Making sure that you lock the door before you leave the house might just seem like second nature to you, but there are plenty of other things that you do at the spur of the moment that actually safe you a lot of hassle in the long haul. These people shared their real stories of the small actions they did that saved them a lot of time and clean up later.
Always Have a Backup
About two weeks before my dissertation defense, I was headed out of town for the weekend. At the last minute, I decided to make a quick backup of my dissertation documents to a flash drive as a tertiary backup. I already had a time machine backup, as well as a Dropbox backup. Sure enough, my laptop blew out on that trip and I lost all my files.
No worries I thought, I have three backups that are current. After replacing my hard drive and reinstalling the MacOS, I went to recover from my time machine backup, and somehow the previous eight months of backups had been corrupted.
I was able to restore my machine but lost all my files (including photos, music, and dissertation documents) as of eight months ago. Okay, don’t panic. I have Dropbox.
I logged in, started downloading synced files, but to my surprise, the one folder where I kept my actual dissertation in, had not synced properly. Thankfully, I still had all of my dissertation work files and research files. I had no current copy of my actual FULL dissertation except for a two-month-old copy in my email outbox that I had sent to my advisor.
I thought of all those hours of writing… All those sleepless nights… All that time drafting figures… All the headaches and lost time… All for nothing. I was so monumentally screwed. The two months before a dissertation is generally when the largest block of writing takes place. But then I remembered my flash drive.
That flash drive saved my butt. I only ended up losing a few documents in the end. Grad students, always make at least three backups of your dissertation.
Story credit: Reddit / lakewoodhiker
Something Felt Off
I let my partner drive my new car around a parking lot, literally for two minutes. He said offhand that the steering felt off to him. He’s a car guy, so even though I couldn’t feel anything weird, the next time I went for an oil change I asked them to check it out.
They didn’t want to check it but I insisted. They came back and said I couldn’t drive it home because one of the sensors was messed up and my steering could go out at any time. That two-minute drive around a parking lot probably saved my life.
Story credit: Reddit / ajgoulet
At the Last Second
I took my first ever solo vacation when I was 24 to Ireland. When I got there, I was tired from the flight and confused by the car rental system (I had never rented a car before). I accidentally overpaid for the total coverage Cadillac insurance package. When I got to the place where I was staying, I called my dad about it.
He called the car company, figured things out, and told me that the next day I could drive back to the airport and get my money back for a less crazy insurance package. At the last second, I figured I’d never driven in another country, much less switching to the opposite side of the road, so I decided to just keep the insurance.
Halfway through the trip, I made a boneheaded mistake, hit another car, and totaled my rental car. I didn’t pay a penny.
Story credit: Reddit / Ohtarello
Stay in Your Lane
Last year, my husband, myself and our two kids were on our way home after having my nails done for my birthday. We were on a four-lane highway and usually, we stay in the far left lane.
We were still in the second to the left lane when we unexpectedly hit some traffic. We decided to just stay in that lane to be safe. Just as we slowed down to a stop, we heard a massive bang as two trucks sandwiched a red car.
It was exactly where we would’ve been if we were in the far left lane. It was so rough; I picked pieces of glass out of my hair because my window was open and pieces of red car paint flew everywhere.
Story credit: Reddit / Kitty_D
One summer day when I was 16 years old, my dad brought myself and my two brothers along with him to go collect decorative rocks from someone not too far away. Their house was on a steep hill. At one point, we had loaded enough rocks into our truck, so my dad took my brothers drove home to make the first drop-off.
He had me sit on the loader to keep watch, telling me they’d be back in about 20 minutes or so. While hanging out on the loader, I decided to note where all the different controls of the loader were, particularly the E-brake. My dad and brothers come back about 30 minutes later and we continued loading another set of rocks.
Somehow, at one point when my dad got off the loader to get some water, the loader started rolling backward even though he had put it in park.
When it was INCHES away from absolutely decimating a tiny Porsche that wouldn’t have stood a chance against the loader, I managed to jump on and, having noted the E-brake location earlier, yanked it as hard as I could. I saved my dad that day.
Story credit: Reddit / jacetone
Pack it All Up
I was in the army. A friend and I were training on some equipment and one of the things we had to do before leaving was pack up it all up. Although we were supposed to wear our helmets during this entire process, we chose not to until we got to the last piece of equipment.
