Thursday, March 17, 2005

Coincidence? Dismissed as chance.

My latest evidence that no good deed goes unpunished involves World of Wonder - an awesome educational tool put together by graphic artist Laurie Triefeldt that appears in the newspaper I work for.

I always tell Laurie I must be World of Wonder's oldest reader (it's aimed at school kids) but I just love it - there's a different topic every week, with lots of great examples and illustrations. If you're lucky, your newspaper runs it, because it's syndicated. And if your newspaper doesn't run it, it should! Call them and tell them.

Anyway, there is a World of Wonder book out now, compiling some of the best pages, including ones on dinosaurs, sharks, undersea life, shipwrecks, hockey, baseball and numerous other favorite topics of mine. Needless to say, I snapped up more than one - mostly as gifts for young people in my life.

One of the books I intended as a donation to the Children's Museum in my hometown of Bloomsburg, Pa. My mother has volunteered for them since the very beginning, maybe 25 years, and I can't tell you enough how much I admire her for putting in so much time and receiving nary a cent in return.

As they say in "The Rock," I'm a mercenary. And mercenaries GET PAID!

Still, I try to support the Museum in whatever way I can, so I mailed the book, and that's when the trouble started.

First, I put the wrong address on the package. That's OK, Bloomsburg's a small town and my mother told the post office guys it was coming. Shouldn't be a problem, or so I figured.

The other books I sent arrived intact, and still no book in Bloomsburg. So I asked the mailroom folks. And (after they told me I probably shouldn't have mailed them from work - it was their idea, honest!) they said some of the books took a long time to arrive.

Of course, the next day, it arrived. At the newspaper. Returned why? Not for the wrong address. But for insufficient postage.

The odd thing, the (have I mentioned very nice?) mailroom folks said, was that the package not only had sufficient postage, it had too much!

(If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned where I work yet, I'm not going to. I like my job way too much to lose it in some blog-related fiasco over a $2.66 package. Rat me out, and I won't be able to afford the wireless Internet I use to write this blog, so it'll be your loss, too! Remember that. I love my job, Mr. Owner, Mr. Publisher and Mr. Editor! Please don't hurt me!)

OK, groveling done, I'll just point out that this time, I'm going to hand-deliver the package, since I'm going up to Bloomsburg in a couple of weeks. It just seems safer.

Of course, I'll only be going home when I'm done going to Maryland (to shoot the film, see the posts below on that) and that brings to me to an even stranger incident.

So I'm down in Maryland a couple of weeks ago, with my buddy Ed Hayes, my roommate from CMU. We visited the set (and nearly caused a disaster, but that's a story best left in the "untold" drawer of the "road to hell is paved with good intentions" file) and then drove back in the middle of the night.

On I-95 on the way back, we stopped at the cheerfully named Maryland House rest stop for a bit of gas and a bit of food (and probably, subsequently, a bit of gas - ba-dum-bum).

I'm in line at the fast-food spot when I notice lining up behind me is the Rider College hockey team, which is from the Princeton area, near where I live. Funny, I think to myself, we're driving the exact same route back - in fact, I'll pass Rider on the way home.

Then I remember Ed's younger brother, Brian, goes to that college.

Then I remember he plays hockey.

And then I see Ed bee-lining across the rest stop toward the team. And sure enough, there's Brian.

So, at 12:30 a.m., at a rest stop 200 miles from home, returning from the filming of the first movie I've ever been involved in, with the only guest I've ever brought to the set, we run into not just someone we know, but a relative, who's in Maryland, unknown to either of us, for a completely different reason.

Tell me that's not the strangest thing you've ever heard.

I mean, there's another rest stop about 30 miles up the road. If we'd stopped there, none of that would have ever happened. If we got out of the set 30 minutes earlier or later, none of that would have ever happened. If we hadn't gone at all, or had gone the next day, or Rider hadn't played Maryland-Baltimore County, any number of a million other factors, nothing!

What are the odds of that?

Buy your own World of Wonder book
The Children's Museum
Rider ice hockey

And, yes, if you're wondering, I realized I misspelled Spotsylvania in the Civil War post. Yes, it's driving me nuts. No, I won't correct it. I'm sticking to this post-a-day, no-editing thing as long as I can, damn it.