Thursday, September 11, 2014


One of the technicians in my group is the type of guy who makes most folks who don't know him noticeably nervous. The sort of guy who has that stereotypical sketchy gang member demeanor. Big, muscled, quiet, and self-assured. Without his speaking a word you would guess that he has a criminal record, a shady and checkered past. However, I have worked with this man quite closely over the past 10 years and have been fortunate to see past the surface layer that he projects consciously or unconsciously to the outside world. I know him as a man with a kind heart and a good sense of humor. Although he is coarse and rough-cut around the edges, he is someone who has always looked out for me and consistently did a great job in whatever he was tasked to do.

A few weeks ago he did not report to work and his boss did not receive a call. This was more than a little uncharacteristic of him. Even if he partied a little too hard the night before, he always managed to get into work the next morning. His co-workers tried to contact him without success and became quite nervous after a couple of days as the shadow of his absence grew into something bigger. Finally, after seven days without reporting into work, he was terminated from his job following standard protocols. Eventually, we got word that he was locked down in a federal prison, arrested on drug trafficking and weapons charges. In speaking to his closest friends, they had not been able to get in contact with him because of prison phone rules. Nobody can even visit him because his cell block is quarantined due to the outbreak of some sort of highly contagious disease.

Even though my friend may have spent some time in his past in a prison cell, this has to be an unimaginably painful time in his life as he worries about his future and comes to understand how quickly his world has come undone. Of course, most who have heard the rumors probably have assumed he was busted doing something stupid and will dismiss him with a callous joke. Not me. I know this man and his heart and the great potential that he has. I will notice his absence and miss him, regardless of whether he is guilty of the charges against him or not.