You just never know how one small action or decision in your life can snowball and go in a million different directions.
And that’s where we get the term “the butterfly effect” from.
I’m sure you’ve experienced something like this in your life before. And we’re about to get some wild “butterfly effect” stories from people on AskReddit.
Let’s take a look at what they had to say.
1. A horrible feeling.
“So a few years back, I lived in Nice (South of France) for a while. As a musician I would make a bit of extra cash busking, and one day, I figured I’d go and busk at the promenade ‘d’anglais by the sea. It’s usually packed, and it just a generally pleasant place to be.
I set up, played a couple of songs and was doing pretty well and making a decent amount of money. Then suddenly not one, but two of my guitar strings snapped (I even remember I was playing ‘The Scientist’ at the time).
I was massively gutted and decided to cut my losses early. I stormed off home (by the station) in a bit of a sulk at having to re-string my guitar and cutting short what was essentially one of my most productive days of busking since moving there. Literally one hour later, my phone starts to blow the f*ck up with family and friends freaking out and asking if I was at the promenade.
It was Bastille Day, 2016. The truck drove into the same crowd I was playing to, killing 86 people, including my at-the-time gf’s uncle. I had two other friends who were amongst the 458 injured. I moved home the next month because it was too much, and haven’t been back since.
It’s hard to explain, sometimes I think I was super lucky, sometimes I just kind of cry and wonder why I was lucky and others weren’t. It’s surreal, and despite what people think… it’s a truly horrible feeling.”
“I spilled my coffee.
I work in a bank and you learn never to do that, all the papers and files. You also learn to place it far enough away so it doesn’t fill out anything if it does spill. I worked in finance for many years. It was 8: 43 in the morning and I figured I had enough time to get downstairs and get another cup and come back up before 9:00.
So I went to the elevator bank. Waited for the elevator to come, It took a long time. Got in the elevator went down to the ground floor. I had my hand on the door leading outside to Liberty Street just as the first plane hit the first World Trade Center building on 9/11.”
3. Spotted in class.
“In high school I took an intermediate biology course. I had never done biology before but was good at science generally so I thought the intermediate course would be a good fit.
My science teacher of a couple year previous happened to walk into my class to talk to the biology teacher and she spotted me in the class.
She asked me what grades I had got the previous year. I told her and she nodded and left. A minute later she came back in and asked me to gather my belongings and leave the class. I was pretty sure I was in trouble for something I couldn’t recall.
She led me to another classroom and sat me down on an empty chair. Then she just started teaching. Turns out that she was running the advanced class that year and just decided to steal me as a student.
I went on the take biology at undergrad level, and then a masters. I ended up doing a PhD in immunology and now work as an advisor for Pharma companies.
It gets better though. I decided I wanted to do my masters in London, and met a girl on the way. We are now 10 years in and own a house together.
All that because that teacher happened to look in my direction.”
“Watched ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and got so annoyed at the candidates not knowing a simple question about Katy Perry, that I applied.
Got in. Got to play. Won a lot of money.
Booked a holiday to a dream destination with that money. Met my husband there. We now have a one year old son.”
“I had to renew the sticker on my license plate a couple of years ago and really didn’t feel like sitting in the waiting room by myself forever so I told my mom I’d take her out to dinner after if she came with me.
The guy working at the counter turned out to be my mom’s long lost biological brother. If she hadn’t come with me I would have never known.”
6. Love connection.
“My husband found out after 18 years that his moms side of the family was Spanish, not Mexican. He found this interesting and changed his country to “Spain” on MySpace instead the US where he really was.
Meanwhile in Australia, I was helping my friend find Spanish people to add as a friend as she was learning the language. I came across my now husband and decided to send him a friend request as well.
We got along really well and met in person after 3 years. Have been together 11 years, married for 7. If he didn’t change his country to Spain (and only for a day or so) we’d never know each other existed.”
7. That’s all it took.
“When I was in 8th grade (13 years old) I had a really long bus ride home so would pass the time by reading. One day I faced the very serious situation of nothing to read and a minute to grab something in the library, and for whatever reason I grabbed a book on astronomy.
