Incredible -- but true coincidences
July 7, 2005 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Incredible -- but true coincidences are fascinating, and pleasing, to the psyche. I tend to agree with John Littlewood (a University of Cambridge mathematician) that " the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month." In other words, statistically speaking, unusual coincidences are to be expected in a world teeming with billions of humans. Still, I find such coincidences stangely inspiring. More can be found here.
posted by ember (97 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I saw someone I knew from high school (in the US) in Amsterdam. It seems like that happens a lot when traveling.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2005

And the usual lecture about how often we fail to remember the times coincidences don't happen. The staggering number of times you think of songs that don't suddenly start playing on the radio.

I like mystery, and a sense of magic, but I long for the day when all people are better schooled in logic and critical thinking.
posted by dreamsign at 7:53 PM on July 7, 2005

Met a cute girl at New Year's celebrations one year. Did the usual *ahem* romantic stuff a 15 year old would do in those romantic non-promiscuous days of yor.

A combination of not being girl-crazy and being far too into my studies meant I quickly lost contact.

Fast forward one year to one of the biggest New Year's celebrations our city has seen. Estimates of well over half a million people crowding into the port city of Fremantle. As the countdown was about to begin, my mind flashed to the cute girl from the year before. "wouldn't it be great if I was with her…"

Without a word of a lie. May God strike me down with lightning. As soon as the clock struck midnight, there she was. In my arms and locking lips. Absolutely unfah-freaking unbelievable!!!!

(And yes, I know. Statistically speaking something like that is bound to happen somewhere along the line. Just thought I'd share my amazing tale.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:01 PM on July 7, 2005

I mean, it wasn't like it was a girl I met 8 months previously. It was a girl I met during New Year's celebrations. And it wasn't like I bumped into her at, say, 10:21pm. That would have been amazing enough. Not even 11:58pm. It was right on the stroke of midnight that we set eyes upon each other – give or take two seconds maximum. And it happened AS I WAS THINKING ABOUT HER!

Positively freaky.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:07 PM on July 7, 2005

took acid one night with my friends toby and dave. as it was kicking in, we started reciting lyrics we remembered from "wild wild west" by kool moe dee for some reason.

a few hours pass, more goofing around and etc. we're running out of things to listen to, and we find a tape buried under some other shit, entitled "think."

no one has any idea of what's on the tape, we put it in...

"i used to live downTOWN
one twenty NINTH street..."

i tend to subscribe to jungian notions of synchronicity as the universe revealing its beauty to us in a language we don't quite yet speak.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:20 PM on July 7, 2005 [2 favorites]

Did some googling for more, similar sites since it bugged me that this page seemed to exist solely to bring profits to the banner-holder. Here's what I found:

Peoples' own accounts of coincidences

More, and some of the same, stories like those in the original post

Some scientific commentary about coincidences and their probabilities

More coincidences

A flickr coincidence

Digital clock coincidences

Someone's log of personal coincidences
posted by VulcanMike at 8:28 PM on July 7, 2005

I remember reading a story about 2 years back about a man who was perusing eBay and came across a cookie jar the same as one he had as a child. He bid on it and won and sent his money. The person who received the money was a little shocked... (I don't remember all the details but) it turns out that the buyer and the seller were brothers separated when they were young and had never been in contact since (if memory serves they each didn't know he had a brother).
posted by dobbs at 8:28 PM on July 7, 2005

I long for the day when all people are better schooled in logic and critical thinking.
posted by dreamsign at 7:53 PM PST on July 7 [!]

That's nice, dreamsign, have you tried the date tarts? that cute sophomore made them...
posted by longsleeves at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2005

Here's my favorite coincidence:

You learn a new word, say "gregarious" or something like that, not totally esoteric but relatively uncommon. All of a sudden you hear it used on the radio, on TV, in the book you're reading, and a friend uses it casually like all in a day. It's not because now that you know the word you notice it more, because when I don't know a word that I hear I look it up. This happens to me CONSTANTLY. And when it does, I always look up and say, "Nice one, God" no matter where I am or what I'm doing.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:41 PM on July 7, 2005

Coinkidinks are fun. Those were interesting ones to read about.

Here's one. About 10 years ago I first contacted my great aunt, who told me my father's great grandmother and her sister, Faith and Phoebe, had come from England, a small village called Morchard Bishop. I phoned my sister, who had recently moved from America to England to tell her. Without knowing anything about these ancestors my sister had also named her two daughters Faith and Phoebe and had bought her house there, 2 miles from Morchard Bishop.

Another little one. When we were very little kids my brother and I were given silver dollars by a visiting guest. In a fight with him I threw his coin into the garden. In looking for the coin later that day a grown-up said take a rock and throw it where you threw the coin. I (a lousy throw) threw a rock and it landed on the coin, which popped into the air like a tiddlywink and I was able to find it.
posted by nickyskye at 8:41 PM on July 7, 2005

uncanny hengeman: The circumstances of your meeting really are remarkable, but is it possible that getting a brief glimpse of this person minutes before 12:00 AM subconsciously triggered your memories first?
posted by tss at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2005

BlackLeotardFront, I think they call that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
posted by jikel_morten at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2005

Very well then.

Sig other and I split early on in a year-long backpacking trip in central and southeast asia. I change my travel plans so that over the next several countries, we aren't going to be anywhere near each other. Months go by, I'm with someone else, and in the middle of Indonesia -- I think we're talking about 5 or 6 months later, here, I run into her. She's in the same country. Same island. Same town. Same guesthouse. In the room next to mine.
posted by dreamsign at 8:55 PM on July 7, 2005

i lived in the UK for 3 years. one time my family travelled to oxford, and in one of the streets, my brother and i came across a TV camera. we looked all around for who owned it, and why it was there, but there were no clues. we couldn't tell if it was on or off.

months later, at christmas time, my grandma came over from australia to the UK to visit us. first and last time she had visited. as the plane was arriving in the UK airspace, they played one of those promotional videos for "what to see and do in the UK". and she watched a scene of me and my brother hop-skipping down a cobbled street in oxford.
posted by kv at 8:58 PM on July 7, 2005

Baader Meinhof
posted by jikel_morten at 9:04 PM on July 7, 2005

I don't wanna spoil the magic. But yes, we studied that phenomenon in psych.
posted by dreamsign at 9:07 PM on July 7, 2005

I got poleaxed - mentally - by a good coincidence long ago when I had first started college at the University of Texas. I had the dubious pleasure of living in a dorm for the first time and having an assigned roommate. Luckily, Greg turned out to be a good guy, and we got along pretty well. A month or two into the semester, a friend of mine from high school who'd also gone Longhorn invited us over to his apartment for beer and pizza. (Lucky sod had a rich poppa who got him his own apartment!)

