There are 7.5 billion people in the world. With that high of a number, you think it’d be nearly impossible to have some of the encounters described below. But, sure enough, the world is pretty small after all.
These 14 Redditors shared stories of times when they realized just how small the world really was.
Read on for some truly incredible tales!
1. Old teacher
“I had a really cool teacher in 3rd grade and part of 4th. She quit teaching in the States to travel and teach around the world and came back for a visit in 6th grade. When she was leaving, she told me, ‘I’ll see you in the world someday.’ Years and years later, I was in Malaysia helping to open a call center, our local colleges were showing us around Petling street (hagglers market), and in a movie-like, crowd-parting moment, my teacher appeared, walking through the crowd. We grabbed a pot of tea from one of the stalls and my coworkers got to hear some stories about me when I was a kid before she went back off into her adventures.”
2. Since she was little
“My brother recently moved to West Palm Beach. One day, my parents and I were up there taking his son out to dinner while my brother and sister in law were at the hospital popping out another heir to the throne. We went to a restaurant across from their house, a Cuban place with great food and a lovely pianist filling the restaurant with gorgeous melodies from the island my parents and grandparents fled.
As we were finishing, my mom walked over to the lady and started to express her love and gratitude for the music they brought from her homeland. The lady asked my mom when she came from Cuba, so my mom started to tell her story and worked in how her piano playing really reminded her of my dad’s mother, my dad’s mom was a pianist and opera singer in Cuba, they talked about where my dad was born, etc.
The lady, all of a sudden, clear as a whistle, started to pinpoint the neighborhood, the house, the street and then my grandmother’s name. My mom started to cry; the lady had known my grandmother since she was little. My dad came over and the lady started to explain that she pretty much knew my dad’s entire family from Cuba and how she was so happy to hear that they made it out and safe. The lady had spent time with my grandmother and knew her pretty well. My dad told her that his mom had already passed and you could tell the lady was just content knowing that my grandmother fled and lived a long life like she was doing at that moment.
It was such a small world at that moment for us.
Years and years had passed and someone still remembers my grandmother singing in Cuba, someone that knew her personally. It was kind of beautiful.”
3. The crazy lady
“I found out like 20 years after the fact that the crazy lady who shared my ancient great-grandma’s nursing home bedroom with was my OTHER great-grandma. They didn’t know each other. The grandma from my dad’s side didn’t recognize us because there was a falling out on that side of the family when my dad was a child…and she had dementia and all that. She thought I was my father because we look similar, and that’s how she remembered him. I know literally no other things about her. The other lady was my mom’s grandma and was also ignorant of the situation because she was blind and five thousand years old.
And by sheer dumb luck, they just ended up in a city nursing home together…as roommates.”
4. I think we’ve met…
“So, like 1,000 years ago, when I was in my early 20s and barely able to make rent by myself, my little cottage apartment had been broken into and I didn’t feel safe anymore, so I went apartment hunting. I started by driving around my neighborhood (slightly sketchy, but not too bad) and spotted this For Rent sign. I whipped into the driveway and started looking for an apartment manager. I banged on doors—there were only like four apartments in this building—and this really hot guy answered his door.
He’s not the landlord, but he’d be happy to show me around and he’d take my number for the landlord. I never heard from the landlord, so I assumed this guy was hitting on me and kept my number for himself. Or he forgot all about me and tossed my number, which was what had actually happened.
Fast forward about a year and a half and I’d found some other apartment around the corner, and I was happily living there.
I popped in to the local 7-11 to pick up some smokes on my way to my second job, and this tall, funny, charming, hot guy started chatting me up. After a couple minutes, I recognized him as the dude from the apartment who I’d given my number to. This time, the guy really was hitting on me and straight up asked for my number in line at the 7-11. Romantic, eh? I shot him right down. ‘No, I will not give you my number.’
(Snickers and chuckles from the 7-11 clerk, who, I’m sure, was entertained by all this.)
