Tag Archive: husband

Silver Anniversary Achievement

(Submitted by anonymous reader)

On November 2, 1963 I married my first husband. He turned out to be an abusive man and I finally divorced him in 1968. Having never been hit by my parents I never understood the abuse or how I fell into that type of relationship or why.

In 1988 I heard an ad on the local radio station seeking  volunteers to counsel abused women. They offered free training and I decided to give it a try.

As it turned out I taught more than I was taught,  having all the experience I had. After my training was completed they gave me my certificate of completion at one of our meetings. The date on the certificate was November 2, 1988, exactly 25 years from the day I had married this man.

I felt as if God was telling me, “Now you know why.” I spent years volunteering and helping other abused women to escape and to heal.

[EDITOR: If you haven’t yet read George Hrab’s thoughts on the subject of our site, I suggest you go do so. I think he perfectly sums up exactly this type of scenario. The vast majority of the coincidences we have on this site are just plain goofy. They don’t teach a lesson, they don’t send a message, they don’t impart knowledge; they’re people running into college buddies or squirrels falling on heads. And if so many meaningless coincidences happen to people every day, then occasionally one’s going to line up just right to make you feel like there’s more to it. I personally had this experience in Favorite Worlds Collide, leading me to feel like this amazing confluence of events meant something more. But at the end of the day the source of a life-changing event isn’t necessarily what’s important about it. It’s what you do with it. It’s hard to blame people for searching for and applying meaning to events, especially when they use that to foster a positive change in their life. We should all be so lucky as to pick out clues in the jungle of life around us and make something positive out of them. – Jarrett]

Seventy-Six Trombone Coincidence

(Submitted by reader Mary B)

My husband and I were just waking up on a Saturday morning. My husband mumbled, “I am so tired, it would take seventy-six trombones to wake me up.” He rolled over, picked up the TV remote, and clicked on the television set at the foot of our bed. Booming out of the TV comes the words and music, “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade…”

Unbelievably, the television happened to be tuned to a station that was airing the the movie, The Music Man, and he had turned it on at the exact moment of the start of the main parade scene.

We both sat bolt upright, looked at each other and gasped. We had each thought that we had temporarily lost our minds. But no, it had really happened. I still can’t believe it, but it happened.

[EDITOR: What are the odds… that people would still be watching that movie after all these years? Actually, I bet pretty high since the licensing costs are probably dirt cheap since nobody knew how to write a good contract back then.]

(Submitted by reader Daniel S)

I hurt my back on Monday. Nothing severe just have to stay in bed and take muscle relaxers for a couple of days. I’m not sure exactly how I did it because the pain wasn’t instant, it just got worse as the day progressed until I couldn’t get out of bed Tuesday morning. I’m pretty  sure I hurt it that morning when I stopped to change a tire for a little old lady who had a blowout on the side of the interstate. She was very sweet and thankful and said that normally her husband would have come to help her but he was out of state. She offered me money but I wouldn’t accept it. I just told her to remember to be nice to others.

Fast forward to today. I get a call from my Mom about an hour ago that she has had a blowout on the interstate and it’s pretty close to the same place that I had stopped to help the lady on Monday. I feel helpless because I can’t get up to go help her so I tell her that if she can’t get it changed to call me back and I will start calling friends who may be near her. About half an hour goes by and she calls me back. She got the lug nuts off but the tire wouldn’t budge. It was stuck on. Just then a little old man pulled up and asked her if she needed help. He got a hammer out of his pickup and got the tire off for her and changed it. She offered him money but he wouldn’t accept. He said that his wife had a blowout around the same place two days ago and he was out of town and felt helpless that he couldn’t come help her. He said that she told him that someone stopped and changed the tire for her and wouldn’t accept money but told her to be nice to others and he was just paying it forward.

[EDITOR: I have nothing snarky to add to this. It’s a genuinely sweet story and stands on its own.]

Updated 5/22/2012

Below are the exact notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 183. Take a look and leave your comments below.

As with all of these stories, the odds of these events rely on answers to a number of questions and the list is shorter than one might think:

  1. What is the probability that the author’s mother would have a blow-out within a few days of the first event?
  2. What is the probability that this would occur in the same general area?
  3. What is the probability that the woman’s husband would be driving in the same general area at the same time?

