Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ask and Ye Shall Receive -- Yes, Really

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

-- Matthew 7:7

* * *

A couple months ago, I had a thought: that I would like a new scanner for my computer. What was wrong with my old one, and why didn't I just buy a replacement? Long story, and a quite boring one, and ultimately irrelevant. Anyway, the thought was there: new scanner, vague but distinct. Not quite a request -- not an asking, for a new scanner was by no means a necessity -- but a coherent desire, nonetheless.

The very next day, as I drove past a local dumpster on the way home, I noticed something set beside it: a silver, electronic-looking gizmo. I stopped and investigated. The gizmo was a computer scanner. It worked great, and was precisely what I needed, without the flaws of my old scanner.

I had received, it seemed. I smiled and laughed.

* * *

And then it happened again.

Same basic circumstances, different thing: a new container for my receipts and records, now. My old one was problematic (in another boring way), and I was adverse to getting a new one (for more good-but-boring reasons). Likewise, this situation, for all its pettiness, culminated in a passive-yet-distinct desire, now for some filing apparatus without the flaws of that I currently used.

And again: the very next day; the very same dumpster; a curious object set considerately beside it, the way we do quasi-trash that someone might conceivably want. A minute later, I was the proud owner of a good, sturdy plastic case with an accordion-style folder inside. For my needs, nothing could've been more appropriate.

Consider me a receiver, I guess.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

I see numbers. The same numbers. Over and over again. A bit unbelievable, even sci-fi? Yes. Worse, cliche? Perhaps. But it happens. Has happened many times. Will probably happen again (unless someone uncrosses the circuit in the Universe's server room).

I see the numbers ever day, more or less. But some days, I see more of them. Today was one such day.

The number 137 was the star, this time, along with its derivatives (173/1137/7031/373, etc). The sightings started when I did: in the morning, with 137 and co flying at me from all directions. On the clock, roadsigns, timestamps on computer files, the license plates of cars that cut me off or otherwise drew my attention -- and on and on. If there was an avenue for the numbers to somehow find their way into my field of awareness (and do so in some unlikely way, as to impress me to the point of taking notice), it arrived within the course of my morning of work and errands.

And then I stopped for gas.

I hadn't planned on getting gas. I didn't even need gas, really (I feel comfortable with a half a tank). But I had a few minutes to kill before a doctor's appointment, and the gas station was literally right across the road. I treasure time, and don't waste it (nor did I want to waste my time in the waiting room at a doctor's office). So I got gas, maybe for the first time before the needle was making love to the big "E." And, the total amount I ended up getting? 11.73 gallons, exactly. And did I intentionally squeeze off just this amount, perhaps in some subconscious attempt to manufacture a "meaningful coincidence" and, hence, feel special? Nope. I'd just fed my truck the nozzle, set it on auto, then returned to my cab and let her fill (I had something to do in there; again, I don't waste time). And, let's not even get anal about the chances of such a hit; considering the circumstances of this number arising in this fashion, after I'd been literally besieged by it all morning (and for years previously), at least a couple dozen times -- just ... no. We're talking astronomical figures, here.

But, it was still morning then. The day was still young.

Next to join the 137 bandwagon: the CD player in my truck. Over the couple hours I spent at the doctor's, the numbers had stopped pestering me (even numbers need rest, you know). But this only made the forthcoming incident that much more noticeable. I was parked in my truck, eating lunch, when I decided to put my window down. So I keyed the ignition (because I'm one of the power-window elite), cracked the window, and then turned the key back as fast -- but not before the CD player blinked to life, just long enough to display the active track's time: 3:36, clicking to 3:37 precisely as I killed the power. Afterward, I sat momentarily with my hand on the turned key, in a quiet shock -- a synchroshock, that is (sorry, couldn't resist).

And were the numbers ready to call it a day? No, they were not. Not at all.

I was next visited at the market -- twice. Or maybe it was just one single, super-sized synchronicity. Anyway, this one began with my returning a vitamin supplement. I went to a register. I told the cashier what I wanted. He tapped some buttons on the fancy computerized checkout (am I the only one still fascinated with these wonderful contraptions? I'm caught back in the days of single-line readouts and dot-matrix-printed receipts). As a matter of course, the man then reached out for my return's requisite receipt, whereupon his watch was placed squarely into my line of vision -- thus forcing me to see that it read 3:17. Again, I was struck with stunned amusement. This time, however, I didn't have the chance to smile and laugh, for a split second later, the cashier read me the total I would be receiving back from the return: $31.73. I never did smile. Instead, I accepted my money and then walked the store in a contained shock, a kind of synchronicity overload.

