It Ain’t No Myth!


I was crossing the bridge on the left, Ponte de la Cortesia.

As I was crossing the bridge at Campo Manin last week, I was startled by a man walking towards me. “Wait, I know you,” he said with an American accent.

I flipped through my mental files. No matches. I had never seen him before.

He held a hand to his forehead in thought. Looking at me, he said, “Gonzalez, right?”

I stopped in my tracks. Should I be scared or excited? I know that the top of a bridge is not the best place for a conversation. I’ve certainly been annoyed often enough by people blocking traffic. And my mother would say I shouldn’t talk to strangers. But this was too astounding.

“I have a gift for faces,” he said, “but I don’t always remember names.”

“Um, yes, I’m Kathy Gonzalez,” I said. But I didn’t need to worry for long because this man quickly explained himself.

“I’m Howard,” he said. “I recognized you from your blog.”

Really?! I stood there amazed. Howard told me he’s a Venetophile from New York and comes to Venice three or four times a year. “I can’t stay away,” he said. We chatted for a few minutes, though we were each heading in opposite directions in a hurry to meet people. I didn’t even take the time to take a picture!

Just recently, I had listened to an episode of the podcast Hidden Brain, where Shankar Vedantam looks into the “myth of coincidences.” He wants to believe that random meetings, like what Howard and I had just experienced, are “magic,” but the experts he talks to affirm that statistically, these encounters are not actually very random at all. Here’s a shorter NPR version of the story highlights:  The Myth of Coincidences

But I’m just not buying it! Three years ago while in Venice, I ran into one of my former students who I hadn’t seen since the early 90s. I thought that was really random, but at least I knew her. But meeting Howard tops that. I’ve never met him before! We were passing on a bridge in a foreign country! Okay, we both love Venice, but still, neither of us lives there. I’m willing to listen to Shankar and his mathematicians talk about probabilities, but I have to say, a coincidence like this really is a coincidence, right? Not a myth!


We never know what we’ll find…

I told this story later to Alessia, who I was renting an apartment from. She told me, “I knew this man from Netherlands, but I hadn’t seen him in over ten years. And then we ran into each other at a cafe in Isfahan.” That’s a good one! I want to hear the most random things that have ever happened to you–and if it happened in Venice, even better.

I looked through the list of followers of this blog, and I don’t see Howard there. I know many followers don’t use their real names (or any names, for that matter!). Howard, I hope you see this and know that you blew my mind! And why didn’t either of us think to take a photo?

(Image of Campo Manin courtesy of

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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13 Responses to It Ain’t No Myth!

  1. Nancy Schwalen says:

    I got to talking to Mark Bashara when he joined the ST staff and we discovered we had both been born in the same hospital in the same small town ( Redwood Falls) in Minnesota.

  2. Howard Ladd says:

    Here I am !!!


  3. Yvonne says:

    A few years ago, I was on a vaporetto going from Castello to San Marco. A lady came up and said “You’re Yvonne, aren’t you?” Like Howard with you, she was a follower of my blog and recognised me from some random photo, and also from NYC. I felt like a celebrity! Now we catch up for a spritz whenever we happen to be in Venice at the same time

  4. Hi Kathy, loving your post and it reminds me of the evening my friend and I ran into a British couple who were lost in Venice and trying to find their way back to the station. We were walking that way so offered to show them the way, We chatted as we walked through the streets of San Polo and discovered that they were from the north west of England, so am, whereabouts I asked. Near Manchester, me too, I said! Whereabouts?! They named the town where they live which is about 4 or 5 miles from me – that’s close I said – but we lived for 35 years in another town, did I know it? I grew up there so I asked whereabouts, what street?? Turns out they had lived not 200 yards from me for 35 years and the gentleman even worked at the driving test centre where I took my driving tests when I was younger!! I don’t know if its magic but it certainly blew my mind!! Keep the lovely posts coming! :o)

    • This sounds similar to Nancy’s story (above). How crazy that you had this connection with random people. And even better that it happened in Venice (and because you were doing good deed!)

  5. Meli says:

    I once met someone online, who was just casually visiting my city. Because he was about to leave, there was no time to meet in person, but because the conversation flowed so naturally, we decided to add each other on facebook. Upon looking at each other’s profiles, we found out we had both crossed paths before, not once, but several times around the globe! In my hometown that time we engaged in conversation, in the Negev desert the year before, in the Berlin central train station one new year’s eve, and even one specific Saturday night at the same restaurant in Switzerland. Blew my mind. I still cannot believe it.

  6. Vince Gratzer says:

    I lived in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for a couple years in the early 1980s and was heading to a new job in Destin, Florida.. My friend was heading to San Francisco. We were hitch hiking and got a ride from a young couple. They asked where we were going and my friend said San Francisco. They said, “We only know two people in San Francisco, so and so.” My friends jaw dropped and he said. “Those are the people I’m visiting!”

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