Monday, October 01, 2007

One Degree of Separation

The other day, a friend of mine recounted an experience of his that occurred when a person asked him if he knew someone simply because they discovered that he was from the same city. I suppose this individual assumed that because he was from Toronto, Ontario, he should know every 4 million plus inhabitants.

Back in the eighties, I attended a university in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. Now, being form Canada, I too experienced many times where people assumed that since I was Canadian, I should know someone who grew up thousands of miles away in another part of Canada. "Oh, did you go to school with "Wendy Smith?... She was from Canada also!" If I had a nickel for every time I was asked a similar question.... Well, you get the idea.

Well... Just when I thought I had heard everything...

Back in my third year of university, while traveling through the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, we were asked a similar question by a lady from Texas who happened to notice that our car was sporting Ontario, Canada license plates. Walking up to us, she asked us if we knew a Canadian friend of her's by the name of Arna Seiman. Now me being the cocky young man that I was, I was ready to ask her if she knew an American from California by the name of Joe Smith as I knew that it would make my point loud and clear. As I was just about to ask her whether she knew "Joe" or not, it suddenly occurred to me that I might indeed know this Arna girl who she had mentioned.

Well... believe it or not, I had actually met this Arna Seiman about ten years prior to that while my buddy and I were way up north at a cottage for a week. While relaxing at the lake we met up with two cute sisters and had quite a memorable week with them... Well, not that kind of memorable! Now after that week, we never saw them again but the uniqueness of her name never left my mind. After confirming further details with this Texan, it was determined that it was indeed the same Arna.

Now, what's the chance of that happening?? One person from Texas, in an American population of over 300 million meets a person in the middle of the Smokey Mountains and asks him if he knows the only Canadian she knows of out of a population of over 33 million and she hits the jackpot?

Needless to say I was floored! I bet you that the chances of me winning a multimillion dollar lottery would have better odds!

One degree of separation... Well, I suppose that anything is possible!


Becky Wolfe said...

Heh heh - it is a small world suddenly isn't it. When I was relaxing on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, I found out that the resort owners were not only from my home town but they were also Christians on an island totally dominated by Muslim. I loved how the world shrunk right down to my graspable size right then & there!

Janice Thomson said...

What a great story Dave!
That happened to Dad too only the person being inquired about lived in New Zealand and Dad knew her and he's Canadian!! It was all rather fantastic but as Becky says it is a small world.
Also, having always lived in Western Canada you can imagine my surprise seeing one of my regular customers on the same flight out of Toronto and to Jamaica, a few years back. She was on vacation and I was attending a conference. It really is a small world.

Cheryl said...

Is that what they mean by 6 degrees of separation? It really is a small world. A new blogger friend/client was reading one of the blogs I link to, of a woman who lives in Oregon. She knew her.

HeiressChild said...

hi dave, i'm finishing up on my degree, and last year found out one of my school mates, who i'd become really close with--well, turns out her father and my brother live in the grand cayman islands. her dad helped my brother get a job a few years ago and knows my brother quite well. what are the odds of that? we feel like we're practically relatives.

Hammer said...

I know what you mean. I've heard those ridiculous questions a hundred times.

But every once in a while someone hits the jackpot.

Josie said...

What are the odds of something like that happening? You should indeed have bought a lottery ticket that day.

HeiressChild said...

i have a Jeopardy tear-off calendar, and the jeopardy question to the answer the other day was "what is six degrees." i got it right because of this post.

you've been tagged. it's a different kind of meme, and i think you'll enjoy doing it. at least i hope so (says sylvia smiling).

fiwa said...

Wow, that really is weird!

I grew up in a very, very small town in Texas, but it's amazing how many times in my travels I have come across someone who has heard of it/lived there/has family there. Not quite as neat as your coincidence though!

fiwa said...

PS - my new blog is up and running at:


Becky Wolfe said...

Happy Thanksgiving my Canadian blog friend! I shall be away gorging on turkey dinner! Hope you are too!

HeiressChild said...

happy thanksgiving dave.

Greeneyes said...

small world indeed!and I hope you win the lottery , you should play it once just to see if those kind of odds would apply TEE HEE
great post ,oh and Bravo for your son building his own computer ,no small task!have a fantastic day ,take care .


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


I would have gotten up after i shook my head from the shock and went to buy that lottery ticket. I mean c'mom, it could happy.

Indeed the world is a small place, although when i read 300 million and 33 million, it doesn't "sound all that small.

Really nice post Dave.Glad I came by tonight.


HeiressChild said...

have a relaxing weekend dave.

Proxima Blue said...

Great story Dave. I know what you mean. When I go to Japan, eveyone asks what Ichiro (Japanese Player for the Seattle Mariners) is like in real person.

Ironically there is/was another Japanese player on the Seattle Mariners, named Sasaki, and I actually did meet him once, we were part of a group that went out drinking and signing at Karaoke bar. But no one ever asks about him, it's all about Ichiro. hrm.

Take Care,
P said...

sometimes it is just the first thing to say in a conversation like: OIH YOU ARE FROM that town...i know this guy, maybe you know him too?