Big Man. Small World.

by jimowensjr

In 1988, he could still skip a day of shaving. He was a 185 pounds of bone and skin, stretched over a six foot six frame, and full of world changing ambition.   When the young man walked through the steel door, the Special Agent welcomed him with surprising warmth.


“Welcome to the FBI,” he said.  “Let me show you around.”


The office was quiet.  The furniture looked uncomfortable.  There was no receptionist.


“So, what makes you want to join the Bureau?”


The young man cleared his throat and tried to sound capable.


“My Dad,” answered the young man.  “He’s spent his career working for Treasury, working to make the world a better place.  I’d like to make a difference.”


I had just turned 27, had a young family, and the thought of becoming a G-Man was intriguing.  A few months at Quantico, then off to work in a major metropolitan area and I would be wearing Ray Bans, carrying a weapon and tracking down bad guys.  Cool.


Except, I chose a different path.


I stayed in banking.  I’ve had a good run.  I’m not done yet.


My career has taken me places, given me the opportunity to do things, and meet people, I could never have foreseen.  Just as I couldn’t have foreseen running in to the same FBI Agent who interviewed 28 years ago in Birmingham at a Writer’s Conference in Huntsville, Alabama today. He didn’t recognize me, but he had a name I couldn’t forget.  His name badge gave him away. Out of respect, I won’t share his real name.


Let’s just call him, Hoover.


I tapped Hoover on the shoulder and asked if he was a retired FBI Special Agent. He smiled and confirmed my suspicions.  It wasn’t long before we were laughing, sharing stories, finding out we had more in common than either of us would have expected.  He’s published a memoir.  I need advice about an FBI agent in a novel I’m writing.  Hoover was just as warm and he had been when Reagan was President. He said he would be glad for me to give him a call.


While Hoover and I were talking, I knew the look he was giving me.  I’ve seen it before.  People always want to ask it.  Little kids always do.  They gaze up at me and something like, “Man, how tall are you?”  Hoover wanted to ask, but we got distracted with the moderator calling us back to our seats. 

 I’m no longer 185 pounds. Now, I tip the scales at about 240—a big man in a small world.  Still hoping I made a difference.