In most cases, it is true to say that the course of history is driven by the great movements of peoples and nations. But sometimes the smallest action of an individual or element can see an effect completely out of proportion to its significance at first glance. Whether it is a missing key, a small, dirty dish or an itsy-bitsy spider in a cave, little things that happen or don’t happen can have huge and unpredictable outcomes. We look at 20 instances where a seemingly insignificant factor caused a seismic shift in history.
20. The key to survival for passengers of the Titanic
Could an absent key have saved the lives of more than 1,500 people who perished when the RMS Titanic sank on April 15, 1912? One man seems to have believed so. During the inquiry into the sinking, which occurred after the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, crewman Fred Fleet gave testimony. He stated that if the ship’s watch had been issued with binoculars, they would have seen the icy obstacle in time to avoid it. But they were without these optical aids because of a last-minute posting. Apparently, Second Officer David Blair was reassigned shortly before the ship embarked. Inadvertently, he left the Titanic with the key to the locker holding the binoculars in his pocket.