People From Around The World Share Their "It's A Small World" Moments

People From Around The World Share Their "It's A Small World" Moments

It's a song, it's a ride--it's something that happens to all of us! You're wandering through a market in Turkey and all of a sudden come face-to-face with your favorite kindergarten teacher. Or, you're comparing photos with a friend and find out that you're actually related. There's nothing more magical than discovering that it really is a small world after all. We asked people from around the world for their best "small world" stories.


71. Mid-air meeting.

I was on a plane with a connecting flight in Chicago. When I landed, I turned my phone back on while we were taxiing and checked Facebook. My friend posted a status saying his flight was rerouted and he had to connect in Chicago. I commented something like "Hey! I'm in Chicago! When will you be at the airport?" And he was like "I'm there now! Plane just landed!" Then I asked where he was flying from and after he responded, I looked back. He was two rows behind me the whole flight.


70. You've been made.

I met the same random stranger on a train in Belgium in 2011, on the airport bus in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 and again in the airport in Hong Kong in 2013. No idea what his name is, but we both instantly recognized each other the last two times, and I bet he was as freaked out as I was.

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69. Bonded over breakfast.

Back in 2006 I was in love (from a distance) with the most perfect girl ever . She ended up moving to Virginia that year, got married and had a kid, etc. So I swore it off, she was gone.

Fast-forward seven years. I go get breakfast up the street from my new apartment at a place I hadn't tried yet. Who's my waitress? The same girl, no ring on. At the end of my visit as she dropped my check I asked her "Excuse me, when did you move back from Virginia?"

Made her dinner the next night... it's been as incredible as I expected since!

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68. Wordly neighbors.

First time I went to Japan an older woman asked me for directions in Tokyo, because "I looked like I could speak English." I heard a faint German accent in her voice and just said, in German, "We can just speak German if you like." We got talking and not only do we both come from Germany, not only do we live in the same city, we live on the same street. We still sometimes wave at each other when we meet at the cornershop.



67. That's twinsanity.

Two of my best friends from high school are twins. Their parents were super paranoid about them getting in a car accident and dying, so they were never allowed to ride in the same car together. Ever.

Their sophomore year of college (they went to different colleges in different states), while driving two hours to meet each other for lunch, they both got in a car accident on a crowded interstate.

With each other.

Luckily, they both survived, with only a few broken bones each.

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66. Closer than she thought.

My mom left her home country as a refugee. She lost contact with all her friends after she left. 30 years later her best friend (who also moved abroad) was trying to find her so she went to my mom's aunts house (when they went back to visit their home country) to get her contact information. My mom's aunt gave it to them and she called my mom. My mom reunited with her friend and it turned the entire time my mom's best friend lived in the condo building next to ours in the same city and in the same country. They are now best friends again.


65. Small world, smaller island.

On a tiny ferry back from the Aran islands, the woman sitting behind me on the top deck was someone I had gone to high school with. We grew up in New York and I recognized enough about the conversation she was having with her friend to turn around and be like... do I know you? Yup, same grade and everything, on a random mid afternoon ferry in a tiny part of Ireland halfway across the world from our homes.


64. Home is where the hippie is.

I work with my uncle (who's in his 60's) doing odd jobs and such. This one job we are working on is in a million dollar home when the home owners roommate came home from work for the day. He gets to chatting with my Uncle and apparently they were long lost friends who used to party together in the 70s but neither of them recognized each other. It was so cool to hear them talk about the old times. Also a little bit morbid once the conversation shifted to who has passed away but thankfully that didn't last long. Overall crazy to think that all these years later they met each other by chance on a job that I booked.

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63. Across the pond.

I lived in London for several years but am originally from a small town in Canada. My best friend from when I was a kid in Canada came out to visit me in London. We were sitting in the pub, and in walked a guy who we played on the same soccer team with as kids. We ended up spending the evening with him. The craziest part about it was that it happened when my friend was visiting as well.

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62. John, john, john, john, john.

I’m standing in Edinburgh with my dad, when suddenly, someone yells, “John!” My dad’s name is John. It’s also the name of many English-speaking males. We’re also standing in front of the John Knox house. So you know what my narcissist of a father does? He turns around, expecting the person to be addressing him. And you know what? He was right. The person went to college with him. We’re on a different continent, and my dad sees one of 500-odd people he graduated from a liberal arts school in Texas with.

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61. No way, indeed.

When I was younger I went on holiday to Tenerife with my mum, met a kid there who was from the town my dad lived in.

Him: ‘oh, where does your Dad live?’ Me: ‘26 something street’ Him: ‘seriously? That’s my old house! Which is your room?’ Me: ‘uhhh the one at the back?’ Him: ‘that was my room! No way.’

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60. Must have been a dark concert.

I had my first kiss at a Dave Matthews Band concert. When I started college in 2008, some people on my floor and I got together and were playing truth or dare. I had to describe my first kiss in great detail on a truth, and it turned out that the same girl was there in the room. Through other concert/intimate details, we figured out that that was the case indeed.

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59. Good old Steve.

I was at a wedding, chatting with a friend about my own upcoming wedding, specifically the honeymoon to the Maldives. She says she has a friend, (let's call him Steve) who just went there on their honeymoon, where they did wine tasting in the lagoon with reef sharks swimming around them.

