Strangers

This morning, a young gentleman and his girlfriend interrupted me while I was typing on my laptop and sipping coffee at a local cafe just around the corner from work. He politely asked if he could use my computer to transfer files from the digital camera to their hard drive. He paid for internet access in the cafe but they were not allowed to use the hardware. I happened to be sitting next to the station where they were situated.

I thought about it for a few minutes. The laptop was given to me by a friend. He worked as a tech support in a law firm that recently upgraded their computers. They were discarding the old ones and he thought of saving one for me. Since I had the good grace of getting this laptop for free, it made sense to help them out. So, I agreed.

I held out my hand and introduced myself. They both shook it and thanked me profusely. The young gentleman's name was Tal, originally from Israel now based in Norway. His girlfriend's name was Wendy, a Norwegian, whom he met and fell in love with in India five years ago. Glancing at the titles of their file folders, I could tell that they traveled extensively: South America, Caribbean, Thailand and Mexico. "How do you guys do it?" I asked. They held seasonal jobs back home and saved their money for travel, sometimes getting temporary work while on the road to sustain them. Wendy also told me that they get five weeks paid vacation.

Once the file transfers were finished, Tal asked me if I had Photoshop in my computer. I shook my head. "Would you like me to install one? I have it in my hard drive." I couldn't believe it. Just a few days ago, I wished I had the application so I could work on my images for this blog. "Sure!" I nodded. While waiting, Tal was looking at a guitar online. "It's always his dream to get that." Wendy said. They planned to buy it that day and so I gave them some directions and they plotted it out on google maps. He would like to learn and play flamenco music when he got back. Wendy, on the other hand, showed me her digital SLR camera. She told me how she resisted going digital for long time and missed working in the darkroom. I shared that longing with her.

Finally, the installation was done. I thanked them and they were just thrilled to have helped me in return. We exchanged emails and bid our goodbyes. Maria Shriver, on the campaign trail for Barack Obama a few months ago, said that life was made up of several moments and that being on stage that day was one of those special ones. That was how I felt today.