When I say my job gives me a front row seat to the human experience, I’m not kidding.
I just met a 95 year old man who worked with Alan Turing on the Enigma code project in WWII. He clearly knew him personally and was still, 64 years later, traumatized by his death.
I have read quite a bit over the years about Turing and not only were all the details right, he was actually filling in historical perspective with personal anecdotes. His memories were complex and bittersweet, as might be expected.
For all that Turing contributed to the Allies winning the war, British society persecuted him for being a homosexual without mercy. Like much about the war, on full display were the extremes of human behavior, from its triumphant and tender best to the depths of its cruelest and most depraved.
Unbelievably, this gentleman looked like he was 20 years younger, seemed cognitively intact, and was funny and engaging. He walked with a cane but didn’t appear to really need it. Security called him a taxi, and he left with no assistance needed, thank you very much. I was truly awestruck, and that doesn’t happen very often.
Before he left, I shook his hand and held on as long as I could.
I literally felt like I was touching a precious part of human history that would soon be gone forever.
I didn’t want the minute to end.