This truck had fold-down side panels that formed a walkway all the way around it. The four panels per side weighed about 200 lbs. We got all four pushed up and my buddy climbed up to put in the retaining pin in while I held them in place. I swear I saw him put the pin in so I let go and turned to do something else.
The 200 pounds of steel hit me on the top of my helmet. I found myself lying on the ground wondering what happened. I had some muscle strains in my neck but no serious damage. I’d likely not be here today if I hadn’t put that helmet on.
Story credit: Reddit / Carpedeviant
I Heard A Noise
I was at Boy Scout camp, sitting alone near a campfire at about 1 a.m. when I heard a noise. I decided to put the fire out and go back to my cabin to be safe. A few minutes later, I heard another noise but it was closer this time. I opened the door and there were four bears right where I had been, going through someone’s cooler.
Story credit: Reddit / SaveCachalot346
No Visible Signs
I was in my parent’s house and thought I smelled chlorine. I also heard a low buzzing and the hall lights were brighter than usual. I felt silly because there was no smoke or visible signs, but I told my parents I thought we had an electrical fire, and they called 911.
Turns out, we did indeed have an electrical fire, which caused the smell of chlorine to proliferate as the wires were burning.
Story credit: Reddit / duckingcluttered
A Very Dry Summer
My cousins and I liked to build small little campfires close to dark while we played out in the woods. We usually just covered them up with dirt before we went home. It had been particularly dry that summer and one time, I thought to myself after I got home that a douse over the fire we made earlier wouldn’t be a bad idea.
I went back and the fire had spread to roughly a 10-by-10 area. I contained it by making a mixture of mud with the water and raking around it.
Story credit: Reddit / Ole_Robin
I Didn't Owe Anything
I got insurance for a moving van. It was $50, and I thought, “just in case.” Turns out, my roommate wasn’t paying attention and caused one of the walls to be ripped up. It would have cost near $3,000 in damages, but since I paid the $50, I didn’t owe anything.
Story credit: Reddit / Lichruler
My husband and I started riding motorcycles. He got his first and took the safety course. Then, I got mine and before I took the course, he walked me step by step through it. One of the things I needed to know was a “quick stop,” which is where you downshift, brake, and stop fully within a short distance, without tipping the bike.
I got very annoyed with how many times he made me do it. Flash forward a month to me riding solo at dusk in the Minnesota countryside. Five deer suddenly ran onto the road, directly in front of my bike.
To my relief, habit kicked in, and I quickly stopped with about six inches to spare, not hitting a single deer. I sat on the shoulder for about 10 minutes, regulating my breathing. I thanked my husband when I got home and apologized for being rude about practicing.
Story credit: Reddit / Lafondancer
My Spidey Senses Were Tingling
Four students of mine won the first prize for a project they did, which was a free trip to London. We had spent the day sightseeing and were exhausted, so we got ice cream and sat on a bench in a park to relax. A couple of minutes later, I noticed a suspicious man and woman walk by slowly, staring at us. My spidey-senses were tingling.
I do not like these people for some reason. She walked by and sat on the bench next to ours, while her partner sat on the bench across from hers. They weren’t talking but instead just looking at each other. That’s when I noticed her reaching into her pockets.
I jumped up, grabbed my students and ran out of the park. My poor students were confused and wondering what the heck was wrong with me when all of a sudden we heard screaming. It turned out, she had hurt a couple walking through the park, trying to rob them.
Story credit: Reddit / Penya23
Attention to Detail
I used to work at a long-term care pharmacy doing data entry work. I had a LOT of access to PHI/PII Names, DOB, addresses, SSN, and insurance information. I had submitted a statement of services rendered by my therapist to my HSA company so that I could get reimbursed. I attached the file and then checked to make sure I had the correct one.
It was then that I realized that, without knowing, I had accidentally posted a patient’s Medicare number in the document. This was a pretty huge gaffe and a potential HIPAA violation.
I immediately let the appropriate people know, both at my company and the HSA company. The HSA company was able to remove the document that had the patient’s information, and I resubmitted the document with the information removed.
