Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Lost and Found Glasses

When I was in college around age 21, I was on a week-long backpack in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona (USA). Our group had flown in from New Jersey for spring break. On the fifth day, I noticed that my glasses were missing. They were bright-red, thick-rimmed prescription glasses that I LOVED because they were so unique and I'd never seen anyone else with glasses that looked similar. They really felt like a part of my personality. I'd noticed they were gone and realized they'd likely fallen out of my backpack the night before when I was getting ready for bed, so they were at least 8 miles back from where we were at that point. Other than walking an extra 16 miles, there was no other way for me to get back to that point to look for them, so while I was pretty bummed, I figured they were a sacrifice to the mountain spirits and kept it moving. We got back into Flagstaff a few days later and had some time until our flights back to NJ left the next day, so a few of us went to a thrift store near our hostel. We browsed for a bit in a BIG thrift store, and as we were about done, I saw a basket of old glasses.

Former teacher

I had a music teacher from kindergarten to 5th grade named Mrs. Mann. I didn't see her again or think of her for years, until one day in about 11th grade, my friend and I were walking in our hometown (same town as where our school had been). I see a car drive past us and can only see the silhouttes of the two people in the front seat, but notice the passenger's curly hair - that's it. I had not seen Mrs. Mann in 6 years, but jokingly pointed and said, "Hey, that looks like Mrs. Mann from the back!" and incredibly, as we walked closer we realized it was her. We both cracked up/freaked out.

Same song

Once my dad and I were driving in the car together. I was kind of ignoring him, listening to music on my earphones, when Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend came on. I slowly pulled out my earbuds because I realized that his phone, hooked up to the car, was playing the same song. We both have >1000 songs in our music libraries, and our music tastes have always been quite different.

Estranged aunt; uncle's friend

My mom and her four siblings grew up in northern Pennsylvania. My uncle married a European woman whom I saw regularly throughout my childhood and grew close to (2000–2011). They lived in Ohio, but divorced in about 2011, and sadly I didn't get to see her at family gatherings anymore, although we exchanged a few texts a year. In May 2015 after I finished my freshman year of college in North Carolina, my dad and I decided to take a trip to the Florida Keys for my first scuba diving trip. We unpacked at the hotel, spent a day exploring the area, and on the second day went to a pretty small, random scuba shop where we had booked our reservation. Who did I see there but my aunt!? This was lovely because I don't know when I would have seen her again otherwise - and we have not met in person since. I will repeat some of the above details for a second coincidence that happened a year earlier. That same uncle has a friend and 20-year business partner from Australia whose son happened to be going to the same school in North Carolina that I was about to start attending in fall 2014.

Stranger with an old connection

I was sitting on the train on my commute home one afternoon and noticed a man sitting opposite me on the train. Later that afternoon I was listening to the radio - national broadcaster - on my drive from the train station to my house where a person was being interviewed on a certain matter. At the end of the interview, the radio announcer said that was Soandso from Organisation name. ‘Hmm’ I though, ‘I used to go to school with a person with that name (25 years ago), I wonder if it’s the same person?’ When I got home I googled the organisation and clicked on the ‘About us’ link to discover that the person being interviewed was the same person I went to school with. On the webpage was a group staff photo. Looking at the staff photo I noticed that it included the very same man sitting across from me on the train ride home.

Twin right down the street

Growing up, there was a girl who lived a block down the road from me. When we joined the same book club, we discovered that we shared the same first and middle name AND the same birthday. We were born within an hour of each other at the same hospital, with the same name. We joked about the possibility that we could have been switched at birth. Then, we discovered that our parents shared the same anniversary, AND our little sisters were also born just a few hours apart. What are the odds?

Obsessed with a game you could never play and find it anyway.

One night when I was a teenager, I read a little bit about the game "Heavy Rain". I never owned a PS3, but my best friend did. I remember being enamoured by the story and the gameplay behind it, so I spent hours going down the clicking link rabbit hole until it was early in the morning and I just had the weirdest desire to go for a run. I usually ran with my best friend and running alone was pretty uncommon for me. The weather was even overcast with a bit of drizzle and I still felt the urge to go out for a run. I sort of half heartedly began a jog down my street and turned at the elevated train where a face down disk caught my eye. I went over and picked it up only to find it was Heavy Rain for the PS3 in pretty good condition. It was only slightly scratched but the coincidence for me to find it out on a run after I stayed up reading up on the story the night before was mind boggling. I recanted the story to my friend and we played it together. It was a fun time. We reset once or twice because of disc issues, but we played it to the end.

Your cousin lives across the hall

When I attended a very large state college for my freshman year, I spent a lot of time in my friends dorm room. I also got to know the people living across the hall from his room and we became friends as well. At the same time my grandfather reached out to a distant relative who he had not spoken to for many years. They discussed their lives and discovered that although they lived several states away they both had grandchildren attending the same large state university. When he told me the name of my 4th cousin (who I never knew existed) it turned out that he was one of the 10 out of 60,000+ people I had met in my first few weeks. Furthermore it turned out that we were in the same major and in the following years had a few classes together, encountering one another often.

Kindergarten Teacher

Hello! A few months ago I had pulled into the parking lot of my local mall, and I randomly thought of my Kindergarten teacher (I’m a 35 year old man, and was in Kindergarten from 1991-1992). Have not spoken to her nor seen her since then. Just shrugged it off and didn’t think anything of it. I walk into the mall, and the first person I see is my Kindergarten teacher (with her adult daughter)! We locked eyes and both paused. I approached her and I said “Mrs. (soandso)?!” And she stared at me and remembered me! I couldn’t believe the coincidence. It made me feel a little emotional actually. Just thought I’d share!

Birthday coincidence

When I went to college at Rochester Institute of Technology in August 2009 my freshman dorm, Building 28, I met a group of people I clicked with and ended up forming life long friendships with. One of the people I met and became friends with shares a birthday with me. We ended up living with each other for two years as roommates in student apartments Junior and Senior year and are still good friends to this day.