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40 Brain-Breaking Coincidences People Experienced That Made The Universe Feel So, So, So, So, So, Sooooo Small

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the wildest "small world" experiences they've ever lived through, and the results were pretty chilling! You're definitely going to be googling the invisible string theory after reading their stories.

1."I always knew that my father had been married and gotten divorced years before he met my mom. In those pre-internet days, he lost contact with his first wife, and my parents ended up moving out of state once they had kids. I went to elementary and middle school with a nice girl, and we were eventually assigned as lab partners for school. I went to her house to work on a project, and when my father picked me up from her house, he turned pale. After asking me questions in the car, we figured out that my father’s ex-wife had also gotten remarried, moved out of state to our same new town, and had a daughter who I went to school with from kindergarten through graduation. I asked my lab partner to confirm it, and the whole thing blew her mind since she had no idea that her mother had ever been divorced. Her mom did confirm it though, and both of our families were thoroughly weirded out by the whole thing."

—Anonymous

2."When my nephew was young, he was always playing with the house phone. One day at my grandma's, he was playing with it and pressing numbers, and he started talking to someone. My grandma took it off him to say sorry to whoever it was, and it turned out to be my grandma's cousin who lived on the Isle of Wight who she'd lost touch with many years before. My nephew had randomly rang their number!"

—Anonymous

hand holding a phone
Grace Cary / Getty Images

3."I've got a couple. I'm from the UK, and I was chatting to a girl on an internet dating site years ago. It obviously wasn't going to lead to anything, but we carried on chatting for weeks because it was good fun. She was from London. About a year later, I bumped into her at a parachute center in Cape Town. She was on holiday with her family and decided to do a tandem that day, and I'd been skydiving for about 15 years at the time and went to the drop zone to do a couple of jumps while I was out there."

"Another one: My dad spent years in the Royal Air Force and was based in Aden during the Aden Emergency in the '60s, as was his identical twin brother. At the time, they were the only identical twin brothers serving together and were featured on the cover of the RAF News buying a camera from a shop in Aden. 20 years later, we are living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and we go into a camera shop in a shopping center, and the man behind the counter asks my dad how his twin brother was. Turns out, he was the man my dad bought his camera from all those years previously in Aden. He even had a copy of the RAF News cover with him!"

chrisives

4."A German friend and I (American living in Boston at the time) visited NYC together, and she ran into a girl who she went to high school with (in Germany) on the top of the Empire State Building."

—Anonymous

aerial view of a city
Yukinori Hasumi / Getty Images

5."My grandmother passed away when my mom was 8, and she was taken from her father a year after. Later in life, she decided to take a DNA test to learn more about her heritage. She found out that the man she thought was her father was in fact not her father, and that she had a brother. After connecting with her brother and stalking him on Facebook, she came across a picture of him sitting next to my sister. He lives in California and we live in Pennsylvania. He happen to be the best friend of my sister's husband's best friend, whose family had a weekly dinner night and met every time they came to visit."

—Anonymous

6."About 15 years ago, I was working as a dancer at a gentlemen's club. I was about to give a couch dance to a man, but we had about a minute and a half before the actual dance started, so we made some small talk. Turns out he was my aunt's boss about four states away. I said, 'Wow, small world!' We had a nice giggle about it. Then, when I went on stage, he tipped me rather generously and said, 'Hush money!' My aunt never found out."

—Anonymous

legs in tall heels
Kypros / Getty Images

7."I was at an airport in downtown Detroit in 1992, and a little boy was smearing Reese's peanut butter cups all over a huge window. His grandma said to him, 'Jacob, that's not nice. We don't do that.' Fast forward a year and a half later, and I'm a waitress at a Michigan-based restaurant about an hour north of the airport. I'm wiping down a table, and I look up at the glass partition between the booths and I see this little hand smearing ketchup all over the window. Then, I hear, 'Jacob, we don't do that. That's not nice.' What are the odds Jacob is still messy?"

—Anonymous

8."I was at Oktoberfest in Munich and quite literally ran into my childhood best friend who I had lost touch with after going to different high schools in our Massachusetts hometown. We both happened to be studying abroad, albeit on different continents, and drunk in dirndls."

