My Rhode Island Story

We all have them, and perhaps you do, too, even if you don’t live in the smallest state. Here it’s a way of life. You run into someone you knew in high school, someone from the old neighborhood, someone whose mother knew your mother. Happens all the time.

Yesterday evening, my husband and I had just finished dinner – salads, nice and light. I cleared the plates and rinsed them off under the kitchen faucet. With just a few little pieces of lettuce, tomato, and carrot going into the disposal, I ran it quickly. My husband heard a sound coming from the toilet in our bathroom. The water was bubbling slightly.

Well, neither he nor I knows much (anything) about plumbing, but he was concerned. Concerned enough to call our plumber. Manny instructed Jim to fill the kitchen sink, then pull the plug to see what happened. What happened was the toilet overflowed. Fortunately, I was able to shut the water off quickly. The toilet bowl had bits of lettuce and carrot in it. Jim set up an appointment with Manny for the morning (this morning).

Now, we’d had the windows open (yay!) due to the cooler weather, and our neighbors (we live in a condo and are attached to our lovely neighbors) were having a birthday party. Jim heard one of the sons say the word “plumber” (good hearing). So he stepped outside and we realized they had the same problem, only worse (use your imagination). Anyway, they called their own plumber to come immediately.

For the next five hours, we had the Mr. Rooter guy, the management company’s maintenance man, more plumbers, and the clean-up crew between the two houses. The guy who ran the environmental clean-up organization came into our house to get information from Jim. He looked familiar but I didn’t get his name. Later, while everyone was still working, pumping, and spraying, Jim handed me his card. ‘

Mark Constantine! From seventh grade. His twin sister Jean and I had recently reconnected on Facebook. At my uncle’s 90th birthday party last December, I was introduced to his older brother Michael and mistook him for Mark, remembering that familiar face from forty years ago.

This isn’t an anomaly. When we moved to our house in Warwick in 1995, the woman from across the street came over to welcome me to the neighborhood, and she was a classmate from junior high. In 1998, I chose a new hair salon and halfway through my cut, I looked up and realized the beautiful blonde styling my hair was another friend from junior high. Yes, it happens in small towns, especially when you stay in the area, but for Rhode Islanders, it’s just another example of the two degrees of separation.

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