That book was amazing and grabbed me like nothing else had before. I remember being excited to realize every astronomer on Earth was 13 years old once too, and that was a career you could actually do, even if you were from Pittsburgh.
Anyway, today I am a professional astronomer who studies gigantic space explosions for a living. There was a lot of work to get from that moment to this one, but I’m always grateful that I picked up that library book!”
8. Thanks, Dad.
When my dad was about 20, he needed a phone number so he called the operator from a pay phone, she gave him the number, he hung up, and she accidentally refunded the money back to the pay phone.
She called the pay phone back and asked him if he could put the money back in, which he did and hung up again. She accidentally refunded the money again and had to call back again to ask him to put the money back in; he did and hung up again. She was so flustered, she refunded the money again and called back again and my father got to chatting with her and got her number.
They set up a date (which she stood him up for), then she forgot his name when he called her again, then they actually got coffee and four years later were married. This coming August it’ll be 50 years for them.
If my dad didn’t need that phone number, I wouldn’t be here.”
9. Oh, my…
“My desire for pizza set off a chain reaction that destroyed my family.
One day got home from school and really wanted pizza. Family was poor so spontaneous food trips weren’t always in the cards. Really worked my pouty face to my mom and begged to go to the local pizza place for dinner. She said alright.
While chilling there I saw my uncle walk by, and I was like “da f*ck, uncle X is that you?”. Now you might say well he wanted pizza what’s the big deal? well he lived several states away so to arbitrarily be in town and not tell anyone was strange.
Turned out he was having an affair with his sister in law my aunt on the other side of the family. She was basically a money grubbing wh*re and the family protested. One thing led to another and everyone hates each other now and we haven’t had contact in like 20 years.
I just wanted some pizza.”
10. Good friends.
“About a year ago, I went to a study group with some people in my major. Now I have the closest set of friends I could ever ask for.
They helped me when my my car was broken and I couldn’t get to and from college, when I didn’t have enough money to buy myself food.
Now, I have a good job, and two of my friends and I are getting an apartment together in a couple of months.”
11. Your paths crossed.
“Out of university, looking for a job and exhausting all the online resources. On a whim, I looked in the career section in a print newspaper that was lying around in the house. (We never subscribed to that paper, I dont know why it was even there).
Got the job in a different city, met someone who is now one of my best friends, who introduced me to their friends, who introduced me to their friends and so on, until I was eventually introduced to my wife.
If I’d found a job where I actually planned on working, there is absolutely no way I would have crossed paths with any of these people.”
12. A lifesaver.
“I had to call my heart surgeon to give him my new insurance numbers. I had only just gotten them because the person who had them had the flu and was not getting back to me.
As soon as I got my numbers, I called surgeon – the receptionist said, “oh, hey, we just had a cancelation for this Friday, do you want it?” Of course I wanted to get it over and not wait another month.
I decided to take the open heart surgery cancelation appointment (a month before my actual appointment), and well, surgeon said that thank goodness I did because once he got a look inside, he realized I would not have survived to the original appointment date.
So, if the insurance lady didn’t have the flu, I would have gotten those numbers a lot sooner, and never gotten the offer to have the surgery when I did.
Someone else’s flu saved my life.”
“Decided I would rather use my bathroom than a portapotty. Found my wife cheating, she attempted suicide, I moved multiple states away.
In the 7 years since I have made nothing but positive changes and went from $18/hour laborer to a well respected person in my profession making 6 figures. I’d probably still be working that dead-end job.
Aside from that, without recounting all the details; I went to see a doctor about a splinter from chopping firewood, 6 months later they removed most of my kidney with Renal Cell Carcinoma.
Without the splinter I’d likely be dead from kidney cancer.”
14. Just being friendly…
“I decided to invite my chem lab partner to lunch on the first day of college, just to be friendly and try to make more than one friend at school. We met up with the only other friend I’d made at school so far.