—Anonymous

  Michelangelo Gratton / Getty Images
Michelangelo Gratton / Getty Images

9."I’m from a small province in the east coast of Canada. I moved across the country to a small town in the mountains. Then, I started dating a guy and moved to the city that he was born in. His friends helped us move into our apartment, and his friend's mom came to say hi. We got to chatting, and it turns out she’s from the same town that I’m from. She asked me, 'Do you know so-and-so?' and I said, 'Yes, that’s my mom.' Turns out they had worked together for years and were friends before the other moved away."

mysa

10."My first wife and I were spending the Christmas weekend in NYC in 1994. We lived in Florida at the time, but we both grew up in the north central part of Texas. So, Christmas Day, we were in the deli at Rockefeller Center for lunch. I looked over at the two couples in the booth across from us and noticed that the men were wearing cowboy boots. I asked where they were from, and they said my hometown in Texas. I told them, 'Me too, originally.' Then, I asked what they did for a living, and they both said that they worked in the oilfield business. I asked if they knew anyone from a specific company. One of them said, 'Yeah, I know the guy who owns it. Why?' I said that he was my brother-in-law. Then the man said, “We go to church with your parents.'"

jamesc420ce9ec1

  Cmart7327 / Getty Images
Cmart7327 / Getty Images

11."I am a reporter, but I also run a secondary business hosting queer events and teaching sex ed. I travel all over the country for my classes, and usually my manager will book halls/work spaces for me to teach before I get there. My father is in the merchant navy and works for a German company that has no remaining offices in our country. When I arrived at my last gig, in a city where neither I nor my father live, it turned out the lecture hall they rented was his company's former office! and he had been the person who went down there to shut it down! I had no idea."

aarushiahluwalia1331

12."I moved to Texas about a year ago and had started virtual therapy appointments. Anyway, I was out of town traveling for a family wedding and was out sightseeing with my aunt. I had just been filling her in on my new therapy journey and talking about my experience with this new therapist. We were in line to see the Liberty Bell, and I glanced up and saw someone who looked like my therapist walk by and get in line behind us. I figured it was the relevancy concept — since I was just talking about her, I 'thought' I saw her. But, I looked behind us and texted her. Turns out it WAS her. She was very professional, and since I reached out, we were able to officially meet in person for the first time. We both live in the same city in Texas and both happened to be in Philadelphia the same weekend and in line for the same monument at the exact same time. I still can't get over that."

smanthagram

the liberty bell
Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

13."My late husband spent 28 years not knowing his father. After receiving a message on Myspace from a girl who said, 'My dad has a son with the same name and birthday as you,' he remembered that the name his mom told him years ago matched what the message said. We got an invitation to his paternal grandmother's house on a day that the entire family would be there so we could meet everyone and finally meet his birth father."

"Here's where the 'it's a small world' stuff starts. Our church, that we married at three years prior, was not even a fourth of a mile away from the grandmother's house. My husband's mom came to our wedding and never said anything, but she knew it was right there. Upon meeting his family, it turned out that one of his three half-sisters was an employee of his just a few years before, when he managed an ice cream shop. He grew up not having a big family, just his mom and siblings really. After meeting his dad's side, he realized he has aunts, uncles, cousins, and even a grandmother. Tragically, a year and a half after meeting them, my husband passed away. But, everyone's life was made better from that one Myspace message."

—Anonymous

14."I wanted to switch out of my dorm room, and the man in charge of residence life was very excited to talk to me. But, not about switching rooms. No, he saw the town I was from in my file, and turned out he was engaged to my eighth grade Spanish teacher."

sambro777

empty dorm room
Elliott Kaufman / Getty Images

15."I (41F) am currently having a 'small world' experience. So, my last birthday, I went into town for drinks with my friend. On our way to a bar, we came across a guy who was flat-out on the pavement. I went to see if he was okay and got down on the floor with him whilst on the phone with emergency services. Paramedics arrived and we carried on with our night. This weekend, he (45M) found me on a dating site. We spoke on the phone for four hours that night and we discovered that in his youth, he was my estranged (and now deceased) father's neighbor. We met today for lunch. We get on like a house on fire and it feels like we've known each other forever. He has asked me to move in with him, as he says I'm his angel. I believe everything he says. Fate works in mysterious ways."

jealoussundae50

16."This is my dad's story. One of his friends has season passes to Avalanche hockey games, but he couldn't go to one of the games, so my dad took the ticket. On the day of the game, when he was walking to his seat, he heard someone yelling his name. He turned around and saw a different friend who he'd not talked to in at least 15 years, who he had known from Iowa. They both moved to Colorado, lost touch, and reconnected after having nearby seats at a hockey game that he got tickets for at the last minute. We thought this was pretty cool."

