Saturday, December 02, 2006


Take a look at the photo. This is how our paper arrived one morning. Somehow, the front page and the first few pages after that had about a quarter of each page torn away, for whatever reason, and were nowhere to be found. Personally, that didn't bother me much. Accidents happen, and I doubted my life would be significantly altered by the lack of a couple square feet of missing info from that morning's edition.

What I did find amusing, of course, was the headline that was affected by the accidental shredding of my morning paper. I later learned from visiting the online version of our paper that that headline was supposed to say, "Tornado tears apart 3 families." Instead, the paper itself was torn. Some coincidence, I thought to myself.

Then I thought about coincidences in general, as well as specific coincidences that have happened, or could happen.

The first time I remember noticing and thinking about coincidences happened when I was a teen. I was walking through a department store with my mother, and as we went up the escalator, I saw our neighbor on her way down. Mom was occupied with her purse or something, and the neighbor was equally distracted, so she didn't see us. As we were about to cross paths, it occurred to me I should say something. But the thought of my mother engaged in a lengthy conversation with this person whom I felt already spends WAAY too much time chatting with my mother didn't sit too well with my personal teenager schedule, so I kind of ducked my head as teens are so skilled at doing. She never saw us.

I glanced over my shoulder as the neighbor continued down the escalator, and back at my mom who was completely oblivious to the "coincidence." I thought, Wow! That is so cool! We were all together for a brief moment in time, yet if I were distracted myself, (such as if there had been a teenaged girl either in front of or behind our neighbor,) the coincidence may never have been discovered.

Which got me thinking about the things that have to happen to make up what we call a coincidence. Of course, two or more events have to happen at the same time or close together. But another thing is that someone has to recognize the connection between the events, after which they may or may not report it.

By definition, a coincidence needs neither a witness nor a reporter, but unless such support exists, nobody knows there has been a coincidence. Coincidences happen all the time. Your boss's niece may have dated your sister-in-law's neighbor's cousin. Your maid of honor may be related to your co-worker's family doctor. Your social security number might be the next winning lottery combination. Well, OK, except for the last one, these coincidences may be "available," but until the evidence somehow comes out, and someone notices it, and knows enough about the circumstances to recognize a pattern, the coincidences "don't really exist" for any practical purposes.

Anyway, here are a couple more coincidences that happened to me, as well as a freaky one that I thought up.

1) I learned through my mother's conversation with her cousin that her cousin's daughter lives in the same town as me. Both of us live many states away from where we grew up. Further research yielded that within this town of over 30,000, her relative lives within walking distance of me.

2) Recently I contacted my childhood friend I hadn't seen in decades through his 80 year old mother, who still lives in the same house as where he grew up. She put me in contact with him. Turns out he was visiting my town at the time, several states away, and we got the chance to meet again - first time since we were 12 years old. We then found out that we both worked for the same company, and he lived on the same street, walking distance in fact, from a former manager of mine.

These coincidences were in place for quite some time, years in certain cases, but until someone comes in and puts two and two together, they simply remain undiscovered.

Here's a freaky coincidence that could happen. In fact, something like this may occur many times in some form or another. A man is in his garage working with power tools. There's a lightning storm outside. He thinks to himself, I should unplug this appliance and go in the house. While standing in a puddle of water that has seeped under the garage door from the storm, and just as he is about to reach up to grasp the power cord, which happens to have exposed wires, a bolt of lightning wipes out the power in his neighborhood. He pulls out the cord in the dark and goes inside. Had that lightning not killed the power, that exposed cord would still have been live, and he might have gotten electrocuted. A coincidence? You'd better believe it. Anyone notice? Probably not.

Divine Intervention? That's a topic for another discussion.

Got any amazing coincidences you'd like to share? Respond in the comment section if you do.


At Thursday, December 07, 2006 6:40:00 PM, Blogger James Burnett said...

I once reported a story about twins separated as infants when they were put up for adoption.

Later, as adults, each learned she had a sibling out there. And it turned out they had been living in the same town less than five miles apart for years.

But I guess that's not too special. That's a story news orgs do all the time.

Also, I reported once on the murder of a guy whose family had identified the body at the coroner's office and everything. Turns out they were wrong. The victim was a guy who looked remarkably like this family's son, and just happened to be the same size and age and have the same name - first and last. Oh, and he lived in the same neighborhood.

At Thursday, December 07, 2006 7:04:00 PM, Blogger The Sarcasticynic said...

The twins thing counts, James. I think the reason it may seem a bit overplayed is because the media try to seek out family reunions to make for good copy. They are PUSHING coincidences.

The murder story reminds me of that recent tragedy where that family buried who they thought was their daughter when in fact it was a similarly featured classmate who was also on the bus. The deceased girl was another's daughter, and her parents were tending to the wrong girl, who was so badly bruised, they didn't even know it wasn't their daughter. Now THAT'S freaky.

At Tuesday, December 12, 2006 1:50:00 AM, Blogger James Burnett said...

Yeah, I remember that story - both sad and insane at the same time. I got a blog comment once from one of the girls' parents. It was strange. I forget the post or what prompted them to comment.


Post a Comment

<< Home