What are the Odds of This Happening?

Originally published on October 19, 2008.

I had one of those totally surreal experiences right out of a Meg Ryan movie on Wednesday. First of all I was having very good parking karma that day, being that I had run over my 90-minute meter by 57 minutes by the time I left work, and there was no yellow envelope to be found on my window when I got back to my car. Sweet!

I had finished work a little early and I decided to stop by Cabana Boy’s loft before heading home to pick up the kids from school. I drove the short distance from work to his loft in The Pearl and found a parking space right in front of his building. I fed the meter and fished in my purse for the keys to the front door of the building. Let me just say that my keys only work about 50% of the time because the lock on the front door seems to be stripped, and I usually struggle for a few minutes before someone with an electronic keycard comes or goes, and I slip through the door behind them.

Today was no different.

I put the shiny silver key into the lock and started jiggling it to see if I could get it to catch the pins. I’ve figured out that if I pull the key back just a hair it sometimes works, but not today.

I heard a voice behind me say, “You have an envelope stuck to your purse.”

I turned and looked and sure enough, one of the many sticky parking meter stickers floating around my car had found its way to an envelope and then my purse. Lovely.

I looked at the guy and thanked him as I pulled the envelope and parking sticker from my purse.

“Oh my God!” he said, with a huge smile on his face. “You don’t recognize me, do you?”

I immediately started scrolling through the list of faces from my 50 first dates of Match.com, eHarmony, craigslist, etc. Nothing registered.

“No, I’m sorry I don’t recognize you,” I said, just waiting for the embarrassing part that was bound to come next. “Who are you?”

“Sam S*****!”

“No way!” I screamed, as I immediately recognized this slightly older version of this guy I once knew. “But, wait, what? You live in Portland?” I said, completely flabbergasted. Was I on an episode of Punk’d?

“I live in the building,” he said.

“No way!” I said in disbelief. “I don’t believe this. Hey, can you let me in? My key never works.”

We walked in together. He told me about his wife who is expecting twins in January. We exchanged business cards. He got off on the 4th floor, I on the 5th. When I arrived at Cabana Boy’s loft I walked into the kitchen with my mouth hanging open and said, “You are never going to believe what just happened to me in front of your building.”

You see Sam was my boyfriend when I went to University of New Hampshire in 1983! I haven’t seen or been in touch with him since about 1988!

This has to be the most unbelievable case of “small world” that I have ever experienced. Second runner up is when I was walking out into the surf in Puerto Vallarta, turned to my left, and saw my next-door neighbor from my childhood neighborhood.

Have you ever had an incredible small world experience like this?

Sidenote: I was a senior and 21 when I exchanged to New Hampshire for a semester, and Sam was a freshman (save the cradle robber jokes!). We met ..-in day at the dorm. I got written up on my very first day in the dorm because I was drinking in his room with he and his roommates and they were all minors!

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