If you pay attention to the news, you might think that the universe is a cold, uncaring dick who delights in punishing us for absolutely no reason — like an all-encompassing version of your middle school algebra teacher, basically. However, there’s a softer side to the old bastard. Every once in a while, the laws of probability decide to look the other way and help random people through staggeringly unlikely coincidences. Like when …
A Fortune Cookie Correctly Predicts Lottery Numbers For 100+ People
In 2005, the organizers of the Powerball lottery found themselves with a major problem: instead of four or five people winning the second-place prize (as normally happens), they were faced with 110 lucky assholes. What the hell happened? Did the world’s largest gang of con artists cheat the system? Have the people of America finally mutated into psychic freaks?
Nope, it was something even more ridiculous. When they stopped terror-pooping long enough to recover their speech faculties, the Powerball officials asked each of the winners where they got their numbers. They all came back with the same answer: from a fortune cookie. Yes, as it turned out, the Powerball was temporarily brought to its knees by Wonton Food, a fortune cookie manufacturer based out of Queens that only started printing lottery numbers in order to distinguish themselves from their rivals in the cutthroat world of delicious post-meal treats.
Considering that Wonton produced four million cookies a day, it could have been a helluva lot worse for Powerball. It’s probably a good thing for them that the message on the cookie (“All the preparation you’ve done will finally be paying off“) was a little too on the nose, presumably prompting more than one potential winner to say, “Nah, no way that shit wins.”
So maybe that cookie you discarded was right. Maybe joy will come from “very great pants that fit tightly.”
Each of the second-placers walked away with between $100,000 and $500,000, depending on how much they bet, adding up to almost $19 million — and that’s without counting the first place winner (who probably won with the expiration date of a pack of Hydrox). It actually would have been better for the Powerball if the 110 Asian-food enthusiasts had won the first place, since they would have all just shared a pool of $25 million with the other winner.
After this, Wonton Food’s business reportedly boomed as people latched onto their pseudo-magical practice of “picking random numbers from a bowl.” We should note, however, that the company soon replaced this method with a “more efficient” randomized computer system. We’re assuming at least one winner invested his entire prize in Wonton cookies and Powerball tickets, losing every cent.
Adoptee Finds His Birth Mother Working Alongside Him At Lowe’s
For most people, co-workers are a mysterious bunch who you only see because you’re forced to, make small talk with because it beats conversing with the printer paper, and co-operate with because death is the only escape from this perverse version of the prisoner’s dilemma known as “being employed.”
Steve Flaig and Christine Tallady weren’t an exception to this rule, until they found that they had more in common than just their employee discount cards. Flaig, a delivery driver working at a branch of Lowe’s in Grand Rapids, MI, was adopted as a baby and had been searching for his biological mother for years. Meanwhile, Tallady, the store’s head cashier, had given up a child for adoption when she was younger and always wondered where he ended up. You see where this is going.
via The Seattle Times
That’s right: They opened a “Lowe’s employees with missing relatives” support group.
In 2007, after four years of looking up his mom’s name online and coming up empty, Flaig realized he’d been spelling it wrong this whole time: it was “Tallady,” not “Talladay” as he’d been typing. One search for “Chris Tallady” later, and he found out that she lived less than a mile from this workplace. Excitedly, he mentioned this to this manager during a shift … who reminded Steve that he’d spent eight months working alongside her.
Too worried to make the introduction, Steve asked the adoption agency to make it, which led to probably the world’s most awkward employee outing. However, once mother and son were re-introduced, they hit the ground running — they became friends, met each other’s families, went on Ellen together, and even tried out for The Amazing Race. You know, all the important parent-child milestones.
By 2009, Flaig still kept in touch with Tallady but had left Lowe’s for another job. Don’t worry: if things are tough, we have a feeling that he’ll always be welcome to work at Lowe’s again (but maybe just in the basement).
Husband And Wife Appear In Vacation Snaps Together, Decades Before They Met
It’s easy to roll your eyes at any sentence that contains the words “destiny” or “true love” or “meant to be.” That’s because the vast majority of us do dating via algorithm, and heavily vet each other’s social media profiles like the TSA before even considering being in the same room together. The universe might think that Chad McMulligan is the best you’re ever going to get, but, whoa, he favorited a problematic tweet several years ago.
Let’s try and reignite those flames, however, by introducing you to Alex and Donna Voutsinas — a couple that met and fell passionately in love at first sight, not knowing that “first sight” was actually several decades earlier during a visit to Disneyland.
Alex and Donna Voutsinas
Are they the two children standing inside the costume?
Donna is the five-year-old girl on the right who looks way too stoked to meet Captain Hook’s sidekick, and Alex is the three-year-old being pushed in the stroller — you know, the one whose father looks like Lou Ferrigno with some bird poop on his hair. This photo was taken in 1980, which is to say, 15 years before they met properly and nearly 30 before they decided to innocently comb through their old baby photos … only to discover an example of foreshadowing so heavy-handed that even George R.R. Martin would be repulsed.
Adding to the improbability: They made the discovery one week before their wedding day. We don’t know whether this fully makes the case for believing in destiny or any of that other nonsense, but here’s our tip for those lonesome souls out there: start checking your baby photos for talent! That … that is not a good tip, after all.