luckyscissors50

  Grant Faint / Getty Images
Grant Faint / Getty Images

17."A girl my age who I went to church with when I was a kid (around 7 or 8 years old) moved with her family to Africa to become missionaries. I moved states a few years later. I ended up going to college in my new state, and she ended up being at my school. Not only that, she started dating and married a guy I was classmates with."

robert_dunder

18."I'm an American. When I was 16, I visited Germany with my family. I was trying to buy some hot cider at a Christmas market, but I was struggling to communicate with the older lady at the cash register. A girl behind me (probably mid-to-late-20s) helped me translate and then helped me pick out coins. She spoke perfect English without even a trace of an accent. I mentioned that I wouldn't even know she was German because she spoke exactly like an American, and she laughed and told me that she studied abroad in America for a year when she was much younger. We got to talking details, and it turns out that she actually studied in my state. In my city. At my high school. And lived with my (at the time) boyfriend's family. The random lady in line behind me at the register!"

—Anonymous

  Santi Wiwatchaikul / Getty Images
Santi Wiwatchaikul / Getty Images

19."I joined the Air Force in 2012 and got out in 2018. In that time, two people from my high school in Germany ended up being stationed at the same squadron. We're all about a year apart. Also, I had a classmate from my brother flight that joined the same time as me. We graduated together. It's a very small world."

jordanjyoudan

20."I flew midweek to Atlanta. I’m a teacher and was on medical leave. I flew into one of the biggest and busiest airports in the country, got my bags from baggage claim, and started walking around trying to find the ride share area. I saw a young man standing near a garbage can, and although I could only see a quarter of his face, he looked familiar. I got closer and realized it was one of my students standing there charging his phone. I called out his name and he looked as surprised to see me as I was him. I asked what he was doing here on a weekday. He was in town early for a relative’s birthday party over the coming weekend. We said our farewells and I walked away thinking, 'How the heck did that just happen?'"

—Anonymous

  Chmiel / Getty Images
Chmiel / Getty Images

21."My niece from Arizona joined the Peace Corps and served two and a half years in a small town in Mozambique. We had very limited contact with her while she was there, but received occasional updates and messages via Facebook messenger. One day, I open my messenger app to find a message and a picture from her. She was standing with a local man from Mozambique, who was wearing a T-shirt from my daughter’s high school sports program in Clackamas, Oregon! How it got there, we will never know, but she had a fun time explaining this coincidence to her new friend!"

—Anonymous

22."Last November, I obtained a new retail sales job. I was sent a few hours away for a one-week sales training they called 'new hire.' During the first hour, on the first day, it was my turn to introduce myself. Even though I haven't played poker in over 10 years, I mentioned it as one of my favorite hobbies. The trainers excitedly told me that they both played in a World Series of Poker event five years ago — something on their bucket list. He proceeded to tell me about this one incredibly dramatic hand he was in that was built for a movie. He even took a picture of it so he could always tell the story. In the picture, there was only one person visible on the other side of the table, my college roommate, who I haven't seen or talked to in about 10 years."

"I texted him about the unbelievable coincidence. He proceeded to text me a picture he had taken from his phone. It was the SAME hand, and there across from him was my trainer holding his phone up taking the pic at the same exact time!"

wickedjaguar73

poker chips on a table
Daniel Grill / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

23."I recently found out that my coworker and I are distantly related!"

—Anonymous

24."My friend's older sister was getting married, and I was invited to the wedding. Later, I found out that the sister was my cousin's roommate in college!"

—Anonymous

people about to sit down for an al fresco dinner
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

25."I was a zip line tour guide in Maui. Driving up the mountain one day with my guests, I asked where everyone was from. A woman said a small town in Northern California. Being from the Bay Area, I asked which one. She said Red Bluff. I told her I had family in Red Bluff. It turns out that this woman's mother had been the manager of the mobile home park my grandfather owned, and she herself had gone to school with my mom! This reconnected them after nearly 50 years!"

nessawillson

26."Back in 2002, my boyfriend at the time and I were in London for a few days. We went to see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. There was a line that moved slowly but steadily through the part of the Tower where the jewels are. When you get closer, you have to step on one of two parallel moving walkways and it moves you past the Crown Jewels. My boyfriend and I were on one of the moving walkways and looking at the exhibit when suddenly a woman directly across from us called his name. It was his first cousin! He knew she and some friends were traveling in Europe for a few weeks, but he didn't know where or when. Needless to say, we were all thrilled at the coincidence and spent the next few hours with her and her friends. They had been in line ahead of us the whole time we were walking through the exhibit, and if they hadn't gotten on the other moving walkway, we may never have seen her!"

