Now imagine the following for a second. It’s Saturday night in Amsterdam, and due to my birthday party the night before I’m too tired to do anything crazy but a low-key drink sounds like a good idea sort of thing. No worries, there are a bunch of little cafes around here that I haven’t checked out yet and one is hosting a CouchSurfing get-together, so I head to said cafe to see what I see.
The place is busy, but there’s a spot next to a cute fellow with a German accent who is asking intelligent questions about my research, and it turns out he’s a Physics PhD student in a town in Lower Saxony six hours away from Amsterdam, in town for the first time this weekend to help a friend move. A geek running into another geek unexpectedly is always a relatively rare occurrence so we spend ten minutes discussing our respective areas of study, and then he mentions offhand that he used to study in Auckland.
“Wait, New Zealand?” I am momentarily confused, then have a flash of recognition. “Johannes! Professor LW’s E&M class, the first half of 2007!!!” He in turn recognizes me and much hugging and squealing ensues, not all of it coming from me, and we chat nonstop into the wee hours to catch up. (So much for a low-key night!) Because you see it wasn’t just that we were in the same class, we actually did problem sets together- which Johannes recalled in much greater detail and fondness than me, he’s the theorist after all- but I never grabbed his contact information before leaving, so I hadn’t heard a thing about or from him in five years.
Let me repeat this again so we are clear on this: I went into a random bar and sat next to a random guy who was randomly in town… and it was one I last met five years ago, half a world away! I believe we have now passed from “it’s a small world” to The Twilight Zone– or as another friend put it, I have now officially traveled enough that the entire world is my neighborhood.
What’s the strangest coincidence that ever happened to you? I’m sure I’m not the only one with such a strange story!