Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

small world

I dated someone briefly I met on Match. He contacted me because he was looking for someone who played Ultimate Frisbee. I was in my early 40s. His father was black and his mother was Jewish and he was from a tiny town in Colorado. I thought, that's weird, a former Oregon colleague of mine was Jewish and had a young child with her old boyfriend, a black man, and they lived in a small town in Colorado. I didn't say anything of course, but the first time I went to Ian's house, there was a Holiday card on his refrigerator from my friend Annie.

a Norwegian student in my class had same high school teacher I did

In 1985 I was an exchange student in Norway. In 1997 I started teaching college in Oregon. One year I was taking attendance on the first day of a new class, and there was a Norwegian name. At the end of class, I said something to the student in Norwegian. We started talking. He had come to America to be with his girlfriend. We kept talking, and he was from the same city I stayed in, and went to the same school. We had the same Norwegian literature teacher, Eivind Skaar, who had already been quite old when I had been a student.

my childhood friend lives in childhood home of cousin's friend

I graduated high school 30 years ago in NH and hadn't seen my friend Katie until several years ago when my daughter and I spent Christmas in CA, staying in my cousins' house and visiting Katie and other friends. Katie's husband is a radiologist. We spent some time at their house before going to Disneyland. Two years later, I was flying to Boston and then driving to see family in NH. My California cousins were there, but the teenager's friend had a delayed flight and missed the bus to NH, so they asked if she could drive with me, since they knew I was coming the next day.

Same plane

Twenty years ago I met someone at my cousins' wedding. We flirted, and we saw each other once or twice after that. About 5 years ago he friended me on Facebook, but I hadn't seen him in 15 years and we didn't actually talk on FB. Then last year, he messaged me on Facebook saying he was coming to my city for a few days for a conference and would I like to get together. I said I was flying out that day, but maybe we could see each other at the airport depending on the timing. Turns out he was getting off of the same plane I was boarding.

double coincidence

Years ago, I had just moved to Oregon for my first job. My boyfriend and I were trying to meet people in town and went to a service at a Unitarian church (not something we usually did). We were greeted by Steve and Frosti. After talking a while, they said I had to meet their interim pastor. After talking to him for a while, he opened his wallet and pulled out a paper with my name on it. Someone had told him to look me up. A few months later, I was home in New Hampshire and saw an elderly distant cousin. She said she'd heard I'd moved to Oregon. Where, she asked. Portland.

run in at a rest area

I was driving from Indiana to Wisconsin to visit an Indian reservation where I do research. I had worked with a member of this tribe who lives in Nashville and is a musician, but I hadn't heard from him in a couple years. I was thinking of him as I drove, since I was headed to his community. I made a last minute decision to stop at a rest area, changed my mind about where to park, and there was Bill M. sitting on a bench right in front of my parked car. He had a gig to play in a different part of Wisconsin.

My friend's brother ran for mayor of L.A.

I had a new friendship, about a year or two old, and she and I were driving in the car and I said, "My friend's brother ran for mayor of Los Angeles." She looked surprised. Then she said, "MY friend's brother ran for mayor of Los Angeles too!" we then realized that we had the same friend, whose brother ran for the mayor of Los Angeles several years ago.

Digital clock: 14:14

I am retired, so I don't need to get up at a fixed time. Mostly, I go to bed after 4 o'clock in the morning, but it's always at a different time. I don't have an alarm clock, so the next day I usually wake up after 7 to 8 hours of sleeping. When I wake up, I look at a digital clock. Very often it reads 14:14, sometimes it reads 15:15. Note that I did NOT develop the "habit" of waking up at 14:14 from earlier years. Sometimes this happens 4 to 5 times during one week. What are the chances...?

We lived on same street, different state, 38 yrs ago

I was invited to stay the night at a friend’s house, a friend I’ve known a couple of years now. She made dinner for us, we had margaritas, took a dip in the hot tub, which made me so sleepy, I had to go straight to bed.<br /> The next morning, her husband made omelets, and we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. We started talking about how she and I had met—that she’d reached out to me on LinkedIn to see if I knew anyone who needed a project manager.

Cousins collide in Australia

In 2003 I was studying a Master's degree in Australia. At the same time my one and only cousin happened to be backpacking around the same country. Our mothers had been bothering us to get in touch, but we both could not be bothered. Over July break from my studies, I joined a couple of friends and decided to venture North on the backpack circuit. We had a great couple of weeks heading up to Airley beach from Sydney. On our way back home, we made one last stop in Surfer's Paradise. I decided I really wanted to go kayaking, and neither one of my travelling companions was interested.

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