People Who Witnessed Someone Instantly Ruin Their Life Share What Happened
Every choice we make affects our lives. Each day, we face a series of decisions that influence the trajectory of our careers, relationships, and health. Of course, sometimes things happen in life that we have no control over. But one of the most painful and uncomfortable things to witness is someone else make a major mistake or bad decision that we know is going to have negative consequences from that point forward.
Even if we want to, it’s not always possible to help other people. Some situations are simply out of our hands and, in some cases, that person may not be open or willing to accept help or advice. It’s unfortunate, but occasionally things can happen, either by a choice they made or just bad luck, that changes things forever. Just take it from these people who recently shared stories about a time when they witnessed someone instantly ruin their life.
#1 A Tipsy Violation
I watched a kid get an underage drinking violation. It wouldn’t normally be a life ruiner, but he and I were both college students at a university that had been on the news a lot for its party culture. The culture has been the same since the ’70s, but they didn’t like the bad press, so they cracked down. Two months before this happened, they instituted a new policy.
It used to be that you would deal with the legal implications, then they would make you take an informative program, and you wouldn’t be able to study abroad. Now, they suspend you for the rest of the semester, make you move out if you live on campus, and they cancel any financial aid the school is providing.
I didn’t know him well, but I do know that he, like me, had student loans ON TOP of a generous financial aid package, Because of the aid program we were in, it’s unlikely he could afford to come back without the financial aid package from the school. I know he was technically wrong, but he was just a having a little bit of rebellious fun. He did not get lucky like most other students.
#2 Soliciting A Minor
A guy that I worked with asked to have Friday night off as he was going out of town… Turns out, he actually went to go meet with an underage girl he met on Craigslist, that ended up actually being a giant police sting. He was arrested for soliciting a minor. That was probably six years ago and the last I heard, he is still locked up.
#3 Wasted Wedding
I was at a wedding and the groom got so intoxicated he started forcefully making out with a guest on the dance floor. It was a big party for a quick annulment. The bride tried her best to keep up appearances for the rest of the night despite the groom’s bad behavior, but you could tell she was really hurting inside. It was hard to witness.
#4 Stock Shock
My dad used to work at Prudential Financial, and he told me that in the days after Enron’s stock suddenly dropped to nothing, some of his coworkers just walked around like zombies. Apparently, they’d put a ton of money into Enron, and were now completely screwed. He said it was the saddest thing he’d ever seen. Many of those coworkers had young kids.
#5 Family Affair
One of my coworkers arrived at work sobbing hysterically. It took a while to calm her down. I thought she must have been robbed or something, but it turned out she’d just found love letters in her car, from her mother to her husband. All I could think was that, a) if that were me, the last thing I’d do is show up to work and tell everybody, and b) I’d probably drive off a cliff.
Or… I don’t know, end my husband? How do you ever recover from that? I mean, if my husband was just having an affair with a chick or another man, I’d just divorce him… but MY MOTHER??? I could not even. I still think about that. Poor girl. She was such a nice person and did not deserve that. We never heard about what happened to her after.
#6 Children With Cancer
At least several times a month, we had to take care of a family who learned that their child had cancer. It was some pretty terrible life-altering news. I spent a lot of time distracting kids with board games and coloring books while their parents were talking to doctors, crying, and then amazingly pulling it together to continue on.
#7 Marriage Mayhem
I knew a guy who, within the same 24 hours, learned that his wife of seven years was pregnant with someone else’s child. His wife was filing for divorce, and she was going to try to get their house to herself because she was the primary signer on their mortgage. Apparently, his credit wasn’t so hot. That was brutal to see.
#8 Brutal Bottle Blow
An 18-year-old tried to steal a couple of bottles of Hennessy from my store. When I confronted him, he swung the bottle at my head and it connected (I rolled with the blow so it didn’t do much damage). He was charged with assault and robbery by my company. Since he was a violent crimes offender, he lost custody of his baby.
