10 Amazing "Small World" Encounters

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We recently asked readers to share their experiences of traveling somewhere far from home only to encounter someone from their hometown...or from their past. You sent us dozens of great stories. Here are the 10 most surprising ones.

#10 Last year a director from our local theatre asked me to costume her show. I hedged her off and said I needed to think about it. I ignored her emails hoping she would find someone else. A few months later I traveled from Salem, OR to Phoenix, AZ. I was bumbling around Phoenix and stopped to get a burger. As I was walking into the restaurant, there was the director and her son eating their burgers, also on spring break in Phoenix. I took it as a sign of needing to deal with her request, so we talked, I costumed her show and it was a huge success.

Posted by: Lorraine | May 21, 2007

#9 We are Australians now living in Florida. In 1974 we were in a restaurant in Southern England when I heard what I thought was an Australian accent. The man was English, but had lived with Australians in Montreal in the early 1960s. We had lived in an apartment in Montreal in 1958 - the same one he occupied in 1960!!!

Posted by: Jean Roberts | May 21, 2007

#8 I was in Hawaii for an annual tour with the Georgia Air National Guard, and couple of friends and I decided to take a dinner cruise. The seas were a bit rough and many of the people on the boat got seasick, so the dining room was not very crowded. As I went up to the bar to order a drink, I noticed a woman that looked somehow familiar to me. It took a minute, but it finally came to me. She had been my 11th grade English teacher in the Florida high school I went to about 16 years earlier. She had failed me too... She didn't really remember me (which is probably a good thing), but she was happy to know that I had made something of myself.

Posted by: Rick | May 21, 2007

#7 I had been working as a GO at Club Med Martinique for a few months when I was chatting with a couple over dinner. After the standard questions about what it was like to be a GO, I asked them about themselves. They were on their honeymoon and lived in Yorba Linda, Ca. I asked them where and they said "Oh by the lake". My question was "Do you know the house by the fountain with the two Scotch Terriers?". They looked at each other funny and said "Ummm, yes. We take our scottie to play over to play with them!". Turns out they lived right across the street from my parents!It was a little surreal after meeting people from all over the world, to meet my parents closest neighbor...

Posted by: Shawna Esarey | May 22, 2007

#6 I was in Budapest and had just been attempting to use a pay phone to call an arriving friend at our hotel. After dumping more than three euros of change into the phone and getting nowhere, I was frustrated so I gave up and decided to walk back to the hotel. As I was walking I saw a women talking on a cell phone. I looked at her and the ease of her phone with great jealousy. Suddenly I took a closer look and saw that it was Katie Callahan, an old friend from high school who I hadn't seen in almost 20 years! She practically dropped the phone in surprise. I ended up borrowing her phone to call my friend, who had also gone to high school with us and we all went out and caught up at an elegant hotel overlooking the Danube.

It reminds me to always look at people when I am walking around, no matter how far away I am from home!

Posted by: Cordelia Persen | May 21, 2007

#5 When I was eighteen years old and on my first trip to Paris, I was alone and riding the Metro, when a very drunk man sat down next to me and began to put his hands all over me mumbling, and I didn't understand anything that he said (he was from Corsica). I yelled at him and tried pushing him away, but he kept getting closer & closer. The young man in the seat in front of me turned around & told him that I was "his girlfriend and to leave me alone." He motioned for me to come and sit next to him (in English). When the young man looked up at me we both realized that he had been my camp counselor at a YMCA camp in Rhode Island years before. We spent the rest of the ride talking about the good times we had had years before which helped me to forgot about the "incident on the Metro."

Posted by: Zipporah Sandler | May 21, 2007

#4 I was crossing the street in Toronto one evening when the policeman directing traffic gave me a strange look. It took me a second, but as I was crossing I said, "Greg?" and he nodded. Greg and I made friends at a campground in Maryland when we were about 10 to 12 years old. We only knew each other for two days, but I guess we made an impression on each other.

Posted by: Jen Katz | May 18, 2007

And now for the final top three...

#3 While having tea at the Ritz in London to celebrate my mother's 85th birthday we started chatting with the people at the table next to us. Recognizing the mutual American accents, we asked each other where we were from. My mom and I were living in San Diego at the time. The couple said they lived in Fresno (a city about 250 miles to the north). I mentioned that the only people I knew from Fresno were my daughter-in-law's family. I told them her father's name and they looked amazed and told me that her father, an obstetrician, had delivered all three of their children.

Posted by: Kathy Stafford | May 21, 2007

#2 I had just brought our newborn home from a New Jersey hospital when I received a phone call from a friend in Australia. He called to congratulate me. I asked how he heard the news. He told me that his father was walking down the street in Bangkok, and his father had bumped into a mutual friend of ours from Germany. Our friend from Germany told his dad the news and then his dad called our Australian friend who then called me. It just amazed me that people could be discussing my happiness thousands of miles away!

Posted by: Gloria | May 21, 2007

#1 My Uncle & his family were on a driving trip, visiting national parks out west. My then 10-year-old cousin enjoyed signing them in at all the visitor center guest books. At one particularly obscure park in Utah, he said, "hey dad, there was a guy with our last name here today". When my uncle checked, it was the name of his long-estranged father, whom my uncle hadn't seen since his parents divorced when he was only 3. They asked the ranger on duty when that person had been there (it was dated the same day), and the ranger said, "Oh, he left about 10 minutes before you arrived, asked for directions to Dead Horse Point." So they quickly drove there themselves, and had a family reconciliation. This was nearly 30 years ago, and it still gives me shivers!

Posted by: Tammy Fine | May 21, 2007

To read some dozens of other stories from readers, click here.

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