The omen that wasn’t

Some people have the uncanny ability to perceive when destiny-changing good fortune is imminent. I know, because I’m one of them. That’s why I was thrilled when I got that magical feeling at sixteen minutes before 5 AM one morning last week. This sort of thing has happened to me before, so I recognized it immediately as a harbinger of something special. But who wouldn’t have that sensation if their day began with an event that has a less than one percent chance of occurring?

When I started my car to begin my commute to work the clock on the dashboard read, “4:44.”

There are 720 possible numerical readings on a digital clock, but only six of them (1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, and 11:11) contain just one of the ten possible digits, with none of the other nine. That’s how I knew something amazing was in the offing! But what remarkable event was this portentous “coincidence” foreshadowing? A winning lottery ticket? A Pulitzer Prize? The Congressional Medal of Honor, perhaps? I could hardly wait to find out what bit (or with luck, bits) of good fortune fate had planned for me and my family.

My drive to school that morning was routine. Then after arriving I did what I customarily do: exercise, prepare for the day’s classes, and chat briefly with the morning custodian. Then at 7:15 I reported promptly to the cafeteria, where until 7:40 my assignment was to make sure no one started a food fight, set a fire, or triggered a revolution.

Twenty-five minutes later, having successfully staved off unrest, I headed for my classroom, wondering just how the remainder of this soon-to-be-remarkable day would unfold. But the class was fairly typical. Nine high school seniors were there on time, although their ranks had swelled to 16 by the end of the block. That was because, as is almost always the case, seven more subsequently strolled in at their leisure, each bearing a late pass and a large cup of colorful liquid bearing the name of a local purveyor of overpriced caffeinated beverages.

The next class was similar, albeit with fewer late-arriving pupils. And there was nothing remarkable about advisory, the 20-minute break from academic classes that was called “homeroom” back when I was a student (and dinosaurs roamed the earth). Our school’s teachers are encouraged to use this time to meaningfully interact with individual students, which I do every time I can locate one who isn’t being mesmerized by one or more electronic devices.

Nothing unusual occurred during lunch, nor during my remaining classes. But even though the day had been pretty typical, I still had the distinct feeling something memorable was lurking just around the corner. There had to be a reason my day had begun with that prophetic triple-digit omen.

Immediately after school I attended a meeting, and when it concluded I hustled down to the gym to watch our school’s unified basketball team’s game. Afterward I headed for my car and the commute home, still eagerly anticipating whatever life-altering surprise was in my immediate future.

It turned out there was indeed something out-of-the-ordinary waiting for me. But it wasn’t a big check, a prestigious prize, or a gala reception at the White House.

For the second time that day, when I started my car its clock read, “4:44.” I smiled when I saw that. An unusual coincidence, yes, but hardly earth- shattering.

I understand that not every omen portends a life-changing event. And I’m okay without a Pulitzer. But a few more students arriving on time for Block 1 would have been nice.

Andy Young
March 8, 2024

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