They Brought the Receipts!

I was in Scottsdale yesterday, replenishing my electrolytes at the bar in the Fairmont Hotel, when a man introduced himself.
My name is Sy, he said, and you probably won’t remember this, but we met on the streets of San Francisco back in 2007.”
“Of course,” I said. “I’ll never forget that day, seventeen years ago.”
Sy laughed. “You were kind of a smart aleck back then, too.”
“Well, I guess some things never change,” I said.
“I told you I worked in advertising, and you said, “You poor bastard. How can I help you?”
“That does sound like something I’d say. How did you respond?”
“Well, this is a little embarrassing,” said Sy, “but I asked you for an autograph.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “My handwriting was terrible back then.”
“Actually,” said Sy, “you were very gracious, and your penmanship was quite legible.”
With that, Sy opened a small notebook and removed a piece of folded looseleaf from the inside flap.
“Here,” he said. “This is what you wrote.”
I looked at the paper and recognized my signature, along with my trenchant bon mot, and wondered why this man would carry it around for seventeen years.
“You’re probably wondering why I’ve been carrying this around for seventeen years,” he said.
“Obviously,” I said, “you’ve been waiting for my untimely demise, so you can auction it off on eBay.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Sy. “What do you think I could get for it?”
I shrugged. “Beats me. But I once auctioned off a baby bottle filled with horse semen for $2,000, to raise money for my foundation.”
I’m not sure Sy heard me. The bar was noisy. He smiled though, and said, “I have no explanation as to why I’ve been carrying your signature around for the last seventeen years.”
“Some things defy explanation,” I said.
“And I’ll tell you something else,” he said. “I have no idea why I asked for your autograph in the first place. I mean, I liked Dirty Jobs, but I’ve never asked anyone for their signature before, or since. Isn’t that strange?”
I nodded and agreed. It did seem strange, but not nearly as strange as what happened next. The bartender, a tall guy named Kenny, asked me if I’d care for another gimlet.”
“Sure,” I said. “With Plymouth, this time. And whatever Sy here is having.”
Kenny went off to make the drinks, as Sy and I discussed the sad state of advertising in the modern age. Then, Kenny returned and said, “You probably won’t remember this, Mike, but we met back 2007.”
“Did you say 2007?”
I looked at Sy and said, “Do you guys know each other?”
Both men shook their heads. Kenny continued. “You were in a bar on Mackinac Island. Just down the hill from The Grand Hotel. You guys were having a big night.”
“Probably The Gate House,” I said. “Were you a bartender back there?”
“No, I was just a guy who grew up watching Dirty Jobs.”
“I sipped the gimlet and said, “That’s quite a coincidence. Two guys in Scottsdale, hanging out in a random bar in 2024, both of whom met me in 2007. I wish you’d taken a picture.”
“Why is that?” asked Kenny.
“Because it would be statistically impossible if both of you were armed with evidence of our meeting, seventeen years later.”
“Not quite impossible,” said Kenny.
With that, Kenny pulled out his phone and started scrolling. Thirty seconds later, the evidence was downloaded from the cloud, slightly faded, slightly out of focus.
“There we are,” said Kenny. “That’s me crouched down in front of everyone. And that’s you, in the plaid shirt drinking a beer.”
Its moments like these that make me wonder about the belief held by so many that “everything happens for a reason.” Personally, I’m still a guy who believes in coincidence.
But not as much as I did before Sy and Kenny brought the receipts…
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