It really is at times a very small world.

I am attending two conferences this week, the IAIABC 99th Annual Conference in San Diego, and the California Workers’ Comp and Risk Conference in Dana Point. Fortunately they are only an hour or so from each other in Southern California, so I could reach both of them with a single flight to Orange County. 

I often strike up conversations with seat mates when I fly. It is interesting learning who is sitting next to you, as well as what makes them unique from every other person you have met in similar circumstances. I’ve even been known to blog about these encounters, when conditions inspire me to do so. Monday’s trip out here, however, was the most unique experience of all. It turns out I already knew the person I was sitting next to.

We met on an Air Tran flight last month. We were sitting together then, too. What are the odds?

In August I flew to Pensacola to speak at the Alabama Self Insurers Association Annual Conference. I sat next to a fellow named Don, who in addition to being a lighting engineer for various news stations around the country, owns a well known “Christmas House” near Lakeland, Florida. It was an odd feeling when he showed me a video of his home. I had seen it before. 

The video, displaying 65,000 Christmas lights timed to music piped through outdoor speakers for viewers entertainment, went viral last year. It had been emailed to me by an acquaintance (I found a short version on YouTube here). Don told me this year he is planning to hang 90,000 lights, and the ABC morning show Good Morning America (for whom he used to work) is scheduled to do a segment on his display December 3rd.  

At the end of the flight we wished each other well, and went on our way, never to cross paths again. Or so I thought.

As I boarded my Southwest flight Monday on my first leg to Denver, I headed to my preferred aisle seat on the exit row, only to find Don sitting in it (that bastard). I recognized him, and was a bit surprised at the coincidence. I took the window, and the discussion picked up where it left off last month. 

Reflecting on this, I suppose it is a good thing that I do not go out of my way to annoy, harass, intimidate or offend my seat mates when I fly. It is clear that we may cross paths  again in the future, and it is always advisable to leave strangers with a positive impression. Probably good advice for life in general.

Unless you’re a blogger who seems to have a knack at offending people. But I digress….

This time around he asked if I was going to come up and see his house at Christmas. I guess I had better do that. No doubt I’m going to run into him again, and I’d hate to have to lie about a thing like that. 

Life’s too short, and the world is too small to alienate your seat mates.

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