I was once mugged by 4 guys on one of the main shopping streets of Nairobi, Kenya. One of the guys had me in a choke hold and just before I was about to pass out, they dropped me and ran. At the time I didn't know why. 12 months later, sitting on a beach on an island in Thailand, I meet a British couple who did business in Kenya and we start to talk about how dangerous it was getting for foreigners. They described an incidence the year before of turning a corner and seeing a white guy being mugged and a shopkeeper rescued him by hitting one of them over the head with a bat. They were in the same street, on the same day, at the exact same time I was there. It was me who they witnessed being mugged. What are the odds of randomly meeting up on a beach in Thailand a year later?
My parents have a hell of a story-- They both grew up in Baltimore, and are the same age (my mom is 8 months older than my dad). My mom's uncle was very good friends with my dad's father, and we actually have a video of my parents at the same birthday party when they were kids. They sat next to each other, but never talked to each other. And then it starts to get weird. They orbited each other for AGES without ever meeting. My dad's brother went to my mom's high school, but my dad did not. My mom dated boys at my dad's high school, but never met my dad. They both went to Cornell for college. My mom dated a guy in my dad's frat, and they never met. My dad worked for a program that made steaks for students at night, and my mom went nearly every week. They never spoke. My mom's mother would tell her to get rides home with my dad, and my mom never did. She did meet my uncle once when he came to Cornell, but never my dad. After college, my mom met a man, got married, and moved to Belgium. My dad went to business school in Chicago and married a woman there. Ten years later, they were both divorced and living in Baltimore again. My mom was getting her MMH at Hopkins and working at an in-patient program for alcoholics. One of the nurses on the ward said she had a single son and asked for my mom's card. My mom gave it to her, but the son never called. That nurse? Later became my grandmother.
A few months later, my mom was waiting for a date at a bar in a restaurant when a man approached her.
"Hey," he said. "I know you." My mom suspected a pickup and rolled her eyes. "Okay, then who am I?"
"You're an artist from Cornell," my uncle replied. It was my grandfather's restaurant, and my uncle worked there. With my dad. Who was not there that night. My uncle went home and told my dad he'd met a lady that dad might like. So my dad finally called, and they arranged a date. Two kids later, they just celebrated their 34th anniversary.
A few years ago I got into a cab heading out for the evening in downtown Toronto. Shortly after being dropped off I realized I left my phone in the cab. I tried calling it with no luck. I called the cab company but because I had flagged the cab and paid cash they had no real way of knowing which cab I was in. I figured the phone was as good as gone and went about my night. Many hours later and having moved around the city quite a bit I am ready to call it a night so flag another cab. Sitting in the back seat I start to think the driver looks familiar and realize that I'm in the same cab I took earlier. He hasn't found a phone but I start looking anyways and sure enough there it is, jammed in the seat. Me and my flip phone were happily reunited, only for me to put it in a washing machine two days later.
Never could explain this payphone incident. Saturday night out with friends, we decide to call my friend Al to see if he wants to join us. This was in England long before mobile phones, so we had to use one of the iconic red phone booths. Someone was already using it so we had to wait a few minutes. Guy leaves and we cram in the booth. Now, in those days, in order to make a call you would first get a dial tone, then call the number. When the person answered you would hear a bunch of beeps at which point you insert the coins. So I pick up the phone but hear no dial tone. I hang the phone up and try again. Still no dial tone. Seems to be still connected to the previous call. I say "hello" to see if anyone is still on the line. Person answers "hello?" It was my friend Al. He had just picked up his phone to make a call, and somehow, miraculously, without even dialing his number, we were connected. We all went to the pub after and tried to figure out how the hell this happened, but it remains a mystery. If I did not have my friends with me at the time as witnesses, I would have believed it was my mind paying tricks on me.
In high school, my friend set me up with her boyfriend's cousin (let's call him Jack). Jack and I were walking around an amusement park and started talking about recent family spring break vacations. Turns out, both Jack and I had been in Las Vegas during the same week. We stayed at the same hotel. The conversation changed subjects when Jack stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and said "I saw you in Las Vegas." I thought he was full of crap, there's no way he would remember some random girl among the thousands of people there. He told me the exact place he saw me, and that my sister and I were posing for a photo. We got back to my house and found the picture. There were Jack and his brother in the background.
When I was 13, I was on a family holiday in Venice. We were on a gondola (Venetian punt boat) touring the waterways of the city. We got half way down a long passage way, and another Gondola passed us by, it was carrying a man and a woman (and the punter). The man and my dad lock eyes, exclaim one another's name, and have a quick handshake as our gondolas pass. Myself, brother and mother sit quietly, pretty stunned, while the woman on the other boat explodes with 'what?!!? who's that?!?! how do you know him?!!' We floated off in the other direction, comparatively swag and chill. Turns out it was a guy my dad went to university with, and hadn't seen him since. They haven't even contacted one another since! It's crazy they recognized one another, considering they were both in their late 40's now, passing fleetingly on two gondolas, in Venice.
