Statistics in a Modern World 800
Coincidence Stories

A coincidence is a surprising concurrence of events, perceived as meaningfully related, but with no apparent causal connection. Should we really be surprised by these coincidences? Remember that when so many "unlikely" events are possible, according to the laws of probability, some of them are bound to happen. Like these...

(G.R.) When I was in middle school, I had two really good friends who had the same name, shared the same birthday, and lived on the same street. I knew one from school, and the other from a basketball club. Despite living on the same street, the two never managed to cross paths.(Admittedly, it was a pretty long street.) One of them eventually moved to New Jersey. So, I guess they will never meet...Or, who knows, they just might someday.

(B.M.) My Dad told me a story about a crazy coincidence that happened to him about 5 years ago, and it immediately stuck out in my mind when we talked about odd coincidences in class. My Dad was visiting China where he frequently did business with his job and with the military. While having a professional business meeting at a high rise restaurant in Hong Kong, he glanced across the room and locked eyes with one of the few other American's there. To his surprise, it was one of his co-workers from his previous job 6 years ago. He was shocked and couldn't believe what he was seeing. So, after the dinner was done, he got up and went over to talk to her. It turns out that she was also in Hong Kong doing business for her new company that she was working for and happened to be at the same restaurant as my Dad. What are the odds that they would both be visiting Hong Kong for business and both be at the same high rise restaurant, half way across the world? It blows my mind trying to think of the odds of this happening.

(K.K.) When I first got hired at my current job, my manager, whose name is Katie as well, was planning the schedule. She asked for my initials to put on the schedule. I told her they were KK and she asked for my middle initial since hers are also KK. My full initials are KEK, as are hers. We then figured out that our full names were extremely close. I am Katherine Elizabeth Krater and she is Katherine Elizabeth Keenan. It was quite a coincidence that the two of us worked in the same place and had, not only the same initials, but the same first and middle name, spelled the same way.

(S.P.) After a lecture, I wanted to ask my professor a question but there were a lot of people asking, hence I decided to not ask and I left. Since that was my last lesson, I wanted to take a bus home but I was wondering if I should get a meal near my house or further away from it and decided to get it near my house and took a later bus. After ordering the food, while waiting for it, a man and his young daughter entered the restaurant and to my surprise, it was my professor from my last lecture. I did not expect him to come to the exact same restaurant at the same timing as me since I was about to leave in 5 minutes.

(K.O.) Context: I'm a Pathfinder (student tour guide for Pitt), and I stayed on campus this pat summer to help with PittStarts and prospective student open houses. At one open house, I was walking a girl and her sister to Market for lunch, and I asked where they were from. Turns out that we live ~3 minutes from one another and went to the same elementary, middle, and high school! She even had a class with my younger sister (who is currently a senior in high school) last year.

(S.R.) I actually had a pretty strange coincidence happen immediately after leaving your class yesterday, and I almost forgot to tell you about it: While walking from your class to the bus stop, I received a text from one of our sports writers at The Pitt News. The writer told me she couldn't make it to the meeting tonight and asked about setting up an interview with someone on the women's basketball team. Once I made it to the bus stop, I received a new text from her saying, "Also, _____ and I talk about James Conner at work every day," referring to her and our online engagement/social media editor, Amanda. As soon as I finish reading that text and before I can put my phone back in my pocket, I look up and see Amanda walking past me. So naturally I thought to myself, "Wow, what a crazy coincidence!" And pulled Amanda aside to show her. She thought it was pretty crazy too. So I'm wondering, out of all the students at Pitt and people walking around Oakland, what are the odds of Amanda walking by the bus stop at the exact moment I receive a text about her?

(M.W.) My family and I go on a hiking vacation every summer, usually somewhere out west. A few years go, we took a vacation to Colorado, where we hiked up one of our tallest mountains yet. After hours of hiking, we finally made it to the top. There was almost no one else up there besides one other family. As they walked past us, we caught a glimpse of one of the boys' t-shirts. It read "Havertown Hoops." My family is from Havertown and my brothers all did Havertown summer camp.

