The Rojas Effect
By Bryan Caplan
For Halloween, here’s the true, spooky story of how I met Fabio Rojas: In the Fall of 1989, young Rojas, a freshman at UC Berkeley, was assigned the roommate from hell. (No, not me!) The roommate was emotionally abusive and physically threatening. When Fab called in the dorm’s “roommate counselor” to work things out, his roommate had a simple position: “Fab, I’ve hated you since the first time I met you.”
So Fab applied for a change of venue, and Berkeley heeded his cry for help. The result: In Spring of 1990, he got a room one floor below me, making him a captive audience for my tireless Rothbardian diatribes. The effect, strangely enough, was to transform Fab into my best friend from my undergraduate experience.
I’m always amazed when I think about stories like this, where one odd event engenders a whole series of unexpected changes. If Fab had gotten a decent roommate his first time around, we never would have met, and my life would have been quite different. The best man at my wedding would have been someone else. And who knows, without Fab, maybe I never would have even gone to GenCon!
Of course, when you really think about it, events like this are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a parent, consider: The slightest change in your behavior would have changed the identity of the sperm that fertilized the egg that became your child. Whenever my wife observes that we would have finished our attic if we’d known we were having twins, I counter: “But if we had finished our attic, we probably wouldn’t have had twins!”
Question for Discussion: What’s the smallest and/or strangest event that radically changed your life?