When we got to the apartment, Carlos - my high school friend - introduced us to his new girlfriend, Kate, and perhaps a few other people. So, as the evening progressed, and much Shiner Bock and other assorted intoxicants were imbibed, weall chatted about this and that. And I learned that Kate had grown up in Houston - no big surprise at UT- but more to the point, had grown up in my part of town. And on further comparison of neighborhoods, it so happened that she had lived two houses down the street from my brother's wife and her family, and had been good friends with my sister-in-law's younger sister all through elementary school and junior high. Then, for some reason or another, her family had moved to Dallas.

Which is where my roommate - my randomly assigned roommate - Greg was from. And so of course they began comparing notes on what parts of town they were familiar with. And it turned out that she had gone to the next closest highschool to where he lived... and had DATED a good friend of his for some time. "You're THAT Kate? Um. Wow."

The coincidence of it makes me smile even now - imagine how impressive it was to my semi-snockered, partially-stoned 18 year old self then.
posted by John Smallberries at 9:09 PM on July 7, 2005

Thanks, jikel! I had no idea that phenomonon had a name, despite me referring to it all the time.
posted by jonson at 9:11 PM on July 7, 2005

You learn a new word, say "gregarious" or something like that, not totally esoteric but relatively uncommon. All of a sudden you hear it used on the radio, on TV, in the book you're reading, and a friend uses it casually like all in a day. It's not because now that you know the word you notice it more, because when I don't know a word that I hear I look it up.

This happened to me a couple of years ago with the word "pustules". I already knew the word, but for about a week, I heard it almost every day--on the radio, at the art museum, from friends, and reading it in books.


My dad took the family on Sabbatical from the University of Kansas to France in 1989, and we lived in a house in a suburb of Paris. The house belonged to a woman who was a curator at the Louvre, and she rented it out to (mostly) visiting scientists--my dad's a physicist.

There was a book on Surrealism in her library that I always wished I'd stolen, but back then, I was 14, and a good kid.

Years later, I was walking around Manhattan on my third day in college with a bunch of other new Cooper Union students. We'd come from all over the country.

This one flat-nosed guy from Pennsylvania and I started talking about our parents, and Sabbaticals, and the conversation went something like this:

"You lived in France, too, huh?" I said.
"Yeah, in a suburb of Paris."
"Really? Did you live in Orsay?"
"Yeah." At this point, I got a creepy feeling. "Did you live at 35 Rue des Chartres?" I asked.

He had the Surrealism book back in his dorm room. I shoulda stolen it from him.
posted by interrobang at 9:12 PM on July 7, 2005

Oh yeah - I also once saw a guy flick away a finished cigarette and have it land straight up on its end. Admittedly, the pavement was damp, but still... I'm pretty sure I'll never see that happen again.
posted by John Smallberries at 9:15 PM on July 7, 2005

incredibly romantic story, uncanny hengeman!
posted by interrobang at 9:29 PM on July 7, 2005

i tend to subscribe to jungian notions of synchronicity as the universe revealing its beauty to us in a language we don't quite yet speak

Nicely said Hat Maui.
posted by nickyskye at 9:31 PM on July 7, 2005

The circumstances of your meeting really are remarkable, but is it possible that getting a brief glimpse of this person minutes before 12:00 AM subconsciously triggered your memories first?

Very possible, tts! But I hope not.

I want it to be like Hat Maui says, where it's all about Jungian notions of synchronicity as the universe reveals its beauty to us in a language we don't quite yet speak.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:34 PM on July 7, 2005

At my college freshman orientation, I sat down at the lunch table with a random girl I did not know. Turned out here name was Megan, and she was from Indiana. She mentioned her hometown, a city I had lived in as a child. We realized that we had gone to the same school district in that city. It was a very large school district in a very large city in a completely different state from the one we were currently in. Huh.

Later that day, I met up with my Mom. She had been at the parent's orientation seminar with several hundred other parents. The first thing she said to me was "You'll never guess who I met at orientation! They were old friends from Indiana. You went to kindergarten with their daughter, Megan." It was the same girl. Huh.
posted by groar at 9:40 PM on July 7, 2005

My aunt used to say coincidences mean you are where you are supposed to be.
posted by superposition at 9:44 PM on July 7, 2005 [2 favorites]

A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg. In those days some film plates were sold individually. World War I broke out and unable to return to Strasbourg, the woman gave up the picture for lost. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, to take a picture of her newborn daughter. When developed the film turned out to be a double exposure, with the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. Through some incredible twist of fate, her original film, never developed, had been mislabeled as unused, and had eventually been resold to her.

How many people in that area had that camera? I'm guessing not many.

Also, I just don't belive the story.
posted by delmoi at 9:48 PM on July 7, 2005

This happens to me CONSTANTLY. And when it does, I always look up and say, "Nice one, God" no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

God has nothing better to do than make you hear the word "gregarious" four times in one day? No wonder the planet is such a mess.
posted by notmydesk at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2005

Likewise jonson. What's the bet you hear and read it a half dozen times in the next month!

And John Smallberries, I could bore you to tears with some of the "throwing stories" I've witnessed. Like the time me and my buddy were on a beer drinking bender. And he lobbed an empty tinny over his head.

I watched it travel in this beautiful high arc (the room had an extremely high ceiling) as it landed on the edge of the kitchen sink. And stopped dead.

(Turns out it had landed perfectly half way, and the height had given it *just* enough energy for it to create a tiny dent in the can, holding it in place.)

Me and my buddy were whooping it up for hours over that incident. We were drunk. We like throwing, OK.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2005

My father passed away at about 10pm (22:00) on January 22nd 1992. He was 52.

I remember thinking about it shortly after the event and thinking "wow, this shakes one's disbelief in numerology."
posted by clevershark at 9:50 PM on July 7, 2005

i found this humourous, seeing as i'd read both of these within 5 mins of each other. i hope one didn't cause the other. that would just make me disappointed
posted by hayeled at 9:53 PM on July 7, 2005

My aunt used to say coincidences mean you are where you are supposed to be.

Ah, but for all the bizarre coincidences you catch being in one place at a time, think of all the scepticism-straining alignments you'd notice at a thousand different places just then, if only you had been there...
posted by dreamsign at 9:54 PM on July 7, 2005

I went to high school in California in the 70s. While in school I played in a rock band. One summer I was staying with relatives in Boulder Colorado. I was alone at the house when the phone rang. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn't place it. He asked for a person who I knew from school. I said, "who is this, I know that person from my school." I had no idea that this other person lived in Boulder. It turned out that it was the bass player from the band on the phone. He was trying to reach somebody else from our school but had mis dialed and gotten me instead! We were both speechless for over a minute. I don't think we ever talked about it much the next school year as it's just too difficult to file that kind of experience anywhere in your brain. I can't even begin to imagine what the odds are of such a "seemingly" random occurence.
posted by gallois at 9:54 PM on July 7, 2005

I like mystery, and a sense of magic, but I long for the day when all people are better schooled in logic and critical thinking.

dreamsign, critical thinking is like a blabbermouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends. There are some things I don't want to know. Important things!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:21 PM on July 7, 2005

If you really want to read some high-quality coincidence porn, I suggest Paul Auster's The Red Notebook.

