Have you ever hit it off with someone the moment you first met? I’m not talking about a first encounter between two people where sparks fly, romance ensues and they live happily ever after, but rather a chance meeting and a stimulating conversation that makes you wish you’d met years ago. I had that experience this week, when I found myself walking into a cavernous banquet hall at a nearby hotel to eat cold chicken and donate money to the non-profit organization that organized the fundraising lunch.
Normally I don’t have to invite myself to programs like this, because I always know generous people who volunteer as table captains, which means they have to beg, twist arms, and cajole their friends and relatives to attend and bring their checkbooks, and I’m on the lists of several people who approach me using one of these methods.
But this year the friend who usually recruits said she wasn’t participating, so I went alone because I really wanted to hear guest speaker Jeannette Walls, the author of a page-turner of a memoir called The Glass Castle.
When I spotted the table number that matched the number on my name tag I wondered if I would know anyone sitting there. I suspected I wouldn’t because there were at least 1,500 people in the audience. How disappointed I felt when I looked at the five people sitting at my table. No one I knew and all my age or beyond. Borrring, I thought, then reminded myself that the meal, speeches and check writing would be over in about ninety minutes. However, as soon as I sat down and the table captain and her friend sitting next to me introduced themselves and started talking, I realized that my assessment couldn’t have been more inaccurate.
The time flew by as we covered more topics in an animated conversation than the television anchors try to squeeze into the evening news. I felt exhilarated. I’ve lived here for years and I imagine they have also. Why hadn’t our paths crossed sooner? Before I knew it, it was time to pay attention to the program, write our checks and say goodbye. A chance encounter, s personal connection, and a lesson in making snap judgements, all in thirty minutes or less. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.