Everyone has experienced that feeling of ’something isn’t right.’ Often, the feeling doesn’t mean anything, and the situation is okay. However, sometimes these instincts can save people from horrible—and even life-threatening—situations.
This is more than a suddenly realization that maybe you left the gas on at home. It could be a dark vibe you get from a person, or a creepy feeling from a certain place. You say it’s just your imagination playing tricks on you, and sometimes it is. Still, more often than you realize, those feelings could save you from harm.
People on Quora and Reddit came together to share their experiences when their gut feelings were warning them against real danger. (The content has been edited for clarity.) With all of these instances, it makes you wonder how many times your instincts helped you avoid harm—and you’ve never realized.
Stories About People Whose Unnerving Gut-Feeling Turned Out to Be True
Saving Their Daughter
“My oldest daughter (30-something) stopped by my work one day and introduced her new boyfriend. He seemed a little off to me, but I decided it was just “guy dating my daughter” and let it go. Later, he met my wife and I and she told me later that he seemed off to her, too. She has pretty good instincts about people, so we decided to investigate him a bit.
Typing his whole name into Google, the first result was a mugshot from a couple of years ago. The third was an active warrant. More searching resulted in finding three warrants from different counties, an extensive record (check deception, theft, driving while suspended, driving after a lifetime suspension, and driving while a habitual traffic offender), and a brand-new marriage license for him and my daughter. They were going to get married later that week.
We, of course, told her about him, but she insisted that he’d already told her about all of that and had “taken care of it.” We emailed links to her roommate, who showed her, but she didn’t have any luck talking her out of the relationship. They were in love, and everything would work out OK in the end.
We sent in an anonymous tip, and he was arrested the next day at her apartment. My daughter then found out that he’d been lying to her about pretty much everything. He had entangled her in a business he was trying to start that mostly involved her financing things for him because his credit was trash due to records for bounced checks and theft. She’s still working to untangle herself from that.
He is still in jail, and, according to her lawyer, will be for at least two years depending on what happens in two other counties.”
Last Waking Moments
“When I was doing my Ph.D., I got offered the chance to go to the Central European University summer school program to do a course that would have been extremely valuable. I even got offered a full scholarship to do the course, and free accommodation, etc. A really amazing deal.
Two weeks before I was supposed to leave, I said to my boyfriend at the time, something is telling me I shouldn’t go. And I was like, WTF brain, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. But the “don’t go” feeling kept getting stronger. So I withdrew from the course, feeling stupid for doing it.
The day after I was scheduled to leave, my perfectly healthy mom got sick. A week later she was in a coma, a week later we had to turn off life support. Her funeral was a week after that. I would have been away in her last waking moments.”
Finding a Half-Eaten Sandwich
“Years ago, before cell phones, I returned from home from a mandatory teacher’s workshop to find a half-eaten sandwich in the kitchen. The New York City apartment was empty, yet my husband was usually home. It was the sandwich that gave me a strange gut feeling. My husband, though not a neat man, was fastidious about putting dishes and washing up after himself. I’d never seen him leave half-eaten food on the counter.
As I walked through the apartment, the gut feeling I had intensified. I entered the bedroom and noticed the red light on the message machine blinking. I pressed the button and a woman’s voice boomed through the room,
‘This is the United Federation of Teachers. Your husband has been arrested. Please call your local precinct.’
I honestly thought the call was in error. My husband was a post-doctoral research fellow whose biggest offence was drinking tea. I’d often complained that he was way too boring. So what possibly could have happened?
I called my local precinct and asked if my husband was there.
‘Just a minute,’ an officer replied.
As I waited, I heard a clanking sound across the phone line, reminiscent of a jail cell door. My husband came on the line.
‘Some woman followed me home and said I tried to stab and hurt her,’ he claimed.
‘Can I come to the precinct and bail you out?’ I asked, figuring it would be like the TV shows I’d watched.
‘No, she has a long list of charges against me. I can’t get out of here.’
He ended up being shuttled to multiple precincts through the night before ending up at Central Booking at Whitehall Street. I was given a docket number and waited the next day at court, but his number wasn’t called.
The backstory here was that we lived in Washington Heights during the Crack era. An addict had gotten into the elevator with my husband and had tried to push her way into our apartment when he unlocked the door. He’d shoved her out of the way before entering, but she’d banged on the door,
‘You’re a dead man,’ she told him.
She’d then gone downstairs and told the doorman the dude in 12G had tried to hurt her and could she call the police.
‘Sure,’ the door woman happily obliged, never questioning what this woman was doing intruding on private property.
By the time this got to court, the D.A. explained to the judge my husband would have to have been an octopus to simultaneously try to hurt, stab, physically assault and attack her.
‘I understand,’ said the judge. ‘But the charges you’ve placed before me are very serious. How can you put these before me and then ask me to dismiss them? I have to go by what I see in front of me.’
So said the judge as she ordered my husband to be held until released on $3000 bail.
The case was later dropped because the lady never showed up to cooperate with the authorities. She was already known to them as she’d been involved in multiple cases. It was nothing to her to fling out accusations and destroy someone else’s life when she didn’t get her own way.
My husband apparently did not trust his gut when he saw this lady acting strangely in the lobby. He got in an elevator with her and the rest is history.”