—Anonymous

castle by the water
Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

27."There was a new girl who started at my company and we instantly clicked. We added each other on Instagram, and then I noticed on her page in one of the photos was a guy I used to date in college. It turns out he’s her boyfriend now. It was wild because she didn’t even go to the same school as us. The school was also in a completely different area from where we worked. I decided to bring it up to her, and it turns out she found out too from her boyfriend who confessed we dated after she showed him a picture of me on my Instagram. We joke about it now all the time."

—Anonymous

28."I left my small hometown in Florida and went to Alabama for vet school. I became best friends with one of my classmates and was invited to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, I met one of her uncles, who mentioned he used to live in Florida. I asked where, and he mentioned MY SMALL HOMETOWN. Shook. I ask him what part of town, and he said MY NEIGHBORHOOD. Extra shook. He then gave me his old street number and name. He lived right next to me — literally my next-door neighbor for years! Then, I met his wife, and she recognized me. Apparently my friend used to come down and visit all the time. We potentially even played together as little kids. She and I are still absolutely shook. Small world after all!"

—Anonymous

quit neighborhood street
Grace Cary / Getty Images

29."I recently reconnected with a friend from college, and he invited me to a dinner party on New Year's Eve in our college town. I was chatting with the hostess who I'd never met and did not attend college with us, and she mentioned she had previously lived in the same city I currently reside in. She asked where my condo was located, so I gave her a brief, but vague, description. She said she lived in the same area in a specific condo complex, and lo and behold, I live in the same complex! She asked where my unit was in the complex, so I started to tell her, and she stopped me to ask the specific address. Yes, she lived in the same exact unit I currently live in. My condo is painted very fun colors in each room, which was her work! What a fun coincidence to meet someone who once lived in my home, and we had a good story to tell for the rest of the evening."

—Anonymous

30."I was traveling with a friend in Paris (from the US) and we were in a neighborhood not entirely in the city center, so not majorly touristy, doing our laundry at the laundromat. I didn’t realize I needed a Euro coin to get some soap, and the only other person in the laundromat was kind enough to give me one. Since we were doing laundry at the same time, inevitably we returned to change clothes over around the same time as well. It was then that he noticed my friend’s shirt, which had our school name on it. This is a small school of maybe 6,000 students, so not super well-known outside the area."

"He asked if we went there, and we said yes, we did. He asked if we knew this one person, and sure enough, my friend did! This stranger in a very random laundromat all the way across the world was a family friend of someone we knew from school. If my friend hadn’t been wearing his shirt, we never would’ve known, but we still would’ve had this connected thread to this stranger all the same."

—Anonymous

  David Zaitz / Getty Images
David Zaitz / Getty Images

31."I got married back in September and a bunch of family came from out of town. My aunt and uncle from LA stayed in town a few extra days after the wedding to explore the area. My uncle hadn’t been there in about 20 years, and my aunt had never been. We went for a hike in a Minnesota state park about an hour from my house, and my uncle ran into a friend of his on the trail. Everyone involved was totally baffled."

marthalbruce

32."I traveled to a different state for a family reunion via plane. Picked up rental car with my parents. My dad was driving and he got caught speeding. He got pulled over, and it turns out the officer was related to us somehow. He let my dad go!"

—Anonymous

  Kali9 / Getty Images
Kali9 / Getty Images

33."For the first 30 years of my life, I lived on Long Island in New York. Year 30, I moved to western Washington. At around year 15 in western WA, I was a new employee working for the Seattle parks department. We were driving around to see the area my crew covered. We stopped at a pond where parents and children were waiting for the bus. A woman ran up and called my sister's name. My sister is four years younger. We looked identical in our late teens. Through the years, we have been called twins. This woman remembered my sister from high school (over 20 years ago). They were not the best of friends. The woman sat behind my sister in class. The woman said my sister was nice. Yes, she is. So, decades later and 3,000 miles apart, there was someone from my hometown who recognized the family look."