That sounds familiar to me, because a guy I'd recently met had done that on his honeymoon to the Maldives. I ask what the island's name was - my friend can't remember. So I pull up the photo of this guy and his wife in waist-deep water tasting wine.

And in the background is Steve.

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58. The stereo incident.

I was in the navy when my ship stopped in Hawaii. I was at a bar next to a newly commissioned myself. We started talking and he said he went to the university of Delaware. I said "I once went to a party there." He said he'd had a party in his dorm with some people from my school. I asked "Did one of those guys pee on your stereo in the middle of the night thinking it was a toilet." He said, "Why yes?" I replied..."That was me!"

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57. But which one?

I run into a friend of a friend of a friend all the time in some of the most random places. It started out we would just run into each other at the bars in our hometown, once I moved after university it would get weird.

Ran into him at stanley park in Vancouver. The zoo in Calgary. A bar in Saskatoon. A campsite in bc interior. Caesars palace Las Vegas. Coco Bongo Playa Del Carmen. Surfing Puarta Vallarta.

It's become a running joke in our mutual friend group, that one of us is a stalker.

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56. Under the sea.

When my lecturer was an archaeology student he worked on conserving the artefacts brought up from the wreck of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose. He became great friends with a young officer from the Royal Engineers, who was one of the divers helping to recover the shipwreck. That was my dad. The link was discovered when I ended up mentioning my dad's involvement in the project during an after lecture chat.

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55. Feels like we've met somewhere before...

My fiancée and I were telling childhood stories one day. We were at her grandfather's, and there's this big empty, hilly dirt plot of land across the street. I was telling her about how I rode dirt bikes there with my dad one time. This one time, I stalled out in a pretty deep dip. I was around 8 or 9 at the time, so I was having a hard time pushing it out. An old man rode by on an atv and asked if I needed any help. I said no, being the shy kid I was (and still am). As he rode away, I noticed a little girl on the back of the atv. My fiancée's jaw kind of dropped and she said, "That was you?!" Her grandfather was the guy on the atv, and she was on the back.

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54. Doctor in the house.

On my honeymoon with my wife in Costa Rica, I was wearing a buffalo villas short while my wife was at the coffee bar. A guy comes along wearing a bills hat, we strike up a conversation and he asks where I'm from. I'm in a 1st ring suburb of Buffalo called Amherst. He says he is from a small farming town not too far called Pendleton. I told him my wife grew up there. He asked what road so I told him. He says he lives on that road too. Just then the wife walks up and says "Hi doctor." It was her childhood pediatrician.

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53. Six degrees of kleptomania.

My best friend randomly found my driver's license (my wallet was stolen a year beforehand) in her dorm roommate's things. I've never met her roommate and they went to a college 5 hours away.

Turns out her roommate stole my wallet and but held onto my driver's license. A year later she was randomly matched with my best friend as a roommate. My best friend suspected her roommate was stealing from her, went through her stuff and instead found my driver's license.


52. Around the world.

I met and befriended two Americans while traveling Australia in 2003. Didn't really stay in touch that well over the years and pretty much lost touch after we went our separate ways. Then I bumped into both of them again in a random bar during a storm while traveling in Belize in 2012. They said it was the first trip they had taken together since their Australia trip 9 years earlier. 7 billion people in the world and nearly a decade later, I see the same two guys on the complete opposite side of the world.


51. Similar taste in books.

I was selling some books online years ago and some guy reached out. We agreed upon everything and decided to meet after we had realized that we live in the same town. During the meetup we also discovered that we have the same surname; it turned out that we're actually long distance cousins. I gave him a discount and we still keep in touch to this day.

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50. Missed him by seconds.

Was on vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Finished my beach book by one of my favorite authors. Tristan Jones. Went in to a used bookstore near the beach, found a new book by him (which was weird, he’s fairly obscure) in the “new arrivals” box. Store owner said it had just been dropped off, 20 minutes earlier. By the author, who had also autographed it.

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49. So hard to find an honest dentist these days...

A friend of my father grew up in Papua New Guinea and shortly before he left, he saw a dentist and had a tooth filled.

35 years later, he lived in New Jersey and the filling fell out. He opened the phone book to the yellow pages and and picked a dentist at random. After walking in with no appointment, he wanted to know how much the filling would cost. He told the dentist that after getting it filled in Papua New Guinea in 1968 it had finally fallen out after 35 years.

The dentist tells him, "well, since I did such a bad job filling it the first time, I'll give you a new one for free."

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48. Let's go to the mall.

Got married, and we were heading out on our honeymoon. We drove to Minneapolis and grabbed a hotel room for the night before the early flight, but had a good amount of time to kill, so the concierge suggests grabbing the shuttle to the Mall of America. We head over, and have been there less than an hour when I look over and see my new wife's mother and brother wandering around. We laughed about the coincidence, chatted for a bit, and then continued our shopping. I was standing outside a store, waiting for my wife to look at bikinis, when I heard someone call out my nickname. Brushed it off, couldn't be me. Again called out. I looked around and a guy in Army fatigues walks up to me smiling. Turns out I knew him and his sister (good friend). He just got off the plane from Italy, and was heading home after getting some souvenirs. 200 miles from home, and in the largest Mall in the country, I manage to run into 3 people I know in less than an hour.

