Do you need me to call an ambulance?

(Cup # 12)

His car had been idle for almost 10 minutes, and even from my  place behind the bar some 30 feet away, I could see that the pain had gotten worse. I approached the car to ask, yet again, if the guy needed me to do anything - I could see the answer in his eyes even before he opened his mouth. Both his legs were cramped; he could no longer move his hands; his face was tingling; and he was having trouble breathing...

My heart began to race a little as I ran back inside and reached for the phone, carefully dialing - one 9, followed by a second, and then a third. There is always a strange excitement in situations like these - people can't help but watch, curious minds are like that I suppose. But there is a responsability that goes with being the person who dials those 3 numbers - and in that moment, a transformation occurs. You are no longer a curious bystander. You are involved. You are part of it - whatever it turns out to be.

In my case that day - I had no idea what it was - I just knew that this guy needed a hand, and I had a responsability to lend him one. I ran back out to the car to let him know that the paramedics were only a few minutes away, and did my best to keep him calm, which is an interesting thing to have to do when you're doing your best to keep calm youself.

'So... Hows... work?'

Brilliant Greg. Brilliant. Ask the guy having a panic attack in his car how work is going. I'm sure that exactly what he'd like to think about right now...

What he said next though, caught me slightly off guard.

'You aren't from Canada, are you?'

I was slightly surprised that he placed my accent so easily.

And with that simple question, Lam and I now had common ground. He had been to Vancouver even, and as it turned out, he would be headed back to Vancouver in a few days - or, that was the plan, before I jumped in to call him an ambulance.

The paramedics had arrived - and I while I had been relinquished of my responsibilities, I walked back inside my work feeling a strange sense of dissapointment. Soon, Lam would be on his way to the hospital; his car would be towed; and I would be left wondering what ever happened to the guy. That's just how it tends to work...

Not today however. I wasn't going to leave it at that.

I wrote a quick note to Lam - telling him that it was a pleasure to meet him, to enjoy his holiday in Vancouver, and to shoot me an email to let me know how everything turns out. Passing the note off the one of the paramedics, I had done all that I could not to let this connection escape me. I put my chips on the table, and all I could do was hope that whatever health issue he was having wasn't too serious, and that he wouldn't think it too strange to drop me a line.

Three weeks later, he did.

His health scare, and a much needed 3 week holiday in Vancouver behind him, we met at a pub around the corner from the spot we first met to catch up. Or really, I guess it was to meet properly for the first time.

Lam and I talked over two cups of Earl Grey, and lunch too. He shared stories of his trip to Vancouver, I shared stories of my travel's in Vietnam (where Lam's family is from), and we talked, like friends do. About anything that came to our minds. About our lives. About our careers. Our goals and aspirations. Our travel plans. About all those normal, everyday kind of things that any two people could sit down and talk about, if they wanted to that is... It didn't seem to matter to him, and it most certainly didn't matter to me, that weeks before this, we had no knowledge of each other's existance.

For a meeting born of such chance, Lam and I really did connect on quite a few levels. How funny it is to think that had he stopped his car on that fateful day, only 20 feet before, or 20 feet further along the street - I would not have been able to see him out the front window of the restaurant; never would have known that the guy needed a hand; and I certainly wouldn't be sitting here beside my bed, at this very moment, sharing the story with all of you.

By the end of our meeting, I no longer felt as if I had met Lam as a means to step closer to the goal of 100. I felt as if I had sat down to lunch with a good friend. An old friend. It all began to fell so normal, so much so that I forgot to snap a picture of the two of us. Forgot entirely that meeting Lam for lunch had anything to do with my quest to meet 100 strangers...

Lam and I met up again a few days later, for a cup of hot chocolate, and to grab that photo of course! I can't help but feel, yet again, like the simple act of making the most of a meeting born of chance and circumstance, I have emerged with another new friend. Someone who may very likely play an important role in my life.

It all started with a '999' call. But a note scribbled on a piece of paper, and a couple emails later - it has become something so much more. That willingness to connect has brought Lam and I friendship - one that I am confident has the potential to enrich both of our lives. And, it may even lead to a cup of tea in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - but that story will have to wait. Though, not for long...

(The view of Kuala Lumpur from my hotel window)


  1. I really really love what your doing and I am so inspired in my own way to connect with new people on a more personal level.

  2. You have no idea how glad it makes me to hear that! You should! I can't endorse it enough. We all have the ability to mean something to each other, all it takes is the willingness to take that chance. To trust a little bit more. And to have a conversation! When you discover your own way, please let me know! I'd love to hear about the connections you make.