It all started, as so many things do, with a phone call. This, however, was a phone call from an unknown number, relatively late at night, and I nearly didn’t answer, because I assumed it was a client, and one tries to avoid clients as much as possible, particularly late at night when they might ask annoying questions about delivery dates, or even catastrophic questions about system failures.
My conscience got the better of me, because clients are humans too – most of the time. Or at least some of the time. Or some of them are humans some of the time. I answered the phone, not without a little trepidation. A very un-client like voice was at the other end; a slightly diffident voice with a difficult to place but clearly European accent asked me if I was Anu.
My parents brought me up (not without difficulty) to tell the truth, so I had to confess that this was the case.
“This is going to sound strange,” said Diffident Voice, “but I found your phone number on a piece of paper in a music store and thought I’d call it and see who answered.”
It did sound strange, I must admit. Who on earth calls random phone numbers that they find on pieces of paper in record stores, and what was my phone number doing with my name on it on a piece of paper in a record store in the first place? Being a fan of people who step outside the boundaries of social convention, though, I had a pleasant chat with Diffident Voice, learnt that she was from Copenhagen, visiting London on holiday, and that she was in Brick Lane, at a music store called Rough Trade East, where she found my phone number on said piece of paper, and decided to make the phone call that made this blog post possible. We chatted for a few minutes – I never did learn her name – and then she hung up, and I sat filled with a satisfyingly pleasant frisson of happy coincidence, not unmixed with a certain bewilderment at how this all happened in the first place.
Later that week, I was having dinner with a Danish friend of mine, from Copenhagen, who was also visiting London on holiday with her boyfriend, and I mentioned my curious chat with Diffident Voice. My friend’s eyes narrowed as I started to tell the story, and when I mentioned that DV had claimed to be in Brick Lane, she frowned deeply.
“What record store did you say she was at?”
“Rough Trade, she said”. I had, of course, no way of independently verifying this, but I was willing to believe DV implicitly. After all, what did she have to gain by lying?
My friend’s eyes narrowed further, and then after a moment her face suddenly cleared and her eyes made up for all this narrowing by opening very wide indeed.
“But we were there just a few days ago! I remember this clearly because I wrote down your phone number on a piece of paper before calling you. I must have dropped that paper at the store!”
What, I ask you, are the odds? One woman from Copenhagen, in London on holiday, writes my phone number on a piece of paper and drops it exactly where another woman from Copenhagen, in London on holiday, and who is mad enough to dial a number found on said piece of paper, can find it. Of course, it doesn’t add up to much; it’s not a momentous or even vaguely important event, but it’s one of life’s little coincidences, and – I might have mentioned this before – I like life’s little coincidences.