From a man who accidentally reunited Germany to a woman who refused to leave her seat on a bus, we count 10 decisions that resulted in shocking consequences.
10 – Guenter Schabowski
- After the war in 1989, when East Germany was separated from the West, citizens were hoping for a reunion, but didn’t expect it to happen quite like this.
- Politician Guenter Schabowski was in charge of reading some news updates at a very long and boring press conference. Without reading his notes, he incorrectly blurted out that East Germans were free to go to West Germany if they pleased. One surprised interviewer asked when this was effective, and Schabowski vaguely shuffled his notes, but shrugged and said immediately. The people of Germany leapt up and immediately started tearing down the Berlin wall.
- If Schabowski had read his notes properly, Germany might still be divided in two.
9 – 20 Second Moon Landing
- Test pilots are notorious for their abilities to make quick decisions way up in the sky, but Neil Armstrong had to land a space shuttle on the moon in 20 seconds.
- In 1969, Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin successfully navigated their way to the surface of the moon for the first time in history. The mission could have just as easily failed though, Armstrong had only twenty seconds to decide to attempt a landing or abort back to safety.
- Luckily his years of intensive training allowed him to remain cool and calm as he expertly reversed that bad boy into a moon crater, changing history.
8 – Rim Fire
- The third largest wildfire in California’s history started with an innocent campfire.
- In 2013, a Californian bow hunter made an unwise decision to start an illegal campfire in the Stanislaus National Forest which very quickly got out of hand. By the time it was discovered, the blaze was 40 acres wide. Four days later, the fire was still wildly out of control, razing over 100,000 acres of land including over 100 buildings. Although the fire was officially contained after nine weeks, it took an entire year for authorities to fully extinguish it.
- It’s estimated that the hunter’s regrettable decision cost America 1.5 billion dollars.
7 – Canine Amputation
- A man from Michigan claims his pet terrier saved his life when the family dog ate his toe.
- Jerry Douthett and his wife went out to a local bar one night and indulged in a beer or five. Douthett’s health was in poor condition: his toe was severely infected. On returning home that night, Douthett decided to go bed where he passed out. Hours later he woke up screaming to his wife that his toe was missing. Kiko sat there licking his lips after evidently feasting on the festering digit while Douthett slept.
- Douthett was diagnosed with diabetes, but at least the infection was removed, along with the toe.
6 – Key That Could’ve Saved the Titanic
- What if the captain of the Titanic had more time to navigate away from the infamous iceberg, passing it safely by?
- A hasty last minute change to the crew of the titanic meant that a new second officer took the night-watch on the world’s (then) biggest cruise liner. The changeover happened so quickly that the new watchman failed to receive keys to a locker – a locker containing some crucial binoculars. Due to this simple error, the second officer was forced to rely solely on his eyes to detect any threatening iceberg obstacles, but was too late.
- It is hotly debated whether or not this simple key could have prevented the titanic from sinking.