Mudcat Café message #2626435 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105397   Message #2626435
Posted By: Jim Dixon
07-May-09 - 01:43 PM
Thread Name: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
Subject: RE: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
1. This happened while I was a college student, home for my summer vacation, in St. Louis, Mo. A friend and I decided to go explore Gaslight Square, a jazz nightclub district that was popular then but is now defunct. It was the only time in my life I ever went there, despite growing up in St. Louis. While there, I ran into two friends from college. (We went to college in St. Paul, MN, 500+ miles away.) One lived in St. Louis, though I had never encountered him in St. Louis before, and the other was visiting him from, I think, North Dakota. This was their first (and probably only) visit to Gaslight Square also. This was my first experience of bizarre coincidence, so it impressed me far more than it would today.

2. My wife and I were visiting Grand Teton National Park, and walking up a trail, a couple of miles off the main road. We encountered another couple walking the other way. Suddenly my wife and the other woman burst out laughing. They knew each other from high school. My wife comes from a town so small that her high school graduating class had ten students. (The school has now been closed and the district merged with another one.) We and they live about 875 miles from the park.

3. I was attending a business conference in Maine. It was the only time I've ever been to Maine. One day at lunch, I met someone from St. Louis. (That didn't surprise me; people were attending from all over the US.) The topic at the table turned to very odd restaurants and bars. I described the Venice Café, a place I had visited ONCE in St. Louis, which had a very quirky décor and ambiance. The other guy from St. Louis knew the place too. (That didn't surprise me either.) I explained that I had a special connection to the Venice Café, in that my best friend in St. Louis, who was a stained-glass artist and dealer, was a friend of the owner of the café, and had sold him the glass that he had then used to make a mosaic on the basement wall. My new St. Louis acquaintance then asked, "Is your friend named Hank?" He was. It turns out my new acquaintance's wife had taken a class in stained-glass from my friend Hank. (By the way, the topic of the business conference had nothing to do with art, or stained glass, or restaurants, or interior design, or anything even remotely connected to this conversation.)

4. While attending a different business conference in Chicago (same business, different conference) I lost my wallet, and I suspected I had been the victim of a pickpocket. (As it turns out, this was not the case.) Losing your wallet, along with all your money, credit cards, and identification, while alone in a strange city, is a very stressful and disconcerting experience. I had to cancel my credit cards, figure an alternate way of paying my hotel bill, etc. After dealing with all this, at the end of the day, I was walking back to my hotel. (I was staying in a different hotel from the one where the conference was being held, a couple of blocks away.) I overheard the conversation of two men who were walking behind me. Something they said attracted my attention, so I turned around and looked at them. I didn't know them, but I could see by their ID cards, which they were still wearing, that they were attending the same conference, and that they worked for another business in my home town, 400 miles away. (So far, not too surprising.) I introduced myself. Naturally they asked, "How are things going?" I answered, "Terrible! I lost my wallet today."

It turns out one of them knew where my wallet was! Earlier in the day, he and I had attended the same workshop. (Out of maybe 500 people at the conference, only about 30 attended this particular workshop.) This man had stayed late beyond the end of the presentation, to ask questions of the presenter. He and the presenter were the only two people left in the room when one of them looked down and saw my wallet on the floor. The presenter picked it up, and was at that point still holding it. Because of what I had just learned, I was able to contact him before he got around to contacting me, and I got my wallet, money, etc. back the next day. (Too late to undo the cancellation of my credit cards, however—but that's another story.)

I have a couple more tales like this, but I'm tired of writing.