You might be thinking that the question of whether the husband would stop to help is also a factor, but I’m going to argue that it is insignificant.

Pro-social behavior has been a topic of intense study by psychologists since modern psychology began and it continues today because it is much more complicated than most people think. We tend to view the behavior of others as driven by personal values and
personality, yet this view is mostly inaccurate. One finding which was apparent in early studies and has stood the test of time is that our behavior is driven much more by situations than by anything else. This is a good thing, because it means that there are things we can do to increase pro-social behavior in general and as recipients of it.

One early finding is that people are more likely to take responsibility for the welfare of others (or even for another’s property) if they are simply asked to do so. This is due, in part, to our feelings of obligation, both because we agreed to it and because it is expected. However, more recent research suggests that a large part of the effect can be attributed simply to the fact that a pro-social attitude is easily accessed when we are reminded (a kind of priming).

In this case, the woman the author helped specifically asked her to “pay it forward”. The added feeling of gratitude and debt that she felt was certainly a factor, but the effect of noting that she could do the same for someone else is not insignificant. Additionally, pro-social behavior is contagious; we want to smile at people who smile at us. We are more likely to help someone if we have been on the receiving end of such help in the past.

In this way, ideas like those put forward in “The Secret” or those that motivational speakers promote (e.g., the power of positive thinking) can appear to be effective means of personal gain.

In some ways, they can be. However, it is important to keep in mind that 1) there is nothing supernatural about this effect, 2) it cannot be guaranteed or forced, 3) we are talking about human reciprocity. A positive attitude will not help you win a sweepstakes or ensure that your cake comes out delicious. Asking for special treatment is also not a good way to convince others to provide it, either. However, a positive attitude toward others, both in providing help to others when they need it without expecting something in return and in trusting that others are willing to help when you ask for it yourself, will improve everyone’s chances of acting pro-

So, after addressing the probability that the husband would stop to help the mother and concluding that it is highly likely, given the events two days prior, the other questions are the statistically-interesting ones.

The probability of getting a flat tire is relatively small in modern times in comparison to 30 years ago, but it happens. It is rare enough that the probability is mired in enough factors to make it difficult to calculate. Questions such as how often one drives affect this probability a great deal, but they also effect the other factors. For example, if you drive a lot, you have more opportunities to get a flat tire, but you are less likely to allow those tires to wear down to unsafe tread depths. Where you drive is a factor as well. If these two women were the victims of flats this close together, perhaps there is a large amount of sharp debris in the roadway, increasing
everyone’s chance of getting a flat tire.

The location and likelihood of a flat are tied together for other reasons as well. The author of the post clearly lives close enough to where his mother’s flat occurred that he could have helped if he had not been injured. Although humans may travel great distances, the majority of us live most of our daily lives within a relatively small “home range”. The fact that most accidents occur in the home is not due to our homes being unsafe, but simply due to the amount of time we spend there.

Likewise, the probability that the woman’s husband was driving in the same general area is not exactly low, nor is the probability that he was driving at that time. The fact is that humans share enough of a pattern of activity that we can predict the flow of traffic fairly well and make reasonable assumptions about the operating hours of businesses.

So we are left, once again, with the question of why this particular gentleman stopped to help when nobody else did. That, I think, rests on the fact that the author made the gesture he made when he made it.

The one question remaining is, what is the probability that neither woman would be a member of AAA? That, it turns out, is quantifiable.

Estimates of the number of drivers in the United States range from 250 to 300 million. AAA boasts a membership of 51 million. Conservatively, one in five drivers is a member of AAA, so the probability of a given driver not being a member is roughly .8. The distribution is probably clustered somewhat geographically, but ignoring that, the probability, choosing two drivers at random from this population and neither being a member can be written:

P(approximately) = .8 x .8 = .64.

This is better than a coin toss.

Awkward Encounters

(Submitted by reader Heather F)

I got married a few years ago (and am now happily divorced), and visited San Francisco with my then-new husband on our honeymoon trip. While we lived in Washington, DC at the time, I am originally from Amherst, Massachusetts.