(Coincidentally, notmydesk, I've been on a self-improvement kick, and so recently dusted off your very fondly remembered fitness literature -- and I have to say, the pounds are not so much dropping off as fleeing in terror.)
posted by melissa may at 10:23 PM on July 7, 2005

Ok, here's mine: years ago I was a wandering down an (admittedly very picturesque) narrow curved street in Siena. In the distance there was an old man walking with a cane, and he'd just passed under an arch with a stone missing. I thought it made a nice mood photo, no landmark, nothing special. Years later a friend was showing me photos from her recent European vacation, and though hers is closer and mine from a greater distance, she'd photographed the same man, in similar clothes, on the same street, under the same exact archway. Maybe this guy wandered that same street for decades, but still...the two photos side by side are pretty amazing.
posted by tula at 10:27 PM on July 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

My wife and I have had a lot of weird coincidences throughout our lives - intersections that we never noticed until much later.

Now let me start by saying that, while the town we grew up in/around (Athens, GA) is not huge, it's certainly more than large enough to make a lot of these coincidences amusing.

My wife and I were delivered by the same doctor, in the same hospital.

Our parents - at separate times, but as married couples - both rented the same basement apartment in the 70s.

Our mothers attended the same high school at the same time in Atlanta, in the late 60s, unknowingly. What makes it odd is that in both cases, they had just moved to town (my mother from NJ, her mother from Florida).

My wife lived at 220 Glencrest Dr. when she was a child; I lived at 220 Merlin Ct. My parents' power box number is labelled 220 at their current house.

Her mother taught deaf and hard of hearing children Signed English in one county school system; my mother taught regular English in another.

We went to the same kindergarten together. We never knew each other.

After seeing my wife play violin in third grade, I was inspired to play music. I ended up playing cello. Over the next several years, we played at various recitals at the same time, although we never spoke to one another (or even paid attention to one another, really.)

The first time I actually spoke to my future wife was my first class on the first day of 9th grade. I was running late to class because I could not find the damn classroom - it was crammed all the way at the end of the vocational wing of the big new high school. I was literally the last person to class, and the only seat left was next to my wife. If I hadn't been late that day, I never would've sat down next to her.

We've been together for 13 years now.

Another odd coincidence:

My mother is from Massachusetts; my father is from Georgia. My father was attending a conference in Washington, D.C. in the mid-90's. During the conference, everyone was in attendance was randomly seated at a tables. After small talk for awhile, the lady he was sitting next to said "Oh, I'm from Massachusetts."

My father said, "Oh, really? Ever been to Cape Cod?" (Where my mother is from.) She replied that she had.

"Ever been to Harwich Port?"

"Yes, I was born there."

"Did you know Frederick Rowley?" (This was my maternal great grandfather, and was the doctor for decades in the Harwich Port area.)

Her response?

"He delivered me."


Doesn't get a whole lot more coincidental than that, does it?
posted by Floach at 10:28 PM on July 7, 2005

superposition, that's a great quotation. I tend to shoot down other people in the throws of vuja-de, but it's usually because I'm jealous.
posted by bardic at 10:58 PM on July 7, 2005

I also once saw a guy flick away a finished cigarette and have it land straight up on its end.

Not exactly a coincidence, but along the same lines, I was running around the place and someone had set their full glass of wine on the floor. I kind of ran by, and my foot connected. It flipped upside down and was now sitting on the floor upside down, the wine still in it, and slowly seeping out. I swear. I have witnesses.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:59 PM on July 7, 2005

I look at the clock at 7:18 every day (or at least every other day). And it's not like I mean to. I just get the urge to check the time then, it seems.

Sometimes, if I don't see it on a clock, I'll see it somewhere else. On a receipt, as a statistic somewhere, a score...

It wouldn't be so freaky to me if I wasn't born on July 18th...
posted by dopamine at 11:21 PM on July 7, 2005

My parents' power box number is labelled 220 at their current house.

dude, not to crap on your cool coincidences, but pretty much every "power box" is going to say 220 on it somewhere:

U.S. stays at 110V, 60Hz

The United States also considered converting to 220V for home use but felt it would be too costly, due to all the 110V electrical appliances people had. A compromise was made in the U.S. in that 220V would come into the house where it would be split to 110V to power most appliances. Certain household appliances such as an electric stove and electric clothes dryer would be powered at 220V.

posted by Hat Maui at 11:23 PM on July 7, 2005

I was camping in a remote(middle of nowhere) desert valley during a ferocious wind storm. when the storm broke, a fellow survivor suggested a visit to the dunes, my friend,a program host at his local community radio, put on a cd, of a band (Trancezendance) that had just been released,and off we went, when we arrived at the intersection of the dunes road, a truck pulled up and this guy asked directions, and then asked us what ARE you listening to?"Trancezendance" "dude I am in that band"! the cd was released just nine days previous.
posted by hortense at 11:27 PM on July 7, 2005

I may have a certain reaction every time I look at a clock and it says "9:11", but that doesn't change the fact that this is a normal situation for a full 120 seconds of every day. Actually even more than that because not all my clocks are sync'd.
posted by clevershark at 11:28 PM on July 7, 2005

A few months after I turned 16, I got a used car, a crappy but perky Mercury Lynx. About a month later, on March 3, I got home from school at 3:33 p.m., glanced down, and noted the odometer was at 33,333 miles. And a third. I geekily sprinted into my house to get a camera (yes, to photograph the odometer & clock), but by the time I got back it was 3:37 or something and the magic was gone.

The current issue of Harper's has a good short story by Haruki Murakami on this very topic.
posted by lisa g at 11:31 PM on July 7, 2005

Heh, dopamine, so am I.
posted by arha at 11:32 PM on July 7, 2005

Back in 2002, I went to the first Bonaroo festival because I was a dirty freakin' hippie. Shortly after arriving at the festival, my friend and I scored some hash, and were looking for a place to smoke it. We were wandering around the parking lot, and saw some people who had a small pavillion tent set up that looked nice and shady and comfortable. I asked one of the guys if he and his friends would mind helping us smoke some hash, and he was more than happy to oblige.

