When I think of the word “world,” small does not come to mind. In fact, the words that rise to the front are more like vast, big, wide. You get the picture. There’s so much to see and experience. There’s nothing small about it. However, over the years of traveling, I’ve realized that even though we live in a big, wide world, travel actually makes the world a little bit smaller.
Have you ever been in route and bumped into someone you knew? Or even spotted a famous person? It’s in those times that I can’t believe, out of all the places I could be in the world, among the billions of people that inhabit this Earth, that I could bump into a familiar face.
One time my husband and I were in the coastal town of Muizenberg, just outside of Cape Town, when in walked several friends of ours from Texas. Incredible. Laughs over the chance meeting as well as a “What are you doing here in South Africa?” conversation ensued. A chance travel encounter brought us together, just like that.
The craziest chance encounter, however, went something like this…
We were flying from Johannesburg to Atlanta on Delta. I never liked this flight, because it was the longest.flight.ever. Actually it still is. I just choose to go different routes, because eighteen hours on a plane is not my idea of fun. Back to the story. All of the passengers were waiting and waiting to board, wondering why in the world it was taking so long to start the arduous process. The employees working the gate looked flustered, but I was relaxed in my wondering. I wasn’t in such a hurry to be locked up for hours. All the seats had long been occupied, so we just sat on the floor with our backs resting on the wall and our legs extended in front of us.
All of a sudden, several men came rushing up, stepping over our legs. We looked up to see those ear pieces Secret Service wear in the movies. Sure enough, sandwiched in between those agents was none other than Jimmy Carter. We were making the journey with a former President, and he was late!
Apparently, no one could board until he was inside. The power of one man is incredible. After they got the rest of us civilians on board, President Carter decided to walk through the entire plane and greet every single passenger. The flight attendants were visibly frustrated, but what do you say to a former President? You can’t do that? I’ll never forget the anguish going on inside me as I contemplated getting my camera out. Can I take a photo? Will the Secret Service seize my camera if I snap a mug of Jimmy?
When someone else, obviously not having a ridiculous inner conversation like me, took a photo, I thought, “That’s it. I’m doing it.” The best photo I got was while he lingered for a bit, talking to my son. In my frantic state I got part of the back side of the seat in front of me, but hey, it’s a photo, right? Then I heard him ask my daughter, “What’s your name, you pretty little thing?” At four years of age, she had no idea who this strange man was which is why she didn’t even give him the time of day. Oops. Sorry, Mr. President.
With Secret Service scattered all over the plane, I always said that was the safest flight I had ever flown. Post 9/11, that is an important feeling!
Next time you’re at one of the Disney parks, and you’re cruising along the It’s A Small World ride, shout a loud AMEN! It truly is a small world, and I’ve never realized that as much as when I’ve traveled.
Ever bumped into friends on the other side of the world or seen a famous person in your travels?