(A.B.) One night my roommate and I woke up at the same time to check if our front door was locked.

(C.L.) On February 25, 1998, I was born and I am my grandparent's first grandchild. On February 25, 1999 (exactly one year after I was born), my cousin was born and he is my grandparents' second grandchild. What a coincidence! You can post this if you would like!

(E.M.) My best friend and I have the same first name, the same middle name, we both have one little sister who both are the same age in the same class, and we have the same freckle patterns on our arms (big triangle on the left arm, small triangle on the left arm).

(E.S.) Once I was at an meet and greet for an organization. I sat down on a couch with one girl and we began talking with some people around us. She introduced herself as Elizabeth and I immediately noted that I had the same name. We all continued talking and another girl came and sat down on the couch between Elizabeth and I. When the lady checking people in came over and asked her name, she also said Elizabeth. Everyone around quickly commented on how strange of a coincidence it was that all three of us Elizabeths, who had never met before, ended up sitting on the same couch.

(M.S.) A coincidence that has happened to me in my life was when my friend and me were playing a game called "what are the odds?" This is a game where you ask someone for example, what are the odds you go up and talk to a stranger? And the person will say, ok 1 in 5. And then you count down from three and say a number between 1 and 5 and if you say the same number, that person has to go do it. When my friend and i played it we were at the barber shop and he said what are the odds you get an under cut? and i said ok 1 in 50. We then counted down from three and surprisingly enough we both said the number 37, but of course I did not get an under cut and shave the bottom of my head. That was a crazy coincidence that we both said the exact same number out of 50.

(K.B.) A coincidence from my own experience is that my cousin and I happen to be the same age for 6 months out of the year. Another coincidence is that I and another girl had the same book bag in the same class on the first day of school.

(C.W.) Coincidences occur everyday. I recently just had one the other day. A few days ago I fractured my ankle in basketball practice. I'm in a boot and also on crutches. I'm not allowed to put any weight on it so it makes it extremely difficult to move place to place. I have class Monday evenings and my ride wasn't able to pick me up. However, I was going to have to walk instead, which would have taken me a very long time. It just so happened, right before I was going to leave for class, the professor canceled class. It was such a coincidence that I didn't have to suffer that long walk. Instead, I was able to rest my ankle.

**Disclaimer this story may be atypical, but it my friends and I are still blow away by it** Not too long ago Amazon created their competitive version Siri of Alexa. Fortunately, one of my housemates had already purchased Alexa and brought it up to our house for the school year. One night, a few weeks ago, my housemates and I were watching the Green Bay Packer play the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. Probably about halfway through the second quarter the camera panned over to the Giant's new coach head Ben McAdoo. Even though he may not look like it, I knew he was possibly one of the youngest coaches in the NFL. I then proceeded to my three fellow peers in the room, "I'm pretty sure Ben McAdoo is 38 or 39. Do you guys know how old he is?" As I should have expected, none of them knew. One of them then said, "Alexa, how old is Ben McAdoo?" Alexa was then nice enough to say, "Ben McAdoo is 38 or 39." After she repeated, literally, the same thing I did we all freaked out. My friends were then convinced I had already asked Alexa and were trying to mess with them. However, after a minute or so they knew I was just as shocked as they were. We then asked Alexa the name of other famous people and each time she gave an exact number. How could it be that a computerized program was able to give answer for the age of a person? To this day we are still very unsure how this and possible and why it happened.

(K.W.) My coincidence is that after my parents got married we took a family vacation to the Dominicans Republic, we accidentally picked up the wrong luggage and later that day when we met the owner we found out his son played for the same AAU team as i did and they lived right near us. We figured this out because my dad was wearing a shirt that said SA and they recognized the logo.