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47. This little light of mine.

My father got a zippo lighter during his first of two tours in Vietnam. On the zippo was the unit insignia and his name (etched on the back). After years with the lighter, he lost it during training in Alabama. Half a decade later, while we were living in Wakefield, RI, there was a Gulf station on the main street. Back then, gas stations were all full-service and my parents were decent people who would chat with anyone and, having both come from poverty, they had a particular soft-spot for service workers. They knew the station attendant by first name and he knew theirs. One day the station guy came up to fill up dad's car and said, "Hey Mr. H, I found your lighter, you musta dropped it." The attendant said he found it right there by the pumps. Sure enough, same lighter, etched name, half the country, and 5 or 6 years, away from where he lost it.

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46. A Christmas miracle!

I'm an American. When I was 16, I visited Germany with my family and I was trying to buy some hot cider at a Christmas Market, but I was struggling to communicate with the older lady at the cash register. A girl behind me (probably mid to late twenties) helped me translate and then helped me pick out coins. She spoke perfect English without even a trace of an accent. I mentioned that I wouldn't even know she was German because she spoke exactly like an American, and she laughed and told me that she studied abroad in America for a year when she was much younger. We got to talking details, and it turns out that she actually studied in my state. In my city. At my high school. And lived with my (at the time) boyfriend's family. The random lady in line behind me at the register!

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45. Layers of connections.

I worked at Disney World for the college program a couple of years ago. An older couple came in line at my ride and began speaking about how they come multiple times a year because they are members of the Disney Vacation Program. They told me how friendly they thought I was and how I looked exactly like a younger version of their old boss's husband. We kept talking for a few minutes and the wife mentioned how happy she was to be out of the cold NY weather and in Florida. I mentioned I too am from NY and we realized she is a retired nurse from the town in which I was born. By the time we finished speaking we realized she had worked as a nurse for my Grandma almost 40 years before and the man she thought I looked like 100% was in fact my grandfather. It was unreal and freaky. I called my grandma to tell her what had happened when my shift ended and she went on to tell me how she remembers the lady all the way back to her first day of work, almost 40 years before. It was weird.


44. It's almost Shakespearean.

One of my best friends almost married a woman that actually turned out to be his younger sister.

Turns out his parents had gotten a divorce when he was a kid, the mum left for another part of the country and had another kid and had never bothered to tell him.

Years later they both happened to attend the same concert in the same state, got "friendly" and started seeing each other regularly. At one point they even had a pregnancy scare and they considered settling down. That's when she called her mom to break the news and sent her his picture, then she mentioned his name.

Obviously it all came out, and they broke up. They're still friends, but yeah. Kind of a tragedy, really.


43. Reservation for four.

My parents were waiting for a table while on vacation and their name was called. Turns out it was another couple with the same name, not that weird, but they struck up a conversation and ended up having dinner together. A couple of years later my parents were sitting down to dinner at another restaurant while on vacation in another part of the world, and the same couple was seated next to them.



42. Coincidence or online stalker?

I met someone as a kid (I was about four) in a post office in Jersey (the country, not the state). My mum and his parents got on well and ended up going out together and just doing things during the day. After the holiday, I went back to Australia and we didn't really keep in contact.

Skip forward to when I was 16, I met this guy online who lived in Jersey, got talking and ended up becoming pretty good friends. He mentioned about he remembers meeting an Aussie kid when he was young and hanging out for the day with his parents at a post office.

Turns out that was the same family and kid, crazy small world.


41. Going back generations.

I went to college 300 miles away from my small hometown. I came down with a cold and went to a local Doctor; while he was looking me over he asked where I was from. I told him some dinky little town in northern Indiana he's probably never heard of. He told me his grandfather's best friend was from a town like that then said the name. It was my hometown. His grandfathers best friend was my grandfather, they met in the Navy during World War Two.

I swear I can't go anywhere where there's not someone that knows my family.


40. Are you out there, Dan?

My sophomore year in college in New Hampshire, I had to arrive a few weeks early for some training. I met a guy named Dan, we hung out through training but went our separate ways afterward. Fast forward to that summer, I’m driving down the highway in Providence, RI and a car pulls up alongside. It’s Dan honking and waving. A year later, I was studying abroad in England and walked out of the dining hall, and Dan is sitting there. Apparently, he was visiting a friend who had studied at our school the year before. I haven’t seen Dan in about 15 years, but I’m half convinced he will find this!


39. Sligo's so hot right now.

I was working in South China. A new lad from Belfast moved to a school where a friend worked. We all met at the bar and when I said I'm from Sligo, his girlfriend was also from Sligo, and her mum and my mum are best friends.


38. Your face looks familiar.

I was visiting London on my way to India. Met up with a girl I had met previously in Haiti. She was hanging out with a friend of hers and a guy from Canada. The four of us went to dinner together and the two girls showed us around London. A year later, I ran into that same guy at a conference in Denver, Colorado. We had the weirdest "don't I know you from somewhere" interaction until we realized where we had previously met.


37. Something about Bob.

In my first job out of college in Boston in 2011, I had a coworker (let's call him Bob). We only worked together for nine months and then he left the company. I left shortly thereafter. In February 2017, I accepted a new position at a company in Los Angeles and relocated. That April, Bob accepted a position at the same company, on my team, and also moved across the country! The odds of this felt so small but it was cool to see a friendly face in a totally new city.


