A few weeks ago, just after returning from our spring break trip to St. Martin, I met another office tenant at the entrance to our building. I had sandals on. He wore a t-shirt. Both of us were a season ahead of Boston spring. He shook his head as he held the door for me. “Wow, I am ready for warmer weather! I was in the Southern Caribbean last week and it was a lot different than this!”
“Really?! I was in St. Martin last week; I know what you mean!”
“Oh yeah? We have a time share in St. Martin, but this trip we took our whole family – 11 of us total – on a cruise. We were only on St. Martin the last day of the trip.” He had silver hair and was a generation older than me.
“Which resort is home?”
“I know exactly where that is: in Simpson Bay. We stayed just down the road from there.”
“Yes! We love it, especially the Buccaneer Beach Bar.”
“That was our favorite place; our sons loved swimming there while we waited for lunch. We ate at the Buccaneer several times.” How cool was this chance meeting?!?!
“My wife and I took our family to the Buccaneer before flying out that evening; I wanted them to see our time-share and Simpson Bay. We had my son and his wife and my 9-year-old grand-daughter. My daughter, her husband…”
My mind hit a bit of an electric zinger and lost track of his dialogue. He was wearing a t-shirt from St. Martin’s American Cup Yacht Race. I looked again at his silver hair and glasses. He spoke confidently and was friendly.
“Excuse me,” I interrupted, “when did you say you went to the Buccaneer?”
“Saturday, before we flew out.”
“You were there at lunch time,” I explained, leaning in a bit like I was pulling a vision out of the air. “I saw you and your family. Your grand-daughter didn’t look very happy; she had her head down on the table. Your family sat near the bar. We sat right behind you. And you were wearing this shirt!”
“You are kidding me?!?! Yes! My grand-daughter got hit in the nose with the cab door. She had a bloody nose; poor thing, she really felt rough.” Blink. Blink.
I replied. Blink. Blink. “And you ran into a client of yours with his wife, near the bar, and you introduced them to your family.” And now, I realized how I must have sounded. “Oh my goodness! I’m not an eavesdropper, really! But I do like to people watch.”
We were both awed by these chance happenings: that we were in the same place in the Caribbean and that we happened to enter our office building at the same time, having never before met.
I’m left pondering...
First, I think chance encounters and human in-person connections like this are declining because of the advent of ear buds and iThings. If either of us had been so connected to a gadget this story wouldn’t be. _The coincidence wouldn’t have happened._ Of course the argument could be made that more “meeting” is happening via social media. However, this one involved eye contact.
Second, I now firmly acknowledge that people watching is a hobby of mine. Sometimes sitting in a public place I may take a book with me, but if the area is filled with people, I don’t read. I watch. This makes me think back to one of my favorite classes I took in college: Sociology. I wonder what I would be doing if I had majored in Soc?
Hmm, perhaps sitting right here writing stories about people and places.