The Employment of Mark J. Winter

I'm not exactly sure what inspires me to approach certain people for a cup of tea. Of course, most of the time, we leave ad's online, posters at the laundrette or on a cafe wall in Paris, things of that sort. Every once in a while though, I meet or hear about someone, much like Patti Gaal-Holmes (Cup # 2) or the lady I met at the book store (who has yet to contact me!), and I feel a strange urge to ask them to have tea.

I can't help but think back to being a kid - when it was completely acceptable to befriend someone on a whim - when one child would walk into his or her first day of school, lock eyes with another boy or girl, and say, "Hey, do you want to be my best friend?" - and that was that.

I guess I have the ability to use this project in much the same way. To use tea as a guise to make new friends. It's still a little bit weird, I can admit. But it sounds far less creepy than me approaching Mark J. Winter with, "Hey mate. I like the look of you. Do you want to be my friend?".

I guess you're wondering who Mark J. Winter is now, aren't you. Well, let me explain...

I've been tweeting lately. Yes, tweeting. 

I'm not one to really make use of social networking websites - that isn't to say that I don't use them, I am just not always that active - one of those Facebookers who lurks in the back ground, but doesn't say much. And yes, that does sound worse when it's typed out doesn't it...

Anyway, back to twitter, and my tweeting. My attention was drawn to a tweet by Mr. Danny Wallace - a writer that, truth be told, has a lot to do with me gathering the courage and inspiration to embark on this tea filled journey. Danny had tweeted about a gentleman named Mark J. Winter - an aspiring graphic designer, in search of work. Only, in order to aid his search, he is offering 10% of his first months salary to anyone who can help him secure a job.

Brilliant! A campaign man, much like myself and Kiwi! I wouldn't be able to offer him employment, but I thought he might be keen to grab a cup of tea and have a chat. And he was. Of course he was, he was a campaign man! We're all alike, and willing to help out other on their journeys when we can. We're a good bunch...

Mark and I met in London outside Oxford Circus with plans to hit up a pub on Carnaby Street.

Our meeting was comfortable - more so than I had expected. Perhaps, being that we are both on a journey of sorts, maybe that common ground made our connection a little more effortless. Like all the cups before Mark, we shared stories and ideas - Mark admitting to me that he tends to favour electronic communication over verbal, face to face connection. His agreement to meet me was clearly a personal effort to change this within himself - and I'm glad Mark was willing to take the chance. I'll admit though, I was beginning to feel as if each meeting starts and ends much the same - with a slightly awkward first few minutes, followed by the setting in of comfort, and enjoyable conversation. At it's core - this whole tea thing is, while also a push to connect with people and break out of routine, is an social experiment of sorts - to see if a cup of tea can change your life, or mine of course. And for Mark, on his search to find work - I couldn't help be feel like I needed to make this meeting something a little more than just a cup of tea accompanied by conversation.

As Mark described his hopes for the job search, and his genuine desire to follow through and have his employment be the result of a reference through his campaign, I began to wonder if Mark had considered approaching BBC Radio. He had, it turns out, but had not taken any action.

"Why don't we go over to the BBC now then - we'll walk in, and try to get you on the radio!"

It was a bold statement, and it was clear to me that I had caught Mark off guard. A reserved guy at heart, his own quest was forcing him to be a little more outgoing, just as the tea project was doing for me. A few minutes later, with some direction for a friendly stranger on street - we arrived at the BBC. Mark walked in the doors, explained his story to the guy at the desk, handed out some business cards - before being directed to the administration building. Administration sent us to Radio 4. Radio 4 sent us up Great Portland Street to Radio One - the storming of BBC radio was beginning to feel impossible, though, we did manage to get several of Mark's cards into new hands. We contemplated waiting outside the studio for Fearne Cotton to arrive, but I could see that Mark had pushed himself to the limit already, and maybe I was getting a little carried away too, trying to help Mark push onwards.

We retired back to Oxford Street for some lunch before calling at a day - both feeling good about what we had helped each other accomplish - Mark making a push forward with his job search, attempting to take it to the next level - and myself, attempting to us tea as a means to meet new people, and challenge them in the hope of achieving some positive change.

I liked Mark. I had fun with him that day. I hope he felt the same about his time with me - and as we bounced ideas back and forth about our respective projects - I couldn't help but feel like this won't be the last that Mark J. Winter has to do with the journey to 100 cups.

On that note - if you are a graphic designer, know a graphic designer, own a graphic design firm, or even know of one - head over to to find out more about how you can help find Mark a new job, and possible earn youself  10% of his first months wages!

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