Have you ever been traveling far from home and bumped into someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know, or someone who knows someone who knows someone you know?
I hear tales like this from time to time, such as when the husband’s former teaching colleague ran into one of her students while vacationing 1500 miles from home over spring break (clearly, the student wasn’t aware that the whole point of spring break is to give teachers a much-needed respite from their students), and I’m no stranger to the experience myself.
Rocky Mountain Hi!
I grew up in the US Midwest, but my parents – wittingly or unwittingly, I’m not entirely sure – instilled in my siblings and me a love of the West in general and Colorado in particular. And it was on a road trip out in the land of 14ers where I had my first small world experience. My father was a self-employed insurance agent and his eponymous business name was emblazoned across the spare wheel cover at the back of our conversion van. We were driving along some scenic highway, mountains dotting the vista in several directions, when a car drove up behind us and began honking wildly. Our first thoughts were that something was terribly wrong with the vehicle – something Grizwaldesque, perhaps: Car on fire?! Open suitcase falling off the roof rack, spilling bras and other unmentionables all over the road?! Underage hitchhiker clinging precariously to our rear bumper?! The car then passed us and the reason for all the hoopla became clear. They were clients of my dad’s! Both cars pulled over and we had a little Small World Powwow right there on the side of the road.
Naked and Afraid on a Vegas Elevator:
OK, so I wasn’t naked, but it sure felt like it. And I wasn’t afraid either – just really, really uncomfortable. The husband and I were in the midst of a long road trip around the Southwestern US. We were spending a few nights at Mandalay Bay, a beautiful but ostentatious casino-hotel that distinguishes itself from Vegas’ other beautiful but ostentatious casino-hotels with it’s copious swimming pools. I had been down at one such pool when I realized I needed to return briefly to the room. Knowing me, it was probably for more sunscreen. Anyway, I got on the elevator to return to the pool, clad in nothing but my bathing suit and a wispy little wrap around my hips, and found myself in that uncomfortable social situation. You know the one – there’s just one other person on the lift and it’s a long, long way down to the pools. Where should I look? (pick at nonexistent hangnail; tap foot nervously) Boy, those elevator buttons sure are interesting. Think I’ll study those for a while. Well, this other person was clearly more schooled in social graces than I was, despite the fact that he was clearly half my age. He started up a conversation – the Where are you from? Oh, really? Where are you from? type – and it was soon revealed that he was a current student at the high school where the husband taught chemistry. Blushing furiously, I sucked in my gut, tugged the wrap lower for better coverage, and cursed my fair, sunscreen-dependent skin… not to mention my luck.
Spain: Four Degrees of Separación
When I was 16, I went on a class trip to Spain. We started in Madrid, and over the course of two weeks, made our way to the Costa del Sol, stopping at various cities and historical sites along the way. On no day in particular, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in a very remote area. After the meal, several of us wandered into a small building next to the restaurant where clothing and souvenirs were being sold. While perusing a rack of wearables (in the 1980s sense), I overheard a girl my age, whom I didn’t know, speaking in perfect Midwestern English. We got to talking and discovered that she was my lifelong family dentist’s daughter’s roommate’s younger sister. ¡Ay caramba!
So how about you? Surely you have a small world story. Do tell!