36. Where everybody knows your name.

I met my next-door neighbor at a restaurant when I lived in Missouri. We had the, "Oh, I live on that street too" conversation before realizing we shared a wall in the same building.

Then I ran into him in Denver after moving here. Small neighborhood dive. Turns out he moved out here and lives right down the street from me. We had never discussed moving plans.

It wasn't even an odd talk the second time. People he was with were shocked we were so calm but, it wasn't our first time meeting each other as neighbors.


35. My grandma and your grand-ma were sit-tin' by the fire.

I hung out with the same group of friends throughout high school. It was only halfway through my senior year that my one friend showed me a picture of her Grandma. Her Grandma and my Grandma were really close. I would go to her Grandma's house sometimes. I don't even know how we managed to go four years before finding that out.


34. Knew him by name.

I'm from Canada. I was on a business trip in Bangkok, and practically flying through a mall to make a meeting I was already late for when I hear someone call my name, which is unique enough that it stops me in my tracks. I turn around, and it's my cousin. Yep, I ran into my cousin, halfway around the world in a mall in Bangkok, when neither of us had a clue the other was even in the country, and we hadn't seen each other in person in years. In literally two seconds I would have been in his line of sight as I raced by. Such a ridiculous coincidence!


33. Don't fancy seeing you here.

I went to Rome for the first time, between Christmas and New Years, just for a few days before moving on to Florence. I was standing with my fiancé at the side of a street while he took a phone call. Whilst waiting. I was staring into space and subconsciously thought something seemed familiar and then suddenly I realized I was looking directly at my ex-boyfriend stood on the opposite side of the road eating a sandwich. We had been together five years, broken up two years prior to this, and hadn't spoken to each other at all in that time as it ended on bad terms... and there he was in a different country that neither of us had visited before... needless to say, I got my fiancé walking away with me very quickly before my ex realized I was there.


32. Love across continents.

My wife's best friend went to Madrid once and hooked up with a guy. They never exchanged any details. Just heat of the moment kind of thing. She ran into him in San Francisco in her own building. Apparently, he had lived there for about a year at that point and neither of them could recall running into each other before.

They're now married.


31. Looks like the same Paris.

When I was working in Switzerland and took the weekend off to go to Paris. I was talking to a high school friend a day before I left and we both didn't mention anything about Paris or France. He sent me a picture of Paris randomly as I was on the TGV, on my way to Paris.

Now, you have to realize we both went to an international school in another part of the world. Then on to universities in two different countries both of which aren't in Europe. So off chance that I message him a day before and he sends me a picture that he was in Paris too, we were there at the same time. The last time I saw him in person was three years ago before that time. It's super ridiculous how we ran into each other.


30. Les cousins.

Walking down the Champs Élysées in Paris, my dad sees someone wearing a Canada baseball cap. Being the gregarious man he is, he introduces himself and asks where in Canada the man is from. The man isn’t from Canada, but his wife is from the same area my mom grew up. Dad pulls my mom and my grandfather over, and we all find out that this woman is a second cousin to my mom who she’d never met.


29. Clocking in, clocking out.

I was hanging out at a friend's house back in like 2010 when I lived in Washington State. His friend, who I'd just met for the first time needed a ride home, so I offered.

During the drive, we come to find out we had both worked at the same grocery store in Wisconsin in 2007, except he worked days, and I worked graveyard stocking shelves.

At some point during the shift change in the morning, we had probably passed each other on a few occasions.


28. The long way 'round.

In high school I was sort-of friends with a guy in ROTC; he was a year above me. He graduates and goes and does whatever; I graduate the following year and I join the Navy. I go to Nuke School in Charleston, and when I'm in Power School I bump into him. He's in the first part, "A" school. Huh, that's cool. A few months later I'm on leave back home and randomly bump into him at a gas station at night, way out in the middle of nowhere. Fast forward a few more months, I'm on my submarine and stationed in Groton, CT and we had just gotten back from an underway, spending a month at sea, and on the way back to my barracks room I get this sudden urge to pop into the restaurant on base—and the same guy is just sitting there like he was waiting for me. Maybe coincidence, maybe stalker?


27. Same landlord.

My dad realized that the guy he'd just met on a trip 4,000 kilometers from home (on another continent) was his downstairs neighbor. They'd never seen each other before; it was a fun conversation when both kept having the same answers to "where are you from?" as the details of their address—city, street, building—got more and more precise.


26. The British are coming.

I was walking with down the shore of Lake Malawi with some of the people I had been working at a school with when we saw a white guy coming the other way—definitely unusual as we were in quite a remote place.

Suddenly, one of my colleagues shouted "Sam?!"

"Tom?! What are you doing here?" came the response.

In the middle of rural Africa, one of my colleagues bumped into one of his schoolmates from England and neither had known the other was even on the continent.


25. Must be the luck of the Irish.

While I was on exchange in Canada, one of my housemates had a boyfriend who immigrated from Ireland to Canada a short while ago and was working construction.

He told me that on the first day of work he met three guys from his village near Cork that also decided to up and go to Canada to work construction. By the time I met him again a week later, it was six guys, including his best friend from elementary school.

