Saturday, July 14, 2007

Small world stories

Post your own stories of small world encouters here.

For example:

I recently flew to New York and the plane was pretty empty and I was looking forward to having a load of space around me and a view across the aisle and out the window.

Just as I was making myself comfortable and wondering what the inflight movie would be I noticed out the corner of my eye more people being led up the plane by an air stewardess and placed into the seats across the aisle from me. I glanced over and it was an old school friend who I hadn't seen for several years.

The chances of ending up beside him considering how big and empty the plane was seemed remarkable - what was even a stranger coincedence was that on a previous holiday I had actually bumped into his sister in a greek airport.

So thats the kind of thing we want to hear - stories of connections between strangers or of meeting someone unexpected in an unimagined places.

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18 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

I'm in a very small village in eastern France. I would say about 1200 people in the town off the beaten path. I went into a bakery and purchased a loaf of bread and some cheese to eat. I went across the street and sat down on a bench in the middle of the park. An older lady came up to me and spoke to me in broken French. I had to answer in English that, "I'm sorry, I don't speak much French. She then smiled and told me she was also from the US. After talking to her for a bit I found out that she lived in the same city as me and I went to school with her daughter.

5:05 pm  
Blogger alburt said...

Hey Tom, nice story - I love how these happen, no matter where you go, no matter who you meet - a connection is almost inevitably found.

Did you ever meet her daughter again?

2:58 pm  
Blogger BobF said...

I've got 3.....

1) This one's my aunt's. Happened in the early 70's. My aunt was living on Long Island at the time and her daughter (my cousin) had met and married an Englishman and my aunt and uncle were visiting them in London. One day they go to an outdoor market and one of the vendors asks her if she's "a Yank." She replies to the affirmative and he inquiries whereabouts. She says New York. The Englishman says he has a cousin in New York, "maybe you know them?" My aunt thinks to herself, "yeah right...15 million people," but wanting to be polite asks where the cousin lives. The Englishman says Valley Stream. My aunt replies, "I live in Valley Stream." She asks, "what street?" He gives the street and she says, "I live on that street! What's their name?" He gives the name...it's their neighbor who lives 3 doors down.

2) It's 1970 and I'm a student at U.C. Santa Barbara. One of my friends from high school, who's going to Berkeley drives down and picks me up to go to San Diego where a couple of our friends are students at U.C. San Diego. They're having a party that night and my friend keeps staring at this very cute blonde girl saying, "I know her." This goes on for several hours. I keep telling him to go over and ask her, but he's going nuts trying to figure it out himself. Finally, after midnight, he says, "I've got it!" I think to myself, "yeah right." He crosses the room to the girl and proceeds to spend the next hour talking animatedly to her. Finally he comes back and I say well? He says that she lived in the house behind his.....when they were 5.....living in Saudi Arabia (both their fathers were petroleum engineers).

3) About 20 years ago I'm on jury duty in Southern California. I'm on a panel of about 100 people waiting to be called into the courtroom. I end up in a group of people, who like me, are teachers. I comment that I was surprised that I got a substitute for the rest of the day as there was only about an hour and a half to go. I said I thought for that amount of time maybe the principal, or assistant principal would have taken over. Another teacher, in a complaining voice, said, "that's nothing, the assistant principal at my school couldn't even take over if she wanted to as she has no teaching credential." I could tell he was about to "take off" on this assistant principal and I cut him off. I said, "Do you work at Washington High School?" He said yes. I said, "are you talking about Elsa?" He said yes. I said, "she's my wife."

4:33 am  
Blogger Ashley said...

Sooo I was in an opera in Italy for a summer before 8th grade. There U net a man named Pat of whom I became friends with over the course of the summer. Now I attend a boarding school for the fine arts. There I became friens with a guy named Mark. I've been here for 9 months know and guess what? Pat is marks brother!!!

SMALL WORLD!!!

3:02 am  
Blogger Tom said...

alburt - yes I had two classes with her the next year.

6:48 pm  
Blogger Alburt said...

Tom, if this was the moives you guys would be married by now.

