12/04/2013 01:56 pm ET | Updated Feb 03, 2014

Who Is the Most Interesting Person You've Ever Sat Next To?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Scott Welch, Cofounder of

With 25 years as a product evangelist, including travelling around the world for hundreds and hundreds of user group meeting, I've been lucky to sit beside a lot of interesting people. But here's my favourite story:

In about 1997 or 1998, I was sitting on an Air Canada flight out of Toronto. As is usual for me, I had a stack of magazines to read on the flight, including a copy of WoodenBoat Magazine. It happened that this particular issues had a retrospective on the late Joel White, a well-known wooden boat builder. Beside me sat a middle-aged woman.

As I was reading, I struck up a friendly conversation with my seatmate, and seeing the pictures of the beautiful boats she asked a few questions about boats.

Then I mentioned to her that the best parts of the issue I had in hand were the articles about Joel White. I happened to tell her very casually that Joel was the son of E.B. White, the essayist and author.

A beautiful down-east lobster boat designed and built by Joel White

"Ah," she said. "E.B. White. I have a sort of connection to him."

"Really! Tell me more." I replied (I'd always been an E.B. White fan)

"Well..." she started, "My father was one of those people who collected first editions of books. He was a schoolteacher, but he'd always dreamed of being an author. He had a few authors who he corresponded with, and he'd send the first edition books to them for their signatures. One of those authors was E.B. White, and the two of them carried on quite a correspondence for many years."

"Anyhow, when I was fairly young my father received a nice letter from E.B. telling him that he was about to start a children's book, and that because of how much E.B. had enjoyed the correspondence with my father, he wanted my father to suggest a name for one of the characters in the new book. So, my father wrote back to E.B. and suggested that he name one of the characters after me. In the next letter, E.B. said that he would."

"Wow!" was my immediate response, "That's pretty darn cool! So... I have to ask, what's your name?"

I was speechless at her answer:


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