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Lately I have been shuttling my wife to work because of a painful knee that has kept her laid up for several weeks. This has resulted in me frequenting places that I don’t usually go. I chauffeured my wife to a meeting that was to take a few hours. During that time I holed up at a coffee shop, taking time to prep for a class later that day.

A woman walked through the door. She looked familiar. It was hard to see her clearly as the sun was shining bright behind her, giving her an angel’s aura. It turned out to be a colleague of mine, CK. The random encounter didn’t seem as wondrous as meeting a friend of mine in Hawaii. ( ). However, it still was a mystery. We commiserated about our jobs. We are close in age and rather than going out with a bang, it seems like the sun has threatened to set on both our careers. We talked about our children and the struggles they faced.

CK was at the coffee house to meet with a student. When the student arrived, it turned out that I knew her as well. That was less surprising to see her, given that CK and I teach many of the same students.

I got the text message to pick up my wife. “Wait,” CK said, “let’s get a picture.” She pointed to a poster board in the front of the store with the picture of a coffee cup and a cut out in the shape of a star. CK bent down, stuck her face in the cutout and gave it her best star-faced pucker. Her student was laughing, while trying to operate the camera. I took my turn, face in the hole, the radiant beams leaving dents in my jowls. We hugged, promising to keep in touch, and I left.

What was the meaning of that random visit? Does there have to be a meaning? I don’t know. It was fun being silly. It was fun seeing her, and maybe we will keep in touch. It was comforting knowing we all suffer in life. I leave the coffee shop feeling less alone, having been reminded that I have a friend. That is enough. I leave the rest to the mystery.