Being philosophically minded, I wonder whether what are the chances... means what we think it does. A few days ago I met someone who made me exclaim, "No way! This is unbelievable."
But believe it I did, because I was experiencing it. So what are the chances?
Well, after something happens, it is obviously 100%. Before Tuesday, though, I wouldn't have bet that I'd ever have the conversation I did.
A couple of guys from the water treatment company we use, Pacific Mist, came out to check the complicated system in our garage: Jeff, plus his 87 year old father, James.
They were instantly interested in a vehicular addition to our carport that hadn't been there on previous visits -- my Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter. We chatted about motorcycling and scootering for a while, then James and I moved on to other topics while Jeff checked out our softener and some other equipment.
Fingering an oak leaf from the tree that hangs over our driveway, James asked me if I knew what variety of oak this was.
"I don't know," I told him. "Guess I should, since I grew up in a part of California where there were lots of oak trees."
"Central California. Do you know where Sequoia National Park is?"
"Yes, I do," James said.
"Well," I told him, "I grew up in Three Rivers, which is near the entrance to the park."
"Oh, my gosh," he said, "that's where my family lived."
Interesting enough conversation up to this point, for sure. When my mother and I lived in Three Rivers, the population was about 800. Not surprisingly, I'd never met anyone from my home town who I didn't know while I was growing up there.
My next question took us over the cliff of what are the chances.
"What's your last name?"
That name rang a loud bell for me. I told James, "Hey, we lived next to some Packards -- Rosemary, Hal, and their kids."
"Hal is my brother," James said.
For the next 45 minutes or so James and I played a fun game of "did you know...?" His family moved to Three Rivers in the 1940s, if I recall correctly. My mother and I arrived in 1955, just about the time James left.
He was amazed that my 8th grade teacher, Mary McDowell, was one of his teachers. And that I knew Mr. Loverin (my high school principal, I believe), who was a classmate of his.
We both got pretty emotional by the time Jeff had finished his work and was ready to leave. I have a lot of fondness for Three Rivers. So does James. A place like this has a way of imprinting itself on a child's psyche. For the rest of your life, you're looking at places and people through the eyes of the small town kid who you once were, and always will be -- no matter how old you are.
Two men meet in rural south Salem in 2009 and learn that each of them lived in the same little California town some fifty years earlier. Not only that, the older guy is the brother of the man the younger guy lived next door to.
What are the chances? I have no idea. I'm just happy that James and I were able to reminisce about some very good old days (and some not-so-good, because that's how life is).