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André-François Raffray, a retired lawyer in Aries, France, made what any reasonable businessman would say was a sound financial decision. According to the Chicago Tribune, for a five-hundred-dollar-a-month annuity, he bought the rights to take over an apartment in Aries, France, on the death of its current resident. The woman living in the apartment was Jeanne Calment, age ninety. Actuarial tables predicting the mathematical probabilities of Jeanne Calment’s life span were clearly on the lawyer’s side.

Thirty years later and $180,000 poorer, Raffray had still not moved into the apartment. On Tuesday, February 21, 1995, Jeanne Calment celebrated her 120th birthday. She was verifiably the oldest person in the world. Each year on her birthday she sends Raffray a card that jokingly says, “Sorry I am still alive.”

How little control we humans have of the future!

750 Engaging Illustrations.