The holy grail of Hong Kong journalism: a happy story
Eyes peering suspiciously over the top of his face mask, the slick-haired businessman lowered his newspaper.
'What makes me happy?' he said. 'A very good question. But why do you ask?'
It seemed a straightforward mission: go out and find a happy story. But these are dark times. 'It may be like the search for the honest man, it could go on and on,' said the editor.
Standing on the rocking MTR on the way to Mongkok, the task suddenly became simple.
Life is simple.
I asked Gary Fung, a Form Five student with a pair of headphones dangling over his shoulder, what made him happy. Without hesitation, he said everyone he knew, all his friends, were happy.
'We are enjoying our freedom, we are enjoying being our age,' he said. 'We just don't care what's printed in the newspapers - if you took everything that is happening in the world too seriously then it would be impossible to be happy.'
Even the hardened stall owners of 'Ladies Street' could find joy in the simple things. 'You want a happy story?' laughed Mr Mok, who sells pantyhose and men's underwear.
'Then look at that man, his business is doing worse than mine,' he said, bellowing with laughter as he pointed at a nearby fake watch salesman.
'We laugh at ourselves and our friends, that is how we stay happy.
'[Stall owners] often tease each other about the poor business. We still get some laughter out of counting the number of customers per day.'
A massive tourist from London who gave his name only as Reza said he found happiness in food and friends. 'Of course I am worried about what is happening around the world. The pneumonia outbreak here, the war, the threat of terror.
'But we must keep these things in perspective. We should celebrate the fact that we are alive, that we are healthy, and that we have the capacity for joy.
'As long as there is food and friends, we should be happy.'
The journey back to the office was much brighter. The happy story had been found.
And it was in the same place it has always been - in simple pleasures.