“Hey, what kind of joke is this?” I asked. “I’m not your Chinese food takeout girl.” Then the man said, “Okay sorry, wrong number.” By the time he hung up, I recognized the person’s voice as a good friend of mine. So I called him back.
“That was me!” I said. We both had a great chuckle about it. He had accidentally called my number when he meant to ring his local Chinese restaurant on Staten Island. Maybe he got the wrong Wong? How funny!
We ended up talking for a long time and it turned out that he was actually going through a bit of a rough time personally in his life. So I listened and we shared perspectives. Then later, he texted to say thanks for the accidental phone call and that it was good timing. He needed a friend at that moment, as we all do from time to time.
I’m reminded about the chance encounters that happen out of the blue, a human connection that touches us even for a moment. Like that time, years ago, when I had a falling out with a co-worker and I cried all the way home on the subway. An older gentleman with the kindest eyes sat down next to me and offered a tissue. He said, “It’s going to be okay.” And when I looked up, he had scooted off the train and disappeared into the busy crowd. For the rest of the ride home, I felt better that someone, even a stranger, understood that somehow the sadness would pass.
Or that time when I was on a bus in Vientiane, Laos. A young Swedish girl sat across from me and she looked miserable. Tears rolled down her cheeks as the bus jerked along on the bumpy road. I was hesitant to say anything because I didn’t know her and I had just come out of a relationship and was backpacking through Asia to heal from it all, an epic story that became the basis of my travel memoir. I couldn’t open my heart to anyone. But suddenly, I did. I leaned over, gave her a tissue and said, “You okay?” She looked relieved and we talked for the entire bus ride. It turned out her boyfriend had just dumped her (by email!) and she felt so hurt, so lost. I also shared what had happened to me. How wonderful that we were two strangers opening up and sharing our deepest thoughts with tears streaming down our faces. When the bus arrived at our destination, we parted ways and I never saw her again. But I’ll never forget how that chance encounter with someone touched both of us, just when we needed it the most.