Have you ever heard the saying ‘maybe the best things in our lives are those which never happen to us’? I think most often when people speak of this saying they’re talking about being thankful they didn’t get married, or they’re thankful they didn’t choose that career path.
For me, it’s got a much deeper meaning.
In 2006 my father and I were scheduled to get on a ferry and travel home from where he was working and had been covering a route for one of his coworkers who’d been burned on the job and was in hospital. This day, lives fondly in my memory, as it was one of the few times we actually had a reservation for the ferry. My family didn’t pay for ferry reservations, we just showed up and waited until we could get on. But this day, the company had booked the reservation for us.
The evening we were leaving I’d begun packing up the things in our hotel room – food, clothes, sleeping bags, valuables, etc… and taking them out to the truck. Stupidly, I somehow managed to lock the keys in the truck. Though we weren’t five minutes from the ferry dock, we were going to have to wait for the tow truck company to come unlock our door so we could get the keys back. (This was just when keyless entry was starting to become more popular in vehicles and, as my dad had an older vehicle, we needed a physical key to unlock the door)
Being in a small town, the tow truck company said that it would be 45 minutes. The ferry was in an hour. So we got everything ready and we waited. We waited and waited. The tow truck driver didn’t show up for a full hour. We missed the ferry and were close enough that we could see it sailing away without us.
I was so upset. I’d ruined our route home and it was going to take that much extra time because of me. I was beating myself up pretty bad. How could I not? At 16, I was pretty insecure and felt like I’d cost my parents this very expensive mistake.
That night, as the ferry was sailing, it failed to make course changes through a passage it’d travelled through thousands of times before and the boat sank. Yup, it sank. In a narrow passage through the islands of Northern British Columbia, the ferry sank.
And because I locked the keys in the truck, we missed the ferry and we weren’t on it when it sunk.
In 2009 I received a rather large scholarship while in the process of completing my marketing degree. These funds were deposited in my account and, because there were no specific rules as to what I spent them on, I could use them how I saw fit in the process of being a student.
When I went to pay my tuition for the January semester, my transaction was declined. This was baffling to me as I had nearly $20,000 in my bank account.
I called the bank and asked them ‘What the hell?’ and was told that I had a limit of spending $1,000 a day on my account and I couldn’t exceed that. When I told them I had to pay my $6,000 tuition for the semester they said ‘Oh, you’e going to have to schedule an appointment to get that adjusted for tuition purposes’.
The next appointment that I could get was for the next day. It was a Thursday. I scheduled the appointment for 2:30 in the afternoon (after class) so that I could go down and yell at them for their stupid rules that wouldn’t allow me to spend my own money and pay my tuition.
Shortly before noon on that Thursday, my boss called me during my Calculus class. Being in class, I ignored it. He then sent me a text message that read ‘SOS’. Thinking he might be in trouble, I left class to call him.
My boss told me that he was sick and that he was being admitted into the hospital because he was so sick. He asked if I could cover his shift that afternoon because he was not going to be able to get there and I was the only person he trusted enough to run the place on my own without him.
Reluctantly, I said yes.
So, instead of going to my appointment at the bank, I went to work from 2-8 pm. that day.
At 2:30 pm that day, right about the time I would have been waiting in the bank for my appointment, or walking into my appointment, a strung-out junkie with a gun wandered into the bank to rob the place, botched the robbery and wound up holding everyone in the bank hostage for nearly four hours before police could diffuse the situation.
I remember how dumbfounded I felt when I heard the news. I remember thinking ‘I could have been there. I was supposed to be there’. My boss got sick and because of that I escaped being present for a bank robbery.
In 2013 I was driving through a horrendous snowstorm to a work event. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been driving that day. Visibility was about ten feet and the further I got up the highway, the more cars I saw in the ditches a long the side of the road.
I was scared, but I told myself to keep going because it was important that I got there.
I was listening to the radio as they were providing traffic reports every 5-10 minutes because the weather was so poor. I wanted to ensure the highways I needed to drive to get to my event weren’t going to be closed.
As I was passing through Leduc I saw two vehicles in my rear view mirror collide on the highway right were people were trying to merge coming out of Leduc headed towards Edmonton.This scared me a great deal, but I thought ‘Girl, keep going you’ll get there’. Before these two cars were out of my visibility, I saw a car come down the merge lane and crash into them. Then I thought, ‘Damn you narrowly missed a three car accident by 200 feet’.
