A Single Minute Can Change Everything

Randy Smith
4 min readJun 10, 2023

There are 525960 Minutes in a year. And a single one can be monumental.

And as I was reminded yesterday, just a single minute can change your entire life, for better or worse. Sometimes seeing how close you came to having it be changed for the worse can make you appreciate the life you have now.

Here’s the story: I took my son to a park for his classmate’s birthday party. It was a rare day where I had finished most of my “desk work” by 1 pm and knew I could manage the rest of my day with just my smartphone. Upon arriving at the park, my son ran off to be with his friends, and I then greeted the parents. They too were enjoying the day and offered me some sparkling wine they had brought. Not wanting to be rude and also wanting to revel in my rare day, I graciously accepted a glass.

The open bottle that the mother grabbed was nearly empty. So I grabbed the next bottle in the make-shift ice bucket and proceeded to tear off the foil around the bottle cap as I continued to make small talk with the mother. Removing the foil required me to get my face a little closer to the bottle to find where the indents were to pull at, but I was able to remove the foil within about thirty seconds.

Once the foil was clear enough, I brought the bottle down back to mid chest and somehow/someway automatically titled it away from me and and the mother, and I started to untwist the latch. Immediately upon commencing untwisting the latch by a few turns, the cork POPPED out blasting the rest of latch out of its way and launched itself almost thirty feet away. This entire bottle-opening process took just about a minute: a single minute that could’ve changed the course of my life or someone else’s.

Of course, I was shocked. Spooked, actually. As I mentioned, I didn’t put any thought in having the bottle turned away from my face or others. I had just done it automatically. Years of opening bottles had put me in auto mode I suppose. But thankfully, I had done that and nobody was walking by at that split second that the cork had fired on its own from pressure built up within the bottle from being hot previously. Had I had the bottle turned upwards towards my face or the mother’s or had someone (adult or child) been walking by when the cork popped, my life as I had previously known it would have very likely been changed forever. Why? It’s obvious, but I will play out some what ifs.

I could’ve lost an eye. The mother could’ve lost an eye. A child could’ve lost an eye (or worse could’ve suffered some brain damage). A caretaker or just someone else at the park could’ve lost an eye. And then there would be hospital bills. And very likely lawsuits. Any accident resulting from alcohol, even alcohol that I hadn’t had a sip from yet, is always a terrible lawsuit to be involved in. All from something that I had completed within one minute: opening a sparkling wine bottle at the park at a five year old girl’s birthday party.

I can’t stop thinking about that minute. It made me think of other near misses in my life. Like the one time where I actually looked in my rear dashcam as I started to back out of my driveway to see that a little girl had just sprinted from her nanny to catch a ball she had dropped, and she was immediately behind my car. I slammed on the brakes literally just in time to save her life, and mine too. The whole process of getting into my car, putting the key into the ignition, strapping the seatbelt on, putting the car into reverse, somehow moving my eyes from my rear view mirror (my preferred safety check because I’m Old School) to the dashcam as I released the brake and then slamming the brakes when I saw the little girl took about one minute. One minute that could’ve sent me down a deep, dark depressed state and potential financial ruin had I not stopped my car in time.

So, like many others, there are times when I want more out of my life. I want to achieve the great things I believe I’m meant to and work hard towards achieving. When the career and success I already have aren’t enough…and then these one minute reminders of near misses and brief encounters of what a miserable life could be pop up to remind me of how lucky I am. And then I’m thankful for how those one minutes played out. Gratitude can appear within one minute snippets.



Randy Smith

This is my pen name. I write random musings about our semi-dystopian world, pop culture and nerdy things like transportation, film noir and music.