He thought my lab partner was cute, invited himself to hang out with her, and then fell in love with her roommate instead. He ended up married to the roommate – they’ve been together for 22 years and have 2 children.”
15. Best decision ever.
“4 years ago a kid I barely knew from school invited me to a Six Flags. I was a bit of a loner at the time and I heard rumors about this kid being weird, so I intended to not go.
On the day he wanted me to go, I was feeling extra bored and decided on a whim “why not?”. So I went and met this kid and two of his friends I’ve never met at a Six Flags.
4 years later and that kid is my best friend, and I have 3 other very close friends I met through him. Not only that, but I also met my first girlfriend because of the connections some of my new friends had. It transformed my high school years from being alone to having an amazing group of friends I could do almost anything with.
I intended to ask my best friend to be my best man one day, and I don’t intend on ever getting out of touch with any of them. I’m home from college now, and we are going to have a lot of fun together. Best decision I’ve ever made.”
16. Funny how that works out.
“The older I get, the more I am constantly cognizant of the vast cascade of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions that led me to where I am.
For example, a decision 25 years ago to change a refrigerator light bulb before going out resulted in my being at the “wrong” time and place so as to get mugged, which resulted in my decision to move out of the city I had been living in, which resulted in my meeting my wife, and from there to having all my kids and the whole shebang.
I would have had a different whole shebang had I not changed that lightbulb that afternoon, but the path to the present leads through that (and a thousand other) similarly trivial decisions…”
17. Career fair.
“At a university career fair and just has a long day taking to companies and heading out when I see a Honda booth. Designing cars would be awesome but there is a huge line, it has been a long day, and what are the chances?
But wait! They are giving away hats and shirts and model cars! So I talk to them. A day later I get a callback for an online assessment. I fill that out and don’t hear anything back for a month or so, the I get a call one night saying I was an alternate and someone cancelled last minute so they want to fly me up for on-site interviews.
I go and end up getting and accepting an offer. After graduation I move about 1000 miles away from home for my new job where a few years after I meet my now wife and we have 2 kids. I never would have crossed paths with her otherwise.
So the entire course of my life was shifted because Honda gave away good swag at their career fair booth.”
18. Wow, your parents sound awful.
“My parents dream was to have a “famous child”.
When my older sister’s figure skating career ended in her early twenties, the spotlight shifted to me. I was a fine oboist, and took private voice lessons with intent to audition for the local music faculty (opera?). In any case, there was a lot of pressure, and while I was successful at school and classical music, it was never enough.
At 17, before senior year began, my sister gifted me a kitten. My parents had given her 2 in her senior year and the implication was that it was my turn. When my sister dropped me off, my parents locked me out, saying that if i wanted my own pet I needed my own place.
So I found one – that night. I worked 3 jobs to support myself through senior year and graduated with entrance scholarships to both of the local universities.
I couldnt afford a music degree while living on my own, even with the entrance scholarships. And good thing. Entering the work force showed me how much I love active jobs. 3 years later, I enrolled in college and became an industrial mechanic/millwright, to my parents great shame.
After a few years of this I landed a sweet contract where I work on Saturdays and Sundays but receive a full week’s pay. Although I am a living beacon of disappointment, I comfort myself with my 100k a year job, 2 day workweek, and 2 cats.
Being kicked out over a kitten saved me from wasting years chasing an improbable career just to please my parents.”
19. The film biz.
“My wife got an email from her old colleagues the day we returned home from our honeymoon, asking if she wanted to star in a short film they were doing for fun.
She said sure, and asked if I could come along, as she knew I had an interest in movies, but at the time I worked in life insurance and was miserable.
It was more than an interest- I had always wanted to make films, but never made the right connections with people and didn’t know where to start.
I made friends with the producer of that short film my wife was in, and 11 years later filmmaking and video production is my career. I’ve shot feature films, short films, video for tv and web, and all over the world because of that one email to my wife. Changed our lives!
Oh, and that original short film never got finished.”
20. Old friends.
“I sent a friend from secondary school (who I had a huge crush on) a message saying happy birthday a couple years after we left school. Did the whole ‘we’ll have to catch up soon!’ thing, not expecting much.
