The concept of keeping something safe by hiding it among a lot of other things. Applied to animals in a herd, it means a predator may have an easier time finding a victim, but each individual animal has its chances of being eaten reduced. Sort of like a lottery in reverse (and played such that the statistics actually make sense).

Also known as Mob Mentality, it is responsible for quite a few improper actions.

Consider riots and other group/mob actions. The reasons they happen is simply safety in numbers: a person's individual action is hidden among the masses. If a person can't be singled out, then they feel free to do whatever they want.

It also points out the natural direction of human behavior: if someone thinks they can get away with it, they will do it; regardless of what it is.

Humans by nature are selfish and self-serving. The only constraints they have are laws and punishments from outside sources. Left to their own devices they will commit atrocious acts. It's a natural by-product of the survival of the fittest.

She had always loved math. It was hard to think back and remember a time when she had not loved playing with equations and running numbers through her head. When other children learned nursery rhymes and baseball statistics she was learning multiplication and long division. On long vacations with her mom and dad she would try and solve problems out loud, or in her head. "No paper," her dad would say, "that's the easy way out." They would do mileage problems with the map and try and estimate gas useage. When she got older they did serial sevens and some timed problems. It drove her mother crazy, that was clear.

What was not so clear was why her dad left them when she was 12. One day he was there, bringing home ledgers and college trigonometry books and the next day gone. Her mother gave no clear answer, only vague statements of hurt feelings and betrayal- words that meant nothing to her. It was never made tangible, and therefore she just chalked it up to randomness. She decided not to dwell on it.

That was a long time ago and probably wouldn't be relevant here except that this was not just another day. This was a difficult day.

The computer in her office was on the frisz again and they had called in tech support. Usually it was some gross teenage kid who had the personal hygiene of a gerbil, but today was different. It was a grownup. A man. He had a real shirt on (not a Tshirt) and he smelled of some kind of aftershave that made her skin warm. His eyes were some sort of dark color but she couldn't look at them long enough to ascertain the specific color. It was like looking into the sun. Too dangerous.

He asked her questions and seemed more than a little curious about her flowcharts and diagrams. When he reached across her keyboard to adjust the monitor he brushed against her shoulder. It was too much, and she had to go to the restroom and put cold water on her face.

He was not her type exactly, but she didn't know what her type was, really. She had not dated since high school and had no real relationships at work since her first boss had quit. He had gotten her an Einstein calendar for Christmas her first year there, but left after that terrible audit the next spring.

When she got back to her desk, he was gone. But he had left more than a shadow of cologne- it was his business card- 24 hour tech support, and on the back, handwritten-Michael-home-438-2222.

Home is where she was now, holding the card. Pondering what to do. She went to her bedside table and pulled out an old envelope. A graduation card from her dad. It had arrived, a week late of course, with a check for $1003.14 and no return address.

She read the card frequently-

Dear Anne,
I am so proud of you. I wish you the best and am sorry I missed the big day. I hope your career goes well. Remember, numbers are the only things you can count on.
Love, Dad

She put it back in the envelope and back into the drawer. For a few minutes she stared at the ceiling and back at the card but jumped when the phone rang. It was Michael.

What are the odds?

It’s funny the things you remember and likely will never forget
For me, it’s the first phone number my family had when I was growing up
For some reason, it’s been echoing in my head for the last week or so
And even though I hadn’t dialed it in over forty years
I’d thought I give it a try.

After five or six rings I was getting ready to hang up
When the voice on the other end said
“I’ve been waiting for your call”
And I was shocked to hear the voice of my father
And our conversation started out slowly

We spoke of mundane things at first
Like two strangers talking about the weather
But there was something left hanging between us that we could both feel
Like the heavy air of a humid summer day
Just waiting for a thunderstorm to come wash it clean

When I left home we hadn’t parted on the best of terms
And when the words finally came like the rain from the thunderstorm
We settled some old scores and washed our slates clean
And this time it was different and we said our goodbyes fondly
With a promise to stay in touch

I tried the number again the other day
And was greeted by a mechanical voice on the other end that said
“The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected
And there is no forwarding information
I wasn’t too surprised, after all
He’s been dead for over thirty five years.

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