This is most people's nightmare. You're driving down a road a 1000 miles from home in the back woods of South Carolina, and a deer jumps out in front of you. The car is nearly undrivable and you're a long way from home. This happened to us about 15 years ago, but under the best circumstances.
We were on a trip to recuperate from my stem-cell transplant. My wife had just left a job and was on unemployment, and I was on sick leave from the transplant. We drove our youngest child's belongings to her new college dorm a couple of hours south of our home. We unpacked her things, hugged her good-bye, and kept driving south. We took about a week driving further south until we arrived in Orlando. We had a wonderful vacation in the sun. We did the same thing driving back, but on a different route. We stopped in Charleston, SC to meet some friends from Myrtle Beach and see the sights. We were following them back to their place at dusk when we hit the deer. Our van was still semi-drivable, so we limped it back to their place.
Neither my wife nor I had any need to be home at any time. Our friends live on the beach of Myrtle Beach, so we spent 3 days basking in the sun while our car was being repaired. We simply extended our vacation by a couple of days and didn't worry about the accident at all.
I left the TV station with it's unusually poor benefits for a job in manufacturing. The manufacturer was very small and barely had any insurance benefits at all. After a brief period with them, I took a job at the local newspaper. They recognized that their work circumstances were poor...24/7 shift work in a very hot dirty stressful environment...so they offered outstanding benefits. They had free college tuition, a lot of vacation, The Absolute Best Health Insurance, and unlimited sick time (with a doctor's note).
What better time to get a major disease? I got Hodgkin's Lymphoma and needed more than 6 months of chemotherapy. After about 4 months cancer-free, it came back. I needed 3 more months of chemo, a stem-cell transplant, and 3 months of radiation.
The entire cancer ordeal lasted 18 months, but cost me literally nothing. My wonderful health insurance paid for it all. I had all of the time I needed for treatments and recovery thanks to the unlimited sick time. Ultimately, if I was ever going to have a major illness, this was the time to do it.
That same newspaper offered a great tuition program. When I got the cancer, I realized that there was one great regret of my life: I'd never finished my Bachelor's Degree: I attended college straight out of high school but was too young and immature to handle college...I didn't appreciate it.
So, with the now-found realization that I wasn't immortal, and that regret nagging me, I returned to college. Since my schedule was relatively unstable and I couldn't attend regularly scheduled classes, I chose a non-traditional adult-education-oriented school. Within 3 years of beginning, I walked across that stage very proudly and received my Bachelor of Science degree.
There were 2 prime benefits that made college possible for me: 100% tuition with a loan program so I never paid anything out of pocket, and shift-work so I had a lot of free-time (late night) to do homework.
After the ARRL Centennial, I decided to renovate my radio operating position. I wanted to remove the old "workbench" style position and make it a free-standing movable desk instead. Thus, knowing it would entail improving the room as well, I packed up ALL of my equipment, radios, accessories, and test equipment.
I was finishing some painting in the room near dusk on a Thursday night hearing the distant rumble of thunder. I finished my work, came up to the house, took a shower and was just sitting down to watch some TV when BANG, lightning struck my antenna mast. As I've previously mentioned elsewhere, I spent the night on pins and needles fearing the damage I would find the next morning.
I had been remiss in my duties to take proper precautions for just such an event, but the best circumstances prevailed: All of my equipment was packed away. My oscilloscope (my most useful and expensive piece of test equipment) was in the house. None of the antennas were attached and the feed lines were outside the shed, so there was no direct electrical path into the building. Heck, even the breakers feeding power to the building were turned off.
Total damage? An old POS stereo, and two light sockets.
At year 22 of paying our mortgage, we decided to pay it off. Our income was such that it was only a matter of saving a couple of paychecks, and the mortgage was so old that the monthly payment was considerably less than a car payment. It was time. We decided in October to pay it off in May of the following year.
In December of that year, our mortgage was sold. We went from a long-standing bank of good reputation to a mortgage company that existed primarily to buy junk mortgages and strong-arm the mortgagees into either paying much higher fees, or refinancing. In the 5 months that we made payments to them, they made obvious mistakes on 4 of those payments. They misapplied a large payment by using it to pay the next 5 payments instead of applying it to the principal as we ordered. I later discovered that this company is known for screwing up payments while fining you for their errors until you accrue enough fines to get behind. Then they try to foreclose and sell your house out from under you. Ultimately, most customers find them hard to work with and very disreputable.
As soon as we discovered that they were mistake-prone and never fixed their errors as they promised, we sent them the final payment. They screwed it up too, and it took us a couple more months before they applied it correctly, but at least we were out from under them.
The coincidental part? We had decided to finish our mortgage literally 2 months before this nightmare of a mortgagor bought our mortgage. We had the money on-hand and were able to buy our way out of a situation that would have been intolerable at best, and possibly cost us our house at the worst. Great timing!
My wife, daughter, and I attended the local opera for 2 seasons. While we enjoyed many of the performances, some were incredibly boring. After a particularly annoying show, we decided not to attend the next one. Months later, my wife ran into an old friend in a parking lot. After the usual catching up, they got onto common interests. This friend mentioned that she would love to see an actual live opera. We had the tickets on us, so gave them to her. When she saw the name of the performance, she discovered that it had a very special meaning to her. She started crying in thankfulness for this "coincidence".
On a recent cruise stop in St. Lucia, while standing in line waiting for a boat to return us to our ship, the couple behind us mentioned that they wanted to find a safe reliable tour guide for a return trip they were planning later that year. My wife and I had vacationed on another part of that island many years before and I remembered the name of the tour company: "Simon Says". I mentioned the name to the couple and they giggled stating that someone else had told them to try "Joe Knows". They thought people were pulling their leg with these names and perhaps I'd fallen for the same joke.
Less than 60 seconds later, I noticed someone approaching the line who looked uncannily familiar. Lo and behold, it was Simon, of "Simon Says". I introduced him to the couple and they acted like they were the subject of a prank, but after a lengthy conversation, they were so impressed with him that they actually left the line to join him on a quick tour.
Bear in mind, we took a 4-hour tour with this man 6 years prior to this. We hadn't seen him since, and within a minute of mentioning his name, he approached us.