Few people would disagree that the pandemic has wreaked more than its fair share of misery, misfortune and inconvenience.
And when it comes to romance during the era of COVID-19, the chances of finding love have been slim to none, given the public health order restrictions on socializing.
But if there ever was a case of the stars aligning to bring two 40-something singletons together, Richmond’s Eugene Chong and New Westminster’s Alex Vrabec cracked it.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, 48-year-old Chong would never have lost his job and likely wouldn’t have devoted his newfound free time to motorcycling.
If COVID hadn’t hit global travel hard last summer, 46-year-old Vrabec would have been off on a European vacation with her family, instead of learning to ride a motorbike.
And if there was no health crisis, Chong wouldn’t have had a new, spare face mask on his bike to offer Vrabec — which she needed to visit the hair salon — moments after the pair met by chance last summer in a motorcycle repair shop.
Talk about fate. And all on a Tuesday, apparently.
“I was in the (bike) shop and I saw Alex come in. It was a Tuesday I think. She was in to get some work done on her bike,” Chong recalled.
“I made a joke to her about her bike being stolen outside and she took it well. She mentioned she was going to the hair salon while her bike was being fixed, but that she didn’t have a mask.
“I had a new one in my bag at my bike and we went outside and I gave it to her. We chatted and she mentioned she was going on a group bike ride and she extended the invitation to me.”
When Chong got home, he wasted no time in looking for the bike group online and then found Vrabec on Facebook.
“The first day I met him, he gave me advice on how to install a headset into my helmet and then we decided to go for something to eat (when restrictions were less severe),” said Vrabec.
“This was completely unexpected. I wasn’t looking for anything, it was total chance.
“What caught my attention was the fact he made fun of me a little bit and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty ballsy.’ And at dinner, it was really relaxed and felt very comfortable.”
Both Chong and Vrabec had been single for several years and neither was on the lookout for love.
But it sure found them; they moved in together just a couple of months after that fateful bumping into each other at the bike shop.
“I think it was at dinner for me that I realized how cool she was to talk to and how many similar interests we had,” added Chong.
“I wasn’t really looking (for anyone), I was just taking it as it comes. I was happy by myself, it wasn’t a priority.
“But it happened very quickly and was very natural.”
As for challenges in kicking off a new relationship during a pandemic, both Chong and Vrabec seem completely unfazed and have actually welcomed the bizarre situation we all find ourselves in.
“Actually, we’ve rather enjoyed it, it’s allowed us to spend time together, without distractions,” said Chong.
The couple met each other’s parents many months ago and their relationship has been blossoming ever since.
Vrabec added that she was “at the age when you know what’s right and I knew it was the time to go for it. I knew it was right for me.”