Cal Ripken and My College Summer Job

Though I have never met a Baltimore Oriole, I have a brief, personal connection with one specific Oriole — Cal Ripken, Jr.

In 1998, on summer break from the University of Richmond, I took a job with GEFA (formerly First Colony Life Insurance) in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was a job in their financial accounting department, and it basically amounted to applying payments to customer accounts.

Early in my time there, maybe my second week, I was at lunch with several other summer break college students in my department. At the span of almost twenty years, I can’t tell you their names. We had a conversation that went something like this.

PERSON 1: I’ve heard that Shaq has an account here.
PERSON 2: Shaq? I love Shaq!
PERSON 1: Michael Jordan, too.
PERSON 3: They’d never let us work on accounts like that.
ME: I have to agree with that. We’d never deal with someone famous.
PERSON 2: Why do you say that?
ME: Because we’d have access to their personal information anytime we accessed their accounts. Phone number. Address. All of that.
PERSON 1: Yeah.
PERSON 3: Yeah.
PERSON 1: I bet only people who have been here for a long time and are trusted get to work with famous people.
PERSON 2: Damn. I love Shaq!

A few mornings later, a stack of paperwork dropped on my desk. The payments to process that day.

I worked through the pile. Punch in the account number. Compare name on the data screen (in OS/2 Warp!) to the name on the paper. Enter payment details. Process. Repeat.

Two hours in, I punched in the account number. Read the name on the screen. Blinked. Read the name on the paper. No, I hadn’t made a mistake.

Cal Ripken, Jr.

All of the personal details were there on the screen — his address, his phone number, his beneficiaries, the amount and type of the policy. I read it. I did not commit any of it to memory.

I applied the payment. I put the paperwork in the completed stack. I moved on.

A month later, a stack of paperwork dropped on my desk. Payments to process. In the afternoon, there was Cal Ripken again.

Then, my next to last week before I went back to Richmond, in my daily paperwork, there was Cal Ripken.

In 2007, I won tickets at work for Opening Day at the Aberdeen Ironbirds. I called up my dad, and I took him to the game; we had seats in the first row, right behind home plate. During the pre-game ceremony, fifteen feet away from me on the other side of the screen, there was Ripken. I smiled. If he saw me — or even noticed me — he have had no idea who I was, that for three months in the summer a decade before I had been the person who kept his life insurance policy up-to-date.

As encounters with an Oriole go, mine is a strange story, but it amuses me to think of it.

Inspired by Camden Chat‘s Fanpost Friday.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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