A Letter of Reference

At one point in my life I was just sort of screwing around, enjoying myself.  I think that was the portion when I was between age 35 and 55.  And then, wouldn’t you know it — just when I was getting the hang of it, I got an opportunity to go back to work.  It was for a part-time gig.  Actually, it was for a job that would only last one week.  To tell the truth, it was a volunteer job.  I had come up with the idea myself.  They hadn’t said whether they were going to accept me for it.  They really hadn’t said anything at all.  But I realized that, ordinarily, you need references to get a job.  And that was a challenge, because at first I thought I had none.  But then I talked about it with my cousin, and he agreed to submit a letter on my behalf if I could come up with a draft.  I did, and here’s how it looked:

* * * * *

This is a letter of reference for my cousin, Ray Woodcock.  The fact that Ray is my cousin might raise the concern that I would be biased, since people are often inclined to favor their own kin.  I can assure you that this concern is not of relevance within the Woodcock clan.  Ours is a breed of feisty individualists, every man and woman for him or herself, as one might expect of a people who are, alphabetically speaking, often the last to be heard.  We pretty much have to look out for ourselves – often with a fair amount of yelling and pushing – or else face ignominy.  I should add that ignominy is not all bad and is at any rate quite common among us, as we really don’t tend to enjoy yelling and pushing, or to be very good at it.

The point I am driving at, in this concise epistle, is that I am writing to express an endorsement of Ray Woodcock.  It is a qualified endorsement, considering that I barely know him.  There are only so many good (or, for that matter, bad) things I could say on the subject.  Some might think this would tend to make me relatively useless as a recommender.  I don’t see it that way.  I think that people tend to reach enduring conclusions about one another based upon first impressions, gossip, and other imperfect forms of information, and are typically reluctant thereafter to admit that they might have been wrong.  I am positioned to provide the valuable service of telling you what you would be likely to conclude about Ray, correctly or otherwise, on the basis of a brief conversation.  What we have here is the very essence of the public face of this person.

Not that Ray and I have had only brief conversations.  We hang out, now and then, and chat about video editing, social work, and other things I have heard of.  Such conversations provide an occasional glimmer of what kind of person he is.  For example, I have learned that he uses big words.  I admire this.  It is an ability that would serve him well in my own line of work, as a liquor salesman.  The purveyor of spirits often finds it advisable to persuade clients that he or she does have some inkling of the law.  A hefty vocabulary can be mightily conducive thereto.

I would say, also, that Ray seems to be a rather patient and/or determined individual.  He has been holed up, hermit-like, for months now.  He says he is working on a book.  He published one previously.  I know he did; he tried to sell me a copy.  The book will apparently have something to do with social work.  Or possibly with video editing.  I’m not sure.  He has been stingy with the details.  At any rate, he does seem to be working hard at it.  My guess is that he plans to remain in this area only temporarily, and is mostly just trying to stay busy, so as to avoid getting entangled with any of the local women.  But I have not confirmed that.

Another thing I have noticed about Ray is that he likes to run.  He runs long distances.  A few weeks back, he showed up in my store, eight miles from his home.  I suppose it is possible that he sprayed himself with water and then drove over to visit me.  The sense I got, however, was that he had actually run this distance, working up a sweat in the process, and that he then turned around and ran back home after a short conversation.  The conversation had to be short because otherwise, he said, he might cool down too much and freeze on the way home.  It surely was cold out there, but I am not certain whether actual freezing could result.

Overall, what I have been able to piece together about Ray is that he is smart, pleasant, and not averse to sitting around and shooting the breeze occasionally.  I would highly recommend him for any pursuit in which such qualities are of paramount importance.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

With best regards,

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