Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Ebb & Flow

Okay, let's go back in time: San Francisco, August, 2001.

For a long time I've been fascinated by the transient nature of the relationships we form throughout our daily lives. You find this curious phenomenon in most service oriented careers. For instance, in my job as a nurse anesthetist I've met and conversed with 10s of thousands of people and can recall only a tiny spattering of those encounters. I think that's to be expected.

Blogged has intensified my curiosity about the ebb and flow of relationships, i.e. friendships, acquaintances, and the effect of one time encounters, even lurkers who show show up consistently on your site meter. I wonder if there is a rhyme or reason to these encounters or if they are truly like ships passing in the night with little to no effect on our lives. Bloggers, unless you've experienced the rare personal effort to meet some, are basically a name and perhaps a photograph (not necessarily a picture of the writer) that communicates with you electronically across the internet and can vaporize into obscurity at a whim.

What, pray tell, you say, has this to do with San Francisco, 2001?

While mulling this wonderment over in my cluttered mind a day or two ago I was reminded of an encounter that occurred at a meeting I was attending, and how strange I found it to be on later reflection and how much like some blogging encounters I've experienced in the last two years.

I was at the Moscone convention center in the heart of San Francisco. Having arrived few minutes early, as is my custom, there were only a few other people there. The business session was going to begin in a half hour or so. Entering the huge meeting room where some 3000 or more chairs sat empty awaiting the arrival of my compatriots, I choose to sit on the near side and noticed in passing that there were no other people sitting on this side. Further to the front and on the other side was a group of attendees from my New York delegation, but I chose not to join them and sat down to peruse my hand outs and get a perfunctory idea of what was to transpire shortly.

An attractive dark haired woman approached me and asked in that sultry, Georgia peach type southern accent, if I minded if she sat in the chair next to me. I glance around and think, Ahh, excuse me there are 1500 empty chairs and you want to sit next to me....WTF. however I said; "why no young lady please, have a seat." And as she did so I examined her face more closely to see if I could discern whether this was a person I should know from a previous meeting, but alas no, my mind drew a blank.

We exchanged the usual pleasantries; where are you froms and so on. It turns out that she was from Alabama , not Georgia. I asked her where abouts in Alabama and she said, Birmingham. I thought and said "wow, what a coincidence"; "A good friend and classmate of mine from anesthesia school works in Birmingham". She inquired as to his name and did I know at which hospital he might work. It turns out that not only did she know him, he was her supervisor on the heart team. We continued to chat until the session got underway and then she left to join up with her group. I've never encountered her again, neither there at the meeting nor since.

Curious don't you think?

7 Comments:

Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

That reminds me of my son giving us an example of how small NZ is and how overseas people would be forgiven for thinking we all know each other! (our pop. after all is only four million.)
While visiting Osaka, he was introduced to another kiwi he didn't know but it took them less than one minute flat to work out a person here in Dunedin who they both knew! The Japanese person who introduced them was mightily impressed!

6:25 AM  
Blogger paisley said...

i know exactly the preponderance that accompanies this post,, as i too find myself wondering about such things,, i do not have any formal belief system in place,, but i cannot help but wonder if many of us have not transacted on another plane in some way... excellent post.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Of course, there's always that six degrees of separation theory - which means that the world is actually a lot smaller than we think.

Also, Rel, I do believe that most everything in our lives is ephemeral - such as the encounter you described in this post.

8:18 AM  
Blogger jason evans said...

Connections like axons and dendrites. Sparks of electricity here and gone, yet forming the ghosts of pathways.

4:27 PM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Ah, the mysterious dark-haired beauty.... who was she, and where did she go?

Yes, these chance meeting are strange and wonderful and weird.

5:15 PM  
Blogger jadey said...

Hey there Rel,

I think that there are reasons sometimes that we meet some people just once and then never again. I think they do have an impact on us to what degree I guess that depends on what we make of it. It think it is very cool that you got to meet someone who works that closely to one of your close friends. Great post.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Churlita said...

That is weird. Some people are just friendly and want to meet others. When I'm traveling, as a woman I'm pretty careful not to just approach someone and sit right next to them. But everyone's different.

3:40 PM  

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