Thursday, December 11, 2008

Funny You Should Say That

I have a washer/dryer combination in my apartment and am currently using both. When I opened the door to the still-running dryer to see how things were going, the washer stopped. “That’s odd,” I thought, “there’s no connection between them.” As I was emptying the dryer, the washer started up again; it was just between cycles.

That reminded me of an old and, well, mayyyybe true story of an old lady who was on the Andrea Doria when it got T-boned by the Stockholm fifty-some years ago. She noticed a switch in her cabin and got curious as to what it did. So she turned it on and, bang!, the ship shuddered and stopped suddenly. As she went out into the corridor to find a steward, they were running all over the place. She tried, without success, to tell them it was just this switch in her cabin she turned on. Perhaps she went to her grave believing she was responsible for this disaster.

A story went around in 1965 that some kid in New Hampshire was walking home with a stick in his hand. For no reason at all, he whacked a power-line pole and all the lights in town went out. Petrified, he ran home and heard on a portable radio that all the electricity in the Northeast had failed. “It’s all my fault!” he thought. “Now what should I do?” Later, he would learn it was a coincidence.

Coincidence = an incident that happens at the same time as another, unrelated. Happens all the time. We say something bad and immediately bite our tongue; “God is punishing me.” We mention not having been caught speeding and there’s a cop.


Blogger mjr said...

Reminds me of a tale in the book Lost Moon, the epic of Apollo 13 from which the movie was later made.

Astronaut Fred Haise had a penchant for playing tricks, and he discovered that by turning a certain valve a bit too fast, it caused a somewhat loud but absolutely harmless "bang" noise. He used it early in the flight to scare colleague Jim Lovell.

When the BIG explosion happened, Lovell's first thought was that it had to be Haise. But when he floated down to scold the LM pilot, he found Haise with gigantic, fright-filled eyes, croaking, "It wasn't me."

Then alarms started buzzing and the spacecraft started going every which way, and as you all know, "Houston, we have a problem."

December 18, 2008 5:08 PM  

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