So, we're sitting with this guy and his friends (about 6 of them), and I start talking to one of the girls. She was from Indiana, but mentioned that she was moving to St. Louis at the end of the month. At the time, I was staying in St. Louis for an internship, so, naturally, I asked her where she was going to live. As it turns out, she was moving into the apartment directly below the one that I was staying in. So, at an 80,000+ concert festival in Tenessee, I met a girl from Indiana that was moving into a St. Louis apartment directly below the one that I was staying in at the time, a place that I had found quite randomly through the newspaper.

(After she moved in, we wound up dating. But that's another story for another time.)

I think that there is a constant level of synchronicity and meta-activity going on around us. However, if we were always aware of it, it would drive us crazy and it would be impossible to get anything done. So, we get a flash every once and a while that says, "Hey, you're on the right track." Works for me.
posted by afroblanca at 11:33 PM on July 7, 2005

I like mystery, and a sense of magic, but I long for the day when all people are better schooled in logic and critical thinking.


However, about 25 years ago, I was a regular patron at a little piano bar (in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho). Weekly, I listened to a gentleman there named Tony Nardi. The bar went out of business at about the same time I joined the USAF. At my very first duty station (RAF Lakenheath, in the UK), I walk into the NCO Club and there was Tony Nardi playing the piano.
posted by Chasuk at 11:38 PM on July 7, 2005

When I was fourteen, my best friend and his family took me on holiday with them to the south of France.

One day we were driving down some twisty backroads, in the middle of absolute nowhere, Provence. We hadn't seen more than two other cars in the last twenty minutes. Then we caught up with a car in front of us. Saw the GB sticker on the bumper. Another British car. Not much of a coincidence. Then my friend's dad saw the number plate. His car, that we were driving, was something like TFN 456 Y. The car in front of us was TFN 457 Y.

Later on, when the road widened, we passed them. I didn't want to look in, in case it was us in there too.
posted by reynir at 11:58 PM on July 7, 2005

hey he studied something in school! you know he's right so WATCH OUT freethinkers! dont get cocky!
posted by Satapher at 12:01 AM on July 8, 2005

if you want me to spoil it, I will. but I thought I'd leave the man his magic, intact.

if you want to believe that apples fall from trees because the grass pulls them down, Satapher, I won't let any book learnin' get in yer way!

But Max, as soon as you discard scientific rigor, you are no longer a mathematician. You become a numerologist.

You may have noticed, I am not actually trying to spoil anyone's fun. But consider: coincidences are more interesting without some kind of underlying magic. It's the improbability that makes it incredible. If things are all linked together -- not so improbable anymore.
posted by dreamsign at 12:15 AM on July 8, 2005

I was visiting some friends in LA, and we were in a bar near Santa Monica when a guy walked up and started talking to me. It took me probably 10 seconds to recognise a co-worker from back home, my brain simply wouldn't process that he was in LA and I think it was checking I wasn't dreaming or something. Turned out he had a layover at LAX and had asked some cabbie to take him to a decent bar. The cabbie took him to Santa Monica, which was odd for a start, then dropped him off right outside the bar I was in. Weird, huh?
posted by fshgrl at 12:37 AM on July 8, 2005

I had three jobs in a row where the designated time for a safety meeting was 4:20.
posted by mullingitover at 12:46 AM on July 8, 2005

A few things: once I went to Europe for a summer and on the airplane had a pleasant chat with another American. Three months later, we bumped into each other in downtown Prague. Not terribly unbelievable, as we were both tourists in a touristy city.

Just found out from a Spanish guy I met recently that were were both at the Kansas City Lollapalooza in '94, ten years ago. Also not so dramatic, but things like that really do make you stop and think.
posted by zardoz at 12:46 AM on July 8, 2005

I wuz only joking, dreamsign!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:46 AM on July 8, 2005

Some of these make great stories, but whatever is possible will probably happen to someone. Out of all the millions and millions of people in the world, some of them are bound to bump into one another more than once, and having been together once in fact makes it much more likely that you will be together again (you shared certain traits to begin with or you wouldn't have been in the same place the first time).

For instance, two guys live in a town in Idaho. One plays piano in a piano bar and one likes hanging in a piano bar. That gives them an awful lot in common to begin with and probably makes them more likely to land in the same spot if they move. And they do move, and end up in the same town in France. That's not that shocking. Air Force guys often end up in France. So, perhaps, do unemployed piano players. And once they are in the same town, the rest is inevitable: one is a guy who plays piano in a bar and the other is a guy who likes to hang out at piano bars. So they meet.

Also, no one talks about all the many, many non-coincidences that happen all day, every day, to the same people, and how that must be evidence for there not being synchronicity (or whatever the mechanism of coincidence is presumed to be). "Hey, my brother didn't die when I dropped his picture! Two white cats didn't appear on consecutive days in two different towns on a street called Lucy! [etc., etc., for millions of examples] See, there is no synchronicity!"

But still, some charming stories.
posted by pracowity at 12:53 AM on July 8, 2005

When I was a small boy, about 3rd/4th grade, I had a Big Brother, Jim, who was an undergrad at Brown Universtiy. I saw him off and on, but since I lived in Westerly, RI, an hour away from Providence, it wasn't to often. I visited him for a week at his parents house in Florida in the summer of 1987, and I believe he graduated that same year. In any event, I lost contact with him for several years. One day, my mom was driving me north on I-95 in Rhode Island, and I happen to look out my window. In the car next to us, I see Jim. I somehow get his attention, and we pull off the next exit and do a bit of catching up. I lost contact again with him within a year though, not being a good letter writer.

In the fall of 1995, I transferred from my current school, Buxton School, to Portsmith Abbey, because I wanted a more "traditional" school enviornment, and I hated it so much I managed to transfer back to Buxton in the end of October. In my last week at Portsmouth, I met a girl named Alexis and we had a long talk about plays or something. In any event, I went back to Buxton, and finished my last two years of high school there. I had Alexis' number, but I never botherd to call it. In the fall of 1997, I went to go a friend from Buxton, also named Alexis, who was going to school in Ohio. When I arrived, I discoverd that a friend of hers there was the Alexis from Portsmouth Abbey.
posted by Snyder at 1:00 AM on July 8, 2005

And see, i've said it before and i'll probably say it again, this is why i keep coming back to the Blue, Thanks all, this was fascinating.

Best of the web? i think so.
posted by quin at 1:06 AM on July 8, 2005

Snyder: Booooo!

I thought Alexis was gonna turn out to be Jim's daughter or something.

(I reckon gallois is the winner so far... but jeez... there's been some good ones.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:08 AM on July 8, 2005

Coincidences, shmoincidences. These are just examples of subtle traces left by time travellers.