Irish have an uncanny knack for meeting other Irish people.


24. Stay in school.

I have been in three schools in my entire life. When I moved to the third school in Spain, I found out that not one, not two, but THREE people from my first school (which I left when I was 12) were already studying there. Also, my friend from the second school had a brother studying in that same school in Spain. I was mind-blown.

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23. Fans forever.

I was in Florence, Italy in the leather market. A buddy points out a guy in an LSU cap (Louisiana State University) and sunglasses. Huh, that's weird.

"Hey, excuse me, you a fan of LSU?" He takes off his sunglasses and it's a guy that lived/was living four doors down from me in our dorm back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


22. It was a tourist teacher trap.

I went on a cruise to the Bahamas during my sophomore year of high school. One of the cruise ports took us to Atlantis.

As we are walking into a restaurant, I see my English teacher.

Coincidentally, she sailed on a separate cruise that happened to dock at the same location. Decided on the same excursion, and then chose the same restaurant to eat at.

Needless to say, my junior year started off with my teacher explaining to pretty much the entire school how she ran into one of her students over 2000 miles away.


21. Line up.

This guy and I were both from NJ and were in the same Army basic training cycle in 2006. He and I lost touch after he was injured just after we graduated. He ended up going to Texas and continuing in his army career to a few other duty stations around the country. I was sent to Washington State where I spent my entire enlistment. Five years later in 2011, I was doing the very last of my paperwork to sign out of the installation and leave the army for good. This same guy was standing in line behind me to do the same thing.


20. And one time, at Scout Camp...

I'm from Canada.

In 2014, I spent the summer volunteering at a Scout camp. Three years later, I went backpacking through Europe. One evening I went to a tiny place in a rough part of Edinburgh to see a local band. As I walked in, I saw the server looked... familiar. But it couldn't be anyone I knew, right?


I approached her and asked if her name was [name]. She was stunned for a second before shouting, "Oh my god, [my name]? What the heck!?"

It was a staff member from Scout camp, on the other side of the world, working in a random dive. I still can't believe it happened.


19. On top of the world.

We once met family friends on the top of the Rockefeller Center in New York. They were from Hamburg and we were from Ulm (both in Germany) and we didn't know they were also on vacation in New York at the same time as we were and decided at the same time as we did that the Empire State building was too crowded and that the Rockefeller Center was just as good for a view on New York.


18. Now it's getting old.

I found out like 20 years later the crazy lady my ancient great-grandma shared a nursing home bedroom with was my OTHER great-grandma. They didn't know each other. The grandma from my dad's side didn't recognize us because there was a falling out on that side of the family when my dad was a child... and she had dementia and all that. She thought I WAS my father because we look similar, and that's how she remembered him. I know literally no other things about her. The other lady was my mom's grandma and was also ignorant of the situation because she was blind and five thousand years old.

And by sheer dumb luck, they just ended up in a city nursing home together... as roommates.


17. In a New York minute.

I went to NYC with a friend for a week-long trip. Coincidentally, my uncle and cousin from Israel had also planned a trip there around the same time (unrelated to my trip). I had not spoken to them or let them know yet that I was there.

One day, my friend and I go get coffee at Starbucks and it takes a good 15 minutes. After this agonizingly long coffee order, we head over next door to the LEGO store (to relive childhood nostalgia). To my disbelief, I see my cousin (also a childhood LEGO fan) from across the store with my uncle. The chances that we would see each other at random, in the same lego store in one of the largest, densest, busiest cities on earth still blows my mind.


16. Here she comes again.

I was visiting New York from Chicago to see my girlfriend. We went to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant far from where she lived. I walked in, and the hostess is the girl whose job I took over after she moved to New York the year before. A year later, I moved to New York and started freelance fact-checking at a magazine. My first day, they showed me to my desk, and it had the nametag of the person who used to sit there on it. It was the same girl, who also used to have the same job, but had moved on. I hadn't even known she was working at that magazine when I took the job.


15. In the same class.

My girlfriend and I are out at the only gay bar in our college town, where we'd met a few months prior.

We run into one of the few females also in my girlfriend's engineering major and we shake hands. Through the crowd, a small blonde girl makes her way over to us and my girlfriend's peer introduces her as her girlfriend.

This girl and I stare at each other for a long time, both realizing that we know one another but we can't place where. All of a sudden, the mental image of her in a yearbook photo in a manilla-yellow collared shirt with her clarinet hits me like a brick to the face. We went to middle school together.

I tell her the connection and she gets that all-too-familiar look of relief. She remembered me, too, and we laugh about it and part ways.

A year later, I switch majors into one of the smallest on our campus, about 45 students per graduating year in a school of 50,000 undergrad students. Turns out, the girl I'd attended middle school with was also in this major and was in many of my classes.


14. Not too many.

I moved to New Zealand a few years ago. One of the guys I was flatting with asked me what state I was from. I said "North Carolina". He said, "oh, I know some people from North Carolina!" I just laughed because NC has a lot of people. Turns out not only did I know the couple, but I had also been there when they got engaged (at a beach party in Virginia we were all at).


13. School chums abroad.

I took Chinese classes along with this German family outside of school when I was in High School. Flash forward two years later and I'm studying abroad in Germany and I'm at a party when some one taps me on the shoulder to say so and so wanted to speak to me. It took me a minute and then I realized that it was one of the boys from my Chinese class that they were talking about, he went to the school I was studying abroad at.