(D.K.) My junior year of high school, my school marching band took a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando to compete in a competition there. While waiting in line for the Shrek ride, a few people back, I saw my friend who lived in a different state and who I hadn't talked to in about a year. She just happened to be there on family vacation while I was there for the band trip, and neither of us knew about the other. (I think that's a coincidence)

(B.W.) Last night I ran into a cooincidence, I took an Uber driver to the club last night and his name was Darryl. I also took an Uber home, and that driver's name was also Darryl

(J.S.) When I was in Israel the summer before my junior year in high school, we were in Jerusalem on Ben Yehuda Street. Two other kids from my high school were on the same program as me, and as we were walking out of an ice cream shop we ran into our World History teacher with his wife. We sat and got a coffee and as we were talking another girl from our high school walked past who was on a different Israel trip. Such a crazy coincidence.

(M.D.) My coincidence: My eldest cousin has three children. With each bridal shower/gender reveal I was able to correctly guess the gender of the child (boy, boy, girl).

(D.C.) Last year I was visiting Pitt and stayed at the hotel on campus that offers a shuttle service. Every single time I would call the shuttle service, another girl there to visit Pitt would call at the same exact time. This occurred six times throughout the weekend. We were on the shuttle together constantly, even at odd times like late at night. There were so many Pitt students staying at that hotel that weekend but the two of us seemed to find each other everywhere. We even ran into each other downtown, we kept coincidentally seeing each other the whole weekend. Because of these strange coincidences we felt compelled to take each other's numbers, and now we are roommates and best friends!

(L.H.) After my Pop Pop died, my dad got the family a puppy to help us cope. Our cheerful and energetic beagle, Blue, then died of parvo on the 5th anniversary of my Pop Pop's death.

(G.B.) After my mother had my twin brother and I, she spent the next few days recovering in the hospital. She shared a room with a woman that also had just delivered girl, boy twins. To make things weirder, we were both delivered two minutes apart. After many years past and our mothers lost touch we were all reunited when we were placed in the same class room in 7th grade. Coincidentally, I dated the boy at the end of middle school and my brother dated the girl for the majority of high school.

(B.O.) This past summer, my mother took a cruise around the Western Caribbean. The ship departed from Miami, Florida and included stops in three different locations. When I picked her up from the airport, she told me all about her trip and how much fun she had, particularly in Cozumel, Mexico. When I asked what was more interesting about that particular stop, she credited her boat racing experience there as the highlight of the trip. But, she also mentioned that something strange had happened there as well. She had met another family that had been aboard the same ship and talked at length about their home lives. When my mother asked the family where they were from, they responded with Pennsylvania. Intrigued, my mother asked where specifically in Pennsylvania the family was from to which they responded McDonald, PA. Strangely enough, I grew up in McDonald, PA, which is a very small town that is tucked away in a corner of the southwestern part of the state. It turns out that this family lived just one street over from where my family and I lived for twelve years. Out of the thousands of people from cities around the country that had been aboard the cruise, it surprising that my mother ran into a group of strangers from the same town that i grew up in - a town that can't have more than a thousand residents.

(M.Y.) When I was younger after my travel soccer practices, my parents would also buy me food afterwards because I missed dinner. I would also want to go to Burger King and I would always order a 9 pieces of chicken fries with medium fries and a medium Dr. Pepper. The next day I was talking to one of my friends that was also on my team and I told her how I ate Burger King for dinner. She also told me how she had Burger King for dinner after practice too. I asked her what she ordered and she had the same exact order as me. Everything from the sizes of the meal and the drink. This coincidence also happened 3 more times too!

(M.R.) I met my friend Mark here at Pitt before I met my roommate Gil, and went to introduce Mark to Gil. Once I went to introduce Mark to my roommate, I quickly found out Mark and Gil went to high school in Philadelphia together. Expecting they had no idea who each other were. It was a coincidence that the first student I met here already knew my roommate at big university.

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