Coincidental encounters

Despite my painful memory to my last youth camp and the insurance troubles, I had not lost my enthousiasm for the organisation. I had reached the age that I could start taking courses to become one of their youth leaders, helping organise camps and guide children on a summer camp.

I was thrown in front of a group of 14 year olds on a camp in Switserland (don't worry, together with more experienced leaders!). We danced, we sang, we played ball games, went swimming, ...but most of all we hiked in the mountains. Not all 14 year olds are that excited about hiking, nevertheless the highlight of the 10 days is a 2 day hike with an overnight stay in a cabin at the top of one of the nearby mountains. These were sometimes private owned, but other ones were occupied by students doing a summer job for the same organisation, responsible for taking care of the cabin and receiving the hungry teenagers.

Every 5 days they could come down to the valley for.. I don't even know get some social contact maybe and a day off? Apperently they were down in the vacation center when I was teaching all the kids our 'camp dance' on one of the first days. Afterwards they were teasing me that one of them would have really been watching me. No big deal, they were trying to match us with every male in the neighbourhood, so I did not pay much attention to their words. Although I did ask more specifically which of the guys it was :p. Anyway...I had been too busy teaching a dance for 140 kids for the first time to notice any additional fans. Fortunately, it was hard enough as it was, to battle my nerves. But I did well. It was only a bit embarrasing that later on that day my group started singing very loudly an existing child song about a gnome with his name ...each time he walked by. Grrr nasty little buggers! Fortunately my group did not go and stay in "his cabin"!

His vacation period was over at the same moment as ours, so he actually had to go back to Belgium with the same train. You can imagine what my team was singing on the platform while waiting for the train...and again when we had to change for the chartered international train in the next city. I tried to make them stop singing when he was in the neighbourhood, but that only stimulated them even more.

So once we were well on the road and my troup was more or less behaving themselves in the assigned compartiment, I walked through the train to search him to appologise for my inpolite bunch of kids singing that mocking song. Yes he had noticed that. He wasn't too happy with the song either, but he didn't seem upset about it. We talked a bit, I learned about his student job up in the mountains and what he was studying at university etc...Some polite chit-chat and then I really had to go back to my group.

----(insert some unfosed images and make a very soap opera like jump in time!) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After university I joined a big international consulting firm which has a constant need of fresh flesh. The economy was booming big time, the e-bubble was about to explode but we were all still ignorant about that and the company was hiring half an army of freshly graduated unexperienced known-alls. I was one of them :p. We all stuck together in this world of suits, we started general training, we went out for lunch together in the big jungle of our capital, etc... After a couple of weeks we were sent for training to Chicago so we could learn how great and fantastic our company was. Obviously we were the best and we'd achieve spectacular results.

There was another plane having technical difficulties, so our flight got filled up until the last seat. We could sit closeby each other, but not next to each other. One colleague hadn't shown up. She was very precise but nobody had seen her at check-in or at the gate and we could not reach her anymore by phone. We had waited as long as possible to board, but at one point we could not wait anymore. She'd show up in Chicago 24 hours later with an incredible soap opera story of her own ...that I should maybe steal and fictionise and post another time. But anyway, while boarding, we had no clue where she was. Obviously we were talking with each other and signalling while we were making up scenario's of what could have happened. And as soon as the seatbelt signs were off, we ran through the plane to look for her...but she was not on the plane.

When walking through the plane I had caught someone staring at us and later on I had the impression that this man was actually listening to our conversations as well. This annoyed me. Couldn't he mind his own business? Yes I know we were talking across rows sometimes or walking around, but that wasn't an excuse to openly listen along! Once I had noticed this, I started feeling eyes in my neck and I couldn't help sending an annoyed look backwards. Finally he asked us whether we were going to this training. Yes we did. It turned out that he had joined our company a couple of days after us and he had seen us in the office. But we had been too busy with our little group to notice him.

We introduced ourselves and at the moment he said his name and his hometown, I exclaimed "Yes and you were in a cabin in Switserland in '95 and you studied x". I had said that out loud before I even conciously realised recognising him. We both looked at each other in astonishment! "yes I did" he stumbled.

Talk about a coincidental encounter! Funny thing is that he would have never ever recognised me. So if I hadn't, we would have been colleagues and we would have known each other but we would have never realised that this was in fact our second encounter. By coincidence, we also left the firm in the same month. In the mean time, we became faithful lunch buddies if we were both in the office and good allies in a sometimes challenging work environment. We kept in touch online and it became a sport to fool each other with strong made-up stories...and we still do sometimes.

If a soap opera would make up such a "coincidence" with charachters from the past showing up again, I'd say it was a bit too far stretched. But hey, sometimes reality can beat fiction.

If you want to read more soap opera stories, check out Brillig or walking kateastrophe, to find other participants.


Hee-hee "little buggers...."

But how wild you met up again years later!!
anno said…
Pretty remarkable story! My mother-in-law just ran into someone who recognized her from high school more than 60 years ago! And then she ran into him again two months later!
Kateastrophe said…
I love crazy blast from the past chance meetings!

What a great story!!
Brillig said…
It makes you wonder how often you do share a space with someone you knew before, without making the connection! I love that you remembered him, and that you blurted it out before thinking!!! hahaha. He must have been stunned! Great story!
Jenn in Holland said…
Oh, Goofball, that is just great! What an incredible coincidence for sure.
I could just hear the soapy music playing in the background....
Jen said…
I love coincidences like this! That's so cool. So, are you two still in touch?
Dedee said…
Coincidence? It's the stuff that makes life bearable. Who'd have thought!
Summer said…
I've heard it said that coincidences are God's way of staying anonymous.
Goofball said…
@SMID: yes little buggers indeed.

@anno: the world can sometimes be unexpectedly small! Aren't they fun?

@brillig: yes exactly it makes me wonder sometimes when being in a crowd "would that person in front of me one day be a future colleage" "would I meat this crazy girl next to me again one day on vacation" etc... I am sure it often happens without knowing!

@jen: yes we are still in touch, mainly by chat though. Somehow we cannot get our agenda's to match, but one day we will. I had recently blogged about him as he was trying to set me up in a make-up story again. Follow the link.

@summer: oh I love that quote! what a great thought!!!

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