Coincidence

Two of our students, Toshi and Yuko, discovered last week that they work two floors apart in the same building in Japan for different companies, but they have never previously met.

Perhaps it is not that surprising. Marketing is not random, not uniform across space and time. There are only a finite number of language schools in the world, a finite number of students, a finite (albeit) large potential clientèle. And there are a great many language schools around the world where no coincidence worthy the name happened last week.

Richard Dawkins is kind enough to explain.

*

Still, I know how it feels. In my first job as an English language teacher, many years ago, I worked for a Berlitz on the outskirts of Milan, in a place known as Metanopoli for the presence there of the headquarters of the Itailan national gas and oil companies. We were located in a backstreet of an obscure suburb of a city that not so many people visit (compared with Rome, say, or Venice or Florence); and yet one day a teacher from my secondary school started work there, as my colleague. He had left his teaching career in order to travel, and found, of all things, me. We had never really got on – he once gave me 0% in an exam I took for him, on account of my facetiousness (it was a exam in Religious Education). We never spoke of our common heritage. He turned out to be a pleasant colleague. No doubt he was more shocked than I was, and I was pretty shocked.

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