Furiously typing like a mad-woman at Alterra, earbuds squelching the sound of the coffee grinder, I feel like someone's watching me. From the corner of my eye I realize there's a man standing to my left, looking at me.
Popping out the ear bud, I take a good look at this touristy-looking man. His get-up is complete with a fanny pack, baseball cap and a very Charlie Sheen-style shirt beneath is winter coat.
He begins talking to me about my MacBook that I'm typing on for work and tells me to hit Command F5. This struck me as odd, but I obliged. What I didn't know was the depth of the story behind his affinity for Macintosh and this particular key sequence.
Mark told me his wife, Elizabeth, used to use this command regularly which allows a user to use voice commands. Why, you ask? Because she was blind, and Mark didn't stop talking about his late wife for the 15 minutes he chatted with me. They met when he was her archery instructor.
The whole conversation, he's telling me all these things about how he was introduced to Elizabeth, her Golden Retriever guide-dog, Duddley, and how much he misses her. Toward the end of the conversation, his eyes seemed to get foggy with tears — but none escaped. Today, he shares his hand-made cribbage boards and games with the world.
I met Mark for the first time today and only spent about 15 minutes with him, but it was sobering to chat with someone for such a short period of time and learn so much about them. It seemed he just wanted to share a piece of himself and his love for Elizabeth.
Maybe this is a reminder that sometimes, not every stranger is looking for money or handouts — but just a willing ear.