What are the chances!?!

Have you ever experienced an event or set of events, that are quite uncanny and your first thought is “What are the chances!?!” While you’re thinking about it, here are a few of my ‘strange coincidences’.

After I finished my degree I spent some time in Germany where I juggled a few jobs to pay my way. In addition to waitressing in an Irish pub I was working an early shift in a galvanising plant in North Rhine-Westphalia, where my task was to pop a plastic cork on the tip of each screwdriver, before it was hot dipped. It was here that I befriended a petite Eastern European woman who was seeking asylum in Germany. 

My shift buddy and I sat side-by-side, in our mandatory steel-capped work boots, puffing away, popping corks and putting the world to rights. She shared her fears for her future, and that of her two children who were back home with a relative. She expressed her hopes of finding a German husband, and told me how she yearned to be able to offer her children something that resembled long-term security. We were about the same age, but in terms of life experience, she was way more mature than I. We lost touch after I moved to Munich to start my short career as a hostess at Lufthansa.

That same year, I was on duty and our first leg had been to Dusseldorf airport. We had finished prepping the cabin for a flight to Kiev and ‘as usual’ I was all dollied up, shirt ironed, every hair in place and waiting for our passengers to board. There was a bit of a buzz as my purser told the crew that border control was deporting someone on our flight, and that they may be in handcuffs. Handcuffs…goodness, deportation sounded like something bad. 

I was fully expecting a tall, tattooed, toothless male in chains when my shift buddy, in cuffs, rounded the corner into the cabin ahead of a man in uniform. She immediately recognised me and threw herself towards me, sobbing… I was at a total loss for words. On my flight! What were the chances!?! The policeman firmly but kindly moved her along to the back of the plane, where they were seated away from the other passengers. I spoke with her as much as I was allowed to, but what could I say that would make a difference to her anguish?

Maybe five years later my fiancé and I had a terrible disagreement on our way to a wedding. So bad in fact, that we ended up sitting on opposite sides of the church. Of course I was right and he was wrong…

As the beautiful bride swept past me I dabbed at a tear – as you do when the bride looks breathtaking…or perhaps it was self pity. A little more dabbing as the two launched into their self-penned vows, and I thought “Wow! That! That! That is exactly what I wish for in a relationship!”. 

Sadly, that marriage did not last long. Similarly my fiancé and I didn’t either. Today, he and she (yes, that bride) are happily married with children. What were the chances!?! I can imagine you on the edge of your seats now, wanting a bit of drama… alas there was none. She and I became friends, and she is a truly amazing woman. 

Next weekend I’m attending a joint fiftieth birthday celebration. My friends, a couple with children, were not only born within hours of one another, but they were also.. wait for it… born in the exact same hospital! In other words they were within metres of one another, within ‘minutes’ of taking their first breaths… what are the chances! I can’t wait to celebrate this half century with them!

It took about a quarter of a century for my sister and her hubby (who celebrates his birthday today… Happy Happy Thorsten!) to connect. Both our families came over to South Africa from Germany on the very same ship, albeit a year apart. Imagine if we’d all been aboard the vessel in the same year – now that would have been quite something! But even a year apart, being on the same ship is still quite a remarkable thing.

Speaking of birthdays, there are a lot of folks I know having birthdays this month, and I’d like to wish a very Happy Birthday to all of them out there! May babies rock! And I’m a May baby too. What are the chances!?!



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