There are two parts to this story, my original write up about Mac and a follow up post.
For the past couple of months I have seen this old Maori man sitting in the chair on the
sky-bridge between the PWC Tower and the Westfield shopping centre. I walk that way almost every day and he is always there. His face is very weathered, he has striking eyes and long curly salt and pepper hair. His name is Mac and he is 70 years old. He tells me he is 100% Maori. His face looks like one of Goldie’s portrait subjects, with his ageing wrinkled skin and striking features.
I ask him about his life. Apparently he lives in Kansas and owns a ranch there, which he has just sold. He puts on an American accent at first, which comes and goes with our conversation. He likes to travel the world and has been “to the south pole, Singapore, England and America”. He visits New Zealand every 5 years or so and this time he is here for 6 months – he is leaving NZ for America again in June…back to Kansas.
Mac tells me he hasn’t had any experiences with escapism. He believes that people should always be truthful and not try to hide or escape from your problems and face up to your realities. He doesn’t watch TV, go to the movies or drink etc. Mac also tells me he doesn’t day-dream. I question him about this and he says “I am fully aware of my thoughts and don’t consider them day dreams”. I wonder to myself why then does he come to this same place every day. Surely this is his place to escape, to contemplate and relax. So I ask him why does he come here, “Why not” is his answer.
I have come to the conclusion that Mac lives in his own little imaginary world, he makes up stories of a life that maybe he would prefer to be living. His story about what he does never changes, but the other little things he has told me about himself, have changed over time. As an example, when I first met him he told me he didn’t smoke or drink – yet not long ago I was walking through town with my partner and saw him standing outside a pub smoking a cigarette and having a beer.
He has told me on several occasions that he is leaving to go back to Kansas, yet the next day he is still there and weeks have gone by and he is still there. He keeps telling me he is waiting for the sale of his ranch to be finalised. I have my suspicions that Mac could be homeless or sleeping rough. However, he is always clean and his clothes tidy, has nice shoes etc. Then the other day a friend of mine told me that he goes to the tepid baths every day for a shower. They charge him $2 to use their facilities. I am now more convinced that he is not who he says he is. For someone who doesn’t believe in escapism, he seems to be the biggest escapist I have come across so far.