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Mark Z., hero at large, saves the day for a desperate groom

Houston's John Garza and Hannah Sommer are getting married in nine days, with a key assist from a legendary Minnesota hero known only by the name Mike Z.

Houston's John Garza and Hannah Sommer are getting married in nine days, with a key assist from a legendary Minnesota hero known only by the name Mike Z. John Garza

Thirty-year-old John Garza from Houston is getting married on October 7. His bride, Hannah Sommer, has seven bridesmaids dressed in a maddeningly hard-to-replicate dusty blue. After nine months of toil, they finally found the perfect groomsmen’s tie to match: a slate grey Michael Kors.

Only one exists on Amazon. Two more could be traced to a Nordstrom Rack in Houston. There are five others, Nordstrom told Garza, stocked in Maplewood, Minnesota. No deliveries.
What to do?

Garza, a law student at South Texas College of Law, considers himself a “bit OCD when it comes to matching colors.” He wanted everything to be perfect for Sommer, so he appealed to the Nordstrom rep’s soft side.

“I’m trying to not ruin my marriage before it even starts,” he pleaded. “Just person to person, can you buy them, and I’ll pay you for them?”

No dice. So Garza took to the Twin Cities subreddit with the same proposition, knowing full well it sounded like “a ripe opportunity to get screwed.”

“Howdy, he wrote Monday, “Desperate Texan throwing a Hail Mary.”

Within minutes, 59-year-old Minnesotan Mark Z. was reading Garza’s request from the comfort of his boat. He didn’t live too far from the Woodbury Nordstrom, so he offered to swing by.

“He was just the nicest guy, like this guy was my best friend for my entire life,” Garza says.

Mark arrived at Nordstrom the following morning at 9:55 a.m., and waited for the store to open at 10. The store clerks dug out the ties. Then he headed down the street to FedEx them. As for the $50 “errand fee” Garza offered as a thank you, Mark suggested it go to the Red Cross with Hurricane Harvey in mind.

“It’s no big deal,” Mark insists in a sort of gruff, aggressively humble way. “I’m just saying, I just did it for good karma. I can’t help anybody in Mexico, I can’t help anybody right now in Texas, but I can help some schmuck who’s trying to get ready for a wedding, that’s all.”

“Here’s the thing: I’ve been married 31 years. I would wear a purple tie and not give a damn, but my wife would want it to match the bridesmaids, you know? The big deal here is to think of the bride.”

Garza ended up donating the $50 to the local food bank, Humane Society, and the Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund.

“When I went back to the Reddit post, someone had something like, ‘That’s Twin Cities Kindness,’ some regional phrase, or yeah, ‘Minnesota Nice,’" Garza says. "And that was kinda nice to see because I’m from Texas, born and raised, and I believe in southern hospitality. It’s nice to see there’s goodness in people all around the country.”