It's the only explanation, really.
posted by Poagao at 1:21 AM on July 8, 2005

My stories:

I'm a headhunter for Abercrombie and Fitch, and I had picked up this recruit named Tony from Oregon. He had poor penmanship, so when I dialed the number he gave me, I wanted to make sure I was speaking with the right person.

me: Hey, is this Tony?
guy: Yeah, who's this?
me: Hey dude, it's Jerome from A&F. Just wanted to call and remind you to come to the interview on Tuesday.
guy: Yeah man, for sure I'm gonna make it.
me: Sweet. I'll see you tomorrow then.

He never came to the interview.

A couple weeks later, I saw Tony at a movie theater and asked if he had success finding a job. He told me he was bummed because we never called him back. I was totally confused and asked if he was drunk or something when I had called him. He looked at me confused, so I whipped out my organizer and pulled his name out. He told me the number I had written was wrong by two numbers.

After laughing about it and telling him I had talked to a Tony, he told me to call the number again. I did so, and "Tony" answered. I asked him how everything was going with Abercrombie, and it turns this other Tony had also been recruited and hired to work in Indiana. He was also from Oregon (hence the same area code), and the Tony on the phone was friends with the other Tony's sister, who he had met at Michigan State.


I don't know if it's coincidence or some form of mental clock, but my body will immediately wake up to within one or two minutes of whatever time I've programmed myself to wake up. It's not routine, either. I religiously wake up at odd hours of the day a minute or two before my alarm goes off.


I walked up to this one random girl and guessed her birthday to the tee. She was completely freaked out and wouldn't answer my questions as to how I might have known anything about her. And it's not as if I make a habit of guessing peoples' birthdays. But February 17th stuck in my head when I saw her and I had to inquire. It still bugs me how it popped in my head.

And for the record, I dismiss anything and everything that has to do with astrology. Given that, all four of my ex-girlfriends are Virgos. As are my two best female friends. As is the girl I'm currently pursuing.
posted by Mach3avelli at 1:23 AM on July 8, 2005

Here's mine. When I was about 7 years old one of my good friends who lived a few doors down from me was named Howard. I moved away when I was 10 and never kept in touch. About 6 years ago I got a job in NYC and exploring the new offices on my first day, I come to an office just a few doors down from mine and there's Howard's name on the door. Same guy. I thought that was pretty strange.

Fast forward 6 years and I'm living in UK and at a party. I'm talking to some stranger and when I mention I'm from NY, she says "oh, I know someone from there, maybe you know him". I always find this ridiculous as NY is so big but I play along and ask the name. It's Howard! That throws me a bit but she then tells me he now lives in UK and, as it turns out, just a few blocks from me.

The very next morning I'm at the gym still thinking how strange the whole thing is and notice in the mirror some guy walking the down the stairs. It's Howard.

He's either stalking me or this is one helluva coincidence.
posted by gfrobe at 2:28 AM on July 8, 2005

I am the king of uncoincidence.

Once, I was sitting in a train station in Firenze, and as I was sitting there I was thinking that no one within 5 thousand miles knows me. I watched the people go by. And I was lonely.

Here's another. When I was in 4th grade my best friend Philip moved away suddenly. One day we were playing together, the next day, when I went to call for him, his house was empty and locked. I've never seen him again.

I've got thousands of those.
posted by recurve at 2:43 AM on July 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

My father ate a roast beef sandwich the night I was conceived. Do I owe my existence to that sandwich? If so, I owe my existence to every single moment that all my ancestors—all the way back past Adam and Eve, past the first amino acids—experienced. That includes their interaction with others—and all those experiences. If one single instant in their lives--perhaps in the universe--were changed, you and I would not exist.

But it may, in fact, be certain that other creatures would exist who could make the same case for a thirteen billion year string of virtually impossible coincidences bringing forth their existence. Coincidence is certainty dressed in impossibility’s clothing. Even noticing the period at the end of this sentence will change your life
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:47 AM on July 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

A foreign woman I work with in a foreign country was born in the same hospital as me around the same time in San Diego, and had the same pediatrician as my brother.

My first girlfriend in Berkeley was born on the same day in the same hospital as I in San Diego and we had never met prior to university. I later had a second girlfriend with the same birthdate as I (weird).

I rent a parking space at a hotel near my house and pay once a month at the hotel counter. The girl working at the counter, it turns out, sold a house about to my mother 6 years ago in a different region in this foreign country I live in - and I can recall my mother talking about the couple who sold the house to her, particularly this young girl.

Another girl who works at this hotel counter, it turns out, loves African dance and is going to Mali to set up a cultural exchange program this summer, and takes dance classes in town here. It so happens that a girl from my running club also takes African dance classes in town and both of them (they don't know each other) were scammed by the same Congolese con-artist. (I guess this is a less fantastic coincidence, but the fact that she's from this spooky hotel...)
posted by faux ami at 3:08 AM on July 8, 2005

Classic thread. I don't have any to add although I've had plenty of statistical improbable synchronicities.
I imagine if you have a meeting with all your kindergarten class say and you map out your lives between school and the discussion, you'd find amazing 'coincidences'. We only recognize a few I suspect.
posted by peacay at 4:09 AM on July 8, 2005

By 2003, I had been renting office space here in Ohio fully two years before personally meeting the owner/landlord from across the street. He helped me jump my car and we introduced ourselves. Asked me where I'm originally from. A small college town in Iowa, oh, name doesn't matter as I'm sure you've never heard of it, hard to get home very often since no interstates run near, beautiful valleys, family history that settled the land, don't get back often enough but should since the missing pieces of my geneaology need to be completed before all the sources die off.

He studied me for a second and asked "Yeah, sounds like a long drive. Wanna fly there with me next week?" Turns out, he's a retired professor of aviation and dabbles in restaurant development. He had been found by some long lost relatives and invited to a reunion in 2002 in a small town eight miles south of mine, in the same county. Fell in love with the area and found out his relatives founded the town. He purchased and beautifully restored the vacation home of the composer Antonin Dvorak into a small hotel/restaurant. Certainly a project of love as he'll never recoup his investment.

He's now a client. I design his printwork and get to fly to my hometown a couple times a year instead of a 15 hour drive. We hold court at a 12-top table in the front of the restaurant as relatives come to dine (with much wine) and we all pour over old picture albums. Yes, we're distantly related.
posted by hal9k at 4:51 AM on July 8, 2005

I moved to a new area, the first time I switched over to local news they were showing a story with a reporter standing outside my house. (I also caught the words '...what it will mean for areas like these is an increased police presence.')
posted by biffa at 4:58 AM on July 8, 2005

Once, I was sitting in a train station in Firenze, and as I was sitting there I was thinking that no one within 5 thousand miles knows me. I watched the people go by. And I was lonely.

What a coincidence, that happened to me, too! ;)

I like the stories of the kind in this thread but I prefer not to think too much about this sort of thing. I have very mixed feelings about the notion of synchronicity. I already tend to be superstitious, which I do not like one bit, so I balance that out by being extra-skeptical. I definitely do not believe some of the stories in the linked page - especially the one about the tree and the bullet!

