I'm always amazed at how people's paths in life cross; what brings them to the same juncture at the exact point in time. But for one different decision here or there (either yours, theirs, or even someone else's entirely), and, the meeting would never have occurred.
Mr. B, CPA, has (and has had) many clients. I've not met any of them, until last night. Oh, yes, I actually felt a bit like Samantha on "Bewitched" going out to dinner with her husband and his client :-) Not that I caused any shenanigans, of course.
Seriously, Mr. B's been telling me about Terry M. for some time, which, in and of itself is somewhat unusual 'cause he doesn't typically talk that much about his clients (other than the usual and general of who they are, what they do/their business is, where they're located etc.)
So, the path thing and how Terry came to be his client in the first place is that Mr. B began working for his current firm three years ago. In the same building is a financial management company called Stifel Nicholas, which, after a lot of thought, we decided to retain as our financial managers (this is not to insinuate that we have oodles of money to be managed, but, neither of us felt we were equipped to do justice to what it is we do have). Terry has an older, mentally ill sister for whom he is trustee of a SNT (special needs trust). Stifel (I believe) helps with this plus a bit more of his assets. Terry, originally from PA, has lived in North Carolina the majority of his life and currently lives way out in the sticks, not too far from Hurt, one of our FMs at SN.
Ok, Hurt, who is a great guy (former HR person, as an aside), is talking to Mr. B one day and mentions that he has a client who had a real shady CPA who got him into a ton of trouble with the IRS. He, Terry needed an excellent CPA to get him out of the mess, enter our Mr. B.
Those details aside (and I shouldn't really disclose much, anyway), Terry and Mr. B were introduced by Hurt. Terry engaged Mr. B (meaning, hired) and off they went.
So, over the course of the engagement, They've chatted frequently. Mr. B's told me that he probably spends too much (non-billable time) on the phone with Terry, but, it's apparent that Terry is quite lonely and doesn't have many people to talk to.
I guess, then, I wasn't overly surprised when Mr. B asked me a few weeks ago if I'd like to go with him to meet Terry for dinner; Terry had mentioned it several times to him and they figured they should do it. Why not?
Terry picked Carrabbas, which was fine by us. We decided up front that we would not let him pay for our dinner (to me, this would seem somehow inappropriate, anyway, from an ethics perspective). We arrived first but Terry had phoned earlier to ask the hostess to give us a large booth, which we went ahead and sat in and ordered a drink.
I wasn't sure what to expect and Mr. B didn't know who to look for having never met Terry face to face. The hostess brought him over; a tall, somewhat lanky man with grey-ish hair, a mustache, and big green eyes that, to my relief, did not wander all over the place (ok, I know I'm not the only one who would worry about where to look; silly, I know, considering he couldn't see where I was looking at all). He also bore a striking resemblance to a guy I used to work with way back in college named Findley.
Anyway, one thing I noticed right off the bat, he seemed to have some idea of motion/where we were. He shook Mr. B's hand without fumbling or searching and turned to me (I was sitting down in the booth) and reached down towards me to shake mine. As we were eating, his hands easily found whatever it was they needed; utensils, glass, plate, napkin and bread basket (I've never see someone eat so much bread in my entire life).
It was apparent to me that this dinner was something he'd looked forward to a great deal. Although perhaps a touch nervous at first, he nevertheless kept up a steady stream of chatter which encompassed a myriad of subjects ranging from the food he wanted to eat that night (in addition to the bread, we ordered appetizers, soups/salads, our entrees and he had two tequila sunrises), to where he was from, what his father and mother had done in their lives (both educators, now deceased), his sister, his A-Frame house and his methodical process for cleaning it (I have to admit I was REAL curious when he mentioned vacuuming; so, I asked him how he vacuumed when he couldn't see what he was doing, which he graciously explained to me in some detail). He has a female cat named Beta whom he feeds four cans of Fancy Feast a day and who, apparently, does "whatever she wants to do" and he listens to a lot of audio books. He told us that he can sometimes see movement if the light is right and the movement is close. So, if I were standing a block away waving at him, he'd not see me. However, if I were right up close waving my hand in his face, he'd see that. But, he couldn't see our faces.
I thought, "I know someone is there. I just don't know who it is".
After dinner, he got up to go outside to smoke a cigarette. By himself. He had told Mr. B that he is pretty good with spatial relations and once he's been in a place (he'd been to this restaurant one other time), he pretty much remembers where he is and where he's going. Impressive, and, oh by the way, I'd be in big doggie doo-doo with that whole "spatial relations" thing.
Someone had dropped him off earlier that night (obviously, he cannot drive) so Mr. B had offered that we'd take him home. Let me tell you, this man DOES live out in the sticks. WAY out there. Despite his very exacting directions, we drove right past the turn off to his road. He said, "It feels as though we've gone too far". We had.
Way at the end of the road, sitting on five or so acres, was his A-Frame house. And, sitting there waiting for him was his cat, Beta.
As he got out of the car, he enthused that he certainly hoped this wouldn't be the last time we'd have dinner together. He asked Mr. B to leave the headlights on him as he ambled towards the door, Beta running alongside next to him.
We backed out of the driveway and back down the very dark and deserted road. Mr. B said, "Could you imagine living way out here?" No, I couldn't. But, my guess is that it suits Terry just fine and I truly admire his independence.
So, I asked Mr. B, "What happened? He's not always been blind, that was apparent from several things he said".
"No, no. He hasn't been. He was out riding his motorcycle one day about sixteen years ago and was hit by a kid jacked up on drugs. He woke up in the hospital with many serious breaks and injuries. And blind".
I thought back to something Terry had said earlier that evening, about how he listened to over 1,300 audio books one year, during the "dark time", and tried to fathom what it would be like to loose so much in a literal blink of an eye.
And how there is no one, really, in his life and yet he's chugging along, Beta by his side, because as he said, "I wasn't about to give up".
And how just a very simple gesture of kindness; two people agreeing to have dinner with him one night, made his day. Heck, maybe even his week.
And I thought, too, about a lyric from an Aerosmith song:
"I met a blind man, who taught me how to see".
And I'm sorta hoping we'll be seeing more of Terry M.