I was chatting with a friend today and recalled another friend that I've not seen or heard from over ten years, Randy. Randy and I were stationed together at Onizuka AFB in California, formerly known as Sunnyvale Air Station but fondly publicized and noted as 'The Blue Cube'.
Randy was one of the luckiest people I know. Six foot two and two thirty and up, he was a big fellow with a heavy Alabama accent. He was always winning raffles and bingo games. For example, he won tickets to the SF 49er - Dallas Cowboys NFC Championship Game, then sold them for $500, and then won another $50 from me when the Cowboys beat the Steelers in the SuperBowl. After retiring from the Air Force, he and his wife stopped in Las Vegas. He won several grand playing dollar slots. On the way out of the casino, he saw Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Randy went on up to him, told him, "I'm not a Cowboy fan and I don't know you, and I don't like what I do know of you, but you mind if my wife took a picture of us shaking hands?" Jerry Jones obliged and bought Randy a drink.
This is Randy's luck. He met his wife on his first tour in Korea after he had divorced. She was engaged to an Air Force officer. She married the man and they moved to America. Randy went on to a few more assignments and then returned to Korea. He ran into the Korean woman, now divorced from her husband and living in Korea. The two married. Her former husband owned her $20,000 from the divorce settlement. Randy tried to help her recover the money by calling the ex-husband and talking to him. The guy was always friendly and amenable, telling them, I have the money. Give me your address and I'll send you a check. The check never arrived.
Randy and his wife were reassigned to Onizuka in California. Guess where the ex-husband was also re-assigned? Randy had great pleasure calling the man from a phone on base and asking about the check. The man promised he'd mail out a check right away. "That's okay," Randy replied. "You can bring it to us. We're on base, out at the visitor center." What were the chances that he'd met that woman again and marry her after all of their travels, and what were the chances they'd end up assigned to the same base as her ex-husband? That was Randy's luck.
Here was Randy's luck. Randy, being from the south and a Republican, didn't like or trust President Bill Clinton. He called him Slick Willy all the time. He didn't care what Clinton had done for the country or his policies; Randy just didn't like him.
But Clinton was President. He was coming to Sunnyvale to talk to the Sunnyvale town government about their quality government initiatives. Air Force One would land at the base where Randy and I lived, Moffett Naval Air Station, in Mountain View. So although he didn't like Clinton, Randy went to see him. Holding up a little instamatic camera above the ground and guessing at the view and angle, Randy took several snapshots. They came out great. It was amazing.
Clinton was making a return trip so Randy selected one photo and had it blown up to poster size. His plan was to get Clinton to autograph it for Randy's son, and Randy would give it to his son as a birthday present. Randy arrived early at the base and talked with security. The base military police had no problem with it but the Secret Service told him it wasn't going to happen. They were nice about it but their job was to protect the POTUS and they weren't going to let Randy get close enough to get an autograph. Sorry.
Randy was undeterred. Clinton loved talking to crowds and shaking hands so Randy joined the crowd to one side. As expected, Clinton landed, came over and started talking to people and shaking hands. Randy held up his poster. Seeing it, Clinton waved him over. The crowd parted. Clinton and Randy talked. Randy explained how he had taken the photo as Clinton admired it, and Randy then went on that he was a Republican and that he'd never vote for a Democrat but that Clinton was the President and Randy respected that, so would Clinton mind signing the poster for Randy's son? Randy also explained that he'd shaken hands with every POTUS since Eisenhauer, so Clinton was part of a tradition. Clinton loved it, laughing with Randy, slapping him on the back, posing with him for more pictures, and, of course, autographing the poster with a citation for Randy's son. Randy had it framed and gave it to his son for his birthday. The boy hung it on his bedroom wall.
That was Randy's luck. Thinking about it, he was divorced from his first wife and was limited in his visitation rights with his son, a situation compounded by his military career and her re-marrying. He'd had a promising sports career in baseball and football ended with a bad knee injury and lost his University of Georgia scholarship in his first year. His military career never really went anywhere, so in that sense, he didn't really lucky, but I like to think that it just took a while for his luck to arrive.
I wonder where he is now? I wouldn't be surprised to see him on television, winning something else.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com