Merry (go) Round Numbers

Smack-dab in the middle of last week the odometer on my car clicked over to 111,111 miles. I noticed the running total around 111,100, so for eleven slow-as-molasses miles I had one eye on the road and the other on the digits. The final mile was an unusually scenic tour of a Costco parking lot, but at long last there it was.  One hundred and eleven thousand, one hundred and eleven, on the nosey.  My phone was already balanced on the steering wheel for the photo. Click!

I know what you’re thinking.  Who keeps an eye on their car’s odometer at all, except when it’s time for an oil change?  Who even knows where their odometer is on the dashboard, what with trip computers and cruise control and all those other digits taking up space?  Well… I do, thank you very much.  I look at my odometer almost as much as my speedometer.  Because I’m searching.  Searching for merry numbers as they go round.  Like 111,111.

It’s a knack for knowing numbers to come, this game.  It’s the reason I didn’t miss the spectacular 98,765.  Or the elegant 48,484.  One glance at the odometer and my brain senses a “fun” number is just around the street corner.  When the final digit clicks into place there’s this little feeling of euphoria.  At least, until I drive another mile.

The numbers-game gene comes from my dad, I’m sure of it.  He has a laser-keen eye for the fun ones.  I still remember when I was a kid, him leaning over in the front seat to my mom and saying, “Marion, look at THAT!” And the mechanical (vs. digital) odometers of his day, they made the moment more dramatic.  Odometers used to count in tenths of a mile, and you’d watch a digit s-l-o-w-l-y slide up and out of view as it expired, to be replaced by a fresh one from below.

Right about now you’re thinking who is this guy and why do I read his posts?  Sorry, we all have our quirks and one of mine is fun numbers.  So here’s another angle.  I remember the zip codes of my childhood neighborhoods as if they’re tattooed on my brain.  90049.  92014.  Also the street addresses.  3349. 2600. 1944.  Even the ten-digit phone numbers.  Today, those zip codes come in handy when I need a short, numeric password, like a locker combination or a luggage lock.  At least zip codes are more unpredictable than 12345.  Disturbingly, 12345 is a popular passcode.  People can be so lazy.

As for the street addresses, four-digit numbers don’t allow for much creativity.  I don’t find myself glued to my bedside digital clock, waiting for 01:23am or even 1:22am (my birthday).  I don’t get a grin out of 11:11 or 4:44.  On the other hand, 9:11 catches my attention way too often.  Nothing fun about that one.

To be clear, I’m not describing obsessive-compulsive behavior (more like get-a-life behavior, right?)  This is just me getting satisfaction out of random numbers.  Numbers OCD is more like – using my wife as the example – turning the radio volume up, but only to the even numbers (as if the odds don’t exist).  Or nightmares about recipes calling for the oven to be set to 351°.  Or countdowns from ten that go “THREE… TWO…”, but “ONE” never comes.  OCD peeps don’t handle those numbers scenarios very well.

Here’s one more numbers game I take a lot of pride in.  My four brothers and I were born in (respectively) 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962 (hello, world), and 1964.  As a result, one of us celebrates a round-numbered birthday every two years.  When the middle brother turned 40 we started gathering together, face-to-face, at a location of the birthday guy’s choosing.  And we’ve done so ten times since, for the rest of the 40’s birthdays, all of the 50’s birthdays, and now into the 60’s birthdays.  Next month we’ll celebrate again (COVID delayed this gathering by a year).  Nice to know I’ll see my brothers every two years from here on “out”.

If you’re still reading to this point, maybe merry, round numbers aren’t the quirk I think they are.  I’m still reveling in the appearance of 111,111 on my odometer last week.  Yes, I might’ve had a little cry when it blinked over to 111,112 a few minutes later.  But that’s okay.  I captured the moment on my phone.  Not to mention, I’ll be targeting 123,456 before I know it.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

17 thoughts on “Merry (go) Round Numbers”

  1. LOL – I was glad you clarified that this was not obsessive-compulsive behavior. THAT is amazing that you caught the 111,111. I admit, I don’t look at the odometer that often, so I miss those fun numbers. Funny post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the tradition with your brothers! My cousin for years had planned 10/10/2020 as his wedding date, like in 2013 he had this date planned and the poor guy had his dream wedding he waited YEARS for delayed by covid. Now they are doing 10/10/21 but delta might have a say in that..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. True to form, I must admit “10/10/2021” is not nearly as satisfying as your cousin’s original plan. 10-10-20-20 – how can you beat that? 🙂


  4. As the brother who was born in 1960 — and who is the focus of this year’s brother’s birthday trip (which should have been last year, but we are slipping it in under the wire before I turn 61, so it still counts), I just had to chime in. I think that all five of us brothers have a penchant (you can all thank our Mom for our literary skills!) for an affinity for numbers like that (which definitely came from Dad). I think it was our brother Tom who was out driving our mother’s station wagon when it hit 100,000 miles. He drove around a similar parking lot in a way that Dave describes, and also took a picture of the odometer. Which he then had blown up to poster size, and gave to my Mom…

    OK, our family may be a bit odd. But hey, we’re proud to be who we are. Thanks, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Penchant”! One of my favorite words in the brief history of this blog. Forgot about the 100,000 poster, Greg, and the moment certainly deserved the acknowledgment. Agreed; proud of our family’s “oddness”.


    1. I think you’ve pointed me Ally’s way before, Joni – thanks. She and I are on the same wavelength this month! Had not heard of “Angel Numbers” before, but some of mine certainly fit the definition. I confessed to Ally (to answer her post’s question), most of mine are fabricated but I find no less satisfaction in “creating” them.

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  5. 111,111 is a cool number. No doubt about it. Whether that number is an Angel Number is not for me to say. But if seeing it makes you happy then I’d say it’s angelic. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Always great to meet someone new to me.


  6. The numbers name is very cool Dave and I like the story of you and your brothers and your birth years. That is fun as well, especially to me as I have no siblings. I guess I am eccentric in that I glance at my odometer every time I step in and leave the car as I note it when I note my steps that day. My car will soon be 11 years old and when I exited it Saturday, it was 8,718 miles. I walk to/from the Park daily. When I first began my walking regimen in 2011, I aimed to walk more miles than I drove in a year and I often wrote about that … in those days, I had not begun going to bigger parks on weekend, just walking at Council Point Park or in the neighborhood. So I’ve always kept tabs on walking versus driving miles. I stopped posting about not driving very much because the shop where I take my car for its occasional hiccups or new batteries told me I had to drive it more or risk electrical issues, so there went my little game. But in this post, please see the picture at the very end of the post for a photo … like you, I couldn’t resist capturing this oddity three years ago:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a brother who’d appreciate the (lack of) use of your car, Linda. He bought a Porsche a while back, but like you, he rarely drove it. Then he took it to a dealer for service and they said his low mileage could actually void the warranty. Who knew?

    Thanks for the look at your odometer. Those “one to go” numbers are fun too. I’m impressed you remembered this tidbit from a post from 2018!


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