Service of a Small World

February 6th, 2017

Categories: Coincidence, Small World

228 East 45th Street lobby

228 East 45th Street lobby

Manhattan had 450 million square feet of office space according to a September 2015 article in Who needs a statistic: Look around and you see plenty of offices. So was I surprised when I noticed two people who also work in my innocuous 18 story office building [photo above] who lived in apartment houses I once lived in. By NYC standards, with from 19 to 30 apartments, they are considered small.

I mentioned this coincidence to friend and colleague David Reich, who was born, brought up in and still lives in the small Westchester community of Mount Vernon. His wife Roz marvels at the number of people they meet—from Maine to California—each with roots in this tiny city, population 67,292 as of the 2010 census.

Such happenstances haven’t often occurred to me. I was a kid on a vaporetto in Venice with my mother when she waved at a woman I’d never before seen. I think she was a distant cousin and the fluke had such an impact on me that I remember she was tall, wore her dark hair in a large bun at her neck and had a speech disorder as she was deaf, but not her name.

Have you experienced this kind of happy coincidence?

Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Service of a Small World”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    Oh yes, Jeanne, I’ve had this happen on a couple of occasions. We discovered when volunteering at a church clothing sale a few years ago that a fellow worker not only was a neighbor in the church vicinity but also had a home in the same tiny hamlet on Lake George that we summered in, some 225 miles away. We became good friends, and when we decided recently to sell our house and move to a co-op, it was her apartment that we bought!
    Also a year ago we were on a cruise and by chance met a couple from L.A. when we were touring Malaga. After the usual “Where are you from?” questions, we discovered that Terri, the wife, grew up in Mt. Vernon, our home town; went to Fordham where she met Dom, her husband; and connected with us this fall for dinner when they were in NYC for a business meeting. All were great experiences.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What wonderful stories! How LUCKY it was for the church neighbor to sell her apartment to you–or was it?! You both lived in the neighborhood of the same church and summered in the same tiny hamlet and therefore appreciated the same places. No surprise you loved her apartment.

    As for Mount Vernon, clearly people from this town–the same as David’s–get around!

  3. DManzaluni Said:

    I once struck up a conversation with a man across the table at a beautiful ceremonial dinner in a mansion house in Singapore, only to find that he lived a few hundred metres away from my home; scratching the surface a bit further, he was a distant cousin of a branch of my family situated about 8 hours to the north of where we lived!

  4. Lucrezia Said:

    An unknown and fine card player turned up at a rubber bridge club a while back. Curious, I asked the director who this person was, only to be told he was X——, a relative I hadn’t seen for years.

    Sadly enough for the club, not to speak of friends and family, he died shortly after.

  5. ASK Said:

    Once, when touring the JP Stevens showroom (Remember when all the bed linen companies had huge offices and showrooms in NYC?), I was introduced to their merchandising manager. The first words out of my mouth? “Good grief, you live in my co-op!” And he did, one floor below me.

    Another time was more exotic…on a train to Luxor, Egypt, the man behind me who was getting off with his wife, turned out to be a French p. r. client from NYC. We were both stunned at the chance meeting. What were the odds?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Amazing! And you had to go to Singapore to meet him. Thrilling really. And you’re related besides! This sounds like the start of a fascinating book.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A shame you met him again so late in his life. Such reencounters are startling in any case.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I represented Burlington House Draperies in the day and it also had a gigantic showroom. They were something. The designers who transformed them market after market were creative and talented and those who designed the products were as well.

    FUNNY to live so close to someone and not know anything about them until you see them in a different context. That’s the New York metro area for you.

    The Luxor train meeting with a French client from NY was incredible! What an unforgettable thrill and a global one for sure!

  9. hb Said:

    Perhaps because I spent most of my life travelling or living abroad, I’ve had chance encounters like this occur with surprising frequency, sometimes with long lasting consequences. I’ll give two examples.

    Recently my wife and I visited the Frick, my favorite art gallery in the world. Being there, brought back memories of another visit there during the late 1960s during which I stumbled across someone I had known slightly and liked in Washington, D.C. a decade or more before. He had greeted me warmly and told me that he had just moved to New York to be an assistant curator at the museum. We exchanged telephone numbers and addresses, and I looked forward to getting together with him, but for some reason, never did. Given my considerable interest in art, who knows where this might have led, had I followed up.

    A few years later, I was living in Mexico City and walking down the Paseo de la Reforma, when I heard my name yelled out by someone in back of me. It turned out to be Tony Mayer, my closest friend from school when we were both just 13, who had just moved to Mexico to be Editor in Chief of Life in Espanol. We had not seen each other in many years, but made up for it there. Subsequently, we both returned to New York, Tony, after his magazine closed, to become Advertising VP of Life Magazine. After that magazine also failed, he joined a prominent recruiting firm and our paths crossed regularly, once much to my benefit. He died tragically in an automobile accident, 4th of July weekend, 1980.

Leave a Reply