By the time that I’d made it to Edmonton, just 15 minutes down the highway, I was hearing reports on the radio of a massive car pileup at the merge lane where I’d witnessed the accident in my rear view mirror. I remember thinking ‘Holy crap, more people must’ve come up behind them and not been able to see them’.
As I continued travelling that day, reports kept telling me that more and more cars were being reported as being a part of that accident. Eventually, the highway ended up being shut down fully because there was no way to get past all of the vehicles.
The next morning when I woke up to get ready for my event, I turned on the tv to listen to the morning news as I was doing my makeup.
The report on the news was of a 90 care pileup in Leduc. More than 300 people were injured because of the pileup and the highway had been closed and was still closed.
When I drove home three days later, they were still towing cars out of the ditch in that area as I drove past.
I missed a 90 car pileup by 200 feet.
In 2017 I was taking a Yoga Class with my friend Michelle. There was a bank near my house that was nowhere near hers, so on Thursday evenings she’d go to the bank to do her banking and then I’d meet her at the bank, we’d hop in her car and go to Yoga.
One cold and snowy Thursday night I was walking up to the bank and the door didn’t open.
Confused, I tried to pull on it. It wouldn’t open.
Michelle phoned me, so I picked up the phone. She said ‘Are you the person standing outside right now?’ I said ‘Yeah’.
“GO GET IN MY CAR’ she yelled. ‘Get in my car and put your head down’.
I was like ‘What? Why?’
She just yelled again ‘Go get in my car!’
Confused, I walked across the parking lot and got in her cold car. I’d really wanted to go in the bank because it was nice and warm, but I was just being a whiner.
Once in her car, I saw a text message from Michelle that said ‘Is there anyone out there’? So I texted back and said ‘No, it’s really cold. I’m the only person in the lot’.
‘There’s no one out there? You’re certain?’ She texted back. I said ‘I’m the only person out here. There’s no one in the other cars. What is going on?’
‘The bank was just robbed’, she texted.
‘Guy had a gun,’ she texted. ‘We’re stuck in here until the police come.’
‘Did you see anyone when you walked up?’ She texted.
Yeah, I had seen there was a man who walked out in a grey jacket with his face covered. I just assumed his face was covered because it was -30 Celsius outside. Turns out his face was covered because he’d just robbed the bank at gunpoint.
There I’d narrowly missed a bank robbery. The second bank robbery that I should have been at but wasn’t.
As I sat and told the police about the man I saw leaving the bank and the car I saw him leave in, I couldn’t help but think how he was twenty feet away from me with a gun when he left.
In 2018 I was headed into the grocery store to grab an entree for an event I was headed to. I was talking to my boyfriend when I was headed in and, rather than head into the store and have him hear the awful background music and people in the background, I chose to wait outside the store to finish talking to him.
I stood there for a few minutes as we chatted, completely unaware of the world going on around me. I was focused on him.
All of the sudden I heard a lot of noise coming from the front door of the grocery store, about a hundred feet away from me. I looked over and saw a man running away from the door, in a hood, jumping over the bushes, trying to get away.
I went over to the front door and the store manager ran out and was screaming expletives at him about putting his employees and customers in danger.
Then the store manager turned to me and said ‘You saw him, right? You saw him. Stay here, the cops are coming’.
While I was standing outside of the grocery store talking to my boyfriend on the phone, the customer service desk at the front of the grocery store was being robbed by a man with a machete.
Because I was chatting on the phone with my boyfriend, I missed the store being robbed by a man with a machete.
Throughout my life I’ve had several experiences in which I’ve felt like I ‘dodged a bullet’ so to speak. (Both literally and figuratively) Like perhaps the universe is looking out for me. Like I’m being protected, for some reason.
It’s in moments when I am beating myself up that I try to remember these stories. Because these stories, they’re the best things that never happened to me. The universe is looking out for me. And if it’s picked me to look after, I might as well at least use that as motivation to do something in this world, to make a difference, to be the change.
I beat up on myself a lot. I do. Truthfully, I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a lot to be grateful for having missed in my life. It wasn’t that I almost got married, or that I was glad I didn’t get ‘that degree’, it’s that these truly incredibly scary events have happened and these things I should have been a part of, I wasn’t.
It’s taught me a lot. And given me a lot of gratitude.
Here’s to the universe, it’s been good to me over the years. As much as I beat up on myself, I really ought to remember that more often.