My family used to take little summer vacations. One summer (I was about 7-8) we stayed at a campground about 4 hours from home. There were a bunch of kids there and one day we all started playing tag. I was "IT" and was chasing another young boy, and when I tag him, I pushed him too hard and he fell and broke his arm. I remember the scene vividly. Fast forward to college. I became good friends with my neighbor in the dorm, and we ended up getting a place together our sophomore year. The following year (no longer living together) we went out for a few beers and the topic of broken bones came up. "I've only broken one bone, and it was my arm when I was 7. Some kid at a camp ground pushed me over while playing tag". It was me. Still can't believe it.
One time I parked, without even noticing, next to a car with the same license plate as me. I had a MA plate, she had a NH plate, both with the same 5-digit number. The weirder thing was that both of us had kept the plate as a novelty plate because the state wasn't making 5-digit plate numbers anymore, but a family member wanted to keep it (in my case, my Dad wanted to keep his Dad's plate).
I once went camping with about 5 or so other friends. This was about 3 years ago now in Pisgah national forest in the mountains of NC. There are some amazing waterfalls in this area, one called rainbow falls, its about 125 feet from river above to ground below. If you keep hiking past rainbow falls there is a much smaller waterfall in the river above rainbow falls, called turtleback falls. It's basically a very slippery rock with water running over it, which ends with about a 4-5 foot drop. This is really cool because you can climb up it using a rope someone attached to a tree above, walk out to the middle of the rock and slide down. Theres also another spot thats about 1/3 the way up the side of rainbow falls where you can climb up some branches, then basically repel down a rock-face shimmy out on a ledge and jump about 30-40 feet into the nice deep pool in the river at the bottom of the waterfall. It was when my friends and I had climbed out on the ledge and were about to jump when we noticed that there was another group of people hanging out in the river below us. They started cheering us on and encouraging us to jump (as it is slightly terrifying). Anyways we ended up jumping and once in the river below we talked some of the other group of people, they seemed pretty cool. Fast forward 1 year, we had so much fun a year earlier that we decided to go back again. This time we camped a little further down the river, and we decided to climb on some rocks down river from the waterfall, about 3 or 4 hundred yards from the waterfall. I was climbing on one rock and found something that looked like a strap of some kind. Assuming it was trash, I didn't touch it but when I pointed it out to one of my friends he noticed it was actually a go-pro camera in a waterproof case, so he decided to keep it. Fast forward a couple of days, my friend and I purchased a charger for that type of camera and decided to see what was on it. We start watching the video and see some guys climbing up the place where we jumped off the side of the waterfall in front of the cameraman who was also climbing. the cameraman started to get closer, and we saw something that made us instantly start to freak out. On the back left shoulder of the person in front of the cameraman was the exact tattoo that my friend has, when he gets even closer we realize that the person on camera was my friend who I was currently sitting right beside. Later the cameraman gets up to the ledge and we see me and the rest of my friends from over a year ago. There are also some pictures and videos of us jumping from the ledge. We watched the rest of the video in a stunned state, and the last 30 mins or so of the footage is of the cameraman going up to the river above rainbow falls, and sliding on turtleback falls, apparently losing his go-pro in the water after going over the falls. the camera sinks to the bottom and you can even see fish swimming by and staring at the camera. Now think about where we found the camera 400-500 yards downriver from the BOTTOM of the large waterfall. So apparently this camera made its way down river over a 125 foot waterfall and got lodged in a rock 500 yards away and my friends and I found it a year later with video footage of us from the previous year on it.
I'm an American who moved to Amsterdam some years ago, and my first year there on a random Saturday I decided to head out for a drink. Sat down next to a cute German guy who was in town for the first time from six hours away, helping a friend move kind of thing, and it turns out he's doing a PhD in physics. I am doing mine in astronomy and have a physics background, so we spend maybe ten minutes discussing our research topics, when he mentions offhand how he used to study in New Zealand.
I get a confused look, and then get all excited. "Johannes! Prof W's E&M class in Auckland, first half of 2007!" Freaked him out until I explained- I was a semester abroad student in Auckland that year, and not were we only in the same class we even did homework together and such. But lost touch once I left the country, with no one having a clue what happened to the other. Only to randomly run into each other five years later in a random bar in a random city on another continent! I don't know if I can ever top that one, it was pretty darn cool. :).