"Surely that was enough for one day," you're saying now. "No number is that tenacious!!!" Normally, you might be right, for, indeed, numbers do need their rest. But this was no normal day.

The numbers still had one little surprise for me. Recall how I'd gotten gas that morning, when I'd purchased exactly 11.73 gallons by simply letting the tank fill to capacity (after seeing that number or its cousins no less than a couple dozen times on the way there ...). Well, that evening, while updating the spreadsheet of my finance books, I went to enter the new debit I'd incurred from buying gas: $26.95, which I'd paid on a credit card. The card's preexisting balance was $46.18, and so I added these together to get my new bottom line: $73.13.

I couldn't write this stuff, folks (and I'm a writer, for God's sake).

(Note the 3:16 timestamp. I guess Johnny the cashier's watch was a minute fast (or the fancy checkout computer was slow).)

 (And, because one parenthetical anecdote isn't enough:  When I went into my records to fetch this receipt for the above photograph, I encountered two other receipts from the same market, both of which sported prominent 37's (a 3:37 timestamp on one, and a 7337 barcode number on another, these Just Happening to enter my line of sight). If it's not obvious, the numbers' sense of humor is rivaled only by their tenacity.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I have a fondness for roadside signs. Or they do for me. Or something. Whatever the nature of our romance, the signs and their contents tend to synchronize with my thoughts (or to music, or conversation, or other signs), as to reflect these things in conspicuous ways, coinciding as if cued. (Yes, these incidents are, really, synchronicities. Sarcasm is an addiction.)

Today, for example: as I was driving down the road with the radio playing, Quiet Riot encouraged me to "get wild!" -- right as I passed a big digital sign, precisely as it cycled to an ad that read "GET WILD!" It made me shake my head and blink, like a cartoon character who'd just been socked in the face (which I kind of was).

But there's more to this -- far more. Besides the fact that even the best Broadway choreographer couldn't possibly have timed such a logistically complex coinciding of real-world events (and, the fact that today's sign-synchro wasn't the first time such a "coincidence" had occurred, nor the tenth, or the thirtieth), there are details that further substantiate this incident, devil-style.

First, my having the radio on at all. Upon getting into my truck, soupy and tired after a morning-long medical treatment, I hadn't much felt like listening to music. So, naturally, I made to turn off the radio -- but didn't, being Compelled to leave it on, as if the world might end were I to click off the classic-rock station streaming into my truck. (Another common thread in these incidents, my mysterious Compelling's and Noticing's and Just Happened To's, without which no synchronicity would've taken place.)

Second, my being on that road with the sign that was so enamored with me, or any road for that matter. Also thanks to my medically induced stupor, I'd felt like stopping off at the nearest parking lot and reading the book I'd brought. In fact, I'd had every intention of doing just this (as was my habit in regards to these weekly treatments, to park and read and eat a packed lunch afterward, to rest and regroup) -- except, just like with the radio, I was Compelled to drive thirty minutes to a certain coffee shop, then park there for my dining and reading, against all logic (or any real reason at all). The world would've ended had I not done this, also, so off I went.

Yes, I did leave my radio on, and I did make the drive to the coffee shop -- soupy and overtreated and not looking at all handsome, but I was there. And so I received that eighties-sounding encouragement to get wild, and I was on the road so that I could pass that sign, and I arrived just within that infinitesimal little window of the sign's cycling so that it could echo the radio lyric as if on a switch (and do so in big, red, screaming letters, perfectly reflective of the singer's tone).

I laughed, of course -- and, also, I felt quite loved. The signs were still fond of me, after all.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

4/9/15: Numbers ... Again

The numbers were after me again.

73. 37. 1137. 317. 1703. They would vary in this manner, as if to mock me, but the underlying phenomenon always shone through. And shine it did, for on that morning when I went to the store, the numbers were repeating like crazy, appearing everywhere I looked, whether I wanted to see them or not.

Even the grocery store wasn't beyond their reach.

In the checkout line, I stayed poker-faced when the man in front of me rung up a total of $31.17, as announced by the cashier. Yet, despite everything, there was still a voice of dissent in my head: Just a coincidence. If not, then shouldn't your total be seventy-three-something, too?

It came my turn. I handed over my few purchases. The cashier rung them up -- and the total avoided 73 in all forms. I was neither pleased nor displeased. My total was $17.27, as it were. I produced a twenty, and took up my bag.

Then the cashier gave me my change, coins first. "Seventy-three cents," she said, before silently handing over two dollar bills.

I held my laughter until the parking lot.