My company’s compliance department appreciated my quick attention to rectifying a potentially bad situation. If I hadn’t double-checked, it would have been considered a breach of customer information and I likely would have faced disciplinary action.
Story credit: Reddit / xMCioffi1986x
I’m in the military and for that reason, I obviously cannot possess, use, or sell any illicit substance whatsoever. While I was at basic training, I let my brother, who is an avid user, take my car so he could look after it. When I finally came home for the first time in a while, he gave the car back to me. I specifically asked him if there were any illicit substances in the car.
He said no and I left soon after. Well, in the driveway I was kind of paranoid and figured I’d search my own car, just in case. Sure enough, my dumb brother left a wax pen in the driver’s side door. Thank god I found it because not only is wax a felony charge, but it would’ve ruined my career if I had gotten caught with it. I’m always trying to be safe.
Story credit: Reddit / dennisthemnce71
Just Before We Left
Before going on an extended winter vacation, I turned off the water main valve for our house, just in case a plumbing issue developed while we were away.
Turning off the water supply paid big dividends when we discovered a pipe that was close to an outside wall had frozen and burst during several nights of near-zero temps while we were gone. If the water main valve hadn’t been closed, the basement would’ve been flooded.
Story credit: Reddit / Back2Bach
They Resolved the Issue
I saved a receipt from my dentist. They charged me, then delayed the procedure I paid for. When I asked for a refund, they changed my entire bill and told me that I owed them another $300, despite the fact that all they did was clean my teeth and take my x-rays. I submitted both copies of the invoices to my dental insurance company and told them what happened.
Three weeks later, the insurance company resolved the issue with the dentist and I got a refund. Despite the dentist attempting to defraud me, they still regularly call me asking me to come back in.
Story credit: Reddit / 1and2halvespeople
Always Come Prepared
I was working one of my shifts at the fire department and got a call for a ‘possible gas leak’. Technically, we are supposed to wear full gear including a mask and SCBA bottle during a gas leak scenario, but 99% of gas leaks involve natural gas, which we can usually plug immediately. I arrived on scene first and didn’t smell that normal ‘onion-flavored’ natural gas smell.
It’s not unusual not to smell it immediately, but something in the back of my mind told me to put all of my gear on and to hook up to my SCBA bottle. I walked down the road and right around the corner was a highly-poisonous anhydrous ammonia leak.
Story credit: Reddit / Larky17
A Second and Third Opinion
My daughter was six months old. She had a raspy sound whenever she would breathe. The doctor said she had a floppy trachea and that she would grow out of it. I took her to another doctor to confirm. He said the same thing. My dad came over one day and heard her breathing. “Something is wrong. You need to take her to another doctor,” he urged.
I’d already taken her to two different doctors at that point, but my dad said, “Do something.” So we did: turns out, she had a birth defect. Her aorta formed around her trachea and was slowly suffocating her. The hospital wouldn’t even let us take her in for a fourth opinion. She had to have surgery right away.
Story credit: Reddit / gurrauthor
On My Way Out the Door
I was on my way out the door for a trip to the Rocky Mountains with some friends. I saw a whistle sitting randomly in my junk drawer. When I went out to the car to leave, I thought, “Well, I guess if I get lost it could come in handy.” I went back in and put it in my pocket. Guess who got lost in the mountains and got my butt saved by having a very loud whistle with me?
Story credit: Reddit / margaretiscool
Double Check Your Links
I was about to send an email out to a few thousand people with links to tutorials. Something in my head told me to check the links, so I did. The third link down didn’t link to a tutorial. It went to a picture of a squirrel with a bazooka. I had sent it earlier that day to a friend. Whoops.
Story credit: Reddit / JimiSlew3
If You Have the Chance, Do It
In October, my work offered me Aflac because I had been there a year. I initially said I’d think about it, not really thinking I would need it. Fast forward one month and the agent returned. I declined at first, but right before he started packing up, I decided to go ahead and sign up. My package kicked in on the first of December.
I ended up severing a tendon in my hand not long after that and was unable to work for two weeks. I just turned 22 years old and I never thought I could get injured bad enough that I couldn’t work. So, here’s a life lesson: IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE, SIGN UP FOR SOME SORT OF BUFFER IN CASE YOU GET HURT. DO IT.
