The Strangest Coincidence EVER

Daffodils blooming on the Amstel River in Amsterdam- taken Jan 21, 2012

Now imagine the following for a second.  It’s Saturday night in Amsterdam, and due to my birthday party the night before I’m too tired to do anything crazy but a low-key drink sounds like a good idea sort of thing.  No worries, there are a bunch of little cafes around here that I haven’t checked out yet and one is hosting a CouchSurfing get-together, so I head to said cafe to see what I see.

The place is busy, but there’s a spot next to a cute fellow with a German accent who is asking intelligent questions about my research, and it turns out he’s a Physics PhD student in a town in Lower Saxony six hours away from Amsterdam, in town for the first time this weekend to help a friend move.  A geek running into another geek unexpectedly is always a relatively rare occurrence so we spend ten minutes discussing our respective areas of study, and then he mentions offhand that he used to study in Auckland.

“Wait, New Zealand?”  I am momentarily confused, then have a flash of recognition.  “Johannes!  Professor LW’s E&M class, the first half of 2007!!!”  He in turn recognizes me and much hugging and squealing ensues, not all of it coming from me, and we chat nonstop into the wee hours to catch up. (So much for a low-key night!) Because you see it wasn’t just that we were in the same class, we actually did problem sets together- which Johannes recalled in much greater detail and fondness than me, he’s the theorist after all- but I never grabbed his contact information before leaving, so I hadn’t heard a thing about or from him in five years.

Let me repeat this again so we are clear on this: I went into a random bar and sat next to a random guy who was randomly in town… and it was one I last met five years ago, half a world away!  I believe we have now passed from “it’s a small world” to The Twilight Zone– or as another friend put it, I have now officially traveled enough that the entire world is my neighborhood.

What’s the strangest coincidence that ever happened to you?  I’m sure I’m not the only one with such a strange story!

The University of Auckland- taken February 15, 2007

12 responses to “The Strangest Coincidence EVER

  1. Random coincidences are awesome. Great story 🙂

  2. I bumped into an old Dutch friend in the lobby of a hotel in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. I was so weird to hear someone call out my name, in Dutch! Yes my name sounds different in Dutch 🙂

  3. I had a very strange and cool story… July 2010, Charles Bridge, Prague, exactly 12:00… suddenly I feel a BIG hand on my shoulder and someone say “HANS! What are you doing here!”…my brother-in-law (2m tall) from Mexico City, 10,000 km away, and a friend of ours, over here to see F1 and take a little Mitteleuropa tour. Totally unplanned, totally unexpected. I was with my own tour group, and the guide was just then finishing the morning walk, at that exact moment; 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, and we would have missed each other.

    • Another good one! Makes you start wondering how many people you just didn’t happen to meet up with because of five minutes either way though doesn’t it?

      • Yep… I wonder about who I could meet or not meet because of small coincidences… missed metro trains, different routes taken… coincidence is so strange, and fun too!

  4. eriksmithdotcom

    Upon arriving in Sydney, I walked down to a viewpoint of the Opera House and wanted to get a picture of me & the Opera House in the background. Traveling by myself, I needed someone to take the picture. I stopped the first people to come along, and after taking the picture for me, we got to talking. It turns out they lived 2 blocks away from me and I had delivered them a pizza a week before I left. It’s a small world.

  5. I didn’t actually run into someone I knew, but the experience was crazy nonetheless. I am from Boise, Idaho and I was hiking in Zermatt, Switzerland a few years ago, wearing a t-shirt from my high school. However, the shirt didn’t actually say the name of my school on it, it just read “BEAT BORAH” (Borah is my high school’s rival school). When we got to the top of the hike, some random guy walked up to me and asked me if I had gone to Boise High because he recognized my shirt! We started talking and it turned out we had a few mutual friends!

    • Nice! My brother once learned that one of his friends went to the same lake in NH we went to in summer cause one of our cousins spotted his school t-shirt. We grew up in Pittsburgh btw, so not as crazy as that but still a good 12 hour drive.

  6. The strangest thing that has ever happened to me was when I was only aged 22. At Primary School I met this boy called Ryan, who was a good friend of mine. After school, we didn’t keep in touch. Eventually, aged 21, i married a different boy also called Ryan. Strange thing is, after bumping into Ryan and his wife (who had married one day after i had), I discovered his wife’s name was Ava! My name! Things then only got stranger: his wife and my husband had went to primary school together and were good friends! Strange, HUH!?

  7. Love coincidences like this. My favorite line was ‘which Johannes recalled in much greater detail and fondness, he’s the theorist, after all’ – it cracked me up, could’ve come straight from Big Bang Theory (a family favorite).

    • Yvette Cendes

      Haha thanks! Tho it should be mentioned that trust me, in my astronomers’ crowd pretty much every one of us remembers “fun” homework problems we had to do or has a fondness for a particular star or whatever. We just usually keep a little more quiet about it than most give us credit for. 😉

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