What are the Chances???

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On my trip to Bogota, last week, I had something happen to me that was 1 in a million or possibly 1 in a billion. I was absolutely awful at statistics in school, so I will leave the exact probability up to someone in the field.

I work for a small, US based, manufacturer. We have been owned and run by the same family for over 60 years. We have approximately 200 employees split evenly between Pittsburgh and California. We have only two employees that work from remote locations in Florida, and Argentina. The two remote employees do not interact at all as they work in different divisions of the business.

What are the chances that these two employees would run into each other at the same hotel in Bogota? Not the Marriott. Not the Sofitel. Not the Sheraton. In fact, not any chain hotel but a small boutique with only 52 rooms. Before last week, I would have guessed that this would be impossible.

I am the Export Manager for my company, live in Florida and cover around 100 countries for the retail side of our business. Our Commercial Division Manager lives in Argentina and covers all of Latin America for the professional side of our business. As I came off the elevator in the Hotel Le Manoir, last Thursday, I heard someone call my name. I stopped dead in my tracks and swiveled on a dime. The look on my face must have been classic. We spoke for about 2 minutes and then departed for our separate meetings.


I started thinking, this sort of freak run in must happen to other road warriors. It begs me to ask the question, who have you run into, thousands of miles away, that completely floored you? An old high school fling? A childhood friend? An old boss?

I’m interested to see your responses, or if I’m the only freak that thinks this was worth writing about!


The Captain is an American Airlines Ex Platinum, whose work as an Export Manger, takes him to places far and many times remote. From Guyana to Palestine to UAE to Trinidad and everywhere in between, he loves to dive head first into the local culture though food, music, politics and traditions. Boarding Area readers will be able to take the magical journey, along with the Captain, through his words and pictures on Points, Miles and Martinis.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About aromas and rum

The Captain is an American Airlines Ex Platinum, whose work as an Export Manger, takes him to places far and many times remote. From Guyana to Palestine to UAE to Trinidad and everywhere in between, he loves to dive head first into the local culture though food, music, politics and traditions. Boarding Area readers will be able to take the magical journey, along with the Captain, through his words and pictures on Points, Miles and Martinis.

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  1. Are meeting venues reserved centrally through some department in the company? If yes, that would increase your chances of running into one another significantly. If not, then it was indeed a very rare incident.

  2. I grew up in England and in the 60s and early 70s I worked in many bands. From 70 to 72 I worked as a singer guitarist in a night club band in the north of England.

    In 1972, I went back to my day job amd moved to Montego Bay to work as a construction manager. One day at the bar at Docor’s Cave Beach, a guy came up to me and told me that he knew me because he used to see me play every Friday at the night club when he went out with his wife.

  3. No. Not at all. We don’t have any centralized travel agent or calendar. I booked my hotel on Hotels.com and he used some Argentinian travel site.

  4. It didn’t happen to me but my brother in law who lives in NM was in Korea in a small tailor shop and there were cards all over the walls and when he looked at the ceiling he saw my brothers business card. Not really a meeting but still a really long shot. They both had been to the same shop half way around the world.

  5. No, I think that he was too shocked. And the woman that he was with didn’t look like I remembered his wife to look. BTW, when I went to Montego Bay, initially I was in a hotel called the Royal Court. The owner, name of Ken Newbold, was from a few streets away from me in the village that I grew up in on the north east coast of England.

    Another time in the mid 70s, I was on a Piedmont flight from Washington to Fayettville, NC. Twin engine turbo prop. We had an engine overheat so we diverted to to Wilmington, NC. Back then the terminal was a room with a bar. The one other guy at the bar was from my home town.

  6. Chuck:
    That is even more amazing considering that he actually noticed his card amongst all the others on the wall.

  7. I live in the Midwest and fly out to NYC fairly often. While on vacation 2 years ago, the wife and I are taking in the Louvre and bump into one of my friend/coworkers 🙂 Neither of us had any idea the other was going to be in the country 🙂

  8. My wife and I are from the Washington DC area, and we were honeymooning in New Zealand. At the airport in Auckland around 5am, we were going down an escalator and saw her ex-boyfriend and his family (from southwest VA) coming up the other side! We were absolutely floored. After stopping to chat for a minute, we parted ways to catch our flight.

