What's the most incredible coincidence that ever happened to you?
I had a boyfriend, Daniel, who'd been adopted as a baby. When new state adoption laws came into effect here in 1990 he finally found out the name of his birth mother - Jayne McBride - and went on a quest to find her.
As it was long before social media, we scoured all sorts of new and different avenues together but unfortunately we still came up with nothing. It was disappointment after disappointment.
He loved his adopted parents but he really wanted to know where he was from and if he looked like anyone.
He unfortunately gave up after a year or so of searching with no other clues. It was too draining for him.
But we used to call her name out sometimes - when we'd go to sleep, when we were out and about, hoping her name would float the airwaves and travel through strange frequencies to reach her somewhere, anywhere. Generally, wherever and whenever she'd come up in conversation we'd call out for her. It became a running joke after a while, adding humour to what was otherwise a disappointing outcome for him.
It was always, "Jaaayne McBride, where are yooouu?? - -Jaaayne, where can you beeee??", we'd say hauntingly.
Eventually, Daniel and I broke up after four years in 1992 and went our separate ways.
1997, five years later. I started a new job in a social work department in an old Victorian city hospital, one and a half-hour's drive from home.
I was often tasked to find old adoption records and photocopy what information we had for those who rang us with enquiries, either from mothers who'd given up their babies or from those who'd been given up in our hospital.
We had an adoption room, choc-full and heaving with wall-to-wall steelcase filing cabinets like this,
One morning the weekend before Halloween my 13-year-old daughter came up to me and said "Mom, today I'm going to meet the man I will marry!"
"How could you possibly know that?" I asked this daughter (who had never been boy-crazy like her girlfriends nor ever had a boyfriend or date)."Because I've been asking and asking God who I would end up marrying, and this morning when I was praying, he told me I would meet my future husband today!" she answered matter-of-factly.
Needless to say, fear struck my heart. My impressionable daughter believing this crazy idea would make for an interesting - if not scary - day! Today, I would definitely keep her close to me and keep a strict eye on her!
That night I knew we had plans to take my daughter and her friends to a haunted house. I asked her if she thought she was going to marry one of her friends. She said "No, I'm sure it will be someone totally new that I've never met before." (Yikes, fear again.)
Nothing eventful happened all day. But that evening the line waiting to go into the haunted house went down the street and around the block. The kids didn't seem to mind the long wait and goofed around in line and talked to others nearby. I kept a very close eye on my extremely attractive daughter (Come on, I AM her mom, but others think her attractive too). I suspiciously eyed every boy who talked to her!!!
Finally, our group of teens got to enter. I was behind the group & directly behind my daughter. Dark, scary, fun, and long was the walk in the pitch-black, winding corridors. Suddenly a man dressed as the Grim Reaper jumped out right in front of my daughter and scared her so badly she screamed and fell backwards - on top of me and those behind me - toppling all of us over! The (now kind & sorry) Grim Reaper helped us all up, and, noting her extreme reaction of fear, he came out of character long enough to offer to sneak us out a side exit. She said 'no, its okay' and we moved on - embarrassed.
That night my daughter was SO disappointed when she said "I was so sure God told me I would meet him TODAY."
Fast forward 10 years. My daughter was the maid of honor for her best friend's wedding and gave a beautiful toast and prayer at the wedding. One of the men attending the groom was from out-of-state and took an interest in my daughter, emailing and calling her after the wedding. Eventually they engaged and married.
After they were married, we were sitting around talking and the subject of haunted houses came up. My SIL said he had once helped construct one in an old grocery store building when he spent a year in our town! "Really?" "Yes," he said, and I got to be the Grim Reaper for it and carry a fake scythe!"
Comparing notes, they figured out that the exact year he had spent in our city was the year my daughter was thirteen! When asked if he remembered an incident at the haunted house with a frightened girl, he wasn't sure - as all young girls scream. But when he heard she toppled me & others over and he came out of character to offer assistance out a side exit, then he said, "That was you?!? But that was just a little girl I offered help! Usually I pride myself in never coming out of character, but she was so scared and I worried people might have fallen and gotten hurt!" (Lol yes a 13-year-old 5-foot girl to a 6 foot 2 inch 19-year-old young man IS 'just a little girl' - as it should be!)
