I was in Paris, France, inside a restaurant, with my two daughters and, for no reason, I looked outside through a big window and saw around twenty people crossing the street. Among these pedestrians, one, in particular, caught my attention: this gentleman was trying to cross the street at a different pace from the others, with enormous difficulty, almost hitting the ground. Instinctively, I ran out, desperately, still holding my napkin. I dropped it on the floor and bumped into the host and he held me so I would not fall on the floor. Fortunately, I caught the gentleman before he hit the floor. I helped him finish crossing the street and asked if he wanted me to call someone and he said that he was by himself in Paris. I also questioned where he was trying to go and, coincidentally, he said that he was going to have lunch at the same restaurant where I was with my daughters.
I do not speak a word in French. However, I sadly remember that the host was not happy that I was taking that gentleman with me into the restaurant but I ignored his gestures and found that gentleman a table.
At that time my oldest daughter was 14 and we were in Paris to celebrate my youngest’s 8th birthday. They were a little bit uncomfortable, apprehensive and scared about that situation, because it was clear that all the restaurant’s staff attention has been drawn towars me, and in a bad way; but they knew that helping that gentleman was the right thing to do.
I told my oldest daughter that she had to be strong and focus and take care of her little sister for me; I would be back to our table in feel minutes, first I had to help that gentleman. I helped him to order his meal and I went back to my daughters.
From our table I could see the gentleman and I looked in his direction from time to time to see if he was okay and he waved a couple of times.
When we finished our lunch I asked for the bill and the waiter told me that it was already payed for by the gentleman whom I helped cross the street. I went to his table with my daughters in order to thank him and he offered us a cup of tea. We joined him and he introduced himself as Daniel Choy. He interacted with my daughters, talking about school, their future, hobbies, travelling and we spoke about our families and then he said he was a professor at Columbia University and that he was in Paris to give a speech about his inventions. He told my daughters if one day it ever crossed their minds to move to New York and attend Columbia they could reach out to him. I thought that was very generous and genuine.
We spent more than a hour talking and laughing.
I sometimes have a little difficulty pronouncing some words in English: Instead of saying from the bottom of my heart I said “from the button of my heart”. My daughters corrected me and I kept saying “button”. Mr. Choy tried to help and I still said “button” until they finally gave up on me and all of us started laughing like kids.
We had a very pleasant time with Mr. Choy!
We offered him a ride to his hotel and we exchanged emails.
When I went back to São Paulo, Brazil, and professor Choy returned to New York, we started communicating through e-mail, talking about amenities and cars. He was also a big fan of Porsches.
We planned to see each other in New York and to introduce myself to Mrs Choy. However, we never made it. Unfortunately.
My daughters and I were so lucky to have met a nice person and a brilliant mind in a wonderful city in a unexpected situation on March 2016: professor Daniel Choy!