I don’t believe in coincidence. The fact I’m sitting in this particular seat right here, right now, is a case in point.
Behind my recent arrival at the Tooele Transcript Bulletin is a story full of non-coincidence. I graduated in journalism from Brigham Young University in 2013, returned from a mission in El Salvador last January and almost immediately began working with my mother.
As I slowly adjusted to life back in the U.S., I began to search for a job in my field. I applied for close to a dozen different jobs at the company I represented, as well as a handful of writing jobs outside. I was called for several interviews and felt reasonably good about all of them — some more than others.
But I heard nothing. Nothing, until general announcements were issued with the names of the new employees. Meanwhile, I tried to make the best out of my customer service job and kept my ear to the ground for more opportunities.
Near the end of June, I was in the middle of a road trip in Oregon when I received a text from Emma Penrod. I first met Penrod at BYU approximately five years ago, but I didn’t get to know her well until our senior year, when I joined her in the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. We drove to New Mexico together for an SPJ conference, and later flew to Colorado for an SPJ workshop. Then we graduated, and ceased to communicate as “real” life took over.
We hadn’t spoken in years, unless you count the occasional Facebook comment. And so I was surprised when she messaged me that she’d been hired by the Salt Lake Tribune and was preparing to leave the Transcript. Would I be interested in applying for the job?
I was interested. I applied and scored an interview with David Bern, who mentioned casually that several other people had also applied. I went home and half-convinced myself I had little chance. But Bern called me a day or two later and asked simply:
“May I welcome you back to the world of journalism?”
I was elated, and for the next week I told everyone who would listen about my new job. One of the first people I told was Penrod. Her response was interesting. After politely congratulating me, she told me she hadn’t previously planned to leave the Transcript, but when her friends at the Tribune told her there was a position opening up, she went for it.
“Sometimes I think these kinds of things aren’t so coincidental as we perhaps suppose,” she said. “You landed at the Transcript. I landed at the Tribune, and the guy I’m replacing just got his dream job at a wildlife magazine.”
Others may regard my arrival at the Transcript, Penrod’s transfer to the Tribune, and the Trib reporter getting his dream job as three separate instances of chance. Convenient to be sure, but nothing more.
But wait — there is more.
A second series of non-coincidences led me to my new home in south Tooele. Following my mother’s advice, I contacted the local LDS Young Single Adult Ward, looking for information about places available for rent. One of the singles’ ward members messaged me with contact info for a potential room.
At the same time, Bern offered to help me find a place to stay, essentially saying, “We know people here.” I quickly learned that Joel Dunn, publisher emeritus of the Transcript Bulletin and lifetime resident of Tooele, does indeed know a lot of people. He provided a name and phone number for me to check out, but mentioned in passing a few days later that he knew a different young lady with a house and it was just too bad that she had filled her last room only a few weeks ago, because it would have been perfect for me.
I didn’t think anything of his comment at the time, but I sure remembered it when I went to visit the room recommended by the singles’ ward. The owner of the house (and the room) explained that, only a few weeks ago, another girl who had originally decided to move in changed her mind and moved to southern Utah instead.
So I ended up taking what would have been her room. Could it have been another coincidence? Perhaps, but I don’t believe so.
I suppose for one not to believe in coincidence, one must believe in a higher power: someone or something that looks down from above and orchestrates life. It has been called luck, fate, karma, destiny, God. We all have a right to believe what we choose — even if it is no belief at all in such an orchestrator.
All I know is, I have experienced similar instances of non-coincidence in the past. Not all have gone as smoothly as did my transition to the Transcript, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can often see how even the rough patches led me somewhere I needed to go.
I have no idea what will happen next in this chapter of my life. But in the meantime, I look forward to getting to know Tooele County and its residents.