  9. I’ve known this awful, bossy annoying girl online since I was 14 (now I’m 30), we belonged in the same fan club. I bumped into her this summer at the Vatican (?!?!) over the years we’ve met at fan club events all over the world so I know what she looks like, but she’s definitely the last person I expected to bump into. On the other hand, my dad who is 60 now, bumped into his middle school classmate from the countryside of Taipei at my brother’s middle school graudation in California. They haven’t seen each other for 45 years and they didn’t know they both moved to the same city in California. How funny they both had children very late when they’re both like 50.

  10. Years ago, I spent 2 weeks at Club Med in Martinique. I was talking to one of the young guys that was working there for the summer, and he told me he was from Pennsylvania. I was born there, so I asked him where he lived – it was the same house that I lived in when I was a little girl! Another guest on the same trip lived on the same street where my office was located. All I can say is that the miracle of transportation has made the world a much smaller place.

  11. Last week I was on UA’s EWR-LHR morning flight. Aisle seat in E+. When I sat down, the woman in the window seat said “Hi Steve”. We used to share an office 20 years ago (for about 5 years and even socialized until she got divorced and then moved away.) We lost touch a year or two later, as these things happen.

    On top of that, the middle seat was empty. We had almost 8 hours to catch up before going our separate ways after baggage claim.

  12. theSHARk:
    I hope she didn’t boss you around on your trip to the Vatican!!

    Anne: That may be an even lower probability. Amazing actually.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing.

  13. My hubby and I were in Ireland 36 years ago on our honeymoon. We went to a bar in Killarney and who should be at the other end of our long table – Claire, a woman who worked with my husband in Boston. Of all the joints in the world……….

  14. Took the tour at the Tower of London a few years ago. The yoeman warder leading asked where everyone was from. We worked our way down from country (US), to state (Arkansas), to city (North Little Rock), to neighborhood (Indian Hills).

    His brother in law was a preacher at a church about a 3 miles from where I grew up, and my parents lived at the time. Keep in mind, this was a smallish city in the middle of fly over country. Granted, he saw tens of thousands of people a year, but I can’t think many of them were from my home town of 70k.

  15. Not a travel related post
    However – interesting
    I ran into someone at the grocery store, who lived one block away from where I lived.
    He was born in the room next to mine, when I was born, on the exact same day, 6000 miles away (in India).
    This was crazier, because the doctor that delivered both him and me was the same one.
    Very cool – atleast to me.

  16. My wife ran into the twin brother of a coworker from Atlanta at a small resort in Montego Bay Jamaica. He was from Va. and she didn’t know the guy had a twin brother…she kept staring at him and finally asked….small weird world

  17. We had just watched the light show in HKG and decided to go to Feliz’s bar at the Penisula Hotel for a cocktail. As we entered the bar I saw a face that I thought was a friend from London. I stopped, turned around and sure enough it was Jonathan on business and having drinks, followed by dinner with a colleague. Not only did we stay for drinks (Champagne) we were invited to this fabulous dinner as well…..on his dime, since he was on business!

  18. Cupmax:
    That is a long way from home, many years later.

    Were they identical twins? Good thing she finally said something or it would have been bothering her for a long time.

    Free Champagne and Food is always a score.

    Thanks again for the stories!!

  19. I ran into a former boss of mine in a small town in Ohio. We worked together in NM, he had since moved to Louisana and I had moved to Texas. Since we were at the only cafe town we ate together, and caught up. Incidentally we were both in the area for business but out killing time between meetings.

    When I lived in NM I would fly out of ABQ. That was an airport that I was guaranteed to run into at least one customer / colleague.

    The only other one that I can think of was I was in Casper Wyoming for business and ran into a guy that I went to High School with in Durango Colorado. He recognized me first as I am terrible with faces.

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