Thursday, May 18, 2017

"The 'Coincidence' Guy"

Or is that all of us and I feel unfairly – and inaccurately – singled out?

coincidence: a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.

Oh yeah.  Here we go.

To me, “coincidence” is an evading euphemism for “I have no idea how that happened.”

I admit there are some actual coincidences in life.  But since the concept “coincidence” is readily available, a lot of unexplainable happenstances are lazily consigned to that tenuous classification.  A “remarkable concurrence of events” pops onto your personal radar screen, for which you have no satisfactory rationale?

“It’s a coincidence.”

AKA: “It’s an mystery.”

AKA:  “It is God’s will.”

To which I say, “Thank you for three generically unsatisfying explanations.” 

For me, though perhaps not for people on a more reliably sound mental health footing, a coincidence is like the “Cold Cases” on those police shows.  Unwilling to accept “It’s a coincidence”, I cannot comfortably rest until that unsubstantiated file is conclusively stamped “Solved.”  (Do they actually do that?  They should.  What a rewarding sense of “closure” that would be, slamming a big “Solved” stamp onto the appropriate folder.  What a powerful incentive to keep going.  “Go for the ‘Stamp’!”)  (This unsolicited suggestion is offered to our law enforcement community free of charge.  I simply request that you not to call our house anymore, soliciting money for your police dogs.  What do police dogs need money for, anyway?)

As you can tell, I have an intense bee in my bonnet about coincidences. 
For me, coincidences are monumentally annoying, your mind ablaze pondering the question, “How can that be?”, while waiting cerebral concerns, urgent and otherwise, inevitably pay the price.

How can you think straight while in the throes of grappling with a “coincidence”?

I just sighed.          

“An expression of frustration and an alerting signal to move things along.”


“With your example of a recent coincidence.”

I know where I am going with this.

“Well then for heaven’s sakes, go there!”

I’m going!  I’m going!

I just sighed again.


I have had this TV in my home office for, like, twenty-five years.  It’s an RCA, giving you some idea of its chronological vintage.  One day, the TV suddenly stopped being in color, its projected picture now showing exclusively in black-and-white.

Fine.  It’s an ancient TV; its demise is hardly unexpected.  No rush to replace it, however.  I primarily listen to the classical music channel on that TV while I’m working.  So no imminent concern.  Who cares if you listen to Mozart in black-and-white?

Moving on with this scintillating scenario…

When our daughter and her husband purchase a new TV for their house, they offer their relatively new superannuated TV to us, and we appreciatively accept.  The arranged plan is to install the upgraded gift TV in our bedroom, relocating our current bedroom
TV to my office, where it will replace my deteriorating RCA, now broadcasting exclusively in black-and-white.

They arrive with the gift TV; we immediately play “Musical Televisions.”  The gift TV is duly installed in our bedroom, our former bedroom TV is hooked up in my office, while the displaced RCA sits redundantly on the carpet, ready for donation to our “charity of choice”, Helping Hands for the Blind.  Whose recipients will be minimally inconvenienced by a TV, playing only in black-and-white.

I am really excited.  Once again, I have a fully functioning TV in my office.  The device ready to go.  We turn the replacement TV on.

It plays only in black-and-white.

Well, that was a disappointment.

I immediately call the cable company.  It’s simple logic.  If two installed TV’s play only in black-and-white, the problem’s the cable box in my office, not the two TVs, malfunctioning in an identical fashion, right?  I mean, it only makes sense.

Three days later – between the hours of ten and twelve – the company’s cable technician arrives.  The technician’s name is Manuel.  He is extremely capable.

For the first time in months, courtesy of Manuel’s technological expertise, there is a chromatic picture emanating from the TV playing in my office.  Not content that all is now well – and since a man who might well know the answer is standing in front of me – I ask Manuel’s expert opinion concerning exactly what happened.

Though not one hundred percent certain, Manuel patiently hypothesizes that my office’s original RCA TV was indeed broken, and that the newly installed replacement TV was hooked up incorrectly to the cable box.

To which my immediate response was,


Of all the various malfunctions a TV can succumb to, two distinct and separate televisions presenting identical symptoms for two entirely different reasons?

What a coincidence!

Another example, which I shall skeletalize for the sake of brevity and minimal annoyance.  For you, and for me, having to listen to it again.

Having tested positive for a disrupting intestinal condition for which I was successfully treated, a year or so later, the identical symptoms return.  Two days after the office-TV mystification, a subsequent test for that intestinal condition comes back negative.

Summing up for the confused and the incredulous, I am now experiencing the same symptoms as I did for an intestinal condition a reliable test reports I no longer have.  (The doctor told me, “Let me know if the condition returns.”  I told him, “How will I know?”)

So there you have it.  A man supremely distressed by such occurrences experiences two bizarre inexplicabilities virtually back-to-back.

Look at that.

Another coincidence.


JED said...

Here's another coincidence. I was just reading about how it's good for you to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. That could be the answer to both problems.

Mark said...

Mathematically speaking, the occurrence of coincidences is highly likely. See "The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day" by David J. Hand.