12. From Ireland to Afghanistan.

I'm from a small village outside of Dublin in Ireland, had a really good friend a few houses down named Peter. Our fathers worked together so we hung out a lot.

Then one day he moved to London for his dad's work. Shortly after I moved to America for the same reason. Before he moved we got into a big fight, obviously to compensate being sad about him moving. We stopped talking. When I was 17, I joined the U.S. Army.

Flash forward years later and I'm in Afghanistan in a small outpost in the mountains when we get word that a British unit will be stopping by for a few weeks while we do some joint patrols, and then we will head down to Helmand for a few weeks for similar stuff, learn from them and what not. The British unit arrives and who do I see in one of the squads? Peter.


11. Friends everywhere you look.

Not me, but my mom. She works at a pain medicine clinic where representatives from medication companies occasionally come and bring lunch for the employees to pitch their medications and talk to the doctors who work there.

She began talking to one of the reps, who was a few years younger than her, and who mentioned that she was from the same town that my mom was from. She proceeded to mention that a member of my mom’s graduating class, who my mom recognized by name, was was her husband’s older brother.

Then, my mom comes to find out that she and the rep graduated from the same high school, only a few years apart from each other. My mom came home from work that day starting her story with, “I made a new friend at work!”

It was a wholesome “what a small world” moment for her.

10. What are the odds?

I was flying from Taiwan to Canada. I had a layover in Japan and while waiting to board the plane, I start talking to the older couple in front of me. They tell me they are from Gretna, Manitoba. (Tiny town) He is a school teacher there. I mention that my grandfather used to be a teacher there and also that my cousin, who had been staying with me in Taiwan, had made a friend, in Taiwan, who grew up in Gretna.

After telling him her name, he said that he had been her teacher. I then told him where I grew up and he asked me if I knew a certain boy. I told him that I'd gone to school with him from K - 12. The guy then said he was his uncle.

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9. Two for one.

I am in a parking garage, turning a corner and a bit spaced out and there was a backup of some sort, and I rear end a guy. Nothing too bad, a bit of a dent in the other bumper of an older car, but damage nonetheless and we trade information. I never hear from the guy, which was much appreciated since I was just out of college, and while working full time, this would have been a major dent in what little savings I had.

Fast forward about 6 months, its summer. I am in lower Manhattan, just off the train and looking for a place to meet my friends at. This is just before smart phones, and the financial district is a labyrinth. I am having a hard time finding the small side street this place is on- then the skies open up in a thunderstorm, pouring rain. I take refuge in a building entrance alcove and tried to text google for directions (that was a thing for a period of time!), but its not working. Exasperated, I see a guy walking out the door in a hurry and ask if he knows where this place is. He says yeah, its just around this corner, and make a left. and hurries off. The encounter was over in 3 seconds, and I pretty much ran in that direction due to the rain and now being late, but halfway down the block I realize the guy that gave me directions was the guy I hit in the parking garage.

Thanks parking garage guy, you really helped out a young guy twice when he needed it.

8. Nice of you to drop in.

I had a really cool teacher for third grade and part of fourth. She quit teaching in the states to travel and teach around the world; she came back for a visit in sixth grade and told me, "I'll see you in the world someday." Years and years later, I'm in Malaysia helping to open a call center, our local colleges were showing us around Petaling street (Haggler's market) and in a movie-like crowd-parting moment, I spotted my teacher. We grabbed a pot of tea from one of the stalls, my coworkers got to hear some stories about me when I was a kid and then she went back off into her adventures.


7. It's a small cruise after all.

I went on a cruise. I sat at a table for dinner with randoms and it turned out the other family was my next door neighbors when I was four years old. I barely remembered them but remembered that the youngest son and I got in trouble for putting sticks in each other's pants.

Later on the same cruise, we took one of the preplanned excursions. I hear a familiar voice but couldn't place it. I turned around and she screamed my name. It was a girl I went to elementary school with, in Virginia. The last time I remember her (before moving) we both got in trouble at school for sneaking away from recess to get ice cream from the cafeteria.

On the same cruise, I went to a show and they pulled me up on stage for a competition thing. They pulled three others up on the stage. One was a guy I went to high school with who briefly dated my best friend. Their relationship did not go well and I was not a fan and he knew it. This was the first time I'd seen him in over 25 years. The last time I saw him I punched him when he grabbed my friend by the hair at the mall. The police called his parents and made them come to get him. I just got yelled at. He recognized me instantly and his first question was, "How's Debbie [my friend]?" That one was from Florida.

So on one cruise, I ran into people from my past life from three different states. And my primary memory of all three of them was getting in trouble.