Ashley, that is a weird, how quickly did you recognise they were brothers? Did they look the same. If not, how did you work it out and what was Marks reaction?

BobF gald you cut the teacher off before they slagged your wife and the story about your Aunt is brilliant. I've love to have seen their faces when they realised how closely they connected they were.

6:54 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for this site. I have quite a few experiences like this. Here's another. I'm a Disney pin trader. At the time I lived in CA. I trade pins on Ebay and other sites. I was selling the Mujan pin a few years ago. I had 5 pins and one of them I forgot to mail to the person who bought it. My mistake. I sent it out 2 weeks late but I added a second pin for his inconvenience.

About a year later I was visiting the Magic Kingdom back in Florida. Staying at the Contemporary Hotel on site, I noticed that they were advertising a pin trading session downstairs in the lobby. I went downstairs that evening and started to trade a talk, pins. I was talking to a couple of traders when a girl approached us and started asking questions about trading. She asked if any of us traded on Ebay. I said that I do. She then asked if anyone has ever had any problems. The other guy spoke up and said that he only had one minor problem. He said a year ago he bought a pin and it took a couple of weeks to get it. He said that the seller was nice enough to send and extra pin. Guess what? I was that person. Oh, he was from New York.

6:57 pm  
Anonymous Gelfling said...

This is fun!

I have one that my parents experienced several summers back. They drove from Michigan to Boston to visit me, and on the way they stopped in some small towns in Ontario where my dad's Grandfather (code name Ian McGeneric) might have lived after he emmigrated from Ireland, before he settled in the US Midwest. On the way back, they tried to get a hotel room in one of those towns (Town A) , but both tiny hotels were booked solid for a wedding, so they went to the next town over (Town B).

At breakfast the next morning, only one other couple was in the breakfast room, and was about their age, so they got to chatting. The other couple was attending the wedding Town A, but also had booked late and so was staying in Town B. They asked about my parents' reasons for being there, and when my dad revealed the name of his grandfather, the other man revealed that Ian McGeneric was his great-uncle, and that my dad's grandfather's brother (Seamus McGeneric) had settled in Town A after Ian had moved westward. It turns out the wedding was of some of Seamus' great great grandchildren, who was a great nephew of this newfound relative of my dad's.

My dad was trying to find a year of birth and other info on Ian and had had no luck, but after exchanging emails with these new cousins many new facts were exchanged and several lost branches of the family were put in touch with each other, who had all had members trying to find each other.

A lot of people were made very happy by my parents' ability to strike conversations with strangers :)

7:37 pm  
Blogger Ashley said...

I was on facebook and I saw that they were talking on one another's walls. I blantly texted Mark asking why he knew Pat. He told me they were brothers. Bahaha gotta love facebook : )

3:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some background: I met my ex husband in Boulder, CO in 1987. We were introduced by a mutual friend. We had our son in 1989 and were divorced when he was two. My ex's family was from Oklahoma and Illinois. His mother had won the Miss Tulsa pageant in the early 60s and won flying lessons as a prize. His father was the pilot who gave her the flying lessons. When they were first married, they lived in Denver for four months while he was in flight school with United airlines.

Flash forward eighteen years: I'm talking to my son about how his father and I met and gave him the name of the man who introduced the two of us.... my son looked at me - totally shocked - that man was his current boss.

Flash forward another three years.... my ex mother-in-law is in town for a visit and I go to pick her up and bring her to my apartment. I knew she had lived in Denver but she couldn't remember where. As we drove around, looking for parking, she suddenly pointed out the window and excitedly exclaimed "there it is!!". I started laughing hysterically - it was the building I live in!!!!

3:39 pm  
Blogger Alburt said...

Dear Anonymous that is a pretty amazing set of stories. Each part would have been great Small World Stories. Combined they are incredible. The lives of your family and the people of the past all seem very interwound.

11:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I moved from home abroad to England to go to boarding school, where I met a boy who's girlfriend was friends with a girl I went to school with for several years with at home.

2. Another boy I went to boarding school with came from Nigeria went to secondary school with another boy in Nigeria who I now go to University with.