So my daughter did, indeed, meet her future husband that day!!! Amazing! Out of the mouth of Babes...!
One day, my car was hit in a car accident. The police found that it was the other person's fault and took him to jail for not having insurance. When I went to see what I should do next, I found out that someone bailed him out. Until now, things are okay and I thought that it's going to be okay. 9 months in, the guy doesn't answer any calls and claims that I'm the one who should be blamed for the accident. People at the station knew me because I come every few days (don't blame me as fixing the car is estimated to be $4,000). Anyhow, they advised me to go and escalate to the head of that station and see what can he do. I went there and gave him the entire story. Once I was done, he called someone from his office and told him to help me close the case. I gave this guy everything and he made one call to the guy I'm looking for. I told him he doesn't answer his phone. But surprisingly, the guy answered and I heard a lot of shouting and the guy on the other end of the line saying nothing at all. The call ended and immediately I got a call saying that my money will be ready tomorrow! I thanked the guy and asked him what caused him to change so dramatically. His answer was:
"I'm his father."
I have had quite a few incredible and coincidental experiences but the one that immediately comes to mind involved a book.
I am a sucker for books, the old, the cracked, the barely legible; give me incomprehensible worn gilt titles and I get excited like I just found One Eyed Willy's map in a dusty attic.
Books are treasures and used bookstores are a trove.
So naturally when a bookstore opened up in our town I was excited......until I drove by a few times and saw slick window displays and brand new titles. I had just been laid off by a chain bookstore in the next town over because we had been bought out by a larger chain bookstore and I was a little embittered over the whole thing.
The new bookstore was independently owned but it tried really hard to ape a chain bookstore feel which was a total turn off for me. I resigned myself to waiting for the upcoming library (as in public library, not the bar called the Library that was down the street from my house, college towns, SMH) booksale and never set foot in the store.
A few weeks later I was at the McDonald's across the street from the bookstore getting a basket O'fries (with nacho cheese because if you are going to eat crap food you might as well go whole hog). I got back to my car and discovered I had run over a nail in the parking lot and my tire was flat.
No problem, I went to pull the spare out of the trunk and realized it was also flat.
So I called for a tow truck and was given a 40 minute turn around for pick up.
Too long to loiter at the McDonald's despite it's tasteful decor (they had an impressive number of John Waterhouse prints and you could read The Lady Of Shallot if you didn't mind pacing the perimiter of the lobby, the whole thing was printed on the wallpaper) and not quite long enough to consider calling friends for a ride home.
I pondered how I was going to kill some time when I looked out the window and saw the bookstore. I washed my greasy hands before I left the McDonald's and braced myself for disappointment.
The bookstore was open and just as I expected, it had all the charm of a Starbucks in a regional Airport. As I slid around commercial endcaps and elaborate display towers I picked up a few books and flipped pages but nothing caught my interest.
Eventually the lone employee asked me if I needed help finding anything.
"Yes, do you know of any used bookstores near by?"
She laughed. "Yeah, just us though. Let me take you upstairs."
That stairwell was a rickety portal into another dimension; I started in florescent corporate book hell and ended up in an eccentic literary horde.
I swiftly assembled a stack of books primarily about mythology and history with the occasional fiction title. I was thrilled, my friend Jason had a birthday coming up and most of the books I found were things that were exactly up his alley. I figured at the very least I would find something to get him as a gift.
My stack was getting bit out of control and looking at my phone I realized I was running out of time.
The very last book I pulled down to look at was a gorgeously illustrated tome about the peoples and mythology of the British Isles. As I was opening it to scan the contents a handful of index cards slid out and fluttered to the ground.
I set the book on my stack and carefully picked the cards up before looking them over; most of them appeared to be small sketches of mythological creatures but quite a few of them were written on.
I turned one of the cards upright to read it and was shocked.
Looking at the the small flourishes on the q's and r's, the consistent use of a dull number two pencil, and the way the strokes left deep pressure marks in the card stock.
It was unmistakably Jason's handwriting.
I heard the tow truck honk outside and slid the index cards back into the middle of the book.
I hurried downstairs and popped out to wave at the tow truck driver before running back into the bookstore. I asked the lady if she could hold my stack and she told me she would put a note on it. I swore I would be back before she closed and dashed back out to deal with the car.
