Saturday, October 25, 2014

10/25/14: 73

This afternoon, it was numbers again.

Usually the "coincidences" come as events or themes, or obsessively recurrent objects; others, however, it's repeat numbers, cropping up in the darnedest of places and in the darnedest of ways. And then there's a third type, which combines the two into something that could only be described as magical.

This afternoon's incident was one of the latter, and indeed, magical it felt.

It started with a flurry of 73's. I was out, driving around to do errands, when, out of the blue, 73 was everywhere I looked. Signs, prices,  odometer readout. On the license plates of passing cars (many of these pulling in front of me, or doing something else to conspicuously enter my line of vision -- inconsistent with being subconsciously sought out by me, in any case). A variation was 37, appearing equally (which didn't surprise me, since reversals are a regular pattern in these incidents). Within the space of ten minutes of driving across town, I was privy to no less than a dozen 73's/37's, perhaps more (I'd lost track).

But that was just over the drive to the store.

Only at the market did things really get notable enough to inspire this blog post. However unlikely the downpour of repetitions I saw on the way there, I didn't pay too much attention, because coincidences sometimes really are just coincidences, and the incident thus far just lacked the precision to wow me enough to write something down (plus, those just happen so often). However, once I parked at the market and the 73/37 sightings kept up, my opinion started to change. First, when I grabbed my change from my truck's holder, it was exactly 37 cents. Then, in the store, the number kept flying at me: UPC codes, serving sizes of foods I checked, price tags, numbers overheard on a cellphone conversation. I happened past the deli freezer and saw its thermometer at 37.5 degrees. Until then, I'd been writing off the incident as selective perception. But this was just too many repetitions, in too many diverse and unlikely places, to reasonably attribute to that old trickster of the eyes, nor most other cognitive explanations.

I knew then that I'd have to make a log entry, noting the improbable series. At that point, though, it still wasn't compelling enough for a blog post.

That point was reached only at the checkout, which rang up as [drumroll] exactly 73 cents. But wait, think about that figure a minute, because you must realize: I had a basketful of groceries. How could one possibly check out for so little money, ever (and that was with tax, mind you)? Two things. First, I had $10 in rewards points stored up this visit, and when I used them it covered most of the cost of my stuff. Then, second, it just so happened that the market had a blowout-special day where literally everything was 20% off, store-wide. But, to really see the complexity of having my order be precisely 73 cents, we must break down the logistics here a bit further, to the prices of the individual items. There were four separate ones, for one thing, all different prices; and then, additionally, there were vagaries in these prices. There was the oddball 1.08lb lamb liver that cost $6.23 or some uncommon amount of change, same for some bagged coffee and a by-weight vegetable, and then the last item was on sale by percentage and so had a similarly irregular price.

The point is, it was really damn unlikely to have hit exactly 73 cents, in more ways than one. Were I to have consciously tried to assemble such an order, I would've been hard pressed, and that was assuming that the store contained any such combination of goods (it's not too big a store, as it were).

Yet I not only hit this improbable number (perhaps my record low for a grocery order), but did so after a blatant string of sightings of just that number.

From the moment I was quoted that total, I knew a blog post lay in my future. And that was before I received the receipt, which placed my checkout time at exactly 4:37 PM.

(As soon as I left the market, I stopped seeing the number, even when I went actively looking for it.)

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