The Men Who Did Not Smile
“I was at a party when I was in college when two older dudes showed up. The place was packed and most people were drunk. I noticed something was a bit off about them. They never smiled and weren’t really talking to anyone.
Finally, someone accused them of feeling around in their back pocket and it turned out they were lifting wallets from drunk college kids. Once confronted, one of the guys stabbed the kid in the stomach with a smallish knife. They left slowly and were never caught. It was pretty surreal. The kid who got stabbed turned out fine.”
Grandma Knows Best
“Not mine but my grandma’s.
We went camping at this one spot in the woods by a small creek every summer. One summer she gets this bad feeling and makes us pack up and we leave. Couple days later they end up finding a dead body right near our then-campsite.”
A Mother Always Knows
“My husband and I were away on a trip, and our older kids were holding down the fort. About 5:00 in the morning, I sat straight up out of a dead sleep with one terrified thought: something was wrong at home.
My husband had been married to me for over 20 years and knew better than I did to never question when I got that instinct. He handed me the phone to call. I wasn’t sure what to say.
‘Just call. You’ll figure it out,’ he responded.
The overwhelming feeling that something was very wrong wouldn’t let up. I called our daughter. She laughed and said everything was fine. I asked her to humor me and just go check. She said kids were asleep, so I asked her to go check the kitchen. Still chuckling at me she checked the stove and oven and declared them turned off. She looked about the rest of the kitchen until she turned in the direction facing the front doors. We have a large arctic entry so there are two front doors on each side of it so we come in from the cold and close one door and then open the second door to come to the house.
‘Oh my God!’ She cried out, and the phone went dead. I frantically tried calling back.
When she finally answered again, she told me both doors were wide open, so she called her Marine brother to come down from the upstairs apartment and he raced down. He did a security sweep of the house then the perimeter where he found evidence of a bear on each side of the house. We think the door was slightly ajar, and the bear just pushed the doors open and started to come into the house until the phone rang.”
A Horrible Sleepover
“Not me but my mom. When I was about 10 years old I got invited to spend the night at my really good friend’s home. My mom said no. I begged her to let me go but she was adamant that I couldn’t. She said she just didn’t feel right about it and that no amount of pleading was going to change her mind.
A few weeks later my friend’s dad was arrested for inappropriate child imagery. After he went to trial it was found that he had also molested several young girls. He would have his daughter invite them over for a slumber party and then touch them when they went to sleep. If my mom hadn’t trusted her gut feeling I could have been one of his victims.”
Changing Their Minds At the Last Minute
“Last year, my mother decided to take me to a small but quiet and peaceful summer resort. On the third day of our vacation, my mother and I were waiting at the bus stop. For some reason, that day I left my phone at the hotel and my mother’s phone was not working properly. We had nothing on ourselves but beach stuff.
The vehicle was supposed to arrive at 5:10 pm but there was no trace of it. It turned almost 6 pm, nothing was happening yet and the sun was beginning to settle. We got seriously worried because it was our only way of transportation. Not to mention the bus stop was pretty creepy. The place was giving me a terrifying vibe and I just wanted to escape from there. I had the feeling that something is seriously wrong at this place. Thank god we weren’t all alone, there were two other elderly women and a girl who couldn’t have been older than 17 at the time. They left a few minutes later.
As our bus seemed to have disappeared into thin air and we were getting upset, a man approached us. He said he worked as a taxi driver for the resort. I knew he wasn’t lying, I’d seen his colleagues earlier. He offered to drive us to the village where our hotel was. Something in me was screaming to not go with him, but I thought I was overreacting. My mother gladly agreed since we were already fed up with waiting. The voice inside me was getting louder and louder. The moment we got up and started walking to his car, I froze.
It was like someone was screaming right into my ear. I had this pain in my chest, I began to sweat, fear had gone through all of my body. At this point, I realized what it was.
I whispered to my mother, ‘Mom please, I don’t want to go please, I beg you, the bus will be here soon I can wait, please.’
I noticed how it hit her as if she just realized the danger of going into a stranger’s car with her teenage daughter. She apologized to the man and told him we changed our mind. He was visibly angry with us, he tried to persuade us to get into the vehicle. The driver was so furious with us, he attempted to grab my arm but I backed off quickly.
I said to him, ‘We’ll be okay sir, thank you for your offer. We’d rather take the bus, to enjoy the view. Don’t you think it’s pretty at sunset?’
Somehow, that managed to convince him or he simply realized we were not going anywhere so he just walked away.
Fortunately, our bus arrived just 10 minutes after this strange encounter. We made it back to the hotel, alive and well. Two days after, I went to the bar as usual to get something to eat and I saw the receptionist. She asked me if I’m enjoying my stay, to which I replied that I’m loving it, except for one weird experience that happened two days prior.
She was shocked by what I told her, and after a short pause, she said, ‘How did this man look, do you know his name or his taxi number?’
Of course, I didn’t have the slightest idea and I was wondering why the heck she was asking me about this. She pulled out her phone and typed in something and showed me an article that read, ‘Local taxi driver accused of murdering two teenage girls.’
The article was from one day ago, meaning this man went for those girls on the same night we refused his services. I never told my mother, I didn’t want her to blame herself for the rest of her life. Had it not been for my strong intuition, I would not be alive today.”