#9 Fired For Fraud
I was working in a bank and one day the director fired one of his executives. He gave the whole, “Empty your desk, you are fired” speech in front of everyone. The director was furious and the guy seemed entirely destroyed. Then, he explained to everyone that the guy gave his login and password to a friend in another branch. The friend used that login to carry out some kind of credit card fraud. Police arrested her, but they lacked evidence against the fired guy. So they just fired him on the spot.
#10 Wicked Wife
My elderly father unwittingly married a woman who would end up abusing him for four and a half years before we found out. We met her on the day of the wedding. That day sealed his fate. She isolated him from us, coerced him to sell his assets, stripped his bank accounts, heavily influenced him and almost ended him, but we rescued him and he lived with us until he passed away.
#11 The Sound Of Sorrow
One of my friends was playing online with me when I heard a knock on his door through the mic. His parents walked in and decided to tell them that he was adopted. They also told him they were getting a divorce. All in one go. No emotional breaks or anything. My friend just broke down over the mic as his parents walked out.
#12 Break-Up Over Bettings
I play poker. I once saw a man bet about $10,000 all on one roulette spin. He chose red and lost. He looked defeated. Later that night, a guy at our table told us that he heard the guy on the phone crying in the parking lot trying to explain to his wife that he lost their money. She was screaming and said she wanted a divorce. Even worse? They had mentioned not being able to pay for their daughter’s schooling anymore.
#13 Dad Before Diploma
A guy I knew found out that he was going to be a father on his graduation night. He was 17, and he looked absolutely destroyed. It was the worst surprise at the absolute worst time. After he grabbed his diploma, he quickly walked out of the auditorium and went into the washroom to cry. It was anything anyone could talk about for the next few weeks.
#14 Concerning Calls
I used to work in the FTC-HELP call center. We took calls from people reporting that they had been scammed. I have heard it all. One of the worst was when a guy called and said he had been sending his mortgage in for his farm, which was like a $2,000 a month, via Western Union to Nigeria because he got a phone call a year ago from someone saying he was with the mortgage company.
He was telling me that he was now going to lose the farm and his wife was leaving him for it. He was in bad shape. Stuff like that really does happen. There were also other cases of other people calling to report that their parents have sent over a million to Nigeria via Western Union. That job was eye-opening in a bad way. It really boosted my cynicism.
#15 Model Behavior
A girl dropped out of middle school to be a model. Three years later, she still wasn’t a model.
#16 Cruel Company In A Crisis
When I worked at Amazon, one of my coworkers got the news that her son was in route to the hospital. While trying to leave to go see her son, a manager and HR pulled her aside and told her that if she left, they were going to consider it job abandonment because she hadn’t put in a request to leave within the appropriate time. To add insult to injury, they had originally come to give her a write-up for causing a scene, since she had been crying.
#17 Prison Package
Years ago, a friend of mine met some guys looking for a roomie on Craigslist. They seemed to get along, so he moved in. They were independent car mechanics, so parts were being sent to their apartment all the time. A few weeks after moving in with them, they asked if he would sign for a package which was expected to be delivered that day. The guys would be out and needed someone to receive it. My friend signed for the package.
The person delivering the package was actually an undercover FBI agent. He signed for five pounds of illicit substances. His roommates were secretly trafficking it and he didn’t know. My friend’s test came out clean and had no illicit substances on his person, or in his car, or in his room. His roommates testified that he was not part of the trafficking ring. However, because he signed for the package, he got 10 years behind bars.
#18 Coming Clean In Therapy
I was working with an older man doing physical therapy. Every day, his wife and sister visited. While exercising, he dropped the bomb to his sister about how he had caught his now ex-wife sleeping with his brother-in-law. He never told the family about the reason for divorce and didn’t rat out his sister’s husband. The sister had been happily married for many decades and the cheating husband was on his death bed currently. This all happened in the middle of a packed gym. Lots of crying at that point.
