We’ve all had coincidences take place in our lives.

Webster’s Dictionary (1992 “new illustrated” version with thesaurus) defines coincidence as “a remarkable occurrence of events, ideas, etc., at the same time or in the same way.”

The word “coincident” is defined as “exactly corresponding; identical.”

Basically, coincidence means two similar things happening at the same time in different places.

You know how it goes.

You go to a store or some other location and see someone you know, and then go somewhere else and there they are again.

Doug Davison

You’re involved in a conversation, and suddenly the same thing comes out of your mouth and someone else’s at precisely the same time.

And, of course, there’s the one where you pick up the phone to call someone and discover that that same person is already on the line having called you at exactly the same time (and the phone never rang). You push buttons on the handset, and then hear “hello?” instead of a ringing tone.

Speaking of that last example, I recently experienced one of the most incredible coincidences in my life, and it involved a phone. It was completely surreal, and seemed more like something your exaggerating Uncle Roscoe would come up with than anything to do with real life.

But it happened.

It all started when the desktop computer I use at work needed some repair work and was sent away for a few weeks. When it came back, its problem had definitely been rectified, but it was minus some of the programs and files it previously contained.

Part of my task in getting it back up to speed was to rebuild the address book. I like to rely on it for  emailing purposes, and it keeps me from having to memorize phone numbers (which I’m not at all good at).

While sitting at my desk working on that project, I started on Cable America, one of the Houston Herald’s weekly advertisers. Our contact with the company is Debby Mefford, who works out of the firm’s office in St. Robert, so I put her name in the name field and then typed her phone number in the phone number field.

I then realized I didn’t have her email address, so I figured I should call her and get it. Right then the phone rang, and one my co-workers answered it.

Then I heard, “Doug, line one.”

I picked up the phone, pressed the ‘line 1’ button, and I’ll never forget the inexplicable moments that followed.

“This is Doug,” I said.

The voice on the other end said, “Hi Doug, this is Debby Mefford at Cable America. My computer recently crashed, so I’m in the process of rebuilding my address book and I need your email address. I thought maybe you could just send me an email and I could have it again.”

After a shock wave went through my entire body from the realization that the woman and I were doing the exact same thing at the exact same time, I went silent for a fleeting second or two. But I quickly recovered and replied.

“Wow, Debby, I can’t do that,” I said. “My computer just got back from being repaired and I’m sitting here rebuilding my address book. I’m actually doing Cable America right this minute and I was literally about to call you to get your email address.”

“No way!” she said. “You mean we’re sharing the same brain right now?”

“This is the most incredible coincidence I’ve experienced in my entire life,” I said.

After laughing and making a couple of “you’ve got to be kidding” and “what are the odds” remarks, we verbally exchanged email addresses and then went back to traveling paths that had for an instant intersected in such an unbelievable way. As soon as I hung up, I made sure to share the experience with some of my co-workers, to sort of document the occurrence and have “witnesses.”

I was like, “you aren’t going to believe what just happened.”

After hearing about it, they were as incredulous as I was.

For everyone in the room, it was like, “how is that even possible?”

I guess the only possible conclusion is: By coincidence.

Remarkable indeed.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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