If hitting the lottery is 1 in 40 million chance then I figure my chance encounter with a stranger a few years ago was about a 1 in 40 kajillion chance. Since I’ll never have something so random happen again I don’t bother playing PowerBall or Megabucks anymore. Bad twist of fate for me, I would prefer winning the lottery. Here’s how it happened:
When we were first moving to Norton I needed a place to send my mail before we closed on our house. Since we were going to live close by I decided to get a box at the Chartley Post Office, the greatest Post Office in the history of Post Offices. I asked Brenda for a number that would be easy for people to remember. She obliged with a single digit number. Let’s call it PO Box X.
According to Google Maps, the Cedar Bar Marina is precisely 1,657 miles away from the Chartley Post Office. It is a small boat yard in southwest Florida. We were down there on vacation. I walked in and asked about rates for renting boats for an afternoon. Something about my accent must have given me away and the man behind the counter asked what part of Massachusetts I was from. I said I originally was from Stoughton but that I now lived in Norton. Then the guy says, “What part of Norton?” At that time I wasn't overly familiar with all the different subsectors of town but I knew we lived in Chartley so that’s what I told him. So then the guy starts drilling deeper. He says, “How’s Peter doing? Is he still running the Post Office?” It’s pretty clear at this point that he is a Norton transplant spending his retirement in Florida. A coincidence, sure, but I’ve bumped into local people in many far away locales.
I tell him a little about what’s going on around town and we shoot the breeze for awhile. He tells me to say hello to a bunch of people I don’t know. He tells me he misses the Chartley Post Office. He tells me he had a PO Box there forever. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of boxes to choose from. I was scared to ask but I needed to know which one.
Drumroll please…this guy standing right in front of me was the previous owner of PO Box X, the one we now rented.
So let’s recap. I randomly bump into a total stranger in a Florida marina and we have a silly enough conversation that we figure out we shared the exact same box in a tiny rural Post Office 1,657 miles away. Are you kidding me? Don’t I deserve something for this? What do I get? Nothing, not even a door prize.
There's really not much left to talk about. We both shrug our shoulders and I make one of those hmmph noises. I pick up my boat rental price list, leave the store and never see Mr. Box X again.
Why couldn’t it have been Megabucks?