Small world?

I was walking through LA’s Union Station after a Metrolink ride on Friday night when I saw, walking in the same direction, a familiar face, a fellow I know who grew up in Pomona and lives in LA. We hadn’t seen each other in months and stopped to chat.

On Sunday morning, I was back at Union Station after disembarking from another Metrolink trip when a fellow I know from Rancho Cucamonga came up and said hello.

What are the odds? It’s extremely rare I bump into anyone I know when in L.A., and here it happened two straight visits. What always strikes me about such random encounters is that a few seconds one way or the other and I wouldn’t have seen either of them. Another imponderable: How many people have I missed by moments?

My colleague Diana Sholley had a story that relies on timing. On vacation in Italy a few years ago, the Uplander was touring the Colosseum when she ran into the family that owns San Biagio’s Pizza in Upland. How crazy is that?

The worst random-encounter story I have, and thankfully this is second-hand rather than one I had to live through, involved a former editor of mine in Northern California. He was at O’Hare Airport when he was hailed by a local pest from back home, a guy who used to come into the newsroom frequently and waste his time. There in Chicago, with time to kill before his connecting flight, nowhere to run, he had to listen to the guy for an hour.

OK, your turn. Have you ever been far from home and run into someone you knew?

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  • steve julian

    I was walking through LA’s Union Station after an Amtrak ride on Friday night when I encountered, walking in the same direction, a familiar face, a fellow… oh, wait. I knew you looked familiar.

    • davidallen909

      Steve! Funny running into you here. Not just Union Station, but my blog.

  • Mark Allen

    After a St. Louis Blues game, a group of us were swimming the people currents on the upper concourse when I was face to face with the leader of another group of people, all of whom we knew, swimming the opposite direction. Suddenly, we were like two boulders in a rushing river as thousands of people were forced to adjust and grudgingly part to flow around us.

    I also see a sullen creature stagger into my bathroom most mornings. Then I realize it’s just my wife.

    • davidallen909


      • Mark Allen

        “Just” as in “mostly harmless.”

        And as in “not one of the countless mistresses tittering behind the door, waiting to scurry out.

  • Eric S.

    I was on an east coast trip with my wife, visiting Boston for the first time. Of course we had to check out Cheers (both of them). In the small cozy gift shop, there is only one other couple in there (mid weekday in October). The man was one of my co-workers in La Verne. Never knew that they too were going to Boston, let alone the east coast.

    • davidallen909

      OK, that made me laugh out loud. Thanks, Eric.

      I’m suddenly reminded, too, that in San Luis Obispo a few years back, while strolling downtown, I saw Pomona City Hall’s HR director. He had a second home in SLO.

  • Andy Sze

    I was in Hong Kong and ran into a friend from SoCal. My sister did the same a year earlier.

    Last weekend while at thanksgiving dinner at my cousin’s house 67 miles away in Redondo Beach, we met my cousin’s husband’s brother’s girlfriend. Turns out she lives 2 streets behind us in Terra Vista. We could have carpooled.

    • davidallen909

      Those are both pretty good, Andy, with the last one having the most practical impact. Maybe you can carpool next year.

  • Doug Evans

    My story! In 1992, my brother and I, in the course of a backpacking through Europe trip, were in York, England, checking out a book store. My brother said he was going to head back to our bed and breakfast for a nap; I decided to stick around the book store a little more. When I finally headed for home, I found the route we had taken blocked due to an outdoor flower market, so I took a parallel route one street over. Halfway down the street, a voice yells, “Doug!” It was two college friends, with whom I had just graduated a couple of weeks earlier. Had no idea they were going to Europe, let alone York… if I hadn’t hung around the book store a little longer, or if the flower market hadn’t changed my planned route, I would have no story to share here. As you wrote in your column, how many other coincidences have I *not* had but just missed by moments?

    • davidallen909

      The road not taken would not lead you to your college friends!

  • Doug Evans

    Another story, though not quite a coincidence: I once shook Steve Julian’s hand in the KPCC studios! OK, not a coincidence at all, but it was kind of cool! (Assuming this is *that* Steve Julian.)

    • davidallen909

      This is “that” Steve Julian. And that is “this” Steve Julian.

  • SAWZ

    Many years ago, our neighbors and we took our families on separate RV trips to N. CA–we did not travel together and we did not compare itineraries. About a week after we had been on the road, traveling by day and stopping where we could find a park with campsites at night, we were driving through the small town of Calistoga in the wine country, when we stopped at an intersection. When we crossed, we noticed that the vehicle crossing from the opposite direction, contained our neighbors.

    • davidallen909

      Good thing you didn’t collide with them in your mutual surprise!