I got towed to a tire place that was able to get my tire changed quickly and while I was waiting I called a friend of mine who also happened to be Jason's cousin.
I told her I found a book for him that I wanted to get for his birthday.
"I need your opinion on something."
She agreed to meet me at the bookstore. As soon as the car was done I drove back over and headed inside.
We ascended the stairs to the second floor while I tried to squash my giddy excitement and act cool.
I handed her the book. "What do you think?"
She looked it over font to back.
"Yeah, he would like this but he's got a bunch of other books like it.....what the hell?"
The index cards slipped from between the pages and landed at her feet. She picked them up and looked completely poleaxed.
"This is Jason's handwriting! Where did this book come from?"
I whooped and did a victory dance.
"I knew it! We have to buy it and give it back to him!"
I picked out a few complimentary titles to go with it and reshelved the rest.
We headed downstairs to get rung up and I asked the lady if she knew where the book came from.
"The owner buys things here and there but that one came from an estate sale in Florida. She bought the whole lot sight unseen and got really lucky. A lot of the books were valuable and she made enough money to open this store after they were resold."
We thanked her and I took the books home.
A week or so later we were anxiously watching Jason open his gift. I wrapped all the books together but put the mystery book at the bottom of the stack (saving the best for last).
He smiled and made appreciative noises as he shuffled through the stack until he got to the last book.
His hands started to shake.
"Where did you find this?! I never thought I would see another copy of it again, it's been out of print forever! I used to have a copy but when my ex stole my books it was the only one I didn't get back from her!"
"We got it at a shop in town, open it up!"
So he did and a handful of index cards fell into his lap.
"This is *my* book! How is this possible? It's been 10 years......"
So we told him the story the lady at the bookstore told us and we all had a good laugh.
One vindictive ex girlfriend, ten years, a journey from West Virginia to Florida then back again, absolutely random dumb chance and he finally had his book back.
Coincidence, serendipity, call it what you will, the universe is strange.
I had gotten married and we immediately tried to have kids. A year later, when nothing was happening, we went to the fertility specialist. Turns out my ex had a chromosomal abnormality and we would never have biological kids together. After a couple of rounds of IVF with donor sperm (trust me, it wasn't donated, it was $800 per month!) I called up social services and got on the foster-adopt track.
After taking the classes, doing the CORIs, references, physicals, home study, etc. we were approved to foster-adopt. However, since we were looking for a child 3 or younger without any major health issues they said that it might be a while, and they would give us a call when they had someone for us to meet. My ex and I decided that when we received a child, even if it was just for fostering and not adopting, that I would quit my job and stay at home.
At that time I was an office manager for a small business. I had worked there for a few years and was quite content there. Time went by. Time went on and on and on. Months and months and months passed. I kept busy with my work. Until one day I got to work, and I could tell something was wrong.
A co-worker was cleaning out his desk; he had been laid off. And the human resources guy was heading for my office with a sad, pitying look on his face. I was the other person laid off that day. I packed up my personal items, went to my car, and cried.
The money wasn't the issue; my then-husband made enough for me to stay at home. It was the fact that work kept my mind off thinking about how sad I was that I wasn't a mother, and it was possible that I might never get to be one.
I decided to treat myself to a little retail therapy on the way home. I had all the time in the world now, my ex wouldn't be home from work for hours. I headed to the store, and started looking at baby clothes, feeling really sad.
My phone rang as I was looking at onesies and fighting off tears. It was a number I didn't know, so I almost let it go to voicemail. However, I was hoping that it might be one of the owners of my company, inviting me back. I answered.
It was the social worker from DCF. She said that she had a baby for me to meet. She asked me if I had time that afternoon. I got to meet my son on the same day that I got laid off. Unbeknownst to me, I had become a Stay-At-Home-Mom the moment that I had gotten laid off earlier that day.
In case you're curious, he's 10 now.
I really liked this girl in middle school. Her name was Natalie, and she normally sat next to me during the geography class, where we got to talk, joke and flirt a little (less than I wanted but more than most people our age were allowed to). One day, we get this new kid in the class, who is taller and stronger than me - the kind of guy that matured early and used his physical presence wisely to dominate his peers and to attract a lot of attention.