6. A voice to remember.

My brother recently moved to West Palm Beach. One day, my parents and I were up there taking his son out to dinner while my brother and sister-in-law were at the hospital popping out another heir to the throne. We went to a restaurant across from their house, a Cuban place with great food and a lovely pianist filling the restaurant with gorgeous melodies from the island my parents and grandparents fled. As we were finishing my mom walked over to the lady and started to express her love and gratitude for bringing them music from home. The lady asked my mom when she came from Cuba so my mom started to tell her story and worked in how her piano playing really reminded her of my dad's mother—my dad's mom was a pianist and opera singer in Cuba. They talked about where my dad was born, etc. The lady all of a sudden, clear as a whistle, started to pinpoint the neighborhood, the house, the street and then my grandmother's name. My mom started to cry; the lady had known my grandmother since she was little. My dad came over and the lady started to explain that she pretty much knew my dad's entire family from Cuba and how she was so happy to hear that they made it out and safe. The lady had spent time with my grandmother and knew her pretty well. My dad told her that his mom had already passed and you could tell the lady was just content knowing that my grandmother fled and lived a long life like she was doing at that moment. It was such a small world at that moment for us. Years and years had passed and someone still remembers my grandmother singing in Cuba, someone that knew her personally. It was kind of beautiful.


5. Georgia the whole day through.

I'm originally from Georgia, same as my parents, and a few years ago I was working at a hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming. Two hours away from the nearest major city.

It was about ten o'clock that evening and I was on the last hour of my shift when this guy towing a massive boat comes down the driveway. He's moving up to Alaska, and was moving his stuff up to Seattle to basically just sail the rest of the way to the great frontier.

We haggle the prices a bit, and since my goal is to get people in rooms and we had some vacancies left, I lowered his price a few bucks and we talked about the world. He mentions he's a lawyer, and I mention my dad was a lawyer. He still is, but he was back then, too.

Guy asks where my dad practiced, I tell him he's barred in Georgia. Bit more back and forth, and it turns out, he knew my dad when the practiced law in north Georgia. Not together, but they flew in the same social circles.

To recap, this guy knew my dad from Georgia, and happened to stop in Sheridan at the hotel I was working at, while he was moving to Alaska.

Experience was so unexpected I can still remember the guy's name.

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4. Sweet reunion.

At college, one teacher kept saying my last name, then said "I know you from somewhere... but I won't tell you where".

Seeing he was old and kind of weird, I didn't pay much attention to it. Also, this was a "musical language from the 20th century" class and I'm a chemical engineer, so it was just a mandatory class I had to get through and didn't pay much attention to it. By the end of the semester, though, it kind of bugged me.

So, I was at my grandfather's house for lunch (something I do very rarely) and I bring the subject up. By the way, my grandfather had a stroke in his 40's, losing mobility in half of his body and severely damaging his mental capabilities. He can barely talk, move, and he doesn't remember 90% of things. I bring the subject up, and mention my teacher's name and what he's telling me.

My grandpa's eyes brighten up, and he says "Silvio?! He's your teacher?!"

I couldn't believe that my grandfather was talking, much less that he could remember the name and it rang a bell with him. Turns out, my teacher was my grandfather's best friend when they were young, he had lunch at his house almost everyday, but they drifted apart when my grandfather had to hide from my country's coup d'etat in 1973.

I contacted/reunited them and after 30+ years they are now back to their old habit of having lunch together every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Makes me so happy.

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3. The twist ending.

I dated a girl from the summer before senior year of high school until the first couple weeks of my sophmore year of college. A little over 2 years total we were together. It was my first serious relationship and I was absolutely crushed when she dumped me.

4 years later, after finishing grad school I decided to pack everything up and move to NYC. I found a place with some roommates in Crown Heights.

Maybe a week or two after moving, I'm strolling down the street to get coffee. I turn around the corner and my ex is right there. It was the first time I saw or talked to her in probably 3 years. Found out she also decided to move to NYC, settled in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn and was living literally in the building next to mine. Like I could look out my window and see into the living room of her apartment.

We ended up grabbing drinks to catch up. I was extremely hesitant because it took me a solid year to fully get over her and didn't want to go back down that rabbit hole. It wasn't too awkward, but definitely no chemistry there: sometime during those same years she had discovered that she was a lesbian and was no longer dating men.

Suffice to say, there wasn't exactly a whole lot of mutual attraction left between us. We would run into each othe every couple of weeks. But a few months after moving to NYC. I started dating a girl who convinced me to move to DC with her. That was almost 4 years ago.

Getting married next year.

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2. Let's agree to mutual destruction.

In the late nineties, I was a resident teacher at a high-school prep school with very high behavioral expectations for both staff and students alike.

Come spring break, the wife and I were going through a rough patch, and she had just lost our first pregnancy to a miscarriage, so we hopped a flight to Amsterdam.

You know, Amsterdam: land of weed, which is there to help you feel better about losing what would have been your first child. Could have gotten me fired, but sometimes, you just gotta throw it all to the wind and take off.

So there we are, about four days in, and we've lost track of everything: time, what freaking country it is, whether we've seen the Anne Frank house yet, the works. But we're hungry, so we wander into one of those hibachi restaurants - you know, where they have communal seating. And then, just after we get seated, I hear/feel the next person come along and sit to my left, so I check my mental state (yep, we're okay for random pleasantries right now, but not much else), turn to say "hi", and discover...

...that the freaking president of the senior class has just been seated right next to wasted ol' me.

And he's wearing his school jersey. And he's wasted, too. And holding a beer, which is legal in Amsterdam, but against all school codes, which apply at all times, no matter when/where, and can cause immediate expulsion.

And like a genius, the right words come to me. And I say "Hey...we're going to pretend this never happened, right?"

And he says "Oh, thank God."

