Odds: the chances or likelihood of something happening or being the case. I have three examples of situations that defy the odds.
First, probably a 20,000 to 1 case. When I worked in DC years ago my habit was to take a walk during during my lunch break, often instead of eating lunch. One day I bumped into two people I knew and hadn’t seen in years. The first was Ernie Friesen, former Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the second, just a few minutes later on the same street, Bill Weiner, a law professor and golf pal from Lansing, Michigan. Granted DC is a tourist mecca, but to see two people within minutes, two people I hadn’t seen in years? What are the odds?
Second, probably a million to 1 case. Karen and I were returning our rental car at the San Francisco Airport about 15 years ago . We parked, grabbed our luggage, and got on the elevator. Before the doors closed along came a couple and I pressed the open door button. I recognized them right away, but after they thanked me they turned away from us toward the front of the elevator and assumed that position most of us assume on an elevator with strangers; namely, avoiding eye contact with the other passengers. I spoke up: “Hi Elli, hi Joe.” Turned out we knew them from our DC days. Elli and I worked together for several years at the law firm I managed. What are the odds?
Last, probably a few million to 1 case. To begin, I admit to having studied the Russian language and even taught it for several years at the high school level. Since moving to North Carolina I have bumped into several Russian men and women and shared some of my experiences from 1965 when I spent 10 weeks in the tnen USSR, but this example of chance encounters with Russians takes first prize for this article.
Several months ago I happened to meet Olga when I slipped into the hot tub at the Rex Wellness Center in Raleigh, NC, not far from our home.. People who go the the Center are very friendly and more often than not greet each other as they pass by. When I got into the hot tub I said good morning to the 3 or 4 people already cooking. When the lady I sat next to said her good morning I detected an accent and asked her, in Russian, if she was from Russia. Surprised, pleasantly I hope, she introduced herself, told me she was from Moscow, and we had a short conversation, some of which was in my very rusty Russian.
This afternoon, several months later, on Saturday of the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, there were 3 people in the entire pool area at Rex Wellness, something I have never experienced. There are usually at least 10-15 people in the pools, hot tub, sauna, and steam room. I did my exercises and laps, and when I got into the hot tub I said good afternoon to the one other person already in. When I greeted her she looked familiar. I had not seen Olga in months. I thought she might be the Olga I had met months ago and asked her if her name was Olga, and she said yes! When I told her I had been hoping to see her again to practice my Russian, she said that this was the first time she had ever come to the Raleigh Center! I told her about the other Olga and she said she wasn’t surprised, that Olga was a very common female name. And, like the first Olga, she is from Moscow. We chatted for a while, mostly in English, some in my rusty Russian, and as we left we agreed to try and get together with our spouses some time. Two Olgas from Moscow in a hot tub in Raleigh, NC, in a matter of months. What are the odds?