This became a major nuisance - because the new fellow sat next to Natalie just on her other side and tried to flirt with her. Worse, unlike me, he was not at all nerdy, but BOY, this guy knew geography well and always looked really smart in this particular class.
One day, Natalie and I were exchanging jokes during a class - by passing a piece of paper, of course, to avoid getting noticed by the teacher. And then the teacher momentarily got distracted by someone in the hallway and steps out of the classroom for a second.
At that very moment, everyone was supposed to start playing and joking and making all kinds of noise... but that didn't happen - because before the first voice of one of my classmates had a chance to pierce the silence, my handsome "opponent" - customarily sitting on the other side of Natalie - yells over her head and in my direction (and his loud voice dominated the classroom so prominently that everyone turned their head toward him): "Hey, little man, I've got this geography fact book to test everyone's knowledge, and we are now going to show Natalie how pathetic you are at this great subject."
This is sooo embarrassing, I thought to myself. He was holding this book in his hand that's at least 500 pages thick, and he is going to ask me some weird and complicated question, which I cannot possibly know the answer to, and I will look like a pathetic fool, and everyone - OMG, including Natalie - is going to laugh at me for the rest of the month... unless I come up with a really, REALLY amazing response... a response that will on one hand save me from the embarrassment of not knowing the answer, and on the other will not get me in trouble with a guy that's twice my size.
"Let's see," he continued, as if standing in front of my coffin with a hammer in one hand and a stack of five-inch nails in the other, ready to verbally bury me alive.
He randomly sifted with fingers through several hundred pages of his little-huge book, opened it on some random page, briefly looked inside, and, as the entire class was tensely holding silence, awaiting my execution, he asked: "What is the total area of Botswana?"
F#ck, I thought to myself. I am dead. Who the hell could possibly know anything about the country of Botswana besides the fact that it is somewhere in Africa?
My entire life was now quickly flashing right in front of my eyes in what, I was convinced, was the infamous life review that happens just before you die. I thought I was about to explode... Even better, I realized that the teacher had just walked back into the classroom and was quietly standing at the door and observing my brutal decapitation.
I mean, what are you going to do when this happens? A number of thoughts went through my head. Options included making a dismissive joke to refocus attention (fat chance), starting a fight, and throwing myself out of the window, among others.
What I did went against logic OR the laws of nature. I gathered every last iota of strength in me to look cool and confident, and loudly yelled in a dismissive, arrogant tone (I am paraphrasing, but this is VERY close to what I had actually said): "Man, you need to go back to the third grade if you want to waste my time and try to make me look uncool in front of my entire class." Incredibly, many of the classmates around us were nodding agreeably, which meant that my comeback was pretty good. In fact, it was all that was needed to resolve this silly challenge. And any rational person would have stopped right there...
But I was flying on the wings of love (it does that to you!) and said the unimaginable after a five-second pause: "But whatever, man, if you must know, the area of Botswana is probably right about 224 thousand square miles. So, knock yourself out and start reading real books."
Dead, absolutely dead silence consumed the drama-hungry room full of hormone-heavy adolescents. The thought of jumping out of the window now quietly returned and oddly prevailed in my passion-inflamed head as the only possible logical outcome...
But my opponent's face was suddenly in awe (and in deep purple), and his jaw dropped all the way to the floor as he quietly whispered, like a dwarf standing in front of an elephant: "How did you know?"
Then Natalie grabs the the book from his hands and looks up the area of Botswana and proclaims, "Whoa, it is exactly what Sander said. Can anyone else do this, seriously!?" And now, virtually everyone in the class was either nodding or cheering for me. But it gets even better - because then Natalie kissed me on my nose (yes, in front of the entire class!) and said, "This is my awesome geography man." And a few peeps in the class actually applauded, while the geography teacher complimented me on knowing random facts about geography (which I am absolutely sure helped me get an A for the semester and for the year).
Natalie and I then dated for nearly three years and are still good friends to this day, while the new guy learned to be cool and respectful (at least while in the geography class).
The funniest thing is, of course, that I have never known - and to this day don't know - the area of any country on Earth, not even Ukraine, which is where I was born, or the United States, where I have lived for the last 20+ years. Yep. Botswana must be my lucky charm!!