#19 Broke In A Blue Suit
During the stock market crash 1987, I had been driving a delivery truck in San Francisco for a while. I often saw the same guy in the financial district in one of the very expensive restaurants I delivered to, but I never really noticed him. The day after Black Monday, I noticed him sitting on a bench, in his powder blue suit, looking like he was in shock. He sat there for days on end, in the same suit, with desperation and fear quickly creeping onto his face.
One day, a shopping cart appeared, and over the weeks it was filled with his possessions—old shoes, a dirty sleeping bag, food wrappers, a soiled pillow. Through the winter, he wore the same suit, stayed at the same place, and slowly started to go crazy. I tried to talk to him and get him some help, but he wouldn’t even talk to me.
He just turned his back and cried. At that point, the homeless population of San Francisco was undergoing a massive upsurge, and services were overwhelmed. The best I could do at the time was give him some food from time to time. He didn’t even try to panhandle. I saw him every day for nearly a year until I left the city for another state. He was still wearing the same powder blue suit, but he certainly wasn’t the same man.
#20 Lost All At Once
A friend of mine lost his girlfriend, house, job, and dog all in one day. He is still struggling. To make things worse, he moved in with another friend who broke his foot and is now unable to work. That guy’s wife is thinking about divorcing him. If so, they’ll both be out of a house, job, and more. It’s tragic enough to see people I care about be hurt so bad, but it hurts more that I can’t help in any way.
#21 Up In Flames
My neighbor’s house burned down when I was a kid. I watched the family cry helplessly outside as everything they owned went up in flames. On top of that, their dog was in the house and did not make it out. It was the worst feeling not being able to do anything to help them. My parents were just as equally sad for them because they had gotten pretty close over the years.
#22 Gas Station Separation
I worked at a gas station once. I was changing the receipt paper and watched a woman receive a text asking for divorce while at the pump. It was one of the most human experiences with a stranger I have to this day. It might have been the first time someone I never met in my life just completely opened up to me about her life.
#23 Couldn’t Get Closure
This dude’s girlfriend broke up with him, and he must have just snapped inside somewhere. He started bothering her (we lived in dorms at the time) by standing outside her door, and when she wouldn’t answer, he would come to any of the rest of our rooms and just run around in circles, venting the same feelings and stuff.
They went from, “I feel hurt that she broke up with me for another guy,” to “I can’t believe she’d emotionally cheat on me.” It got to the point where he would try to talk to her again to “get closure,” but his behavior after the breakup made it easy for her to say, “Stay away from me.” He apparently is now suspended by our school. He just stopped studying because he was so obsessed over his ex-girlfriend all the time.
#24 Manipulative Mother
A coworker was falsely accused of a crime by his young step-daughters. He lost his job and friends, so basically his entire life. About two years later, the girls admitted they were told what to say what their mother told them to in order to get the upper hand in a divorce battle. It was a really manipulative thing to do.
#25 Fired From Financial Career
I worked at a big bank. A coworker, who was a long-time employee, was publicly fired for looking up bank account information on a then-presidential candidate. She got taken to a side room while management packed up her desk under the watchful eyes of a few secret service agents, then she was escorted out by bank security. A 20-year career went poof.
#26 Dad’s Despair
I had a pretty bad seizure. I was hardly conscious but I still remember the broken look he had when he’d found out that there was such a high likelihood of me not making it. They’d be surprised if I lived. It’s a mess of blurry images and scenes, but I remember that very clearly and it still makes my heart drop.
#27 Teacher’s Life Torn Away
I found out that the school decided to not renew the contract for one of my teachers, without her knowing. She was forced to move out of the country and is still currently unemployed. She left behind all her friends and moved to a place she knew nothing about. She was such a great teacher as well, which is the biggest shame.
#28 Dog News Devastation
My family just put down our dog yesterday with little warning. He had four seizures on Saturday and they found a tumor in his brain. Any medication would have only extended his life maybe two months but the quality of life would deteriorate quickly. I took off from work today and cried all day yesterday. Life’s different without him.
