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Day 39: Six Degrees of Separation in a Small, Small World

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Day 39: Mystery Faces

Day 39: Mystery Faces

Who do I know that you know? Normally, I wouldn’t think to ask this question except there have now been several — almost freaky — incidents where I’ve come to meet someone in some random part of the world to find out they have encountered someone I know. It is a small freakin’ world, people, and the more I travel, the more I realize this.

Just the other day, I got a Facebook message from Lauren Fritsky, an American girl that I hang out with here in Sydney, asking me how the heck I was Facebook friends with someone she went to school with. It was so very strange because the guy she was referring to, I had actually met in Guatemala back at the end of 2007, and now I’m in Sydney conversing with Lauren about the weird coincidence.

Just a few months ago, I had another cross-encounter. An Aussie guy that found my blog and then decided to head to Travel Tribe friended me on Facebook. It was then that we discovered we had a mutual friend, someone I taught English with over in Ukraine, and someone he had taught English with in South Korea before that. And, now, I find myself meeting the third corner in the triangle in the land down under.

Now, if these encounters weren’t crazy enough for you, get this:

I met an American girl that was working as a nanny in Kazakhstan who was a mutual friend with someone I went to high school with. Uhm, yeah. KAZAKHSTAN. How’s that for random?

The world is pretty damn huge if you think about it, but our lives today — technology and the like — have made it just about as small as the county (not “country”) we may have grown up in. I can look at my friend’s Facebook profile and immediately recognize the mutual friends we have in common, even if they were people we met in very different parts of the world. It’s very freaky, but in a cool (six degrees of Kevin Bacon) way.

What sort of strange encounters have you had because of your travels?

We were playing the Mystery Faces portion in pub trivia tonight when I thought to write on this topic. The photo above shows the Mystery Faces answer sheet, as well as my mysterious reflection on the table top.

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12 Responses to Day 39: Six Degrees of Separation in a Small, Small World

  1. jen February 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    yeah, it’s funny how that works.

    one of my small world experiences was that i was living in india and after many months of being there i made my first expat friend. we were on a road trip and she was telling me how her friend lived in austin who makes documentaries and she was telling about this one particular documentary. i thought to myself… wow, that sounds really familiar. after more discussion, i realized that in fact i had seen this documentary at the sxsw film festival the previous year, but i had gotten really ill during the showing and had to leave so i didn’t get to finish it. turns out, she my new expat had the documentary at her apartment so i finally got to finish it – in india, of all places. soooo weird!

    • Brooke February 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

      Yeah you never expect something like that to happen, but it really does make the world feel small 🙂

  2. Laryssa February 9, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    Haha, that’s incredible! I agree with your point about technology making the world a smaller place.

    I’ve had a few similar encounters, but nothing TOO far out:

    — I was walking down a random sidestreet in London and saw an RA from my small university in Nashville on the other side of the street. I wouldn’t have noticed her if she hadn’t been yelling at her friends to wait for her, hahaha.

    — At a hostel on the Gold Coast I discovered that two American guys went to high school with a girl I went to college with.

    — This isn’t really the same, but I ran into two bands that I loved ten years ago and a good friend from college at the Nashville airpot, as we all had the same flight to Los Angeles. Everyone’s final destination? Australia.

  3. Elizabeth February 9, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Wow those are some crazy stories. When I was traveling back from Egypt I happened to wear my college jacket to the airport. I sat down… and the guy sitting across from me asks if I go there. My school isn’t super well known or anything, so I was surprised. Turns out, he lives about two hours away, and has several friends who go to my college. We were both had the same layover so we hung out the entire time and talked about our experiences in the Middle East and how crazy it was that we were on the same plane. I probably won’t ever see him again, but it was awesome connecting with someone so randomly.

    • Brooke February 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

      I love stories like this! It’s just so random! 🙂

  4. Amanda February 15, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    I love stories like this, too! I’ve had quite a few of these “small world” experiences, as well. I feel like everyone has!

    I actually did a post on it: http://www.dangerous-business.com/2010/12/its-a-small-world-after-all/

  5. Bethany February 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Great post! First couple of days in Iceland I met someone who knew some of my friends in San Diego! The funny thing is I saw him right away, noticed he was from the east coast (which my SD friends are also from). Later that day the wifi went down and he and Randy went to ask about it at the same time and started talking. He said he was headed to SD in a couple of weeks and that 2 of his really good friends were there. Turns out it was the same friends I had! Totally strange. We called them from Skype and they thought we were screwing with them, it was totally unbelievable.

    Then on the farm I met a great couple, Todd & Benita. I put the group farm photo up as my FB page pic. Lorna from the Roamantics emailed me and said she saw 2 of her friends in the photo – it was Todd & Benita! How bizarre!! another strange meeting. The world really is a small place and I always start humming that disney song when I think of these bizarre coincidences.

    Oh, of course the biggest one in Lacedonia, Italy. I went to find long lost family members and by a series of bizarre circumstances I did and we had an amazing weekend. Then the last day we were leaving I was walking down the street and a guy came up to me and said “Americano?” To which I replied “yes”, then he said “Pascuiti”, which I said yes (my grandmother’s maiden name) and then he said “I am your relative”. It was mind blowing. We spent another day and night there because he insisted I go to his house and meet his mother. She was 95 years old and my nonny’s (grandmother) niece. Everyone was crying, it was very emotional to be in the town where my father’s parents were from and to be meeting someone who knew my nonna. I thought I had met everyone in the family but I was so, so wrong. I haven’t even blogged about this yet but I can’t wait to.

    Meeting people on the road is mindblowing, meeting someone you are related to or knows someone you know is out of this world.

    • Brooke February 18, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Far out! Those are some crazy coincidences 🙂 Can’t wait to read about the last one on your blog!

  6. Miriam Berger February 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Hi Brooke – great post & great site! I totally agree with you about this. I’ve had 2 instances where I’ve met someone abroad who knows someone I know. It recently happened to me in Israel (where I used to stay) where my ex-roommate there (who is South African originally) knew someone who was a friend of a friend of mine from Canada. Random is the only word to describe it. The best part about it is that you get to chat about your experiences with that person which are totally different likely than your own. Its like you are experiencing life in parallel (so to speak).
    Thanks – I’ve subscribed to your RSS – take care, Miriam (Travelling Starfish)

  7. Akila February 18, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    This totally happens to us with other travelers. When we were in Cape Town, we took the cable car up to the top of mountain in Cape Point, and Patrick saw Gary Arndt in the opposite car taking the tram down.

    Actually, this might sound very weird and stalkerish, but I actually thought I saw you when we were in Sydney last year. My friends and I were at Bondi Beach on a Saturday and I saw a girl who looked so much like you and I knew you were in Sydney at that time. I decided not to come up and ask that girl if she was you because that’s just a bit weird, right?

    • Brooke February 18, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      That is SO funny!!! When was it? When you were in Sydney that is? I rarely go to Bondi, but maybe it was me 🙂

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