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The Leeming Effect - stop dragging my timeline around · Sunday April 11, 2021 by colin newell

Man of mystery or guardian

Around two decades ago I was in the parking lot at the University of Victoria – likely on a Saturday – doing some extra chores.

I finished up about mid-day and was about to set off for some downtown routine to-do items when a strange man appeared in front of my car. He was quite distinguished and around 60 years old – give or take.

I tapped the brake to a stop and he stood by the drivers side window as I rolled it down.
“Hello…” I said, if offering some help to someone appearing very lost.
“Hello…” he paused, and continued. “Do you know someone by the name of John Smith?”
“Why yes, I do…” relieved that this interaction was about to start making sense.
The man looked up over the hood into the sunshine, squinting and paused for around 30 more seconds.
He then returned his very serious looking gaze to me. Another pause of around 30 seconds began. This time the seconds seemed to tick by much more slowly.
“You have coffee at the Finnerty Express most weekdays do you not?” he pointed out with crystal clarity.
I now felt like I was having a very cautious conversation with a CSIS officer.
“Uhm, yes… yes I do… and…”, I slipped back into the conversation.
He then addressed me by name, which surprised me. “Colin, you are Colin, yes? I shall see you for coffee next week…”
He turned on his heel and vanished as quickly as he appeared.

I had a funny feeling that his presence manifested itself at that moment to impede my progress downtown.
In some small (or profound) way he was interfering with the passage of time or my timeline, that if not interrupted, would have lead to some major or minor catastrophe.

These are regular (I guess if you can call them that…) encounters with regular people who, for the moment, are a form of guardian angel arriving just in a nick of time to prevent something really bad from happening.

And yes, the very next week, “David” appeared for coffee – and has appeared for coffee ever week (vacations occasionally interrupting) since that fateful encounter 20 years ago.

Today a young man stopped me at the Root Cellar farmers market in the very same fashion.
He was drawn to a very special sweat shirt that I was wearing. It was the classic blue sweatshirt from the very old and no longer in existence Victoria College from well before 1963! I won’t include the entire conversation (and for the record I was in no hurry…) but he had so many questions.

So this is what it felt like to be a pop star encountering a fan that I could simply not shake. But in this instance, the shirt was the attraction.

He was with his wife or girlfriend but it seemed that the Victoria College shirt took center stage.

Nothing mattered but the shirt I was wearing.

Within a minute or so of answering a barrage of questions, the answers to which he did not appear to be absorbing, I broke away to go through my grocery shortlist.

Within a minute he re-appeared and the questions began again. I quietly and calmly answered and then satisfied, he returned to his shopping… as if nothing had happened.

In an odd coincidence, the elderly man at the beginning of this story was a Victoria College student and a faculty member!

I could not help feeling that I’d just had some kind of alien encounter – but in a good way. I mean, I am, by and large, a science guy, but very occasionally, lost in the glint of bright sunlight or hidden in the shadows of a rainy Victoria afternoon, rests something very likely between science… and the Twilight Zone


Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria B.C. Canada and has been writing about coffee and food culture for what feels like an eternity…

  1. This is a test


    Colin    Apr 12, 12:20 pm    #

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