‘Well, because I gave you my number about a year or so ago and you never called me, so you’re probably not really into me. I’m off to work!’
The clerk was all, ‘Aw dude, shot down in flames!’ So Hot Charming Guy followed me out to my car, where he proceeds to share his brews with me (He got a six pack at the 7-11) and gave me his number.
In the parking lot of the 7-11. I never called him because something seemed…not quite right.
Shortly thereafter, I lost my main job and moved to another state like 500 miles away and a few years after that, moved again to yet a third location a couple states away. 15 years and maybe three jobs later, after the aforementioned apartment hunt, I had a really great gig, and they sent me to Texas for training or something.
I checked into my hotel and had trouble with the wifi. The hotel had contracted with some tech support company, so if you were having trouble with wifi, you called them and didn’t bother the hotel staff with your piddly techie issues. So I was on the phone with this tech support agent and he was starting to sound really familiar to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. He was very funny and charming, especially for a tech support guy.
He laughed hard at my silly pun joke. He gave me a ticket number and his name, which was very unique and distinct and is usually a last name. Let’s say it’s Campbell. I’d never met anyone by that name, except this one time, at a 7-11…
‘Wait, did you say your name was Campbell?’
‘Did you live in [City] in the mid-90s by chance?’
‘Did you live in [Neighborhood]?’
Do I know you?’
‘Well, I think we’ve met. A couple times, actually.’
And I recalled the story of the apartment hunt and later the 7-11 encounter, and sure enough, same guy. It’s the same freaking guy.
Several dozens of phone calls and emails and whatnot later, and Campbell moved from his city to mine, four hours away. Thank all the gods he didn’t move in with me; he got a place in my neighborhood though.
We were together for about a year and I’m sorry to ruin this story by telling you he turned out to be the worst relationship of my adult life and I had to make an escape plan and bleh. It turned out awful. Someday, I shall write a fictionalized account and the end will be, ‘And then I had to kill him.’ Or perhaps that’ll be the first line, I dunno.”
5. A mutual friend
“It is a long story, but it’s totally crazy. I had my first boyfriend when I was 15/16 years old. We dated for almost three years, and today he is one of my best friends. When we were dating, we used to hang out with his and my friends, normally. He got very close to one of my high school friends, Amanda.
So, when we broke up after a few months, they (Amanda and my ex) started to date.
This really hurt me, because she was my friend and at the time, I had feelings for my ex still. But ok…
Years went by… Amanda and my ex would occasionally break up and eventually, Amanda got married to another guy. My ex and I even talked about it and agreed that we thought she was too young to get married and blah, blah, blah.
About one year ago, my ex came to me and said that Amanda was flirting with him and said that she got divorced; we talked about it a bit and let it go.
So, a few months after me and my ex had this conversation, I met a guy in a nightclub. He seemed to be very nice, we talked a lot and discovered that we were both journalists, so we had a lot in common.
We didn’t make out that night, but he added me on Facebook. On the next day, I accepted his friend request and started to look at his profile. I noticed that Amanda was a mutual friend between us, but ok. They went to the same university, nothing wrong. But, after I scrolled up little more on his profile, I noticed that they were very close to each other…
then I started to see pictures of both together and finally pictures of THEIR WEDDING DAY. This guy, totally anonymous, that I met in a nightclub, was her ex-husband. This is a REALLY small world.”
6. Neighbors in a bar
“I met my old next-door neighbor at a bar when I lived in Missouri. We had the, ‘Oh, I live on that street too,’ conversation before realizing we shared a wall in the same building.
Then I ran into him at a bar in Denver after moving here.
Small neighborhood dive.
Turns out he moved out here and lived right down the street from me.
We had never discussed moving plans.
It wasn’t even an odd talk the second time. People he was with were shocked we were so calm, but it wasn’t our first time meeting each other as neighbors in a bar.”