I did have some much simpler and silly coincidences myself, the one I like most is when I once picked up the phone to call a friend, and the moment I picked it up I hear "hello?" and it's that friend, she was calling me right at that moment and I had picked up the phone before the tone rang. That was so freaky. But I'm sure it can happen, after all, it wasn't a complete stranger whose number I'd picked from the phone book, it was a friend I regularly saw and talked to on the phone, so I guess that even if the probability of us deciding to call each other at the very same instant was not very high, it was still higher because we talked on the phone so often.
posted by funambulist at 6:03 AM on July 8, 2005

My story isn't spectacular, but at the time I thought it was pretty neat.

My freshman year of college roommate and I got along really well and were very good friends. She went abroad for the first semester of sophmore year, and I ended up with a very weird roommate. My weird roommate decided to request a room switch for the second semester, but didn't tell me anything about it. My freshman year roommate had decided to just accept wherever the housing department placed her when she got back, without making any special requests (we had lots of themed houses on campus). The housing folks ended up placing her in my room.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:33 AM on July 8, 2005

I love the story with the wardrobe people on the Wizard of Oz looking for a coat for Professor Marvel. Turns out that the coat they bought purely by chance from a secondhand store was originally owned and custom made for L. Frank Baum, the author of the book.

posted by dr_dank at 6:59 AM on July 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Here's your coincidence: Snyder, you were at the Abbey the same time as my sister (there's a decent chance your Alexis (Alexis Y.?) was a friend of hers from grade school) and 2 years after I graduated. Also, the phone calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!
posted by yerfatma at 7:21 AM on July 8, 2005

About 7 months ago, I was working on a series of paintings that were inspired by the style of Medieval manuscripts and other kinds of miniature painting. I ran out of paper and couldn't start a new piece that day, so I decided to go down to the library and look up some source/reference material. I found a big, hardbound edition of color plates of an entire illuminated Old Testament. The book hadn't been checked out since 1989 and it was squeezed really snugly onto the crowded shelf. Flipping through the book, I was amazed to find that the last person who checked it out had left about six 5x7 pieces of paper. I looked at the watermark and was further amazed to find that it was the brand that I preferred.
posted by Jon-o at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2005

My first 3 boyfriends were all born on July 4th.
posted by gaspode at 7:46 AM on July 8, 2005

You learn a new word, say "gregarious" or something like that, not totally esoteric but relatively uncommon. All of a sudden you hear it used on the radio, on TV, in the book you're reading, and a friend uses it casually like all in a day.

This does happen to me a lot, as well, but I don't really think of it as coincidence. The thing is, once you learn the meaning of a new word, you just pay attention more. When you didn't know it, you didn't notice it. That's all there is to it.
posted by timory at 7:50 AM on July 8, 2005

when I once picked up the phone to call a friend, and the moment I picked it up I hear "hello?" and it's that friend, she was calling me right at that moment and I had picked up the phone before the tone rang

This happens to me so often it is no longer alarming. I would say once per month this occurs with my wife and I. And, we are not one of those couples that call each other all day, or not even every day. Maybe three times per work week.

If you include times when I pick up the phone and someone is on the other side, but not necessarily the person I was about to call, it happens probably 3 times a month.

"Doug? That's weird... I had just picked up the phone to call Mark."
posted by Ynoxas at 8:08 AM on July 8, 2005

My first holiday in New York clashed with a boxing match in which a schoolfriend was fighting, back in my provincial home city 3000 miles away in the UK. The fight was being filmed for local TV, and became notorious because the opponent's Mum entered the ring and clouted my pal with an umbrella. How did I know this? The evening I arrived in NY, as soon as I flopped into my room and switched on the TV, the last item on the news programme I saw was film of that incident, as a 'quirky' item.
posted by punilux at 8:16 AM on July 8, 2005

Caller ID is wonderful. I note whose number is on the display, hit the green answer button and immediately say "Hi is ___ there?" before they get a chance to speak. Messes with their heads. Lots of "Whoa, dude I was just like calling YOU!" and "Thats thpooky". Takes them a minute to get to the gist of why (indeed) they called me.

These are my business clients.
posted by hal9k at 8:38 AM on July 8, 2005

My grandparents are immigrants who met each other on the boat. Obviously, they married, had kids, lived a happy life, and so on. Years and years after arriving in America, my grandmother was reminiscing about her trip to the boat. She talked about how the car she was in broke down, and the driver said to her and her sister, “Not to worry ladies. I’ve got a friend up the street who’s handy with this stuff and he’ll help me out. You have a drink here at this pub and I’ll be back in a bit.” An hour or two later he returned and they went on their way. When my grandma told this story, my grandpa remembered helping fix a car just before he left for the boat. Turns out it was her car he fixed! The strange thing was, my grandfather wasn’t a mechanic, he was just handy. If he hadn’t been, perhaps my grandmother would have missed the boat and they would never have met, etc.
posted by katie at 8:53 AM on July 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

May the record show
that this is a great thread.
on multiple levels.

There is an almost Quantum Physics aspect to coincidences. Like a subatomic particle whose state depends upon the moment of observation. Do unnoticed coincidences even exist? How many more links between things/people are there that are never discovered? It is our noticing that makes them significant (to us).

See also: Serendipity

Related discussion (at least to this A.D.D. mind): does quantum physics favour the notion of unitive consciousness
posted by spock at 9:18 AM on July 8, 2005

A woman joined the organization that I worked for and we became pretty good friends. At some point I we found out that her high school band travelled from Halifax to Ottawa and played a concert at my high school. I don't remember her specifically, but she remembered my roommate at the time when I described him.

A while later I told her a story where I had gone visiting my former roomate at his uni (Queen's) for homecoming. I got very shitfaced prior to the football game and on the way to the stadium passed out in bush on the side of the road. My friends, of course, let me lie there and continued on the stadium. A couple of girls passed by, got me out of the bush and started taking me towards the stadium. We got chatty and I decided to cop a feel of the redhead's ass. Who of course turned out to be my future colleague. (she threw me back in the bush for my wandering fingers)

Oh yeah, her husband went out with a girl before they met who used to be a good friend of mine as well.
posted by smcniven at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2005

A woman joined the organization that I worked for and we became pretty good friends. At some point I we found out that her high school band travelled from Halifax to Ottawa and played a concert at my high school. I don't remember her specifically, but she remembered my roommate at the time when I described him.

