Tag Archive: holiday

So far, yet so close…

(Submitted by reader Sandra J. Smith)

Back in 1964, some friends and I decided to take a holiday from England to Southern Spain in a 1949 Morris Oxford.  It was quite a journey, taking us nearly four days, to travel the almost non-existant road in Spain.  After two days non-stop driving, we came across a wayside hotel in the middle of nowhere, somewhere north of Madrid.  We decided that enough was enough and that we were going to chill-out. So we booked rooms and asked if we could get something to eat as it was 4pm and we were starving.  The waiter was fabulous, spoke excellent English and we had a wonderful meal followed by numerous Spanish liquers recommended by our waiter.

I started chatting to the waiter about his excellent command of English.  He informed me that he had spent time working in England and that he had worked for several years at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

What a surprise!  My brother-in-law (an Italian) had worked at the same hotel!  Not expecting a positive reply, I asked him if he had known my brother in law.  He gasped.  “He was my best friend in England!” They used to play football together whilst off-duty.

Unfortunately they had lost touch some eight years earlier. Needless to say I was delighted to provide him with a current address so they could once again make contact.

So what are the chances of driving nearly 1000 miles to an isolated hotel in the wilds of Spain and meeting a long-lost friend of your brother-in law?

[EDITOR: What a wonderful reconnection, and a heck of a surprise. This IS a common theme for our site in one way or another, though, with people managing to find others connected to their home town, families, or friends while traveling far from home. While it’s a big planet with a huge number of people, the number we run into regularly continually and constantly raises the odds of an encounter such as this one. Can you imagine how many people you merely walk past and never communicate with who may have just as shocking a connection but will never get the opportunity to tell it? In that sense, I’d argue it’s the mere fact that they even GOT the opportunity to learn the connection at all that’s the real surprise here. – Jarrett]

At the end of 2009 I started contract work at Current TV in Los Angeles. During my first week there the premises in which they’re located held a company Christmas party to which I was invited. I ended up having a long conversation with one individual about science fiction novels, short fiction, and Escape Pod, my favorite SF podcast. He hadn’t heard of it, but was interested in checking it out.

The following day, on my ride home, I decided it was time to start catching up on Escape Pod as some changes in my life had cut down on my podcast listening and I was a few months behind. The first story I put on was entitled Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, and as I was quickly informed by the moderator, it was (brilliantly) written by Robin Sloan… a then employee of Current TV.

So in the very same week I started work at one of my all-time favorite workplaces and had a conversation about one of my all-time favorite podcasts, both were tied inextricably together by one science fiction short story, which also immediately became one of my all-time favorites. The odds MUST be crazy…