Long car journeys can be a mind numbing experience when one is driving alone. Some time ago,the author William Least Heat Moon was driving across North Dakota and he needed to find a way to keep awake. At such times , one way to keep from dozing off is to think up an interesting question. On this occasion Moon asked himself ” How many people would I meet if I lived to age 90 ? ” He defined a meeting as ” a face-to-face exchange containing a clear , if momentary, recognition ” between himself and another. It could range from something as simple as a wave , a greeting or a smile all the way to a life long friendship. However, each person could only count once towards the total .
In his case, the total that he came up with ( and he was being generous) was 100,000.
At first, I thought that this number was too low but , on reflection, I have to agree with him that it is generous. If you think about it, we meet a lot of new people during our school and college years but afterwards we tend to deal with the same people over and over again.This is true even at the workplace, unless we keep changing jobs or unless we are in customer service. Besides , as we grow older, we meet fewer and fewer people. If you discount the people we meet in the first three or four years of life, the final number becomes even smaller.Ditto if you live in a rural environment or in a small town and never move away.
In my case, since I lived in a populous country ( India) before coming to the States.Since then I have traveled quite extensively , worked in New York City and lived in the suburbs and my number is probably close to 100,000. What’s your’s ?
While I was trying to figure out the number of people I’d probably meet in my lifetime, I also came up with 2 other interesting numbers.The number of days that a 90 year old lives is < 32,000. Less than you thought, right ? And ( are you ready for this ?) ,total number of days since the dawn of the Christian era is less than three-quarters of a million. ( 365 x 2008-1/4 = approximately 733,000.) Surprising , isn’t it ?