And I buy him a beer, because in for a penny, in for a pound - we're all going to get fired and expelled anyway if anyone ever hears about this.

And sure enough, we never speak about it again.


1. The adventure that kept on giving.

Before I went to Costa Rica, a crazy Panamanian told me to find an Englishman there called John Chapman (literally the only clues he gave me). One day I was in a tiny beach town, Dominical, and I asked a man if he could give me a job. He was John Chapman. Here's the full story:

So I was on a bus in Guatemala when I met Eloy, the skydiving Panamanian on his way to the North Pole with an oil tycoon on a "Hommer" expedition (Hummer). He told me he had just been in Costa Rica and if I meet an Englishman called John Chapman, he will take me to the most beautiful place on the planet. He couldn't put into words why this place was so special or where in the country to find this man.

Two months later, bumming around Costa Rica by myself (my girlfriend and I split ways for a bit so we could see different things/ travel at our own place. we agreed to catch up "later"). I ended up in Dominical, a cute little beach town, population: maybe 50. I wanted to stay there for a bit, and I thought maybe someone would let me work just for a place to sleep and food. Didn't need or expect money there. I walked into some little office, it wasn't clear what the office was for. I told the man I was looking for a job. He tells me he has a job that only offers food and a bed, but it might not be for me.

He owns a mountain. On the top of this mountain is a 650 foot waterfall. At the top of this waterfall is a cave. A very large cave. In the cave is a spring. He put in a kitchen, a bathroom, shower, plumbing, beds, rapelling lines down the whole mountain. He takes tours there sometimes and he needs somebody up there to play host for these tours and to watch over the place in the meantime. He will hike supplies up the mountain for me once a week.

His name is John Chapman.

I wrote a quick email to Gretchen, the girlfriend. "I'm going to a cave called Casa de Piedra. I will come back to town in two weeks to check in with you." The next morning we left for the mountain. It's 40 minutes from the coast. The hike is EXTREMELY steep and it takes us 6 hrs to reach the top. I have to stop every 20 minutes. Finally we see it. The cave is very long and very tall, but not very deep. There are three waterfalls flowing over the mouth. These collect in a pool directly under the cave which is the top of the 650 foot drop. You can see the ocean. I jump in the water before going in (he says its the tradition and after the hike it feels great).

Inside the cave is essentially a home. some beds made of rocks and sand, an oven, a sink, lots of food (like organic cookie mix). candelabras everywhere. He leaves me some books and wishes me well.

Four days go by. I haven't seen a soul. I am naked. I am running up and down MY mountain, swinging on vines, jumping in pools, howling back at the howler monkeys, picking fruits I've never even seen before (soursop!), baking cookies... basically Tarzan. It's nighttime and I'm reading the Power of Now by a candle. I'm naked on my bed. I see a light in the distance. What? John told me nobody would be coming! Who could it be?! I put on a sarong. I grab a machete. I blow out the candle. I am sitting on the bed flipping out as this light gets closer.

It's Gretchen. With a HUGE backpack. Dripping sweat. "So, can I go jump in that waterfall?"

I tell you, my friend, finding the trailhead was tricky. Hiking the mountain was difficult. Doing it at night with this huge pack and NO GUIDE?! IMPOSSIBLE!

She tells me that she recieved my email. She was hitchhiking through Costa Rica and asked her driver if he had heard of this Casa de Piedra. "Oh, sure, it's right there!" He pulls over, points out the trailhead, and she hikes for 6 hours (half at night), straight up a mountain, hoping that at some point she will find me.

We lived there for a month. Highlights: Blue morphos (incredible butterflies) pics do not do it justice. One day I saw a coral snake and a tree viper. One day I walked into a tick nest and Gretchen had to remove about 250 baby ticks from me with tweezers. They were in my asscrack. Under my armpits. Everyhwere. I saw a monkey that I still have not been able to identify. It was very fat.

Now... why did I ever leave? There's another crazy small world coincidence. Gretchen and I wanted to be in a circus. I was a juggler, she was a contact juggler (like in Labyrith). We actually hitchiked from Ithaca NY to Costa Rica. On the way, in Arizona, we met a guy who knew a guy in a circus. A travelling circus- the Electric Blue Monkey Theatre. He told us they were "somewhere in Central America". Well one day a tour came through the cave, which was rare. We only had three the whole month. The people taking the tour were the Electric Blue Monkey Theatre. Well, in this cave, I wanted to learn to juggle oblong objects, like juggling clubs. Only I didn't have any. I had three rusty machetes. Different sizes. VERY CAREFULLY, I taught myself to juggle them. Naturally when the ring leader shows up, barefoot, wearing only a sarong, no water, just half of a cigarette, I showed him my new skill and he invited us to tour Central America with them doing shows for orphanages.

Okay, last part of the story: How does an Englishman in Costa Rica come to own a mountain? He lived there for years, actually. He had a neighbor who was a total jerk. Always mean to John. Well, John was a kind man and was never once mean back. He was as friendly as possible. The neighbor died one day, and in his will, he left John a mountain. With a 650 foot waterfall. And yeah, it is BY FAR the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on. Pics and dscriptions will never do it justice. The feeling of swinging naked on a vine into a pool, MILES from the nearest person, before going back to your cave for some tea and fresh bananas...

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