Coincidences-what are the chances

Recently I attended a class give by a man who has a Master Gardener designation. It was held in the south central part of the city-there were about 50 people in the audience. Three nights later I went a fundraiser amateur production in the hall of a Church in the eastern end of the city. There were probably about 200 people in the audience. During the intermission I noticed that at the table behind us was the very same man. What are the chances that in a region of some one million people that you will see the same person at two unrelated events in very different locations within a few days? What are the chances?

There is another story, indeed a true story about coincidences that we experienced as a family some 20 years ago. I have a picture to prove what I am about to recount. Unfortunately I am 21 years behind in any sort of organization of photos so you’ll need to picture what I’m about to describe-at least until I become more organized in this, my next chapter.

My our family of three along with a good friend were traveling to Denver, Colorado by car during the summer. We had put in a long day and had planned to overnight in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had made reservations at a motel in advance. None of us had been to Cheyenne before. As we drove along what was obviously the motel strip, our daughter about 8 years old at the time, peeking out the car window, said to her father “We’ve been here before, right, Dad?”. Her father said, no, we hadn’t been to this city before.

Upon arriving at the motel our friend registered and then left the office to wait outside as we registered. As we left the office our friend, who had been looking around outside told us to come over where he was standing for we “won’t believe it”. And there etched into the cement was a heart and inside it where my husband’s and daughter’s names along with last initials! What are the chances?

Coincidentally (there’s that word again) I am reading a book right now titled “Why Do Buses Come in Threes” The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life by Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Windham. Chapter 6 is titled “How do you explain coincidence: and in it the authors explain the mathematics of chance. So what are the chances that the either of the above would occur? If I understood is correctly-the first example-the chances are about 50/50 over a certain period of time-the second example-not so much. You’ll have to read the book to see what the authors suggest. By the way, you need to really have a handle on math and probabilities to stay with some parts of the book. All I can say is they don’t say The Hidden AND SIMPLE Mathematics of Everyday Life.