(Submitted by blog reader Rick Stromoski)

In 1989 my wife and I moved to Connecticut from Los Angeles due to a job offer for her that we couldn’t refuse.

I was and currently am a free lance cartoonist who has always worked from home so it tends to be an isolated existence to begin with. To alleviate the feeling of stir craziness I would occasionally take classes with the idea of getting out of my studio but also possibly learn something new.

I enrolled in a night Illustration class at Central Connecticut University and the instructor’s name was Dana Schrieber. When taking attendance for the first time he came across my name and hesitated. He asked if I had a brother Robert who lived in Los Angeles and I answered in the affirmative. He then told me that he once owned a small gallery in Los Angeles and represented my brother Bobby’s work in the early 1970s . An interesting coincidence given that it was over 15 years and 3,000 miles and we met on the whim that I’d take a night class and he was the instructor. The class ended and that was the last I’d seen of Mr. Schreiber.

Fast forward to the year 2011. My then 16 year old daughter Molly was a junior attending a prep school in Northern Connecticut and met a boy and they started dating. We liked the young man very much and soon we were making plans to meet his mother and her steady boyfriend over dinner. Turns out when we arrived at the young man’s house the steady boyfriend was none other than the same Dana Schreiber who taught that illustration class I’d taken back in 1989. We were all amused at the coincidence but it also afforded me the opportunity to complain about the “B” he gave me for the class.


Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 228. Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast  for our own sarcastic and hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.

This story is adorable. I can’t think of all that much to say about it that’s interesting, but there are the usual culprits. We tend to forget that factors such as an interest or occupation (in this case, art) increases the probability of running into people who know the people we know. There is also the fact that if it was a friend and not a brother, the author may never have discovered that the teacher was connected because the teacher wouldn’t have recognized his name. Think about how many times that has probably happened in your own life.

In general, we all tend to share interests and values with our family members, the people we work with, and the people we call friends. We are more like those people than we are like random strangers. And those interests and values attract us to others. So, people tend to “cluster”, even if those clusters are large.