Monday, May 18, 2009

It's A Small World

As we all might say from time to time, it’s a small world.

My wife and daughter and I went to Betty’s Pies for dinner the other night, and I was surprised to see that our server was a woman that I worked with about 15 years ago. (Coincidentally, we had met another time a few years back when she purchased a couple of my Stillwater Bridge prints.) While talking to her, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a couple walk into the restaurant and be seated. I recognized them, too! I had worked with the man about 12 years ago, and again 4 years later. Then, while visiting with the couple, I realized that the man in the adjoining booth was also familiar, and stepped aside to say hello to the husband of a woman that I worked with nearly 30 years ago! When she returned from the restroom, we shared a few words, and then we all went back to our meals. As far as I know, none of them knew each other; only I was a common link. I don’t know if it was that the planets were aligned just right, karma, or merely coincidence, but maybe, if we simply paid attention to the world around us, these kinds of meetings would be commonplace. We live in a small world.

I was deeply interested in genealogy a few years ago, and came upon a name that sounded familiar. It was in a section of my wife’s family, starting two generations back, that I found a link to the name of a woman and her children, who I recognized as a family living in Scandia, a small community just 8 miles from here. We knew these people but didn’t know we were related, and the most interesting part of it was that my youngest son and the woman’s son were very good friends. When they learned they were also “cousins,” they just about flipped out!

Two young men, drinking wine on the rooftop of a hostel in Italy, were making small talk when they somehow got around to the realization that they both were part of my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding a year earlier. Danny, my son’s girlfriend’s brother, played violin; and Nels, my son-in-law’s brother, had been a groomsman and sang and played guitar. Even though they met at the wedding, it was a brief introduction among many, and they didn’t recognize each other on the rooftop until they began to talk and their worlds began to mesh. That amazing meeting on a rooftop in Italy clearly made the world seem very small!

After some discussion with a woman that I work with, I learned that she and my wife were in the same 4H club when they were kids, and if that wasn’t enough, her husband’s sister was a gal that I liked in high school.

My wife and I have laughed about the fact that we both spent time at the same McDonalds back in the late 1960’s, long before we met. The funny thing was that I was there as a high school kid driving my ’55 Chevy, while she was there with her family, having a meal, listening to all the loud cars cruising around the parking lot.

These are just a few examples out of many instances that we have experienced, demonstrating what a small world we live in. If any of you would like to share examples of your own small world stories, please feel free to leave them as a comment. It would be interesting to hear about them.


John said...

You went to Betty's Pies without me!?!?

Mike said...

Betties Pies? What? When were you up here... You can't get to Betties Pies without going through Duluth......................

Dana Leigh said...

I have had so many of these types of things happen in my life that I can't keep track. Here are a couple I can think of. Michael and I were in San Francisco at Monster Park tailgating with another Vikings couple from Arizona. The girl was from Arizona and the guy was orginally from Northern MN. That was late 2006. Fast forward to 2007 when we are tailgating at around the dome and playing "Polish horeshoes" and a guy walks through our game and almost gets hit with the golf ball. Michael makes a comment to him about it and the guy instantly recognizes us as the couple that tailgated with them in San Francisco. They were on vacation in MN and came to see the game. If he hadn't walked through the game and almost get hit with the ball, we wouldn't have noticed him and vice versa.
Another one is I went camping with my friend when I was 19.(1997) We also went with her friend Stacy that she worked with. I met Stacy that weekend and hadn't seen her since until I realized that Michael was good friends with her. It just so happened that I was going through some pictures from that weekend and Michael recognized Stacy in the photos. So Stacy has become one of my friends in the last 4 years too.
Lastly, when Michael and I were in St. Augustine, Florida this past November, we met a guy on the beach who asked if we were from MN since Michael had a Gophers hoodie on. We said yes and it turns out that he lived on the same street as we do back in the 1960's.

Fantastic topic, Dennis!

P.S. Your sons seem to be more interested in Betty's Pies than your story. :) Boys, there's a Betty's Pies in Mahtomedi/White Bear Lake too!

Michael said...

I have an "It's a small world after all" story for you:

I met this guy at work in 2001 and we became friends.
We decided to go to a Twins game together so I met him at his apartment before the game.
We wanted to play a couple video games on the computer before we left and the only computer he had in the apartment was in his roommates room, and being that his roommate was not home, we decided to go in and play a few.
We were playing a solo challenge game so only one of us would play at a time and the other would try to beat his score.
He was playing so I decided to lay down on his roommates bed and wait for him to finish his round.
To our surprise, his roomie arrived home and came into her room to discover a strange long hair dude sprawled out on her bed (me) and this is how I met my beautiful girlfriend Dana!
So, I guess you could say that Dana and I met in her bed.

But this is not my "small world" story.

It gets a little deeper.

This beautiful girlfriend that I have has a very loving family.
Her dad is one of a kind in the greatest use of the term, and he has a very talented brother who also runs an online web log…or "Blog".

I am grateful to have met these two brothers, and just as grateful to have met their mother, Marion.
I will always for the rest of my life remember her laugh. She was a very sweet and honorable woman.

Here's where the "small world" part comes in:
Marion worked at a place called Cole Sewell Corporation off of University Avenue in the early to mid 60’s.
My dad worked at the very same place as Marion from 1957 to 1971!

I have since asked my dad if he remembered a Marion Sterner that worked there.
He said that he remembers a Marion, but he wouldn’t have known her last name since he didn’t get too close to anyone there.
He then asked me to ask her if she knew him because he was a "trouble-shooter" around the workplace and whenever something went wrong, he would fix it. He said that most people knew him because he was all over the plant fixing things.
Unfortunately, we cannot ask Marion.
So, the questions remain:

Did they know each other?
Did their eyes ever meet?
Did they work directly in contact with each other?
Did they talk to one another and have lengthy conversations?
How about small talk?
Maybe they ate lunch together…
Maybe my parent and Keith and Dennis' parent were buddies.

I don’t know.
We may never know…
Kinda neat though huh?

CA_Gary said...

Bridges in Time and Space

Can I suggest, it is not a small world other than the connections, --- bridges, footpaths, and short cuts, we create.
• When my grandparents came to MN, they knew everyone in the small town of 2000 people
• Growing up my parents were familiar with the area that could be reached by car in the region surrounding the twin cities ~2M people
• Today I interact with people in Europe and Asia on a daily basis.
~2B people world wide
• The teenagers who grace me with conversation are engaged in online worlds as avatars totaling ~20B virtual interactions.

So the canvas we paint, the feather in the fishing hat, and the lives we lead, endears us to the personal connections and shared memories with our nearest and dearest neighbors in space and time. Although the internet makes billions and billions of world wide online connections possible, it is the person to person connections that truly matter. Further, the connectivity can transcend beyond the first connection, to the 2nd, 3rd or more connection nodes. And, even sometimes there exists too many weeds and cobwebs in the foot path obscuring the first memory of a meeting.