3. A boy who lived on the same floor as me at University was best friends with a boy who I (again) knew from Boarding school, from Spain!

4. Another boy, who lived a few floors below me at University, has a random friend in Spain who knows the same boy as in number 3.

5. When I started Boarding School, and we were introducing ourselves to all the other new students, when I mentioned where I lived, a boy from Nigeria said he knew someone from there too. I asked who it was, and it turns out this boy was in MY primary school class for 5 years, then eventually moved to Brunei, where these two met.

I love a small world.

3:32 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Just had another experience. We moved from California to Texas, 6 years ago. Recently we leased a space in a building to open up a coffee house. Weatherby Roasters. The landlord wanted to make sure that I understood the restaurant business so he asked me if I had experience. Yes I do. In 1980 I was the chef at MacArthur Park in Palo Alto. Jim the landlord said he also worked at MacArthur Park but in San Francisco. (40 min north) But he said that he got fired from there while doing a catering job in Marin. Well, I was the catering chef at the time and I do remember calling the SF general manager and letting him know that two of the servers that he sent us, needed to go. They didn't provide the service I thought was needed. They were both let go the next day. Guess what. My landlord was one of the servers. I didn't tell him that I was the one who got him booted. :)

5:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had just the TV on, and there was my old professor in the midst on the screen, at a mourning hour with the US flag in his hand, pointing at a dead colleague of his after a shooting in his new college. How much had he done to spread a good impression of me as long as I was near him, and how much had he done even more to let me go to hell by anybody not "belonging" to himself, then. It was a sad moment but an interesting experience.

10:18 am  
Anonymous Mike Mills said...

Got in one of four elevators on the 26th floor of the Sunset Station in Vegas. 2004. Going down, it stopped 3-4 times. I was having a conversation with an elderly couple...doing any good? etc. They asked me where I was from. As I replied, a lady was entering the car at one of the stops. She heard me say Alamogordo,NM. She said really? Me too. Last time she was there was in 1983. The day before she left she was at a wedding in Boles Acres, near Alamo. Not only were we at the same wedding, we went together. A one date deal. We had also crossed paths in Egypt and Saudi Arabia(military)where we did not meet. Haven't seen her since. Yet.

3:11 am  
Anonymous Dave-o said...

My Aussie daughter visited Toulouse in France a few years ago and to cut a long story short, met a very nice Frenchman and they got married. They live in Toulouse, where unlike in Paris the English language is very rare and fellow Aussies are virtually non-existent. Last week she was riding her bicycle along the Canal du Midi when a small group of people were blocking the path. My daughter politely said "excuse me" (in French). The reply was "oh, sorry." and they moved aside. My daughter hearing English started up a conversation and my daughter discovered the woman in the group came from the same small town in North East Victoria where my daughter grew up. The woman happened to be the sister of my manager at a company I worked at in the town for many years.

1:49 pm  
Anonymous Kirby said...

My grandmother on my Dad's side of the family went to Hollins university. She became close friends with a woman named Mrs. Collins who lived in her dorm. Mrs. Collins, back home in Montana, was friends with a woman named Mrs. Jacobs. Mrs. Jacob's son Ty ended up marrying a woman named Dana. Dana grew up in California and was best friends with my mom. Both sides of my family have a close connection. That alone is pretty crazy right? Well it gets crazier... Mrs. Collins, now living in Virginia (along with me), is next door neighbors with one of my close school friends. My friend jokingly calls her his grandmother as they are very close.

We had no idea of any of this until last year when a photo of Mrs. Collins popped up with Mrs. Jacobs at a family gathering!!

11:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in 3rd grade, my brother and I went to Tae Kwon Do lessons in Medford, OR. The master instructor was Chip Wright, the stunt double for Chuck Norris. Chip Wright bought my parent's field at the base of John's Peak mountain, and built a house there.

When we moved to Texas, we were at Prestonwood Baptist Church and saw Chuck Norris. If I had the gumption I have now as a man, I wouldn't have wimped out on talking to him about attending Chip Wright's karate studio, but I was too bashful at age 13 to talk to Norris.. hell, I could have died!

9:03 pm  

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