Story credit: Reddit / amartin_omega
About 10 years ago when I was married, my wife’s best friend kept flirting with me. One time, when she was being super aggressive, I recorded it on my cell phone. A few months later, she accused me of saying to her the very things that she said to me.
I played the recording to my wife and it completely exonerated me. She was trying to ruin my marriage because her own marriage was failing.
Story credit: Reddit / throwaway4the1sttime
There Are Bears Around Here
I was out solo hiking and camping. It was the end of a long day and I really didn’t feel like taking the time to tie up a bear bag (a bag with all your food tied up in a tree far away from your camp). But I said, “You know what, just to be safe… I’ll go set one up.”
Cut to the middle of the night–I’m woken up to the sound of a black bear walking 30 feet away from my hammock and heading straight to where I tied up my food.
Story credit: Reddit / inveritatisamore
Something Doesn't Look Right
I was tying in a standpipe to an existing fire sprinkler system a couple of weeks ago at work. The standpipe fed four hose valves going up the stairwell. If you don’t know anything about standpipes, there is usually a grooved cap at the top and bottom, held on with couplings to dead-end the pipe with hose valves on each landing for the fire department.
I was nervous already because the new pipe was not installed by me and I have trust issues with people in my field who I do not know personally.
Something was bugging the heck out of me all day as I was combining the systems together. After fighting with the tie-in for almost 10 hours, I thought to myself “Something just doesn’t look right with this pipe.”
Sure enough, whoever installed the caps at the top and bottom put them on backward, which would have blown apart and coated the entire fourth-floor antique storage unit with dirty, black MIC water.
The main valve was so far from the standpipe it would have taken at least five minutes for me to realize it. That simple mistake could have cost a lot of people their valuables.
Story credit: Reddit / aerro955
Keep the Paperwork
I got a speeding ticket and had to retake a driver’s course. I paid for everything and kept all the paperwork, just in case. Five years later, the county decided to audit all unpaid tickets and failure to appears. Sure enough, I got a letter in the mail. I had to wait in line half a day to show them they screwed up.
From that incident, I learned to save any and all legal paperwork that I get, whether it’s a parking fine, or a judge signed a letter of dismissal. I save them all because I don’t trust the courts and never want to end up in jail because someone else screwed up.
Story credit: Reddit / bogseywogsey
I was working in an electric panel. I went over to check and make sure that the disconnect was off. It wasn’t. I was being careful either way, not getting near the high voltage stuff, but it didn’t need to be on and could have easily ended myself with one mistake.
Story credit: Reddit
Before It Was Too Late
When I was 17 years old, I got a hit in the head while I was surfing some waves. The injury turned out to be a concussion and I went to the hospital with my mom. We met with the doctor in A and E and he said I could do a CT scan if wanted, but that there was probably no need. I was unsure, so I just said yes to the scan anyway.
After the scan, I was told that they didn’t see anything but the radiographer would be checking the results in the morning. The next day, I got a call saying that I needed an MRI because they found a tumor in my brain. If they didn’t catch it there, I would have lost my vision from the tumor and it would have been too late to do anything.
Story credit: Reddit / DarkFrogy
A Change Of Routine
A tropical storm was blowing through my city a few months ago. We were projected to get some wind gusts and significant rain. Because our parking lot isn’t large enough for all the staff and our clients, a lot of us have to park on the street, which is lined with large, old trees.
As I rolled up on the morning we were due to get the storm, I parked in my usual spot down the block. Before I shut the car off, though, I noticed that the particular spot I was in was located directly across the street from one of the largest trees on the block.
Thinking, “You know what, just to be safe…” I put the car in reverse and backed up about ten feet, safely out of the direct line from any trees.
In the middle of that afternoon, in the midst of the howling wind and driving rain, we heard a huge “thud” down the street. We went to investigate and that same tree I had been parked across the street from fell across the road and missed my car by about eight feet.
Story credit: Reddit / itsnotnews92
Always Find Witnesses
I noticed that a rude person next to me had parked way over the line (I work at a hospital and even a small space is a godsend). I decided to take a picture of my car which was well within the lines, and the rude person’s car which was way over the lines, including her license plate. The driver could not get into her car because mine was too close to her driver’s door.
