About 20 years ago, I was trying to write a screenplay from a very famous short story (The Secret life of Walter Mitty).

I actually wrote a few scenes and as usual the voices in my head told me it would never sell, or they would change it etc etc so I gave up.

But I was OBSESSED, and I mean OBSESSED with the idea and was updating his fantasies to the present time and was going to stay faithful to the original story of a man who led a boring life but had grandiose fantasies.

At the time I was doing part time work for a guy and he had a client with the last name Mitty, which I thought was a weird coincidence.

Anyway, a few months a ago I was walking down the stairs at my apartment and at the bottom of the stairs I notice two used ticket stubs. And they were for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Of all the movies out, what are the odds that someone would drop both stubs to that movie and I would find them?

Am I being my usual paranoid self and this was just a weird coincidence or what?

It has bothered me for 2 months.

By the way, it is a great SHORT story which takes about 10 minutes to read if you haven’t already.

Coincidences happen all the time. Usually we don’t notice. “What are the odds?” Often they are calculable, but frequently not. One thing I have noticed over the years, is that if something is in my mind, I will often see things related. For example, I bought a particular car, and suddenly it seemed that every second car I saw was the same make.

What would the “or what” be?

And if there is an actual possibility of it not being a coincidence, how would we be able to judge its likelihood?

That said, you ask “what are the odds?”, but you add unnecessary specifics to your post and probably in your mind. For instance you’d be as surprised if it was just one stub rather than two, so it being two doesn’t really matter. And you’re leaving out important information for judging the size of the coincidence? How often do you come across ticket stubs? Was the title visible as they were laying there? For all I know you could be living in ticket stub-confettiville, and you noticed these stubs because you noticed the title subconsciously. Or you could be living in ticket stub-confettiville and something just told you to pick up these two stubs among thousands, only showing you the title when you picket them up, in which case the coincidence would seem more unlikely.

In the end though, we all have millions of coincidences stored up just waiting to happen or not happen, that we’d see as meaningful if they did happen, and there are billions of us, so absolutely stunning coincidences happen to someone or other every single day.

Yes, coincidence.

Here’s the part you are leaving out: Every time you came into contact with a person who had a name. Over the course of years you learn the names of thousands of people. One of them happened to coincide with something that interested you, so of course you noticed it and remembered it.

What if you had been obsessed with a different name? Maybe you would have encountered that one. Maybe more than once. The prevalence is still random and coincidental, but you have changed in what you notice. This is sometimes called Observational Selection Bias.

The same holds for the ticket stubs. You’ve undoubtedly encountered many dropped or lost things in your life. Few if any had any significance. This one time, by coincidence, it did have meaning. But it’s still once out of all the things encountered in a lifetime.

Humans are pattern-makers. Taking random bits and creating a “meaningful” pattern from them is what we do. It’s the source of creativity, of art and science and history and interpreting the world. Sometimes the patterns have true, deeper meanings. Sometimes they’re the “face on Mars,” in which a few random pixels happened to coalesce into something that could be a face. People wrote whole books about it. It doesn’t exist. Better pictures with more detail show that.

If you look at the entirety of your life, you’ll see as many patterns as you want to invent. Most of them will be nothing but stories you’ve told yourself, no more “true” or “meaningful” than any other of them.

If you don’t like that explanation, here’s another. There are seven billion people on earth. Say that each of them does 1000 things a day that can be remarked upon, like finding a ticket stub. By sheer statistical random chance, there should be 7 trillion to one coincidences happened every single day of the year! And 7,000 billion to one chances. And 7,000,000 million to one chances. How amazing does finding a ticket stub with a name meaningful to you appear now?

Yes, imo.

20 years ago you started a screenplay and recently you found tickets to the movie. I’m not really seeing the weird coincidence.

This is probably better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Unless you mentioned your idea to someone involved in the making of the movie and that person put the ticket stubs there for you, I don’t think it means anything.


thanks for your answers, you are all probably right that is was coincidence.

I live in a small clean 8 unit complex with 2 outdoor stairwells and I just found it odd that someone would drop those stubs to that particular movie at the bottom of the stairs that I use everyday and I would be the one to find them.

Damn, I thought James Thurber might be telling me my version was better than the two that were actually made.

Of course it’s a coincidence. That’s pretty much exactly the definition of a coincidence. What else WOULD it be?

Wait a minute. These tickets were to a movie of TSLOWM or a stage play of TSLOWM? Has there been a movie re-make version going around in theaters lately? The only movie I know of is the old Danny Kaye movie from way-back-when.

ETA: Those stubs probably just fell out of someone’s pocketa.

There was a rather dismal remake just recently, starring that queep Ben Stiller.

One of my all-time favorite short stories, a real masterpiece. It could make such a wonderful movie… and an indie company could turn it out on a shoestring budget, with the rights in hand. Oh, well.

Or Confirmation Bias.

The Walter Mitty story is obviously meaningful to you, so when somebody dropped random ticket stubs, you notice them and read special meaning into it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing that (as long as you don’t get TOO obsessed over it…) but in reality, or at least everyone else’s reality, it’s a random, meaningless event.

And yeah, the Ben Stiller remake totally sucks. :frowning:

What everybody else said.

… unless, of course, some friend of yours from 20 years ago is in town and wants to pay you a surprise visit and deliberately dropped those stubs as a clue. Then it would be deliberate.

I’m going to take a more open approach in reply. I am a huge believer in coincidence, serendipity and synchronicity. Since an awakening event back in May 2009 my life is filled with daily synchronistic events that bring fun, joy, and awareness there is more going on in this world we live in other than the linear, 3D view. Without going over my whole life story, suffice it to say your affinity with The Secret life of Walter Mitty has opened a vibrational doorway to attract other such references into your experience. From my perspective, your working tie to a Mitty, and the ticket stubs at your feet are confirmations that you are connected to the subject and it to you. Enjoy it. Have fun with it, and if you need more proof, say to yourself that you will have a cool Mitty coincidence come your way today… really feel it as if you know it to be true, then let it go. You will smile when it finds you as you wished. The key is in allowing the feeling. That’s where the vibration exudes from, which carries a frequency that connects and brings you what you believe.

Have fun, and let us know how it turns out.


Where are your manuscripts? You still have them…right?

Have you seen the movie? Is it what you envisioned?


Maybe you have entered the Twi…


OW…ok ok, it was a coincidence…

Super groovy. man. Coincidences mean you are two with the universe!

How cool that someone posts about coincidences, and happens to have the user name Cool Coincidence. I mean, what are the odds?

Who the fuck cares, man?! Just let yourself FEEL the coolness! Isn’t that proof enough for you?!