“I went to Rome for the first time between Christmas and New Years just for a few days before moving on to Florence. I was standing with my fiancé on the side of a street while he took a phone call. Whilst waiting, I was staring into space and subconsciously thought something seemed familiar and then suddenly I realized I was looking DIRECTLY at my ex-boyfriend, who was standing on the opposite side of the road eating a sandwich.
We had been together five years, broken up two years prior to this and hadn’t spoken to each other at all in that time as it ended on bad terms…and there he was in a different country that neither of us had visited before…
Needless to say, I got my fiancé walking away with me very quickly before my ex realized I was there.”
8. A note to his grandmother
“I have a distant family member who was a writer. Mostly poetry, but some local history too. I’ve tried to collect all of her books, but they were published in the 1940s by a little publisher (in a different state from where I live) and not that many copies exist.
I found one book that I didn’t have in the used book section of the Barnes & Noble website. Got it in the mail and right inside the front cover, the author had inscribed a note to my grandmother. My family thinks it must have mistakenly ended up in a bunch of stuff sold when my grandmother moved from her house to an assisted-living facility.
It’s still pretty cool I was able to get it back from several states away.”
9. The wrong room
“I was staying in a hotel with my parents as a teenager miles from home and we bumped into our next door neighbors.
However, how it happened is incredible.
My parents had been out for the evening while I chilled in the room.
My dad, needing to pee, came back to the hotel and found the only bathroom in the building locked, so he decided to pee in the sink in the corner of our room (it was a privately-owned, 3 room Bed & Breakfast, nothing fancy).
Suddenly, the lights came on and he turned around to see our neighbors sitting up in bed, groggy and confused.
He’d accidentally stumbled into the wrong room.
Breakfast was awkward.”
10. All he wanted was the phone
“I found a phone while out for a walk on my lunch break at school and decided to keep it. My brother stole the phone from me to use as his own (yeah I know, we should’ve started calling numbers to return the phone to its owner).
Anyway, he kept it for about a week, ignoring all incoming calls. Finally, my brother used the phone to call my dad’s friend’s shop to get ahold of my dad. My dad’s friend was a local artist. The guy proclaims it’s his phone and proceeded to describe the phone in exact detail.
All he wanted was the phone back for the contact numbers but my brother had already deleted all of them. Never felt like a bigger piece of crap.”
11. An Aussie kid
“I met someone as a kid (I was about 4) in a post office in Jersey (the country, not the state). My mum and his parents got on well and ended up going to the pub and just doing things during the day. After the holiday, I went back to Australia and we didn’t really keep in contact.
Skip forward to when I was 16.
I met this guy online who lived in Jersey, got talking and ended up becoming pretty good friends. He mentioned he remembers meeting an Aussie kid when he was young and hanging out for the day with his parents at a post office.
Turns out that was the same family and kid, crazy small world.”
“Way back in 1988, my wife and I had to fly back stateside from our Air Base in then-West Germany for Emergency Leave. While we waited for our flight to board at our Frankfurt Terminal, I sat and read the then-new Whitley Strieber ‘non-fiction’ book, ‘Transformation,’ about his further experiences with the otherworldly entities he called, ‘The Visitors.’
Just as I was settling into the third chapter, a dark shadow darkened my pages.
‘Do you read this book?’ a deep, Russian-accented voice asked.
Now, to reiterate, this was 1988. The Berlin Wall wouldn’t fall for another year and I was active duty Air Force.
Having anybody with a thick Russian accent speak to me would have been off-putting. Having that voice attached to a veritable mountain of a man didn’t make matters any better.
‘Well?’ he insisted.
was all I managed.
‘That book!’ he insisted. He made the word sound like ‘buuuck!,’ complete with an exclamation point. ‘Do you like it?’
‘Um,’ I stammered, then finally spat out, ‘It’s good for a few laughs.’
The mountain of a man spat out a laugh with all the mirth of a dragon with a dry throat. Before he could say another word, a tiny woman came up to his side.