A while later I told her a story where I had gone visiting my former roomate at his uni (Queen's) for homecoming. I got very shitfaced prior to the football game and on the way to the stadium passed out in bush on the side of the road. My friends, of course, let me lie there and continued on the stadium. A couple of girls passed by, got me out of the bush and started taking me towards the stadium. We got chatty and I decided to cop a feel of the redhead's ass. Who of course turned out to be my future colleague. (she threw me back in the bush for my wandering fingers)

Oh yeah, her husband went out with a girl before they met who used to be a good friend of mine as well.
posted by smcniven at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2005

I use other people's belief in coincidences as signs of a higher spiritual power as a way of judging their critical thinking abilities, which in turn reinforces my tendency to like/dislike or trust/distrust them.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2005

A friend finally married her high-school sweetheart after years of romantic tribulation. At the wedding, which took place in San Francisco, their parents found out during chitchat that the two families were neighbors in Shanghai in the 40s, and her uncle and his dad used to be playmates.
posted by of strange foe at 9:56 AM on July 8, 2005

My wife and I have had a lot of weird coincidences throughout our lives - intersections that we never noticed until much later.

The reason these seem cool is because you didn't notice them until later, though. If you start from the beginning, the story is that two women who go to the same high school end up renting the same apartment later, and eventually going to the same obstetrician, and then their children go to the same kindergarten, and end up dating in high school & eventually marrying. Not to be a bore, but :)...

I just like being amazed by the world, not the random fluctuations that we weren't expecting. Whether or not we expected something shouldn't be the reason to find it amazing. too egotistical.
posted by mdn at 10:21 AM on July 8, 2005

For my very own "jeez, that's meta" moment.

Yesterday this question got asked over on AskMe:
Isn't there a name for that phenomenon wherein, once you start paying attention to something, you see it everywhere? You know, like when you buy a 1980 Toyota Celica, for example, and all of the sudden you see one on every block.
My blog posting four years ago about the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon was referenced both there and in this same thread.
posted by norm at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2005

When I turned 20 in college, my friend Steve invited a random intoxicated girl into my room to sing Happy Birthday to me. The girl sang it Marilyn Monroe - Mr. President style. Steve and I went on to be roommates the next year, and before classes began we stole a rug from the hallway of a neighboring dorm.

Later in the year, we met a girl named Laura through some mutual friends. Once inside our room, she noticed a brown stain on our rug. She once had a rug like that, and made a simlarly shaped tequila stain on it after being completely trashed one night and singing Happy Birthday Mr. President to some boy she didn't know. I, of course, was that boy, and it turns out we'd stolen her rug.

Flash forward nine years. Steve, Laura, and I ended up living in the same town. We are all friends now, and Steve and Laura are dating and are looking for apartments together.

I intend to steal their rug and sing Happy Birthday to them when they find a place. Just to bring the whole thing full-circle.
posted by Samsonov14 at 12:36 PM on July 8, 2005

Copied and pasted from a post I made the other day at MeCha:

This just happened in the last month or so.

For convenience's sake, let's just call the father of my son my ex-husband. He has a new partner, of about three years now, and they are tremendously happy; so far so good. About 18 years ago, his wife's daughter, aged about 15 or 16, got pregnant, and gave up the baby for adoption (over her mother's ferocious objections, but that's another story). Fast forward 18 years; the baby, a girl, and now a legal adult, decided to sign up for the goverment registry so that she can contact her biological family. In quick order she is in touch with her bio mom, and also her biological grandmother. They arrange to meet at the medium sized city where the bio mom now lives. Bio mom is also, this weekend, just to make things interesting, graduating from nursing school and marrying her girlfriend in what might be the biggest same-sex wedding yet held there.

Grandmother gets there with my ex-husband. Meeting with long-lost granddaughter takes place. During the conversation, it emerges that the long lost granddaughter moved with her family to a very small town in the BC Interior when she was young. This town, with a population of only a few thousand (if that), was also at the time the home of my brother, sister in law, and three nieces. Long lost granddaughter and my oldest niece then become, and have remained, best friends. They are such good friends that we in fact already know the long lost granddaughter on this side of the family, well enough that she came on holiday with us in 1999. She knows me, my brother, my wayward sister in law, obviously all my nieces, and my son, who, it now works out, is her step-uncle.
posted by jokeefe at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2005

Similar story to reynir's. After moving to Virginia from Texas, my parents wanted "X-TEXANS" vanity plates. It was taken, so they settled for "X-TEXAS". A while later, on a trip across state, we caught up with the other ex-Texan Virginians, who were driving the same freaking car, an '87 Camry. Honks and waves ensued.
posted by cl at 2:20 PM on July 8, 2005

I had a boss at a job in Chicago, about 10-12 years ago, and hadn't seen him since then. Since then, I've switched careers, gotten married, moved to Los Angeles, bought a house, and have kids on the way.

Then one day I'm mowing my lawn, and a car pulls up, and out steps my old boss from back in Chicago, who (it turns out) has a daughter who moved into a house two doors down from us (she wasn't born in California, by the way) in the same month that we moved in.
posted by davejay at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2005

Two for me:

The first is observational. I am a newspaper comics junkie and my local paper has two full pages of comics daily. I noticed weird patterns, such as four comics where someone is baking cookies...on the same day. or 5 comics where a character hurts his leg...all on the same day. Now I look for these and sometimes it's only 2, but others it can be up to 10. I wonder if these guys talk to each other and do this on a lark?

The other is a personal experience. While in college I belonged to a club that was sponsored by the County Clerk where the college was located. He had us over to his house at the end of the school year and told us he was leaving his job to go to school to be a dentist. Fast forward about 10 years to a different state and a town where I had just moved. I go to church for the first time, and am introduced to someone else who had also just moved there and was also visiting the church for the first time. And, yes, it was my old sponsor, now a dentist (actually an oral surgeon at the local hospital).
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:42 PM on July 8, 2005

I don't know if it's coincidence or some form of mental clock, but my body will immediately wake up to within one or two minutes of whatever time I've programmed myself to wake up.

I was taught this technique by an old nun, so as not to miss choir practice: as you are going to sleep imaging a clockface of the current time, then imagine it winding forward to your wakeup time, then back, until you fall asleep.

Minutes? With this systems you can get within seconds!
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:16 PM on July 8, 2005

Lot's of freaky stuff during my first year of college happened to me and people I know. One girl (whom I shall call "Halle") found out halfway through first semester that one of her best friends was her second cousin. His parents recognized her name during family weekend, despite the fact that they hadn't seen her since she was an infant.

Then, second semester, Halle and I are in line for a concert and I mention to another of my college peers that I went to a summer program with someone he vaguely knew. Halle wigs out and says that she not only went to the same program, but went the same year and for the same session. This may not sound so remarkable until you consider that she's from Seattle, I'm from Indiana, the summer program was in Connecticut, and our college was in New York.

