4 Times Fate Mysteriously Put the Right Person in Just the Right Place
Quick — a family in a car is pinned to the railroad tracks, pinned by an enormous screw. We need someone to rescue them. Specifically, we need Phillip, a man whose head is one giant Phillips head screwdriver. Luckily, he's in the apartment building next door, screwing one of the residents.
It’s quite convenient that Phillips should be so close. It’s quite convenient that such a man should exist at all. Sometimes, though, the universe really does function to set everything up like this, just so. Like what happened when...
A Couple Needed Someone to Marry Them
Paola Ruiz and Carlos Elorriaga got married in 2010. At least, they got married in the eyes of the law, in that they signed a piece of paper. They also planned to next marry in the eyes of God, saying the proper vows as a priest blessed their union. But on the very day of their scheduled wedding, a huge earthquake hit Chile, setting off a tsunami so big that it damaged California and Japan, too. The wedding they planned had been swept away, and they never got around to planning another.
Eight years later, the two of them found themselves working aboard a LATAM Airlines flight, since they were both flight attendants, and had in fact originally met working one of these flights. A passenger talked to them and learned they were legally married but not married married. “Perchance I could be of some assistance,” he said. (We weren’t there, so we have to dramatically reconstruct the conversation here.) “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. But I am better known as Francis. Pope Francis. And I would like to marry you.”
Yes, they were flying the Pope out of Santiago, and so, he officiated a wedding between them right there on the plane. If you’re wondering if there was any urgency to their getting married right then, consider that if they had sex while in that plane and were still unmarried, that would be a sin before God. And if they didn’t have sex while in that plane, that of course might have been even worse.
Someone Had a Heart Attack on a Plane and Needed Help
This next story, like our last story, and like all good stories, takes place on an airplane. Dorothy Fletcher was flying from England to the United States in 2004 to attend her daughter’s wedding. The daughter was 32 and Dorothy was already a grandmother. While in midair, she had a heart attack.
“Is there a doctor aboard?” asked a flight attendant, as one generally does when something like this happens. There was. There were 15 doctors aboard in fact, all cardiologists, as they had boarded this flight to go to a conference in Florida. The entire troupe of them set about ministering to the woman. Sadly, despite all their efforts, the patient died.
Just kidding. Wow, what a miserable story that would have been. No, they saved her, but it was a close call. They needed to do actual medical stuff to her like feeding her just the right drip to stabilize her, and when the plane landed, she went off the plane into the ICU for two days. Then she recovered, and she managed to attend her daughter’s wedding. This epilogue to the story was a lovely ceremony for them, but utterly unremarkable to us because no popes presided over it.
Someone With Long Arms Was Needed to Save Two Dolphins
As every dolphin owner reading this knows, you should never leave edible pieces of plastic within your pet’s reach. And yet in 2006, a pair of dolphins at an aquarium in Fushun, China, were able to gobble up some chunks from the edge of their pool. If those pieces weren’t extracted in a safe and proper manner, that could mean death for both of them, simply because it would stop either of them from eating.
Vets tried to use instruments to reach into the dolphins’ stomachs, but none could stretch and flex through their constricting alimentary canals. The best tool would just be the vets’ arms, but no arm is long enough for that. Except, of course, for the longest arms in the world, the arms of the then-tallest man in the world, 7-foot-9 Bao Xishun.
Bao was a Mongolian herdsman at the time while also being a bit of a celebrity, due the whole tallest-man-in-the-world thing. They shipped him to Fushun, and he reached down each dolphin's throat, while vets wrapped his upper arm in towels to keep the dolphins from biting right through his biceps. “This is what I was born to do,” we imagine Bao said, as he removed the plastic and saved the dolphins’ lives. Actually, considering China’s history of assigning jobs and genetically engineering tall people, we’re kind of surprised they didn’t have someone specifically born to do that.
Everyone Really Needed an Algae Expert
Speaking of job assignments, roles got allocated in a weird way during World War II. Sometimes, they’d just ask you your specialty and shift you around accordingly, without verifying what you said. For example, Slim Pickens, whom you might know from his Hollywood roles, told a recruiter his expertise was rodeo, because he was a cowboy. The recruiter misread this as "radio" and stuck him in a Midwest broadcast station. We’re pretty sure someone with horse skills could have played a more active role in the conflict.
A similar mistake ensnared British scientist Geoffrey Tandy. Tandy put his occupation down as “cryptogamist.” Recruiters assumed this had something to do with cryptography, so they placed him in intelligence. But Tandy studied cryptogams, not cryptograms. A cryptogam is an organism that reproduces using spores.
So, Tandy had no expertise in the field where they placed him. And yet, he ended up exactly where he needed to be. A couple years into Tandy’s forced career as a codebreaker, the British retrieved codebooks from a German U-boat. The books were covered in algae, so the paper seemed beyond salvage. But Tandy had detailed knowledge of how plants bind with paper, thanks to his experience preparing and preserving specimens. Thus, he was able to use his skills and some high-tech museum tools to free the original pages.
The team then used those pages to crack Germany's Enigma machine, leading to a significantly quicker victory. It was the greatest ever international security contribution by a cryptogamist. At least until the 21st century, when one figured out how to defeat the cordyceps fungus, averting a zombie apocalypse.