‘I don’t like it as well as the first,’ she said.
She spoke with a thick New York accent and had a slightly hippy-dippy vibe about her. ‘It doesn’t make any sense.’
‘It’s B.S.,’ the Mountain grumbled.
‘I told him,’ the woman continued. ‘But he wouldn’t listen.’
‘Him?’ my wife asked, having sidled up beside me. ‘Do you know Whitley Strieber?’
The woman nodded enthusiastically, while the mountain just rolled his eyes. The woman introduced herself as Annie Gottlieb, while the mountain towering above us was Jacques Sandulescu.
They went on to talk about how they had been in Whitley Strieber’s cabin in upstate New York during the abduction that started Communion.
‘It looked just like daylight outside,’ Annie said, all enthusiasm.
‘It was bright,’ Jacques grumbled unimpressed.
‘But it was strange,’ Annie insisted. ‘He was right about that.’
‘He’s an idiot,’ Jacques said. ‘He’s full of crap.’
At that, both my wife and I burst out laughing, and Jaques finally cracked a smile.
After that, we had a lovely conversation with them until we boarded the plane. They made for an interesting couple in every measurable way.
Years later, we’d learn that, while Annie Gottlieb was (and remains) a respected Freelance Journalist for Harper Collins, Jacques Sandulescu had lived a life out of a Cold War spy movie.
He’d been taken as a prisoner in Romania at 16 and been pressed into service as a slave laborer in a coal mine for two years. He was injured in a coal mine collapse and escaped his slavery not merely for his freedom, but to avoid having limbs amputated.
The guy was literally larger-than-life in every single way…and I’d run into him and his life partner while reading the sequel to a book in which they had played a small but notable part.
Oh, and for the record?
‘Transformation’ was utter crap.”
“I was in a parking garage, turning a corner and a bit spaced out, and there was a backup of some sort, and I rear-ended a guy. Nothing too bad, a bit of a dent in the other bumper of an older car, but damage was done nonetheless and we traded information.
I never heard from the guy, which was much appreciated since I was just out of college, and while working full time, this would have been a major dent in my meager savings.
Fast forward about six months.
It was summer. I was in lower Manhattan, I’d just gotten off the train and was looking for a bar where I was to meet my friends. This was just before smartphones and I was having a hard time finding the small side street this place was on.
Then the skies opened up in a thunderstorm, pouring rain. I took refuge in a building entrance alcove and tried to text Google for directions (that was a thing for a period of time!), but it wasn’t working.
Exasperated, I saw a guy walking out the door in a hurry and asked if he knew where this bar was. He said, ‘Yeah, it’s just around this corner, then make a left,’ and hurried off. The encounter was over in three seconds, and I pretty much ran in that direction due to the rain and now being late, but halfway down the block, I realized the guy that gave me directions was the guy I hit in the parking garage.
Thanks, parking garage guy, you really helped out a young guy twice when he needed it.”
14. Just passing through
“I’m originally from Georgia, same as my parents, and a few years ago I was working at a hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming. It was about two hours away from the nearest major city.
It was about ten o’clock that evening and I was on the last hour of my shift when this guy towing a massive boat comes down the driveway.
He was moving up to Alaska and was moving his stuff up to Seattle to basically just sail the rest of the way to the great frontier.
We haggled the prices a bit, and since my goal is to get people in rooms and we had some vacancies left, I lowered his price a few bucks and we got to talking.
He mentioned he’s a lawyer and I mentioned that my dad was also a lawyer. He still is, but he was back then, too.
Guy asks where my dad practiced, I told him he’s barred in Georgia. A bit more back and forth, and it turns out he knew my dad when they practiced law in north Georgia.
Not together, but they flew in the same social circles.
To recap, this guy knew my dad from Georgia, and happened to stop in Sheridan at the hotel I was desking at, while he was moving to Alaska.
The experience was so unexpected I can still remember the guy’s name.”