He replied with ‘how about Monday?’. I saw him that Monday for a coffee. Next month will be our 6th anniversary. Best thing that ever happened to me.
My friends joke I’m ‘queen of escaping the friend zone’.”
21. Sounds like Jim and Pam.
“I was always super flirty with the girl from HR, but we were always seeing other people / don’t date at work so when she left the company I was bummed. A year or two later a coworker asked me to search my email archives (that was a thing back then) for something he needed.
I ended up stumbling across the “farewell to my work-friends” email from HR girl and she sent it from her personal email address. I reached out to her, we had coffee, then a date, then many dates, then I love you and I put a ring on it ASAP.
12 years later, extremely happily married, 2 goofy kids, 2 evil cats, and she still puts up with my bullsh*t.”
22. What a story!
“I chose to rearrange the sequence of classes slightly before starting my education. By doing this, I had to commute to a different branch of the school in a different town than the one I was originally signed up for.
On my first day there, I helped a girl who had managed to break both of her arms in a drunken shopping cart accident, I learned later.
This girl, whom I would absolutely never have met had I not changed my classes around, is my wife through 14 years.”
23. Still here.
“My friends took me to mMalaga in Spain for a long weekend to cheer me up after my mum died.
4 years later I’m still here and have never been happier. I owe them everything for that spontaneous trip.”
24. Close call.
“In Afghanistan, wasn’t done with my coffee, so I passed on a trip from one base to another (there was another convoy a few hours later).
Most everyone died who took the 1st convoy. My 2nd cup of coffee wasn’t even cold when I found out.”
25. That burns!
“Burned my arm on an extremely hot plate working at a restaurant in NYC.
New manager didn’t like that I told him we were out of towels to hold hot plates, had a vendetta against me.
Six months later, found a reason to fire me.
Friend got me a job working on the set of a low budget movie, met a woman named Dorothy who was key PA.
A full year later I ran into her on the street, she asked if I still worked in production, got me a job on reality tv.
Worked 9 seasons on a renovation show, learning finish carpentry and eventually becoming an on screen carpenter.
New PA on set. Beautiful, sassy, amazing.
Ask her out (was just a key PA at the time)
Two years later we move to New Orleans together, a year later we move back to NYC and have our first child.
Three years later we move to Montreal. Been here for three years.
I now have a wife, two kids, and a successful contracting business all because I burned my arm on a plate ten years ago.”
26. Isn’t that funny?
“Ordered some shirts off the internet, company sent a size too small. Emailed them and they sent the correct size and let me keep the other ones too.
My grandpa’s house was being redone, noticed one of the workers liked a band i did and gave him the shirts that didn’t fit. Years later working and having a smoke break, guy overhears me and a friend discussing a concert we were going to, asked about it and said he had some old shirts I could have. Met up with him after work to hang out. They were my shirts from a couple years before.
We start hanging out and he is dating this girl, she says she has a friend that she thinks would be perfect for me. We hook up. Been married for almost 10 years with 2 kids. All for a few shirts that the company sent me the wrong size for.”
27. Mohawk girl.
“I was dating a girl who was in college while I did an apprenticeship.
One day I had a day off and figured I would pop into college to see my old friends and chat to the girl I was dating. At the time I was very into skateboarding. So I took my skateboard into the building but had to leave it in the reception bit.
As luck would have it a girl saw me (with bleached blond hair and a pink mohawk) place the skateboard and decided she was in love with me. She went to the local skate park after school until eventually she found me. We swapped numbers and now 15 years later we are married with 3 kids.
Also my skateboard was stolen by someone and by the time I made my way out of the college my brother had noticed someone carrying my board and stole it back for me. As I walked out and noticed it was gone my bro came in and asked if I was looking for my board.
It was a weird day that I had no idea would impact my whole life to this point.”
Do you have any interesting butterfly effect stories that have happened to you?
If so, please share them with us in the comments.
We’d love to hear from you!