During out sightseeing we visited SFMOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and wandered around, hand-in-hand, like the oblivious newlyweds we were. But our bliss was suddenly derailed when we ran smack into a man I hadn’t seen in five years, when I lived in Massachusetts… where we’d had a rather intense affair.

The odds were clearly crazy, and there just aren’t enough Dear Abby columns available to tell you how to introduce your new husband (who has a jealous streak) to an ex-lover who you’ve always wished you could’ve had just a few more nights with…

[EDITOR: The same thing happened to me in San Francisco, although instead of a new married partner it was a sandwich, and instead of an ex-lover it was a restaurant that served another delicious sandwich. But otherwise exactly the same. Especially considering the food poisoning from the first sandwich left me regretting that commitment…]

Coincidence Curry

A girlfriend and I were planning to have lunch at an Indian curry restaurant one weekend day; she was going to pick me up about Noon, but was about a half hour late. We sat for about 15 or 20 minutes visiting and talking about her husband’s new play before we got into the car and drove the six blocks or so to a tiny, obscure Indian restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. We almost went to a more modern Thai restaurant instead, but decided to stick with our original choice of the Indian curry place.

We were seated and reviewing the menu when another friend of ours entered the little six-table establishment and we all recognized one another. He was with his friend who lived in the neighborhood. What was an unusual coincidence, besides the fact that we would have missed each other if my friend had been on time, was that we had just been discussing the theater my restaurant partner’s husband almost performed at (the stage wasn’t large enough), and our coincidental new dinner guest was the theater’s manager! Go figure the odds!

Anne Parrish

While American novelist Anne Parrish was browsing bookstores in Paris in the 1920s, she came upon a book that was one of her childhood favorites – Jack Frost and Other Stories. She picked up the old book and showed it to her husband, telling him of the book she fondly remembered as a child. Her husband took the book, opened it, and on the flyleaf found the inscription: “Anne Parrish, 209 N. Weber Street, Colorado Springs.” It was Anne’s very own book.

Courtesy of Listverse

So here’s the story.  Around the turn of the century, my great grandfather, Oscar Adams homesteaded a ranch in Northern New Mexico, about 24 miles north of Las Vegas, NM. His daughter Nina, and husband, Charlie Middleton ran it as a guest ranch (Evergreen Valley Ranch) for about 50 years, until about 20 years ago, when my great uncle Charlie sold it to a group of families, shortly before he passed away. Even though the ranch is no longer in the family, my mother has kept in close contact with those now in ownership, and we visit regularly.

This August, my mother and I visited the ranch, and while there, met the great granddaughter of the man who homesteaded the ranch next door to Evergreen Valley Ranch – Terrill Ranch; the ranch through whose meadow we have crossed for over 40 years, to go on our favorite hikes in the area. I was amazed to discover that she (Alex) works with me at RAND, in our Santa Monica office. We had never met, but work with some of the same people. More amazing still is the fact that we were both visiting our respective ranches the same week, and had opportunity to meet each other! Her fiance, Michael who also works at RAND was with her, in NM.

Less than a week after this amazingly coincidental meeting, my boyfriend Paul and I were at the Hollywood Bowl to hear Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony; one of two concerts we got tickets for this season.  As we were eating, he looked up, and lo and behold, who was passing in front of us, but Alex & Michael.  Of all the people there and all the timing of looking up, the odds must be crazy that we would run into them there; on a Tuesday night – with Shostakovich!!  The other tidbit, I discovered when I ran into Alex the next day at work (really, how many times have we unknowingly crossed paths??) – that her fiance is a violinist, and Paul is a cellist.  🙂  So there you have it. The Odds Must Be Crazy!

Bleak Winters

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Susan Gerbic)

Both of my grandmothers died on the same day, December 18th; one in 1925 the other in 1954. We always thought that was odd, but still not quite that odd. Then when in 1996 my then husband’s grandmother died on December 18th we really starting questioning it. The remaining grandmother was still alive at this time. Three out of three, that’s really interesting odds. If I might add in one more, when we were telling my husband’s step-father of this coincidence, he went into another room and brought out his mother’s death certificate. Same death date, December 18th.

All the grandmothers in our family, biological and step had died, on the same day. This was all before 2000; since then the remaining grandmother has now died and she died in March.