Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's a small world.

I remember my dad meeting people in downtown Little Rock. They would start talking and low and behold they both new someone who was from Cleveland County. The conversation would end with, “it’s small world.”

We have all experienced it. We meet someone and then it turns out that they used to date someone we dated or their kids played baseball with our kids. In the education world it often plays out as, “I taught his sister, uncle or even his dad!”

There was a point in my life when I had this strategy called the “Three Year Plan”. I was not going to live any place for longer than three years. Kind of like a “stable gypsy”. Well that fell along the wayside when I found myself in the upper Midwest. I was married and having kids and had worked in the same spot for 10 years.

Since that time I have divorced and remarried, had no more kids, but acquired some new ones by other means. Now I find myself having completed another 10 years in the same school. Some kids I taught in previous jobs now have jobs in my school district. And some of my students’ parents had me as a teacher when I was “north of US highway 30”. Now I am south of US 30.

I used to think it was a small world too. But, now I think it is an age thing. You reach a point in life when you’re so old that the odds that you are going to meet someone that knows someone you know or are related to you in some other way increases. I mean the world is the same size it has always been. The only difference is that you have been in it a lot longer. The probability of association with something familiar increases with the number of years that you live. This is even more the case if you remain in the same relative region for some time. Of course the probability also increases as the people in your “old” region get older and move to new regions, say your region.

The other day the professors from the local college that places students in our school for field experiences came to talk with the teachers. There was a new professor who was from Arkansas, an Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State grad. I introduced the new prof. to the faculty my playing the Razorback fight song from one of those Razorback heads that you hit on the table.

Later as I showed the professors around one commented about how one of the teachers had taught their son. Then she made THE comment, “it’s a small world”. I replied, I used to think that too, but now I think it is a result of getting old and the probabilities of meeting someone related to you in some way increases.

Sounds like a negative take on a positive thing, kind of like spoiling someone’s déjà vu. Actually, I don’t think it is THAT bad. I enjoy being old enough to experience these types of connections.


Blogger gawilli said...

The only thing missing here is "Woooooooooooo PIG, Souieeeee"!

8:09 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Very funny response Gawilli.

Since Daddy D and I are displaced people too, I always am excited to meet somebody from the hometown. However, we are not as far from "home" as you, Willi. Also, I have come to call this place with no street lights or sidewalks, home.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I agree somewhat with this. But, also people are so mobile these days. And people move so much to try and say employeed as companies close down and move around too.

I recently had an interview in Iowa and the recruiter that set it up was telling about how he used to fish in the White River near me when he was a kid and visiting relatives in this area. He lives in Delaware now. And the person who interviewed me said her inlaws live in Rogers and she's been through here.

So, I am still pretty much amazed to hear from people who live so far away that they know where this little town is.

9:47 AM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Yes, it must be the length of living on the planet that produces the knowledge of more people and thus the resulting network. For sure, the area of the earth has not changed. Oh, there are different land masses over time and then the area will change. The result would be a change in population density. However, such land mass changes would be over (hopefully) more time than a life time. It seems that the saying must be due to the number of possible contacts because the earth's size during a finite time frame is constant.

4:30 PM  
Blogger willi said...

Good point Jay. The society does seem to be more mobile and the state of the economy and work situation is a large contributed.

Being from Arkansas you also must factor in the role of retirement. With Arkansas being a popular retirement spot for Midwesterners you usually find people who know about little towns such as Harrison.

Another factor from decades ago was the job offerings of the steel mills. There are lots of people in Northwest Indiana that were originally from Arkansas.

9:12 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

I have to say this evening that technology has made the world much smaller - in the last hour I have exchanged thoughts in England, Scotland and Australia. Pretty cool.

9:12 PM  

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