So, in a rage, she climbed into the passenger side, opened her door into mine three times to intentionally dent it, and drove away. Luckily, with the photo I took of the license plate and two witnesses, I successfully reported it to the police.
Story credit: Reddit / daredevilxp9
I'm Ready for This!
I went shopping to prep for my long-distance girlfriend who was staying over and I saw boxes of baking soda at the market. I thought, “Oh yeah, it’s smart to keep baking soda around in the kitchen in case you have a grease fire,” so I grabbed a box. She was cooking breakfast the next morning while I was in the shower when I heard her yelling for me.
I came out and the stove was on fire. Like a champ, I yelled, “I’m ready for this!” I grabbed the baking soda and put out the fire. Always keep baking soda in the fridge, kids.
Story credit: Reddit / Formaldehead
I was undergoing pilot training and was pretty new to the whole thing. I walked out to do my pre-flight checks before my solo flight. After doing my walk around, I checked the oil.
Cessna 172’s have a dipstick that is attached to a cap that screws into the engine. You have to unscrew the cap and remove dipstick along with it to check the oil. After I unscrewed the cap, there didn’t seem to be a dipstick attached to it. Long story short, the dipstick had broken off during the previous flight that had landed just minutes before.
It had slid straight into the engine, where the crank-case had been chomping away metal from the tip. That metal was now circulating in the engine. At that point, the aircraft was grounded because it was extremely dangerous to fly.
At massive cost, it had to be stripped down, with the entire engine disassembled, and they actually had to find every bit of metal missing from the dipstick before the plane could be re-assembled and made flight worthy again. If in a moment of stupidity I’d taken off in that plane, I’d probably not be here today.
Story credit: Reddit / OfFiveNine
Gear is Always Important
I am an avid motorcyclist that advocates wearing gear. I had a friend that didn’t really care about gear of any kind, saying “It was too hot in the summer” to wear it. I was finally able to convince him to get gloves and a helmet after a few years of riding. Not an hour after he bought the helmet and the gloves, someone turned left in front of him and he went down.
He was able to reduce his speed before the crash but he still went flying over the hood of a Camry at about 30 mph, landing hands and face first on the asphalt. He had a nasty gash on his leg and some pretty bad road rash on his legs and arms, but his hands and head were A-OK.
The bike was a total loss; insurance paid for it and the helmet and gloves. Once he was ship shape to ride again, he had me help him pick out a complete suit.
Story credit: Reddit / Villa-Strangiato
Trail of Breadcrumbs
I used to be a banner tow pilot. I was often tasked to fly banners over the New York City area, especially over the Hudson River. I would pick them up at an airport in New Jersey and make my way over from there.
Typically, if I were to run into some kind of engine problem, I’d have a fair number of places where I could theoretically land. Just not so much over the New York City metro area.
So I picked out a “trail of breadcrumbs,” if you will, of specific places I could try to land my plane if I ever had to. On the one year anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson, I was given the job to fly a large banner over a boat on the Hudson that would be carrying the crew and some passengers from the flight.
On the way there, my engine failed while I was less than 1,000 feet above the ground. Sinking quickly, I needed to find a place to land right away. Fortunately, my previously selected spot was just to my left—a landfill on Staten Island. I put the plane right on the top of it.
Story credit: Reddit / danmilligan
Trust Your Gut
When I was 20 years old, I worked at a gas station. They had just changed the law so that if the customer looked 40 and under, we had to ID them for various purchases.
I was by myself when a lady came in and ordered a pack of Camels. She looked roughly 45-years-old, so I didn’t ask; however, I had this nagging feeling throughout the transaction that it would be a VERY good idea to ask.
So before I took her money, I kind of laughed and asked “Mind if I see your ID real quick? I’m really sorry, you’re clearly old enough but they changed the law recently on who we have to ID.” She just looked at me and said, “I’m so glad you asked!” She flashed her work card at me. She was a freaking inspector.
If I didn’t ask her, I would have been arrested and fined. That was the day I learned to trust my gut. And that I also suck at telling people’s ages. She was 35-years-old.
Story credit: Reddit / Dementedgnome
Change of Plans
I had originally booked a rental car for a trip to Iceland using my credit card points. Two days before, I canceled the reservation and booked it again with my credit card, which provides rental vehicle coverage. It looked like the weather wasn’t going to be great while we were there and I wanted the extra protection.
