The Wonderful Wizard of Odds
We went to Oklahoma to spend the holiday with one of our sons and his family. My oldest son, who is named after me, took his family out too. While several of us hung out in the back yard as the burgers, dogs, and brats were cooking, I looked down at the ground and my eyes focused on a bright, green four leaf clover. I picked it and made the standard comment about it being my lucky day. Conversation quickly turned to other things and I absent-mindedly looked downward. My oldest son glanced downward and said, "Is this what you are looking for?" and bent to pick another four leaf clover.
What are the odds of that -- two of us finding four leaf clovers within ten feet of each other and within five minutes of each other?
Well, in that situation, the odds were really not that bad. I mean, four leaf clovers are really not that uncommon and a patch that produces one has a good chance of producing more, and spreading those genetics throughout the area.
We all have strange coincidences that happen to us, some stranger or more coincidental than others.
When I was about 16 years old, I used to spend a lot of my free time hiking out in the fields behind our house, just thinking and enjoying nature. One day I was on such a hike, walking down a field road. I looked down and something in the sand caught my eye. It was a 1901 Indian Head penny that someone had modified to use as a necklace. It was the first Indian Head penny I had ever owned so I happily added it to my collection.
Almost 30 years later, my oldest son, who happened to be sixteen at the time, and I, went for a walk up the road near our house. As we headed back home, I glanced down and noticed something in the gravel. Believe it or not, it was a 1901 Indian Head penny that someone had modified to use as a necklace!
OK, let's take a look at all those coincidences. Two guys, father and son who have the same name, both find a coin while they are out on walks when they each are about the same age, and the coins are both the same denomination and type, and both have been modified to be used as necklaces.
My mother has lived in this area for most of her life. She knows a lot of people around here, and, of course, a lot who have moved away. Her best friend asked her several times, only half joking, "Wanda, do you know everybody?"
The summer I was 14, I went to Virginia with my cousin's family; his father managed the hotel where they would film the movie, "Dirty Dancing," about a decade later.
At the end of the summer, Mom, her best friend, and my sister and her friend, drove out to Virginia to pick me up, and to make a trip to Washington D.C. In D.C. we saw a lot of interesting and historic sites, including the capital, the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Washington Monument. At the monument, we took the elevator to the top and checked out the view.
As we stood in that little room with just a few other people, Mom's friend looked around and jokingly said, "I think we've finally gotten somewhere where you don't know anybody." At that exact instant, a voice rang out, "Wanda? Is that you?" It was someone who had grown up just down the road from my mom, moved away, and picked the same time that we did to visit Washington D.C.
What are the odds of that?
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