It was a typical Saturday evening, and I was off gambling at a local Catholic church. Last year at this time two bingos had netted me a full ham. It was enough to make a guy wish he knew how to work an oven, but such things are best left to the professionals.
I was not a member of this church, or any other. I am of the belief that a person should only believe things that they have reason to believe are true. However, in a small community such as this everyone is a friend of a friend, and I soon found myself being introduced to new faces, including a man named Walter, and his lovely wife Ellie.
He sat toward the middle of the table on the half with those he was already acquainted with. I sat close by, but on the side that my friends were seated. I took little notice while making polite greetings, and went back to the important task of winning ham nine boards at a time.
The competition was fierce, and after several hamless rounds of bingo things were looking grim. It was then that my friend Jean, who's always looking out for us and cooking our ham, turned the topic of conversation toward my search for a technical internship.
At the time I was five years into a two year degree in computer support. I was ready to graduate, and was only missing my internship. I explained this, and my fruitless search. In response, Walter's and my mutual friend Katie spoke up, and changed my life forever.
"Walter does tech support."
This had my interest. After years of academic pursuit, I had come to the realization that I had little idea where my degree might take me, or where I wanted it to. I was not strictly concerned with finding an internship. Instead I was more interested in taking the opportunity to pick this man's brain.
I asked him about where he worked and what sort of things he does there. He seemed hesitant to talk about his job at first. I would later learn that this was because he wasn't prepared to be call upon to speak about himself in front of a group. Or perhaps he was merely hesitant to be distracted from his own dreams of ham dinner.
He did however do a good job describing his occupation. He made it sound like his was the type of job someone like myself could use to get his foot in the door, and gain some experience. He gained an assuredness as he spoke, and ended his summary by explaining that he does all of these duties as an employee that an Indian company has outsourced to America, which was received by chuckles from both sides of the table.
I was grateful for this information, and feebly tried to convey that. The lull in the conversation that followed was broken by Jean, who asked a question that I was not bold enough to ask a man who I had just met.
"Maybe Walter could put in a word for you?"
I wanted to say, "No, no. I couldn't expect you do such a thing." I wanted to say, "Could you, please? It would mean alot to me." What I said was nothing, and waited for his answer like everyone else.
Walter was clearly not expecting this, and began to answer while he was still collecting his thoughts, as he is aught to do. He then began again giving a clear "Yes" before concern crossed his face. He then asked for my assurance that I would call the contact he gave me.
He did not say that if he put in a word for me, and I did not follow through, he would look foolish. He didn't have to. It was a real, and practical concern that revealed a deeper portion of his character.
I had already decided that he is a technical person, a helpful person, and he had then revealed that he is a practical person. It was that moment that I realized that this is a man like myself; a man on the same journey I am, but further along it.
I got that job, and more importantly a good friend. Ham dinner, alas, was not to be.