m normally not the type to answer a relative stranger’s phone, but her ringtone was obnoxious and I figured I could just let whoever it was know that she would call them right back.
Well, it was a friend of hers from high school and he and I just kept chatting and really hit it off. That conversation started around 9:30 at night and didn’t end until 8 the next morning when we realized the sun was up and we had been talking all night! Now we’ve been together 14 years and just had our second child together. ☺️
Freshman year of college, I decided to hike the John Muir trail with my dad and a buddy of mine. We spent months getting ready, shaking out our gear, getting in shape, etc. So, when my dad stepped wrong and messed his knee up and had to bail, I was really disappointed, but was going to finish without him.
Until my buddies shoes began to fall apart, after only like 40 miles, and he decided to bail too. Well, I didn't want to do the next 150 miles alone, so I begrudgingly left the trail with them.
When I got home, there was an email from the professor of a drafting class I'd taken asking for people to work as TAs and graders for a machining class he was about to start teaching, and to respond by that Friday. I respond, and he's delighted to have me.
Worked as a TA and his only grader for two years until he retired. Before he retired, he wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation, which I attached to applications when applying to internships. I got an interview, despite my below target GPA, the interviewer for one particular oil company explained, because of my TA experience and the letter of recommendation.
I end up getting an internship at that oil company, and eventually a full time job after graduation. Several years later, the company transfers me to Montana, where I bought a house and met my now-fiancee. So, if my buddy had bought a little better shoes, I might be in a totally different place in life...
Fresh out of high school, I went to a military recruitment office. Long story short, turns out I wasn't suited to military service. I was at a loss because I really wanted to travel and do some good while building new skills. One of the recruiters sarcastically remarked, 'Why don't you join the Peace Corps?' So I did. I'm almost finished with my two years.
Back in 2011 it was all the rage at my school to play these text-based browser games featuring mafia/mobsters. In general that culture was pretty popular back then when it comes to entertainment.
I was playing this game and at some point I got a message that someone had tried to break into my fictional apartment. When people failed doing that it would show part of their name unless they were significantly stronger.
I messaged that person with a cheesy joke about how next time they can just ring the doorbell. The end of last year, 6 years after the fact, we got married and we are now in the (painfully slow) process of my wife moving 11,500 miles away from home to come live with me.
Had she never failed that action in the game or had she never attempted it in the first place we never would have been where we are. Had I never had this shitty sense of humor that urged me to message her, we never would have been where we are.
When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which one I wanted to get and then decided after I'd gone through them all.
One day an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read. I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked.
She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me and said, 'Promise me that you'll keep reading.' I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away and I went back to my piles able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.
It was just a small act of kindness for her, but for me having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was over 20 years ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.