Tag Archive: parents

(Submitted by reader Carl Nichols)

Fifteen years ago or so I was working in London just around the corner from the House of Commons. Nothing unusual there, but one lunch time I was crossing the road and in the car in the front of the queue of traffic that had stopped at the lights was, to my surprise, my parents. My parents live a small village in Suffolk, about 90 miles from London (not a huge distance in the US but Britain is only 600 miles long so a reasonable distance here!)

They would come to London perhaps 3-4 times a year but coming into central London much more rarely. As I’m sure you’re aware London isn’t a small place and I would be reasonably surprised to randomly bump into anyone I knew, even if they lived in the city, and who happened to be in London for the day.

What are the odds on crossing the road in one of the biggest cities in the world at the same time as your parents are driving through that same spot?!

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 197. Take a look and leave your comments below.

I found this story interesting, even though the odds of this happening are much higher than they are in most of the location coincidence stories that we get. In fact, I am actually more interested in why the author did not know that the parents would be in town. It seems that seeing their child might be part of their plans.

Well, the parties involved did not travel thousands of miles and see each other in a remote location, but it still feels unbelievable. I suspect  the car is the reason. A car can move pretty fast, making it feel as though where someone in a car is at any given time is much more variable than someone on foot.

The placement of the car at the light might seem to make the odds of this incident even crazier, but if it was not in front, the author may not have even known that his/her parents were there. When crossing streets, people make eye contact with drivers, both because our parents taught us to and because it’s kind of a natural survival instinct (not that you could tell at my son’s middle school). The drivers in cars that are poised to run us over get our attention, but not those that are not. How many times has a similar incident occurred, yet nobody noticed because the parents were in the second or third car rather than the first?

If you have ever discovered afterward that a friend was at the same event—ball game, concert, trade show—at the same time as you were, yet you didn’t run into each other, think about how many times that must have happened, but because it didn’t come up in conversation, you never knew.

Addressing a Coincidence

(Submitted by reader Jeffrey Nuttall)

In April 2009, a friend was looking for a roommate, and, since I was planning to move anyway, I ended up moving in with him.  As it turned out, though, there were some odd coincidences involved with my new address.

First of all, I later found out that my parents had both lived only a couple of blocks away from that address before they were married — my mother to the northwest, and my father to the southwest.  I had had no idea that my parents had ever lived anywhere near there until after I moved there.

But the coincidence gets better: the street the address is on is called Willis, and the nearest cross street to the south is Rayen.  My father’s name is Ray, and his last initial N. — Ray N.  And my father’s middle name?  Willis.

[EDITOR: This one’s both one of the craziest stories I’ve heard, and requires the most effort to find. You have to jumble together and separate out some names, and the rules are a little loose and require some searching. And yet, when you put it all together and see it as a whole the end result is wicked cool. Which is one notch above “crazy cool,” and a couple below “slap-my-ass-and-call-me-mathilda” cool. There’s a whole scale. Trust me.]