|The visitors' gate at USP in Draper.|
There are a couple of people I met randomly who made a huge impact on my life. The first would have to be my now ex-husband. There is nothing more random than meeting someone at the Utah State Prison when you're doing a friend a favor and going there with her square dance group for special socialization dances being provided a certain group of inmates. I mean, seriously random. She had asked me to go with several times and I kept saying no. I had no interest in going to the prison for any reason. She then uttered the fate-filled words I've never forgotten: "Look at it this way, Wendy. At least they can't ask for a date." I met him that night.
Never expecting to have a good time, I went along with her plan and found myself actually enjoying myself. I didn't dance, but ended up playing pool with a couple of guys who felt sorry for my friend and me sitting idly by doing nothing. I discovered that these guys weren't really any different than guys on the outside, despite whatever their reasons for being there might be. Although I have that proverbial hindsight we've all heard about, going through the entire experience, good and bad, helped make me who I am today.
The second person who had a huge impact on my life would be my friend TG. I've mentioned him before. I had worked for about a year when he was hired. He was quiet and shy and all the women were talking about fixing their daughters up with this recent graduate of Villanova. I didn't think one way or another about it other than several of us doubted he or the other guy would stay in our little office since they both had just earned Masters Degrees. Well, we were right about the one guy - he left after a week when another job he'd hoped for came through. But, TG stayed. In fact, TG outlasted me, staying with the company 12 years before being laid off after most positions were sent overseas.
At any rate, the randomness factor was that he was just so much younger than me that I never ever considered being friends with him. But, one day shortly after he started, I was running up to the break room and saw him standing all alone at the bottom of the stairs looking lost. Well, I've been lost before. I've been odd-man-out before. I introduced myself and welcomed him to the company, never thinking anything other than I didn't want him to feel locked out of things. Over time, he began sending me playful emails or popping up suddenly on the other side of my cubicle wall to tease me about one thing or another. He began asking for rides to company functions and eventually began calling me at home. Not being used to that kind of thing, I was freaking out. I didn't know how to handle it. But, the boy grew on me and we became hard and fast friends. When I left the company, we began to travel together. It is because of Tom that I went to Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Salzberg, Dublin Republic of Ireland, San Francisco, Savannah, Oklahoma City, Cape Cod, Montreal, Quebec City, St. John New Brunswick Canada, Belfast Northern Ireland, Ayr Scotland, Chester England and Conwy Wales. We haven't done much traveling since he was laid off, but I have such good memories of where we've been that I can't complain.