Wrong Name, Right Place, Right Time

At the age of 18, one week after high school graduation, I boarded a bus from Pasadena, CA, to Daytona Beach, FL, hoping to find a childhood buddy of mine, Doug. I wore Dolphin shorts, a tank top, high top shoes, and a headband onto the bus. I stowed my backpack with the luggage. The bus broke down in the South (Louisiana, I think), and we were transferred to another bus. When I arrived in Daytona, my luggage didn't arrive with me. With nothing but the clothes I was wearing--and no address for my friend (I'd figured to get a hotel room, take my time trying to track him down when I arrived)--I looked in the white pages of the phone book for my friend's name. There was a Doug "Last Name" in the book who matched my friend's first and last name, but he had the wrong middle initial. He lived a few miles from the bus station. I figured maybe, just maybe, this guy with the first and last name that matched my friend might have run into my friend, thought it was a huge coincidence that they shared the same name, and remembered him--and maybe where he lived. So I checked a map and walked to the address. It was a condo. I looked through the window ... empty. The condo manager saw me staring in the window and asked what I was doing. I told him, then asked if he had a forwarding address for this Doug. He shook his head. "No," he said. Then he rubbed his chin, and he said, "But I do have a guy by that same name who works for me. He lives right there." He pointed at a condo directly behind him, and in the same second, my friend Doug stepped out the door. My luggage took three days to arrive. Thank goodness for coincidences. Just as a contrast, another coincidence I experienced happened like this. At age 20, my buddy and I were living (camping illegally in a tent) on St. John in the U.S.V.I. One day we each drank a bottle of rum with an Australian guy we'd met and decided to swim a mile to a nearby abandoned island. The Australian's girlfriend freaked out and sent the Forest Service patrol boat after us. The ranger met us halfway to the island. He asked if we needed a ride, told us that we were in shipping lanes, and said the island we were swimming to was surrounded by sea urchins and we might not be able to get ashore. We waved him away. The boat left. And my friend got three urchin spines in his foot as an eventual reward. 17 years later, I was road-tripping with a friend. Earlier that day, at White Sands, I'd called my agent from a phone booth--he told me a script I'd written had sold for a lot of money. We wanted to celebrate. While driving over the mountains before dropping into Tuscon, we saw Christmas lights spelling out "Mr. Easy's" on the roof of a house. We pulled off and found a makeshift bar in a house-- in a very small town in the hills that consisted mostly of small homes and trailers--and took seats at the bar. I got to talking to the guy sitting next to me. Turns out he was a ranger in the Virgin Islands. I said I'd met a VI ranger once--when I was swimming between islands ... "Wait," he interrupted, "were you one of those crazy guys swimming through the shipping lanes! My god, I thought sure you'd probably drowned." Quite a coincidence--yet I've never thought this one was too strange. You do weird stuff (like swimming a mile drunk on a bottle of rum through shipping lanes and then refuse rescue from the US Forest Service), guys are going to remember you. Do it enough, and you'll run into one of those guys somewhere later in life. But seeing Doug at that condo complex in Daytona coming out of his door the second I turned to look at it. That's one I've never been able to explain. ;-)
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Date submitted:Sun, 15 Dec 2019 05:40:20 +0000Coincidence ID:10383