Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Benjamin and I meet

We were there to gamble. They had set the hall up with long tables, eight people on a side. There were ten to fifteen tables, two across, with an aisle between them, down the hall. Most were at least half full. Marge, and now her family, were the only people at all familiar to us. Our group comprised all the people at our table. We would soon be playing Bingo for an Easter ham, or cash.

I was sitting between the generations ... Ellie and our friends on my left and Katie with her friends on my right. Her friends included Jean and husband Andy ( I remembered his name only because it’s also the name of one of my step-sons ) and their rather recently born daughter, Makenzie; a single young man whom I remember nothing about; and Benjamin, sitting on the other side of the long table from me, kitty-corner to my right.

I am pretty shy, but manage it quite well. Managing it includes making small talk; I did it that night as well. I spoke with Jean about Makenzie; a little with Andy. I found out lots about Katie. She was single, nearly done with school, studying environmental engineering, in love with a young man named Christian, and she loved to play sports — especially ice hockey, which Christian also loves to play. Managing my shyness with her was easy; she’s young, cute, and a bundle of energy.

Benjamin was diagonally across from me, a male, and, therefore, theoretically easier to talk to. In fact, though, it was harder to talk with him. He seemed much more reserved than Katie; and when he spoke he reminded me of the speed talker that did television commercials for Federal Express. He spoke with a speed that suggested he was afraid he was going to be snatched away any second and he wanted to be sure to say everything he had to say before that happened.

My ears were unable to keep up with the speed of the words out of his mouth. That sounds insulting now; I thought it sounded so at the time, didn’t have a less insulting way to say it, and so chose not to share it with him. Rather, I found myself frequently saying, “huh?”, “What?”, “Sorry,” “Say again,” and looking quizzically at him. Fortunately he had a good sense of humor and a smile that he gave away quite readily.

Most of what he said was rational, logical, well thought out, and all was eminently reasonable. He spoke as though nothing happened in the world that did not have a rational reason to happen. He certainly had one for everything he said. ( Reminded me of me at his age. ) We managed to communicate and I learned we share many traits. He was nearing the end of technical school ( I graduated from Engineering School ); he was studying to be a computer support technician  ( I was making my living doing computer support ); and he needed an internship in order to finish school and get his degree. He chose his words carefully as he told me about this ( I often choose my words very carefully ). He struck me as uncommonly bright ( ahem ... ).

My manager had told me, just that day, that she had just opened three personnel requisitions. It seemed very probable to me that Benjamin could fill one of those requsitions. I didn’t know though; I hardly knew him. I wondered, do I tell him about this? Do I offer to provide him my manager’s email address? ... I had never had occasion to suggest a name to a hiring manager before, nor had I known anyone looking for work whose background and skills seemed to match an opening that I knew existed. ( Various reasons for this, but that’s another story. )

“Benjamin, you’re not going to believe this,” I opened.


“No, perhaps something better, for you.”


“I don’t know the requirements for your internship,” I began, “and I don’t know what my employer things about interns or internships ... ”


“My manager told me, just today, that she opened three personnel requisitions.” My armpits were getting a little moist. “If filling one of them interests you ... we can talk about what to do next, where to go from here.”


“Say again, please.”

“I’d ... love ... that ... !”

The words were out of my mouth, he responded, and the die seemed to be cast. We exchanged email addresses. I promised to send him the email address of a hiring manager and contact the hiring manager in an attempt to make sure his initiative received a fair hearing. We were bonded; we were colleagues. Becoming friends was next.

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