I have just had the most lovely conversation with a total stranger. The phone rang & it was the alumni association from the university where I did my first degree. ‘Aha’, I thought, ‘the annual scrounging phone call’. In the past, I’ve been rather curt with such callers but today I resisted simply dismissing them – partly because I always feel guilty afterwards, knowing that the callers are students who are just doing their job, and partly because I give my consent for them to ring me so I shouldn’t really be grumpy when they do. So this evening, I said yes, of course it was okay for them to talk to me about the alumni association’s latest projects. And I’m mightily glad I did.
Hannah, the girl making the call, is doing a History degree – as I did. As I’m now a historian, she was asking me about my research interests. Coincidentally (& it is coincidentally as I’ve never given the alumni association this much detail about what I’m doing), she is doing her second year dissertation on a related area. She told me about some reading she’d done today – a book written by my PhD supervisor. By this point, we were both getting quite excited, such was our mutual amusement at the situation. Before I knew it, I was giving her my email address & telling her to email me for some further suggestions on reading. In this case, the benefits from this serendipity may be hers rather than mine, but I’m still glad that I’m open to the possibilities that the world throws our way. Glad, albeit a bit freaked out by it all.