The biggest, freakiest coincidence had to do with a long metal object that was thrown into a tree at the beginning of the year. For months on end, through two seasons it stayed in the tree, and people would just walk by it. Some tried to take it down, myself included, but failed because that sucker was lodged in there pretty tight. Finally I made a vow to get it down or else, and after about half an hour of struggle I succeeded. Fast forward five weeks, I've carried this thing around and asked just about everyone I know what this metal thing is, and no two answers are the same. Nobody knows. Finally I take it to a small gathering of friends, outdoors around a grill, just for the heck of it. Every now and again a stranger walks up to us (we're out in the open) and chats. About the third stranger to do this talks for a few minutes, then, just as he's turning to leave, looks down and says, "What's my shoe rack doing here?"
posted by Ndwright at 6:50 PM on July 8, 2005

Very neat thread, great to read these stories even if they don't "mean" anything.

My family, especially my mother, likes to tout the connected aspects of the birthdates and times of the three kids (irrevalent details not included):

Myself, born first on May 2nd at 3:22pm
My sister, born second on March 22 (3/22)
And my brother, the youngest, born at 10:02pm (or, 22:02)
posted by nelleish at 8:58 PM on July 8, 2005

I can see this thread lasting a long, long time.

I love this topic - fascinating stories. I too have a story or two to share.

When I was a freshman in college in New Mexico, I met two sisters who were on the student exchange program and were from Anchorage, Alaska. We got on fairly well and hung out on a few occasions, and I asked them about Alaska - specifically intrigued by the imbalance of men v. women ratio.

About a year later I found myself living in Anchorage and managed to experience this ratio I was so fascinated with first hand. Anchorage was (and still is I believe) a fairly small city and I wondered if I would run into Sheila as I went to U of Alaska on occasion.

While driving to Alyeska to snowboard one day, I stopped at what was the only gas station between Anchorage and Alyeska off of the Old Seward Highway. I remember I didn't stop for gas, but I was hungry for a snack of some sort. I open the door and there is Sheila about to walk out of the gas station - a gas station that was literally in the middle of nowhere.
posted by gnash at 10:07 PM on July 8, 2005

I do have one other to share:

Part of my time in high school was spent in the Toronto area. I had said for a long time that I would return, but it wasn't until five years after graduation that I made the trip. It was a trip I was really forward to making. High school was not an unpleasant experience (at least in the later years) and while I was not the most popular kid in class I was well known and had left behind many friends that I was looking forward to seeing again.

Flying from New Mexico to Canada, the flight was not a non-stop much to my chagrin. I had a layover in Salt Lake City, but opted to stay on the plane. The person who had been sitting next to be exited and I was hoping the seat would not be re-filled.

It was clear that this would not be the case as the plane started to fill up as the Salt Lake City passengers boarded. I was in the last seat of the plane and watched as this girl moved slowly further and further back to the end of the plane. She looked at her ticket and the seat next to me, then proceeded to store her gear and sit next to me.

I looked at her, and then looked at her again, conscious of not freaking her out. I had realized that I went to high school with this girl. Not only that, she was my best friend's secret crush (and one of her best friend's). We had all hung out on a few occasions, and I had probably seen her at least once a day at school (hanging out w/ my friend, the hall, including taking classes together).

This was pretty intense for me as this sort of thing had only happened once before (in Alaska). I am thinking this is pretty cool. After contemplating it a bit , I turned to look at her straight in the eye, smiling I said, "Hi Monica."

She turned and studied my face intently, then paused for a moment. She smiled back and said "Do I know you?".

A girl I went to high school with in Canada, who I once knew pretty well, boarding the same plane that I was on (not on a particular holiday), actually sitting in the seat next to mine... and failing to recognize me. Not only an interesting coincidence but a nice ego check.
posted by gnash at 10:33 PM on July 8, 2005

Earlier this week, I was talking with someone about regret. I said that everything I have ever experienced has served to make me who I am today, so I would not want to go back and change anything in my life except for one thing: I wish my kids could have met my grandmother, who passed away when I was still a teen.

Today, I spent in hospital visiting with my aunt. She was there because she had phoned the police to complain about a strange man she found installing some wiring in her basement. When the police arrived, they saw no one, although she pointed and insisted. So her neighbor took her to hospital to be examined.

At the hospital, she seemed perfectly coherent and doctors could find nothing wrong with her, so they were preparing to send her home because a patient cannot be admitted by a neighbor, only by a relative, and the neighbor didn't know how to reach any relatives.

This all happened in the emergency room, where patient beds are separated by drapes drawn around each bed for privacy. A woman who was on the other side of the drape with her aged mother stopped my aunt's nurse and asked "Who is that patient you were talking to?"

The nurse replied that that was confidential and the woman said, "but I know that voice. Is her name so-and-so? If it is, then she's my cousin."

It turned out that the woman, who hadn't seen my aunt in something like 12 or 20 years (one of those -- I forget which) was indeed her cousin, from the side of the family we'd lost track of, and she was able to see at once that my aunt wasn't herself, and asked that they please admit my aunt while she tracked down more relatives.

They complied and within the day found that my aunt has lung and colon cancer, as well as what seems to be sudden onset dementia. Her recognition was the only thing that stopped my lucent-to-strangers aunt from returning home with none of this diagnosed.

That was a couple of days ago. When I found out today and arrived at the hospital, I stopped first to visit with and thank our new-found cousin, whom I dimly remember from my teen years. She was in her mother's hospital room. Her mother, whom I don't recall ever meeting, was the first person I saw as I entered the room.

And she was the spitting image of her sister: my grandmother.

How cool to find that you all are talking about coincidence.

posted by thewhynotgirl at 1:14 AM on July 11, 2005

Oh, geez - almost forgot about this one: Had a relationship with a guy ten years ago. He told me about his earlier marriage at one point, and the very next day, when I settled into my new desk on my first day in a new temping job, I opened my desk drawer, and there's only one item in the whole desk:

a framed 8x10 of their wedding picture.

I live in a major city with a population of about 3 million, and not one of the three of us was in the same line of work.

I *love* coincidence! And I'm not sure; I wonder how absolute 2 per month is ... I wonder how many we could all find if we started looking for them continually? Let's see, I've got 2 girls with the same birthdate, different years ...
posted by thewhynotgirl at 1:34 AM on July 11, 2005

The most memorable coincidence I have experienced:

The first job i had when I left school was as a trainee book manager at WHSmith (a UK bookshop/stationary). I was sent on a training day with the Ordance Survey (makers of maps). During the day we were introduced to all the various forms of maps the OS produce. At one point the trainer handed out examples of the highest resolution maps they make - something like 10cm to 100m. This was a random selection and it just so happened that the one that was given to me was of the exact area surrounding my family home where I grew up - a map of an area of about 500m squared with my house in the centre!
posted by juniorbonner at 5:28 AM on July 11, 2005

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