I’ve been pondering how random life feels when I look back through the years. There have been chance encounters, ladders and slides that I could choose to take or completely ignore. Each of us has them.
Some of these lead us astray, while a few are important. I met a person at a party who introduced me to a contact in their network who offered me a speaking contract that was life changing. I can’t remember who introduced us and that’s embarrassing! It was the beginning of a ladder of speaking gigs that I’ve been on for a couple of decades. One rung after another.
Twenty years ago, I heard a woman give an infomercial at a networking event and I knew right away that I wanted to meet her. I don’t know why, but I went over to speak with her. We’re still good friends! We share contacts back and forth like trading cards, often changing peoples’ lives.
There’s a family story that I’d like to share. In 1958, I was living in Halifax, Nova Scotia with my parents and my father went to Law School. He placed an ad in the Halifax Herald to rent out their master bedroom.
After he gave the classified ads woman the details, she asked, “Would you like to add ‘No Africans’”. My father was horrified. She reassured him that it was ok – lots of people added that to their ad. He re-stated that he did not want to put that in his ad. In those days, you also put your address in those types of ads.
There was a knock at the door the next morning. There stood a young African man with his newspaper in hand. He wanted to rent the room but explained that his budget was only $30 per month and the ad said $32 per month. Dad roared with laughter and said, “I want to get to know any man who will try to negotiate with me when most of the other ads say “No Africans”. They became good friends and now that Dad has died, Abdul and his wife Maria are still my dear friends.
My husband told me about a time that he went to a Career Fair with his high school friend. The two of them met a fellow that the other guy knew who wanted to check out the Social Work program at University of Windsor. My husband ended up going to that university and has had a 30-year career in Social Work. That’s a hinge. His whole life was changed by that chance encounter. He never saw that fellow again and doesn’t know his name.
When life changes suddenly, it feels like a slide to me. Down I go when I experience a sudden death or the loss of a family member. It can take years to feel like I’m back on track.
My divorce sent me down the slide of life, fast. I had to reach out to friends and therapists to find my footing and once I was on solid ground, I looked for a ladder to get back to where I was. It took time, but I made it back.
This year, I’ve been looking for volunteers for Alumnae Theatre Company. I’m the Outreach and Inclusivity Director on the Board of Directors. I place ads and interview people, but the best people come from chance encounters. I’ve had amazing wins, finding quality people this way.
I was waiting on the subway platform the other night and saw this young woman wearing a fabulous outfit. I complimented her on her look and started a conversation. We got on the train. I asked her if she sewed and she was enthusiastic about the topic. I let her know that a local theatre company was looking for someone to do costume alterations. I think we were only together for 3 subway stops. I gave her my card and she followed up and we will meet soon to tour the theatre.
I will introduce her to our Costume Mistress. I have a good feeling about this match. She loves theatre and fashion and sewing and is new to our city. She will meet tons of people and could build a strong network in the Arts. All from this random encounter.
It started with a chance encounter that she could have ignored. She didn’t and I hope it’s a hinge for her.
Can you remember some hinges, ladders and slides in your life? Have you had a chance encounter recently? Feel free to tell me more about it.
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