# I’ve Got the Odds

What are the chances of two different servers at two different restaurants both fouling up in the same way? I’m not an oddsmaker so I don’t know for sure, but let me tell you the weird story. Yesterday Norm took me to get some lunch at the very un-lunch hour of 3 p.m. I ordered an Ã la carte item instead of a meal plate. When the food was brought to the table I got the entire meal plate instead of just the Ã la carte item. I let the server know about the error. He apologized and said he would take care of it on the bill, but I should enjoy the extra food. It came home in a nice to go package. Today, Norm took me to lunch at an entirely different restaurant in entirely different area and lo and behold the same thing happened. I got more food than what I ordered, but only had to pay for what I originally ordered and got to take home the extra food.

Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if that happened all the time everywhere I went? For example, let’s say I went to the store and asked the clerk to retrieve a nice but inexpensive messenger bag for me to purchase. Instead, he or she brings me a Zero Halliburton case but I only have to pay for the price of the messenger bag. Yeah, like that’s really going to happen. Maybe I’ll win the lottery too?

How unusual! Cool!

Consider yourself blessed! Sometimes, God has odd ways of making the wealth of the nations flow your way.

As for the odds, here’s the mathematician coming out in me. To get a true odds calculation, you’d need to know the error rate of each server, but let’s just assume that Server 1 screws up 10% of the time and Server 2 screws up only 5% of the time. The odds of getting two screw-ups in a row would then be the product of each of the odds– 10% x 5% or 1/2%. Hardly astronomical, certainly feasible. After all, it DID happen!

If we throw in that the screw-ups were identical, happening on successive days, it seems to me the odds would greatly increase. Iwould imagine it also be helpful to know how many different screw-up possibilities there are. If the odds were just 1/2% most of us – at least those my age (69) would have seen it happen several times but I don’t recall ever having a full meal ordering a la carte. I would imagine I have eaten out an average of 5 or 6 times a week. Perhaps Richard could throw in a few more of these variables and see what happens.