My 92-year old father-in-law lives only about 12 minutes away from us so we frequently run errands for him. He wears two hearing aids, and sometimes they need service. Fortunately both he and the hearing aid service store are on my way to work. One morning in January 2003 I had to take one of his hearing aids in to be checked. The service store is really small; mostly a counter, one waiting room chair, and a table. I gave the hearing aid to the clerk and walked over to the table. They were very fast with their repairs -- it usually just needs a cleaning or a small adjustment. Anyway, I felt there wasn't time to sit down so I just looked to see what I might grab to read while I waited. There were just two magazines there: a YM and a three month old, October 28, 2002, US News and World Report. YM wasnt my style so I picked up the USN&WR. The cover was about WWII, I think, but I just lazily opened it in the middle to the lead article on General/President Eisenhower. Not so interesting, I opened it again a few pages further back. Virtual Humans! It was a one page article on the SimuLearn leadership training product that uses 3D virtual people. The hearing aid was fixed; it was time to go. I asked the clerk if I could have a copy of the USN&WR page. Thinking I was pretty nuts, he graciously did so.
Not only was this article relevant, but the SimuLearn representative had called me in summer 2002 after he read an article about my work in Fortune magazine. I had forgotten about him and failed to reconnect in fall 2002. So here was a coincidental reminder to re-establish the connection!