An Accidental Child Refugee Is Saved After Running Into A Family Friend In Another Country
In November 2016, a four-year-old girl was rescued from a rickety boat travelling from North Africa to Italy, accompanied by a couple dozen refugees who had absolutely no clue who she was. After being brought to an Italian child’s center, the girl wasn’t able to shed much light on her identity, due to the trauma of the trip and, you know, being four and all. Since the Italian authorities didn’t know how to contact her family (or if she even had one), the girl was probably looking at a not-so-bright future in foster care. And that’s when one of her friends from back home happened to drop by, as always happens in these situations.
You see, the Italians had just picked up another boatload of people, including an eight-year-old girl called Nassade and her family. In order to keep Nassade entertained while her mother was being interviewed, the head of the children’s center handed over her phone, because even kids from war-torn nations can’t help but watch videos starring some spiky-haired nitwit playing Minecraft. That’s when Nassade committed the cardinal sin of phone borrowers: opening up the owner’s pictures. Instead of happening upon any explicit material, however, Nassande saw a picture of the center’s newest resident … whom she identified as “Oumoh.”
It turned out the two girls had been friends while living in Tunis — where, as some Facebook snooping revealed, Oumah’s mother still was. Oumah and her mother had actually fled to Tunis from Ivory Coast to escape some grotesque human rights violations. When Oumah’s mother went back home to grab a few things that’d been left behind in the rush, she left the little girl in the care of a friend … who was then offered the chance to migrate to Italy. The “friend” immediately took up the offer, child-in-tow be damned, and apparently wasn’t the best at keeping track of minors. Once Oumah’s mother was contacted it took five months to finally reunite her with the girl, but from the looks of it, the wait was well worth it.
The First And Last Soldiers To Die In WWI Happened To Be Buried Facing Each Other
At the time, the First World War seemed like the apocalypse compared to the other skirmishes and colonial pissing contests that the world had spent centuries having a laugh with. No longer were we sending men off into foreign climes to catch a venereal disease and shoot a native or, at the very worst, run out of tea — the advent of modern warfare was the equivalent of throwing men and boys onto a conveyor belt that eventually dropped their muddy, exhausted selves into a pit of rusty lawnmowers. So, it’s nice when the universe gives us a poignant moment to focus on in amongst the slaughter, just to lend some sense of balance to proceedings.
In August 1914, only seventeen days after Britain declared war on Germany, Private John Parr was killed in action by a German patrol just outside of Mons, Belgium. In the ensuing chaos, Mons was lost to the Germans, and Parr earned the dubious honor of being the first Brit to be killed during the war. Shift forward to November 1918, and Private George Ellison becomes the last British soldier to be killed in the conflict — a fact you can attribute to the poor bastard getting shot by a German patrol half an hour after the armistice took effect in motherfucking Mons. (Short for “monster coincidence,” probably.)
Parr and Ellison were buried facing each other, almost as if the universe was planning a memorable way to commemorate the end of the bloodshed. Of course, the boring explanation is that they were buried in such close proximity because they died in roughly the same place, the only coincidence being that they wound up facing each other. The third option is that this was the universe’s way of saying that all of the death and destruction was pointless and that, just as these graves circled around, so too will another pointless war. Who’s to say who got it right, really?
And on that subject …
Two Families Rescue Each Other From Genocide, 50 Years Apart
Josef Kavilio and his family were living a pretty uneventful life in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, until the 1940s rolled around and the Germans followed. Since they had the nerve to be Jewish, the Kavilios were forced to flee their home and wound up taking shelter with Mustafa and Zejneba Hardaga, who were devout Muslims. The Hardaga home, by the way, was opposite the local Gestapo HQ, allowing them to listen in (whether they wanted to or not) to the constant screams of prisoners being tortured. Even with the periodic reminders of what would happen if they were found out to be hiding enemies of the state, the Hardagas still let their Jewish pals crash with them for as long as they wanted.
Thanks to the Hardagas, the Kavilios had time to get their shit together and escape to a nearby “safe” city … after which Josef was captured (“Kavilio” is Hebrew for “Can’t Catch a Break”). With the help of a sympathetic guard, he escaped and remained hiding out with the Hardagas until 1943, when he made a second break for it and reunited with his family. After the war, the Kavilios’ new home of Israel named the Hardagas as “Righteous Among the Nations” — a title which placed them alongside Oskar Schindler, Pere Marie-Benoit, and Albert “Yeah, Brother of *That* Guy” Goering.
This brings us to 1992 and the Siege Of Sarajevo, wherein Serbian paramilitary forces did their darnedest to wipe out every single building in the city (and the people inside). The now-widowed Zejneba Hardaga, as well as her daughter and her family, were among those soon-to-be-wiped-out citizens. Not if the Kavilios had anything to say about it, though.
When they heard about the Hardagas’ situation, the remaining members of the Kavilio family contacted Yad Vashem (the Israelis in charge of making damn sure we remember the Holocaust) who, in turn, lobbied the government to put together a rescue operation. Zejneba and her family were eventually located in their cellar and smuggled out of the city inside a refugee convoy. Given the choice to be flown anywhere, the Hardagas picked Israel, presumably just so they could tell the Kavilios “OK, now we’re even” in person.
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