Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

Burning Man spiral and Polish ancestry

So I went to the Burning Man festival (north Nevada, US) in 2013. One night I went out taking photos on my own in the desert and, at dawn, hitched a ride on an art car that dropped me off by the Hookah Dome. I ran straight into my friend from England who I'd travelled with, which, although it is a large site and there were 68,000 people at the festival and it was a good catch, was nothing to write home about in the context of these coincidences... However. My friend was with another of our campmates, Dirty Dave, who had, not 10 minutes before bumped into someone he hadn't seen since childhood and we were all chatting away, watching the sun rise while drinking tequila and Kahlua and I'm talking to the wife of Dave's long-lost friend... turns out she's Polish. My surname is Polish but my ancestry is complicated Russian/German and we had a long conversation about the fate of the Polish nation in the 20th century. Totally not off my head. Honest. Long story short; we ascertained that our grandfathers fought in the same battalion in WWII. She also kindly told me the derivation of my surname in Polish as well.

Meeting a monster actor by chance

When I was ten or eleven years old, I remember watching a movie about cops busting some corrupt laboratory where they brought people back from the dead, a sort of modern day frankenstein. It's called “Dead Heat” made in 1988. There is this scene in the movie that never left my memory, it’s forever embedded. This huge re-animated biker monster with multiple eyes, noses and mouths gets loose from the lab while the cops are scoping out the lab and they get into a fight. I was immediately fascinated with the monster, his makeup and costume and gruesome appearance was the coolest thing ever in my mind. I loved it so much that I remember thinking, “wouldn’t it be so cool if one day I got to meet this actor?” I don’t know why I thought that, but I did and soon forgot about it. Fast forward a few years into the future, I was thirteen years old and our family moved to the tiny town of Ardmore, Oklahoma where I had no friends and people were close minded and weird. I finally made a fast friend at church when a new family moved to town. Jini Bannister quickly became my new best friend and since we wanted to have a sleepover, our parents had to meet and they invited us over for dinner.

Me and a friend played the same drum beat on a table.

Me and my best friend were sitting at a table alone in high school. I was being silly and I looked at him with wide crazy eyes and played a drum beat on the table. It wasn’t a “normal beat” if that makes any sense. The weird part about this is at the EXACT SAME TIME, my friend did exactly what I did. While I looked up and widened my eyes, he was doing the exact same thing. Than he played the SAME EXACT BEAT. We stared at each other after that and both said something like “omg, that was really weird”. We were both freaked out and told all of our friends about it. But nobody understood how insanely weird it was.

The girl I haven’t seen in years..

My story starts while I was driving to work when I saw a Jeep. I immediately thought of this girl from a speech class I had 4-5 years ago. I thought to myself, “that’s the type of car she would drive”. I sat next to her in that class. I NEVER think about her. I didn’t have a crush on her, I wouldn’t even call us friends. We barely talked in that class other than small talk. So, for no reason she popped in my head. That wasn’t the weird part. I worked my whole shift as a “cook” where I get to interact and talk to every guest. The last 30 minutes of the day, she walks in with her boyfriend. My mind was immediately blown. I questioned myself “that is not that same girl?”. I haven’t seen this girl for 4-5 years and she walked in the ONE AND ONLY day I thought about her. I know she lived out of town and I never saw her again. Writing down this situation does not justify how weird this was for me. I met and saw tens of thousands of people and never did I have such a random thought lead to an encounter.

song lyrics over the internet

Years ago, I was text-chatting online with a friend. Out of nowhere, I decided to make a random, off-topic comment: I simply sent a single line of lyrics from a song I had heard recently and that was stuck in my head. He replied, telling me that as he read my message, that exact line from that song had played. It is something we still remember and refer to once in a while today. I should point out that the song was not a current Top 40 song or anything that got much radio play at the time. It was a fairly obscure country song that had been popular probably 10+ years prior to this happening.

World Trade disaster

While on holiday on a narrow boat on the Kennet & Avon canal, we moored up in Bath. We had the television on and watched in horror as the two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre. Feeling very disconcerted, I went for a walk into the town of Bath. I went into a large bookshop and started browsing computer books as is my interest. My blood ran cold when, flicking through one of the books I saw an ink drawing of a plane flying towards a skyscraper. I was so shocked that I went up to another customer and showed him. Shaken, I replaced the book and left the shop, and have ever since regretted not buying that book!

Somehow positive sign

Lockdown gave me the opportunity to follow a childhood dream. I start painting again doing a serious dedicated to mental health. It’s shows the three steps of depression I went through after my partners suicide it culminates on a fourth painting about him, what aggravated his mental health and it shows on his own words how he was afraid to end the way it did. What motivated me to start painting again was/is to voice my discontent and disgust of how he was ignored. The coincidence is that six years ago, to this day he was thanking me on Facebook for the support I gave him to find the job he dreamed. Unfortunately, in the end it didn’t work out as it was a zero hours contract. Coincidence or not I see it as a sign of appreciation. So much for my atheism…

Card trick

I have no experience in doing tricks, but wanting to be funny at my own expence, I took a pack of cards, shuffled them and handed the pack to a friend. I told her to cut anywhere but don;t let me see. She cut the cards, I told her to look at the exposed face card, and said 'seven of hearts'. It was a shock to her, but more of a shock to me as sure enough there was the seven of hearts. I was asked how I did the trick, but said I couldn't divulge my secret. No secret, just an amazing coincidence

Mysterious 7's

I'll keep this short and only post my most memorable synchronicity since I have a lot of them daily with license plates. This event is what led me to learn of them. One morning on my way to work, I stopped at Walgreens to get a drink and a snack. The receipt came out to \$7.77. The same day, on my way home from work, I grabbed a meal from Burger King and the receipt came out to \$7.77. I believe I still have the receipts somewhere. Things like this are a common occurrence for me, but never have I had anything that was as convincing as this.

BULB afterword

I've been meaning to share this here for a while being a fan of these stories. The following is nonfiction, all true, and happened in 2002 after I completed the first draft of my novel BULB. All these years later, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. At about 1:45 a.m. I left a party at my friend Mary and Bob’s house. A summer storm hit hard earlier in the evening and the trees darkening the road plus the storm forced me to concentrate. I’d had a few drinks earlier but not enough to not inhibit me. I was heading south on route 611 and just after Curley Hill Road, I noticed an accordioned car had scattered its bumper, glass, and other parts across the yellow lines. “Keep Going” briefly raced through my head, but no one was around, someone might be inside the crushed vehicle and other cars could wreck if they ran into the debris. I backed up my car to the middle of the road and put my caution blinkers and high beams on. Plumsteadville Police was written on the trunk, black letters on white. I yelled hello, feeling as if I were in some dream or movie scene, as I walked closer.

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