Monday, November 20, 2006

It’s a small world — really

After only a few months on my job at Capital Press in 2003, I received a visitor one day in my office.

It was a farmer from Saskatchewan, the province in Canada I had called home for the majority of my life.

Ernie Bittner had come to visit his sister in Keizer, Ore. and decided to bring along a copy of The Western Producer, the former newspaper I had worked at in Saskatoon, Sask. The newspaper in many ways is the equivalent to Capital Press here in the Western U.S.: both newspapers serve the majority of Western farmers and ranchers, only on different sides of the border. Each newspaper has high standards of quality to meet the expectations of readers, and have earned farmers calling each of those newspapers “the farmer’s bible.”

Bittner, reading his Western Producer in 2003, had seen that I had moved to Oregon to work for the Capital Press. His sister in Keizer received the Capital Press and saw a story that I had formerly worked at The Western Producer.

It was a joy to talk to a farmer from my home province and to get that copy of a familiar newspaper I had grown up with for so many years.

As Bittner chatted with me that time, I asked where in Saskatchewan was home for him.

At first he wasn’t sure if I would know the place.

“Carrot River,” he said, starting to explain where it was.

“Why, I have relatives that live in Carrot River,” I exclaimed. “But I’m not sure if you would know them.”

I gave the name of a woman related to my father.

There was a pause. Bittner chuckled. Sure he knew her. Why, they went for coffee practically every second day together! Knew the family well. Just never realized I was related to her.

I told him to pass a hi to her when he returned home.

Today one of the people here at Capital Press dropped off a plastic package of newspaper clippings, mainly from The Western Producer. I grinned, knowing who must have delivered them.

Sure enough, Bittner phoned in the afternoon. He’s in town to visit his sister for a couple of weeks in Keizer, and is spending Thanksgiving with her.

As I had a nice chat with him on the phone, Bittner added that my relatives passed along a big hello.

It definitely is a small world.

It reminded me of another example from a few years ago where I was taught how small this world could be at times.

A close friend of mine from university had decided to take an extended period of time to travel Australia. She was walking on a beach one day along the eastern coast of Australia when she saw one person walking on that beach towards her — wearing the familiar jacket of the university we had attended in Saskatchewan. Eager to talk to someone who was from Canada, and even the same province and university, she went over to talk to this stranger.

And then she realized he looked familiar. Why, yes, she was positive she had met him before.

As the two stood there talking on the Australian beach, trying to figure out how they knew each other, it finally struck them. They did have something in common, and they finally remembered how they had met in the past.

They both knew … me. One day at the university, years before, I had introduced them to each other.

My friend wrote me a letter later talking about how bizarre life can be to find herself talking to a guy in Australia about me.

Surely I can’t be the only one experiencing the “it’s a small world” syndrome.

I look forward to hearing from others about their experiences.

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