While there, we got into an accident for which we were not at fault. The car was almost a total loss and I had to pay $12,000 out of pocket to the company.
It took a few months and a ton of paperwork, but the credit card company refunded all of it. I still think about how lucky I was that I changed the booking. I would have been ruined for a very long time otherwise.
Story credit: Reddit / othercrazycatlady
Nearly Left Behind
I arrived in San Francisco a week into a trip. As we gathered our things during a moment of downtime, I went back to check the bus because, you know, it never hurts. I found my passport wedged in my seat, and I had no idea I had even dropped it.
Story credit: Reddit / gy6fswyihgtvhivr
Light the Way
I went hiking in the middle of the day with a friend and his girlfriend. I brought flashlights for us. Well, the hike took a lot longer than expected and my buddy’s girlfriend sprained her foot near the end.
It took us nearly three times as long to get back and it was already really dark. Those flashlights saved our bacon. I can’t even fathom how long it would have taken stumbling in the dark otherwise.
Story credit: Reddit / EliteYager
Raise My Limits
I was remodeling my house, so I took out a loan and had to get the house appraised. I found out that my house was worth $100,000 more than I had it insured for.
I raised my limits on the homeowner’s insurance to $50,000 more than the appraised value, in anticipation of the renovations. Two weeks later, the house burned to the ground due to a faulty bathroom fan that I did not touch.
Story credit: Reddit / cory89123
Why Would You Do That?
I saved an email where a lead developer told me to do something stupid. A couple of years later, once he was promoted to a managerial position, we were talking about the incident and he yelled, “Well, why did you do that?!” I pulled up the email that showed him clearly instructing me to do the stupid thing. He sputtered and walked off, speechless.
Story credit: Reddit / thuktun
I was going on a road trip. We packed everything in the trunk. Then, I realized that I forgot to check the air in the spare tire. Faced with unpacking and then repacking, I thought: “What are the odds? We’ve had the car for years, never had a flat, and we probably won’t have a flat now.”
Then I thought, “Forget that,” and tossed the floor pump I use for my bicycle into the trunk, just in case. We ended up getting a flat in the middle of freaking nowhere. The spare was too flat to drive on. The floor pump saved my butt. It gets packed on every trip now.
Story credit: Reddit / zorkeldschorken
It Would Have Ended Me
I had a car sitting on jack stands because I needed to do some transmission work. Before climbing under it, I thought it’d be a good idea to rock the car around. One of the jack stands was not in the right spot and the car slipped off of it, slamming down on the front disk brakes. It would have ended me.
Story credit: Reddit / Goyteamsix
I was about to put a new load of laundry into my washing machine in the dark. I saw what looked to be a large sock still in the washing machine. I put my hand halfway into the washing machine, then pulled my hand back out and thought huh, I usually don’t leave things in my washing machine… I turned on the light and it was actually a bat, just sitting in there.
Story credit: Reddit / mikechief411
Mom, Can You Pick Me Up?
At a small farm town about 20 minutes away from my actual town, everyone was out partying. I didn’t realize that our DD had been consuming adult beverages all night. When it was time to go, I couldn’t even tell she was tipsy. But something wasn’t right, so I didn’t want to drive back with them. For whatever reason, I opted to get picked up by my mom instead.
I put up with the verbal tongue-lashing from her when she came to pick me up. Well, my friends in the first car were apparently veering across the road, got picked up by the cops, and all of them had to spend the night in jail. Glad I opted for my mom.
Story credit: Reddit / Economy_Cactus
It Only Happened Once
I knock out my shoes and squeeze the toes for good measure because one time, there was a giant tarantula in one of them. It only happened once, but once was enough to convince me that it is a good habit to have.
Story credit: Reddit / ilikeitsharp
Always wear safety glasses. It’s easy to talk yourself into doing something really quick without putting them on, despite the voice in your head warning you.
In the middle of grinding something, I stopped to put on my glasses. When I continued, a chunk of metal flew up and cracked the right lens. Spidey senses: 1, Murphy’s Law: 0.
Story credit: Reddit / Turtlemonk92