Coincidence? I’ve had a few... and they’ve been pretty freaky

We all regularly experience incidents in our lives that cause us to wonder if other forces are at work, says Trevor Laffan in his weekly column
Coincidence? I’ve had a few... and they’ve been pretty freaky

Friends Trevor Laffan and John O’Connor were flying to the same destination - both booked their tickets on separate days, but ended up seated next to each other. They’ve also ended up in the same garda stations and doctors’ waiting rooms, at the same time, coincidentally. Picture: Stock

SOME things in this world are difficult to explain. Take the Bermuda Triangle for example. Many planes and ships have gone missing in this area of the Atlantic Ocean.

They were recorded as having entered the triangle but then disappeared without a trace. Bad weather, hurricanes and human error have all been blamed but the circumstances are still mysterious.

The presence of alien beings walking among us has intrigued many. While most of us dismiss the idea, many point the finger at Area 51 in the Nevada Desert, which is controlled by the U.S. Air Force. This property is surrounded by secrecy and conspiracy theorists are convinced that captured alien spacecraft are being examined there and evidence of UFO’s is being covered up.

In 1872, the Mary Celeste set sail from New York Harbour on its way to Italy. On board were the ship’s captain, Benjamin S. Briggs, his wife, Sarah, and their two-year-old daughter, Sophia, along with eight crew members. Less than a month later, a passing British ship spotted the Mary Celeste at full sail and adrift with no sign of the captain, his family or any of the crew. Aside from several feet of water in the hold and a missing lifeboat, the ship was undamaged and loaded with six months’ worth of food and water.

Closer to home, we all regularly experience incidents in our lives that cause us to wonder if other forces are at work, but we usually attribute these to coincidence. 

Like when you are thinking about someone, and they suddenly appear at your front door. Or just as you were about to call someone, that person suddenly rings you instead. Coincidence or not?

National Geographic reported that your odds of being killed by a meteor are 1 in 1,600,000. So, the odds would seem infinitesimally small that a meteor, which had been flying through space for more than four-and-a-half billion years without hitting a target, would hit the home of a family with the last name “Commette.” According to Time magazine, in a bizarre case of cosmic synchronicity, that is exactly what happened to one family in France. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the Commettes are now the proud owners of their own extremely rare extra-terrestrial rock.

The reason I’m banging on about this is because I have had my own experience of coincidence and I think it’s a bit freaky.

I transferred from Blarney Garda Station to Mayfield in 1990 and one of the first people I met there was John O’Connor. We were on the same unit, so we worked together every day and soon became friends. After a couple of years, I moved into the community policing section which was just being formed at the time and not too long afterwards, John joined me.

In the mid-nineties, we both developed an interest in what was happening in Belarus in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and we ended up raising awareness and collecting humanitarian aid for distribution to schools, hospitals, orphanages and day care centres in that part of the world affected by the radiation fallout.

We decided to up the ante a few years later and in 1999 we arranged to drive a truck load of aid to Belarus. Neither of us had a truck licence, so we found a driving instructor and took lessons. We did our driving tests on the same day and both of us passed. We borrowed a truck and off we went.

I got promoted in 2000 and left Mayfield but a few years later, found myself back in community policing in Anglesea St. in the city centre. John got promoted shortly after me and went to Cyprus for a stint with the UN. When he returned to Cork, he took charge of community policing in the northside of the city, so we were back working together again.

John introduced me to Cyprus, and we became regular visitors and on one occasion we had planned to fly from Gatwick to Larnaca. John had booked his flight the day after me and when we were boarding the aircraft, I asked him what seat he was in, and he showed me his boarding card. It turned out we were sitting together even though we had both opted for random seating.

In 2013, I followed in John’s footsteps and did a stint in Cyprus with the UN and we both have many mutual friends there now.

I’ve had a dodgy back for a long time and when I was leaving Cyprus last November, I slipped on a wet floor in an elevator. I grabbed the handrail to prevent a fall, but I knew the jolt had affected my back. I was only home a day when it went into spasm. My GP called to the house and gave me an injection, but my left leg was numb, so he sent me for an MRI and suggested having it looked at by a consultant. I got an appointment to attend the Mater Hospital in Cork on January 9.

John had also been suffering with back trouble for a few years and he had been attending the same consultant in the Mater. They had tried a range of methods to solve his issue without success and he was also given an appointment on January 9, the same day as me, to examine further options.

His appointment was in the morning, and he rang me afterwards to tell me he was scheduled to go for surgery on January 12.

I visited the same consultant in the afternoon on the same day and I left his office with an appointment for surgery on January 30.

Our lives are following a very similar path, so I really hope he lives a long and healthy life.

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