I was sitting relatively comfortably in my 4B seat, when a young dude points to the man in 4A and asks if he's ticketed for 3A. Turns out, the guy is in the wrong row. The young dude - let's call him Garrett - says no prob, I'll take 3A. Guy next to me barely can manage a grunt (what a dickweed) and we take off. Upon landing, Garrett and I approach immigration and passport control at the same time. It's a disaster. HUGE line and only one window open for US citizens. Garrett and I start to chat, as the line barely moves, turns out, we are on the same connection to Denver, and our convo changes from the drunken lout in 3F who not only spilled his drink (I think it was the 3rd double vodka) on his neighbor, but mangled his neighbor's plug for his USBs when he got up to use the head. I watched as the kid with the vodka-soaked pants picked it up from the deck and tried to straighten the bent prongs.
Anyway, Garrett and I switch to other topics, mainly whether or not we're going to make the connection, given we have about 80 minutes. He's somewhat concerned, because he's traveling with a lot of photography gear, returning to base after a shoot in Colombia. Apparently, toting a large amount of expensive gear subjects you to focus. Through the convoluted directions conversations take, we hit on trail running in the west, and he mentions shooting at Western States a few times, and capturing Jim Walmsley. I said, I know Jim, but I know his wife better. He says "You know Jess? Are you from Flagstaff?" Boom. One degree of separation.
Second story: As I was sitting in Tocumen airport in PC, I noticed a woman who was sitting opposite me. No biggie, I notice all kinds of people. She was reasonably notable by what she was wearing. Again, no biggie. I board, I fly to IAH in Houston, I disembark, Garrett and I queue FOR FUCKING EVER (as I mentioned above) to get through immigration and passport control, and I head off to the gate for my flight to Denver and with all the time in the world, settle in the oh-so-very comfortable seats to wait for the boarding call. Turns out, I had plenty of time. I spend it looking around, wondering if Garrett was going to make it. He'd been called aside at passport control, as he expected he would.
As I'm looking around, I notice a woman who arrives at the gate with a sheen of sweat, and breathing heavy. She'd moved with alacrity to get there. I figured she'd also been caught up in the queue at immigration, but behind me somewhere. There was something familiar about her, but I wasn't sure if it was the same woman from Tocumen. She now had on a sweatshirt, and in Tocumen, was wearing a mask. She noticed my attention, and I apologized, saying she looked like someone I'd seen in Panama City. She smiled and said it was her.
So far, not a remarkably low number of degrees. Kind of interesting we were traveling the same direction, but no biggie. I asked how long she'd been in Panama, and where she'd been. Turns out, she had been staying in the same building I was in Coronado (18th vs 10th floor) and knew several same people at Picasso. Boom, once again one degree. Oddly, we never ran into each other though. Funniest part of this encounter was her job. She's a "reiki master" which, as I understand, it a "healing hands" kind of thing. What's funny is she does what she does remotely, via Zoom. What a scam. She knew it too, based on the smile she gave when she told me.
The world is getting smaller, and I think six degrees may be reasonable assumption now, or in the very near future. Especially if you factor in citizens of industrialized nations only, and allow for "knowing" someone to be, say, a social media mutual follow. Given those, six might be high.