What was the likelihood of our paths ever crossing? Pretty much zilch in a million, I estimate.
If she hadn’t bent down to tie her loosening shoe-lace or if I had had time to clean my greasy glasses before leaving home then we would never have met. She would have been further up the road and I would have been further down.
As it was, I spotted her as I walked across my morning bridge. The fluorescent yellow, sleeveless jacket she was wearing was exactly for that purpose, to be spotted. I couldn’t help but wonder why she was running along beside roaring traffic but each to their own strange jogging route I supposed.
She came up on my right as I arrived on her left at a huge, ugly crossroads, buzzing with the noise of engines.
“Excuse me, do you speak English?” she asked hesitantly in my own West of Scotland accent.
“Yes, I’m from Glasgow” I answered, watching as her face lit up in relieved delight.
“What are you doing here?” we both exclaimed at the same time.
And for the next thirty seconds we summed up our respective lives into five lines each. Mine as a long-term inhabitant of this beautiful, historical French city. Hers as a visiting conference-going university teacher, out for her usual morning run in a very unusual place.
We would have talked for many more minutes, possibly hours but I had to get to work and she had to find her way back to her hotel, the reason for approaching me in the first place.
As she ran off in a prettier direction than her first polluted path, I started thinking about the outcome of such little coincidences that are thrown our way. I came to the conclusion that almost everything we do, our choices and our decisions might hinge upon these tiny moments of chance. A stranger we meet, a party we attend, a job we get, a flat we rent, a phone call we make, a train we take. These innocuous-seeming instants have the power to change immeasurably the course of our lives.
This pink-faced, Glaswegian jogger-cum-teacher could have been my friend in another life. But in my real life she was simply a reminder of all the lucky coincidences which have shaped my existence and made me who I am today, where I am today.
Big, big things can inadvertently happen in this small, small world of ours. We just need to stop and greet the fortuitous flukes of fate that come our way.