This happened to me a few months ago, and it was pretty improbable. I was walking through BART (Bay area rapid transit, it's the train station that takes you to and from San Francisco and elsewhere), where an average of 375,000 people pass through daily. I walk up the escalator to my train, and pass by an envelope lying on the ground. At first I didn't think much of it, but I took a couple steps back to pick it up anyways. The next part freaked me out. I looked at the address, and it was addressed to ME. I instantly look around to see if it was a practical joke, or if i'm about to get assassinated or something. Neither of those were the case. The sender was a family friend, we'll call them the Johnsons. I knew that Mr. Johnson took the BART daily, but I had never personally ran into him. After work, I call him up and ask him about the letter. Turns out, he had about 300 letters with him on the BART, and was going to send them out for his daughter's graduation party. What in the world are the chances of him dropping the 1 letter addressed to me out of the 300, combined with the chances of me being the 1 out of 375,000 people to pick it up? Pretty wild.
When I was about 12 it was the late 90s and I was really big into Pokemon Cards. My mom took me to a card shop and I really wanted a Dragonite. But it was like 12 bucks or whatever. My mom said "Why don't you just get 2 card packs for that money, you get way more cards." Obviously she didn't understand what a Dragonite was. But she only ended up buying me a pack. First card? A Dragonite. It was crazy.
Back when I was in the Army, I was sent to Fort Gordon, GA to learn a new MOS. I was running around base one day with a friend and noticed a female private with a hoodie that said 'Patch' on the back. I commented on it to my buddy and didn't think anything more of it.
Fast forward about 9 months. After graduation my next duty station was the Pentagon. I meet a girl there, we talk, end up hooking up, turns into dating. One day she puts on her Army hoodie and when she turns around, it says 'Patch' on the back. We have been married for 19 years yesterday.
Every year there is a salmon bake at a lighthouse across the water from where I grew up. When I was 12 my parents drug me along (this was the only year I ever went). I was bored and walked away from my family, and spent the next while skipping stones on the beach when this girl with curly hair (about 10) walks up to me and asks me how I do it. So I teach her to skip stones and flirt the day away.
At the end of the day, she gets called away suddenly and I'm bummed out. My mom asks me what I was doing - and I tell her "I met the girl I want to marry!" Life happens, I meet girls, I got engaged, it falls through. Eventually I meet this girl and we dated for 5 years before getting married. Married for 2 years when we are talking about our childhood "love" interests. I tell her about this girl I met at this salmon bake. My wife gives me a weird look. She asks me when this was - and what the girl looked like. So I described this girl with curly hair (my wife has curly hair) that had to leave early to perform (my wife was in theater when she was younger) and then I said "and I remember she had this yellow shirt with a butterfly on the front". My wife thought I was making this up. Why would I?
She calls her mom, and 20 minutes later her mom texts us this childhood picture of my wife @ 10 years old wearing a yellow shirt with a butterfly on the front. My wife was 2 years younger than me, and performed at the salmon bake that year. And she remembered this boy that taught her how to skip stones.
I lived in eastern PA at the time and was visiting my sister in Seattle. We were at the alibi room having drinks and two dudes sitting near us kept trying to engage us. We were kind of having none of it (sisters before misters, that day). We left. Fast forward nine years. I now live in central PA, like 20 minutes from where my mom lives. I'm at a bar (recurring theme, here, it seems) talking to a friend about going to visit my sister in Seattle. The random dude next to us chimes in and starts talking about where I should go and what I should do. "I used to live there," he said. It takes us a while to put together but of course it's that dude from the alibi room. of course. And of course, we learned five or six months later, he is the son of one of my mom's best friends. My mom has known him since he was a teenager (we're old now). And of course we're seeing each other now. I mean, it was practically woven into the fabric of the universe, you know?
I was on vacation in Germany. I was reading a book and accidentally left it there. I was only halfway through the book. About 5 years later I was living in the midwest US in a small town. I was browsing in a used bookstore and saw the same book. I bought it so that I could read the second half. When I got home and opened it, there was MY bookmark! Someone had handmade the bookmark for me and it was very distinctive. It was the exact same book I had left in Germany that somehow found its way to the US to the small town I was in.
I ran on the cross country team in high school. After one meet, as our team was loading in the bus, I noticed a girls team huddled around one of their own who was having some post race difficulty. This girl, though exhausted was still rather cute, so I thought I would play cool and offer her one of our water bottles. Hoping off the bus at 16, I wasn't confident enough to ask for a name or number, but was just hoping for a smile from a pretty girl. After all, where could this lead- this girls team and my team represented two high schools located an hour and a half apart. Three years later, I was talking about running with my new college girlfriend, when we discovered that we had both been runners at a few common meets. She talked about this boy in a light blue uniform that approached her when she was exhausted and offered water. She thought at the time "oh god, are you seriously going to ask my number now?" But the guy made an impression on her when he asked if she was ok, then smiled and walked away. I mentioned that our team had light blue uniforms, and then we discovered that our recollection of the event was at the same park, the same season and that we had in fact met first that day years ago! That girl is now my wife of 10 years tomorrow. We have video and photos that my parents took of us standing side by side with our future spouse on the starting lines, having no idea of our futures together. Be kind to all you meet, as you really have no idea if your paths will cross again!