#29 Cat Shelter Crime
We caught a volunteer stealing money and some stuff. Lots of things were disappearing, so we put a camera in the break room. Sure enough, we could see her go through people’s bags and put things in her pockets. The cops were called and charges were made. Come on, stealing from a cat shelter? She was on a welfare program that helped people find jobs and was getting $200 more benefits a month for being part of the program. Now, she’s out of the program and faces charges for theft. I think she just put herself on a path towards extreme poverty.
#30 Uber Complicated
I filed an Office of Inspector General Fraud Waste and Abuse claim against the Secretary of a federal government agency. I experienced immediate retaliation beyond belief, the loss of a government job, and blackballing in every industry I held jobs in. OIG doesn’t want to deal with it because: “It is too high profile and the amount is too much (almost $100 million) politically.”
OSC has been dragging on the retaliation claim for three years. My wife doesn’t understand why I would have done such a thing, and my kids can’t figure out why their dad is nothing but an Uber driver now. Every time I get to the interview stage, the interview is canceled and I am told something along the lines of, “Additional information has come to light, thank you but we are withdrawing our invitation.”
Eight years of college, totally wasted. I can’t even afford a lawyer to fight it. Whistle-blower protection? Depends on who you are blowing the whistle at… If it’s at someone high up, you might as well paint the target on yourself.
#31 The Case Between Classmates
A mean girl from my elementary school was sued by one of her classmate’s parents because she made the kid need therapy from excessive bullying. They lost the battle and she was basically ruined. The worst part was her mom was the principal of the school—she had to kick her own daughter out of the school and bring her to a specialized school for kids with issues.
#32 From Wheelchair To Walking
I wouldn’t say it ruined her life, just permanently changed it. One of my favorite high school teachers was hiking one day. She fell and destroyed her legs. She was in a wheelchair for most of the school year, was out for surgery a lot, and required a lot of extra help with her teaching duties. At graduation last year, she surprised us all by getting out of the wheelchair and walking across the stage to deliver her commencement speech. It was amazing. She’s still in recovery, doing physical therapy every day and using crutches most times. Love her so much.
#33 Numbing News
I woke up with a numb butt cheek. Thinking I just trapped a nerve, I attempted to remedy it with just a cold pack, but it didn’t work. Fast forward six hours later and the pain spreads to the other butt cheek. Ambulance service tells me it’s fine and to just see a doctor in the morning (it’s about 6 pm by then). It then spreads further and my whole lower body below the waist is numb.
An ambulance takes me to the first hospital, and after a 14-hour wait, I get an MRI which shows severely ruptured L5/S1 disc prolapse in my lower spine. One emergency surgery later and I am told I most likely won’t walk again. It’s just a waiting game now. On the bright side, I now live with about 15 or so pills every day, plus other machines that thankfully keep me functioning.
#34 Recycling Training
A kid I went through basic training with got caught drinking in the barracks about an hour AFTER our graduation ceremony when we were supposed to be grabbing our stuff and traveling to our next base. He got recycled to day one and had to do basic training all over again. Didn’t ruin his life, but it definitely ruined his next 10 weeks.
#35 Flooded Then Fired
A guy that used to work in my company had his apartment flooded one morning. Later that day, my boss said she was going to fire him for incompetence, which I agreed with. I was pretty much quiet all day knowing that his day was going to get worse. At the end of the day, he asked if I needed a ride home, which I normally could use, but had to turn him down. Not a minute later, he was called into the office for the inevitable.
#36 A Messy Marriage
My mom got an anonymous letter in the mail telling her that my dad was cheating on her, the mistress was pregnant, and that he was doing lots of drugs. He traveled for work so it was easy for him to be gone all week, party with his coworkers, then come home and be a super dad on the weekends. My mom had no idea, and my parents had been together for 11 years at the point.
My brother and I were six and two. My mom confronted my dad and said she wanted a divorce, but my dad threw himself on the ground sobbing and begged her not to. They ended up staying together which was a HUGE mistake. The mistress didn’t like that my dad stayed with my mom, and she started calling the house, threatening us. My parents ended up divorcing a while later after a few more miserable years together. They hate each other now.