—Anonymous

34."In 1995, just out of college, I visited Ireland. I was on a bus tour in western Ireland, and a fellow American girl about my age and her boyfriend were sitting in front of me. We started chatting, and she asked me where I was from. I replied it was a small town in Southern California she never would've heard of. She asked for the name, so I told her. She flipped out, saying her ex-boyfriend from college was from there, and asked if I knew him. It turned out to be someone I'd known since elementary school. She then spent the next hour going on and on about how this ex-boyfriend cheated on her and broke her heart, etc. I felt sorry for the current boyfriend, who looked really uncomfortable at the obvious torch his girlfriend was carrying for her ex. Poor guy."

—Anonymous

bus driving along a mountain side
Mikroman6 / Getty Images

35."When I was a humanitarian worker in South Asia, my group made friends with an English teacher who was living in the city near our village. Her parents came to visit for Christmas, and we spent the day together. We started talking, and I found out that the mother had lived in the same rural part of the same state where I grew up. She knew the name of my tiny hometown. Mind. Blown. I had never met her, and I haven’t seen her since. In fact, they are missionaries in Eastern Europe. I couldn’t believe that our paths crossed when and where they did."

—Anonymous

36."Several years ago, my husband and I stayed at a beautiful castle in Tuscany. We had an early flight back to Tampa, so we stayed one night in Rome to be close to the airport. We arrived at our hotel just in time to catch a taxi for the last tour of the Coliseum that day. While standing at the curb, a tour bus arrived at the hotel, and the tour guide jumped out of the bus and approached me hollering, 'Ma'am, are you from Tampa?' When I said yes, he said that someone on the bus knew me. She came out of the bus and ran over to give me a hug. She was the Director of Sales at an assisted living community I had visited several times when I was looking for a place for my mom! It was over two years before I saw her again in Tampa, and we ended up being very close friends. As they say at Disney, 'It's a small world after all.'"

—Anonymous

the colliseum
Hh / Getty Images

37."I grew up in a small town in Canada. After university, I moved overseas to Korea, to a smaller city neighboring Seoul. One weekend, I took the train with some friends into Seoul for a night out, and I was walking down a very crowded street when a woman walked out of a bar we were passing. Both of us froze and stared at each other. It took some chatting, but we finally figured out that we'd gone to the same high school, and had even had one class together, though she was a year below me. She had also come into Seoul for a weekend night out! Mind blown that we'd run into each other on an entirely different continent, in a city of almost 10 million people that neither of us lived in."

—Anonymous

38."I live in Wolverhampton, England, but work in travel, so I’m often in London. Somebody came to me outside Euston station randomly and asked if I minded if he sat down on the same bench as me. He asked me whereabouts I was from, due to my strong regional accent. Turns out not only are we from the same area, but he was friends with my cousin and had once babysat me."

zakmason94

  Yenyan / Getty Images
Yenyan / Getty Images

39."I grew up in a very small town in the country. When I joined the Army and reported to my first unit, there was a girl from my hometown in the unit already. We were literally stationed a thousand miles away from home. To this day, she's the only person from my hometown who I've met outside of my hometown (who wasn't a relative)."

—Anonymous

40.And: "On our wedding day, my husband and I found out that our families were more intertwined than we thought. At our wedding reception, we found out our cousins were best friends and some of our other cousins had dated each other. What made it even more interesting: We found out our grandmothers were friends. Keep in mind our families never really met prior to our wedding. My mother-in-law then proceeded to tell me a story about my grandmother and my husband. Just a little background, my grandmother is known in our family for being a little witchy/psychic. She was known for predicting pregnancies and gender reveals, among other things. My MIL then proceeded to tell me how my grandmother met my husband when he was a newborn."

"The story goes as follows: My grandmother went to go visit her friend (my husband's grandmother) who had this new little bundle of joy at her home. My grandmother was so in love with the new baby that she kept saying she wanted him as her grandson. She then gifted him a little blanket.

Flash forward 20 years, and my husband and I tied the knot. Later, we moved in with my witchy grandmother. During that time, she was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. She loved on my husband the entire time and would fully acknowledge him as her grandson and I was just his wife (during lucid episodes, she would recognize me). My grandmother has since passed away. I miss her all the time. My MIL still says she has the blanket that was gifted to her, and my husband jokes that one day, he will find a way to break the spell on the gifted blanket.

I look back and think my grandmother was magically laying the groundwork for us to find each other. We have been happily married for 24 years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much abuelita. Talk about a small world and weird coincidences."

—Anonymous

Whooooooaaa. What a strange, mysterious, and SMALL world we live in. Do you have any wild "small world" stories you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments!

Notes: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.