Coincidence or correlation?

I’m an avid supporter of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s theory (Fooled by Randomness or the Hidden Role of Chance in Life) that life is a series of random events from which, in retrospect, most of us then try to make a pattern and draw ominous or positive inferences.

Yet occasionally,  I’m left to wonder whether it’s just chance or whether there’s a correlating force working out there in the great universe.

Take my recent trip to Sarawak with a group of friends. Out of the 10 on the trip with me, I had gone with five of them on a 10-day tour of Jiangsu and Zhejiang in 2000.

I”m not drawing any unusual or significant inference from the trips or the travel companions or even the time lapse between the two holidays.

What I found rather uncanny relates to the taxis I took home from the airport after each holiday. On both occasions, I was in a cab driven by someone who kept me on the edge of my seat.

The first taxi 10 years ago was driven by some psychopath who tried to scare me by claiming that the vehicle we were in was the same one in which a cabbie had been murdered in Chestnut Drive. And despite my non-response, he proceeded to go into details.

I would have been terrified to be told this story in broad daylight but it was even worse when it was after midnight and I was travelling solo.

Still, the pyscho shut up soon enough when I screamed at him to cut it out, as I wasn’t interested in what he had to say. It nevertheless made for an unnerving half an hour ride home.

The latest trip home was with a taxi-driver who was covered in large warts, some of them as large as marbles — on his face, neck and hands (all the exposed parts of his body).

Had I not been assigned his taxi at the airport, I might have been uncharitable enough to make an excuse not to get in. But get in I had to, since there was no way i could get out of the queue.

So, it was another long unnerving 30 minute ride home, with me speculating mentally whether the warts were infectious or contagious and what impact on me to breathe in the same air and allowing him to handle my suitcase.

Of cos I acted like an ignoramus thinking such thoughts, because obviously the man must be OK for the LTA and Comfort to let him drive.

Now shall I dismiss the uneasy taxi rides home after holidaying with the same group as a mere co-incidence or should I extrapolate some correlation from what happened?

I guess I may be forced to see some pattern if I go on another trip with these friends and come home to another taxi nightmare.

I have yet another “co-incidence” that occurred recently to relate.

Just be4 I went on holiday, a friend who sits on a statutory board told me she was going to the wedding of the son of the stat board chairman. She asked me whether I had been invited since I know the groom’s uncle well.

Indeed, I know the groom’s uncle well but it’s been some years since we’ve met and our social circles don’t overlap, till this friend got onto the stat board, got invited to the wedding and thru that “six-degree” of connection thought I might be on the invite list too.

Quite simple and straightforward really. Till today, five days after I returned from my holiday. 

I met up with an ex-colleague for lunch. She said be4 our lunch, she had attended a bible study class and one of her classmates asked where she was going after the class. She told the classmate she was meeting me, to which the classmate said “send her (that’s me) my regards, she’s a good friend of my ex-boss”.

And that ex-boss is tatatata… the uncle of the groom.

I thought his affinity and mine had ended long ago.

But these two reminders make me wonder whether it’s just a coincidence or there’s a correlation in these reminders? Or maybe they represent the random role of chance in my life?


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