In the UK we have a motoring organisation called The Automobile Association (or AA for short). A man who works for them had a day off and had used that time to drive to the country and go for a walk, effectively in the middle of nowhere.
He passed a public phone box and at that moment, it started to ring. Feeling curious, the guy decided to answer it, only to find that the person on the other end of the phone was somebody he worked with at the AA.
The caller had meant to ring the guy’s mobile phone number but had mistakenly dialled the guy’s staff number instead. And that staff number just happened to be the same number of the phone that our hero was walking past at that precise moment.
What are the chances of that happening?
I love stuff like this, however hard it is to believe. Statistically it would be nearly impossible for the phone call to happen at that precise time given all the variables and scenarios that could have happened.
It’s mind boggling.
Sadly a coincidence on that scale has never happened to me. That said, a couple of things have happened in recent years that have surprised me. Here are two of them. Names have been changed, as usual, to protect the guilty.
A couple of years ago, Mrs PM and I decided to have a long weekend in London. Mrs PM wanted to be a total tourist in our capital. We took Friday off work and checked into our hotel on the south bank of the river Thames at about lunchtime.
We strolled to Tower Bridge and mingled with other tourists taking photos of one of London’s most iconic sights before crossing it and having a late lunch in a nearby pub. After that, Mrs PM decided that she hadn’t seen the Crown Jewels so our next destination, just over the river, was the Tower of London. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking around one of our most historical buildings, culminating, at the end, in a queue to see the Queen’s jewellery box.
After that, we were about to leave when Mrs PM told me that she just needed to answer a call of nature. I decided to try too because it was a fair walk back to the hotel. Of course, public toilet etiquette dictates that men are not supposed to talk to each other or look at each other while doing the business, so in my blinkered cave-like world I just answered the call as quickly as I could.
On the way out, I walked behind another man and a thought entered my head: “that guy in front looks just like Ben from work.”
I was unsure so I didn’t say anything. When we left the loo, the guy walked over to his wife and kids who were waiting for him. It was Ben after all.
I had taken a day off, come to London, decided to visit one of the thousands of attractions in that city at precisely that time and decided to relieve myself at exactly the same moment as him.
I stood waiting outside the ladies toilet for Mr PM and watched Ben and his family walk towards me. I stared at him with a huge grin on my face. I don’t think I have ever seen a better double take in my entire life.
He glanced at me, glanced at his wife and then stared straight back at me, with recognition dawning on his face.
“What the PHHAAARKKK are you doing here?” he asked incredulously. Just at that moment, Mrs PM came out of the ladies and I saw my second favourite double take. Mrs PM saw Ben, looked at me and then stared at Ben and said “What the PHHAAARKK are you doing here?”
The second coincidence also involved a work colleague who I shall refer to as Walter. On our desk at work, whenever Walter goes on holiday to the sun, he makes it known to the entire desk, gloating for weeks in advance until the week before when he steadily becomes insufferable! To him, a holiday is a way to totally destress with absolutely no reminders of work. For the period of his holiday he can totally relax and cast away all of his work woes, popping them into a little box so that he can enjoy himself.
A couple of years ago, he had just booked his holiday and walked around to my desk to gloat.
“Guess where I’m going on 20th August?” he said with a grin.
“Who cares?” I said.
But then I remembered.
“Actually, we’re going away that week too,” I said with some satisfaction. I showed him my calendar with the week clearly highlighted in yellow to indicate “Annual Leave”.
His face dropped and he returned back from gloat mode to normal mode.
“Going anywhere nice?” he asked.
“Turkey,” I replied.
His face dropped further.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Turkey’s a big country,” he said. “Where exactly?”
“I think the place is a little town next to Bodrum called Gumbet,” I said.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” he yelled.
His face was a picture and I wish I’d had a camera.
“Don’t tell me you are going to Gumbet that week too,” I said.
Of course he was!
I had already ruined his holiday because if he bumped into me while enjoying a relaxing time, it would remind him of work and raise his stress levels.
What followed for the next few weeks was the best period of winding poor Walter up that the entire desk has ever enjoyed. He stupidly let slip the name of the hotel he was staying at and I pretended that we too were in that hotel. We were in a different one.
“Maybe we’ll be in the room next door,” I suggested. “We can go the beach together and enjoy the sun in our speedos!”
What he really feared was me telling his missus all sorts of funny things about him – I had never actually met her at that point.
I think, to be honest, he thought the entire thing was a massive wind-up and that I wasn’t going on holiday to the same place at all – that is until the day that Mrs PM and I were sitting at a table on a beach in Gumbet, enjoying an evening meal. I saw Walter walk past and shouted:
His exact words were: “OH PHHAAAARRKKK!! Oh I mean – Hi Dave!”
Of course, I didn’t drop him in it at all and told him that we had no interest in stalking him on his holiday. That said, we did meet up a couple of times for drinks and had a good laugh.
Of course now, he refuses to tell anybody where he is going on holiday just in case. But you can’t fool fate and I am sure it will happen again, no matter how impossible he thinks it is.
I really hope so!
Personally, the only coincidence I really want to be part of now is that the lottery balls drawn tonight match the lottery balls I have selected.
It could happen!
And now over to you, dear reader.
Have you experienced any weird coincidences?