#37 False Accusations
About a year and a half ago, I went to a seminar given by a guy named Adam Lowther. He was the director of a US Air Force Institute for nuclear deterrence. He was a good speaker, and the topic was interesting, so it stuck in my mind. A month or so later, I was reading the local paper and saw that he’d be arrested for child-related crimes. The paper carried his mugshot, and he looked completely defeated.
I was shocked, but I assumed he was guilty. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a tweet about it. Turns out, the evidence of his guilt was incredibly thin, and it never even went to trial. Even so, as a result of being arrested, he lost his clearance and his job. He was prohibited from seeing his kids for months, and for a few weeks, they were also taken from his wife and put into foster care. The police took all their electronics and it took some kind of special court order to have them returned, even after the prosecutor had decided not to try him. He claims that he spent $300,000 on his legal defense.
#38 Paralyzed From Pool
A guy I knew in college got intoxicated at a summer party shortly after graduation. There was a pool and he decided to try doing some weird backflip thing. He smacked his head on the concrete edge and is now almost completely paralyzed. He’s 22-years-old. It sucks how one stupid moment can literally change your life forever.
#39 DWI Destruction
They drove while intoxicated and got into a huge car crash. They totaled their car and lost their jobs at the same time. It’s still possible to recover from it, but darn it’s going to take a while, especially since they refused to cooperate with the cops. Now they have legal fees to deal with on top of all that. Just not a good situation to be in.
#40 Making Fun Of The Mascot
A plant I was working at had one of their managers give a tour of the facility to one of their clients. He decided to make a crass joke about the client’s corporate mascot. One of the people in attendance responded, “You know that she’s a real person, right? She sits on the board… and she’s my grandmother.” The manager’s face went completely white. His boss overheard the whole thing and after the tour, he gave him a finger wag, signaling him to see him in his office. The manager was fired immediately and escorted off the property.
#41 Devastating News?
I work in a cafe and there was a nice couple I was serving. The girl looked nervous. I overheard her say to her boyfriend, “Babe, I’m pregnant.” He just froze. She looked so happy and she said, “You’re going to be a daddy.” At this point, everyone heard and started congratulating them when he turned around he said, “I’m infertile.” Then everyone went silent. She didn’t say anything. She said, “I-I can explain.” I nearly saw him cry. He stormed out and she just sat there in silence. Everyone felt awkward about it. They argued outside and it looked like it was over for them.
#42 Naval Career No More
A few years ago, a pilot was doing a walkaround of his helicopter on the deck of a light aircraft carrier. In the middle of the night. The aircraft lift was down at hangar level, and he took the fast way from the flight deck to the hangar. He survived, but that was the end of his Naval Career. Medical pension and on the new carriers they have pop up barriers now.
#43 Government Contract Grief
I signed a contract that sold me to a government organization for at least four years at a time when I was 17. Now, I’m not sure how to live without it. I’m on my second contract but hate every moment of my life. Yay!
#44 Abandoned By Best Friend
A best friend of 12 years left my life. He didn’t pass away, but he packed up his room, took his car and left. He blocked me on all social media and blocked my number. He would not tell me what I did that caused this reaction, but I no longer care. My troubles are minor compared to his mother’s, who he also abandoned. He left without paying his half of the rent, took his car, disabled his debit card and cut off his phone service.
His mother depended on those things. She is now jobless, broke and without transportation. I, on the other hand, am begging my boss for as much overtime as I can get so I don’t lose my apartment. If I ever see him again, I’m gonna rattle his jaw. Twelve years man. I cannot describe how much this hurts. His mom is in the other room right now, still sobbing. She hasn’t eaten since yesterday. Why did he do this?
#45 Employee Elimination
We had an employee whose entire job was to manage this spreadsheet. To help her out, I wrote a massive Excel macro that did her eight hours of work in 30 seconds. Instead of finding something for her to do, the boss fired her and I got employee of the month honors and a $750 award for saving the company money by eliminating her position.