Serendipity: The Redux

This is Drew Meyers.

Mrs. Pa's Smoothies, Chiang Mai

Strango smoothies at Mrs. Pa’s, in Chiang Mai

I met him in Chiang Mai, along with the usual suspects of smoothie-imbibing. We’re actually drinking strango smoothies (strawberry mango),  my favourite flavour, and are seated at Mrs. Pa’s smoothie cart near the Chiang Mai gate. He was staying at Smith Residence and quickly became friends with the random group of misfits that were living in Chiang Mai earlier this year. He was looking to build out a new business in the following months, and used his time in town to ask questions (and eat well.)

As one does.

This is Scott McLeod.

Scott McLeod in Bali

Scott McLeod in Bali

Several years ago, I was in the Kuwait airport on a layover back to New York. I was heading back to surprise my family for the holidays, and the cheapest fares were via Kuwait. The long layover notwithstanding, it seemed like a good idea. Until I got the hiccups.

The Kuwait airport is already a fairly obtrusive place to be a 5 ft tall white lady. While I didn’t have my head covered, I did wear loose pants and a loose sweater and looped my scarf around my neck and torso to cover as much more as I could. It didn’t stop the stares and glares, half of which seemed curious, and the other half slightly less friendly. I then got the hiccups, which completely ruined my “stay in the corner quietly” plan because there is nothing quiet about my hiccups. In fact, I got kicked out of class in high school because they were so distracting, something my teacher characterized as a “cross between a cow in heat and a dinosaur.” *  His words, not mine.

A few minutes into my hiccuping I tweeted something about how I was already getting stared at, and now I was definitely getting attention because it had been quite awhile and my hiccups (my awkward, awkward hiccups) were not going away.

Next thing I know, a young guy walks up to say “Hi, are you legalnomads?” His name was Scott and he was on the same anxiously long layover as me, except he was with his family. With so much time to kill, he did a Twitter search for people tweeting from or about the Kuwait airport so that he could see who was there. As the only person hiccuping awkwardly in a corner, clearly he figured out who I was.

The rest of the layover went more quickly. I met his family, we talked social media and business entrepreneurship, we boarded our respective flights. In the last few years, save for a tweet or two I haven’t heard much from him. Until yesterday, when he tweeted a hello.

It turns out Scott is in Bali. And Drew, he is also in Bali. So of course, I put them in touch thinking my random hiccup-saviour should meet my smoothie-loving friend, especially since both are from the Pacific Northwest.

Well, it turns out that not only do they know each other, but they were sitting right next to each other while I tweeted at them.

I asked for a picture for proof and got one.

Mind, blown.

* * *

This is not the first story of serendipity that I’ve shared on the site. Long-term readers might recall my post from 2008 of climbing on the Great Wall of China and sneaking a sleepover on a crumbling, closed part of the wall near Jiankou, only to have later discovered that a Twitter acquaintance was there the very next morning, and that I was in her photoset from the trip, sleeping in the turrets. I finally had the pleasure of meeting that Twitter acquaintance, Helen, in London, in late 2011. A former food and travel writer, we swapped stories over coffee and marvelled at the randomness of our eventual encounter. For people who asked who I was meeting for coffee that day in London, I could only shake my head and say, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Me and Helen, @foodieguide

Me and Helen, @foodieguide.

I told Helen’s story at the same time as I told my equally surprising tale of corresponding with a gentleman in Antarctica that I had actually met in Indonesia months prior, of course during a lunch of pumpkin curry. And then there was the wonderful email from Legal Nomads reader Azita, who found my photo of her love lock from Montevideo and wrote to tell me the story of her relationship. Of course, I had to share it here.

Interspersed within these larger stories of small worldness are the tiny and important connections between people, forged during travels or during a long travel day.

I’m sharing this new tale of serendipity because it is an excellent reminder of life’s tiny joys, the infinitesimal flashes that lead to new friendships and smiles. Or as someone noted on Twitter yesterday when I tweeted out the Drew/Scott connection:

@ Those little chance encounters always seem to add up in the most amazing ways when you let them

And from Scott himself:

@ Serendipity works in our favor in this small world :)
@realscottmcleod
Scott McLeod

Absolutely.

-Jodi

* Thank you to Alex Berger for supplying me with a ridiculous photo illustrating precisely what my hiccups might sound like: