At times we take something at face value and then paint a picture of this person based on perception only. Many times these images prove to be incorrect. A case in point was a friend of mine that I worked with in Aramco, Allen Pringle.
Allen played softball for one of the many teams we had and that was my first association with him. He was not an extremely good player but he really enjoyed playing the game. Allen was very friendly and was one of those people that was all way laughing and enjoyed life to the fullest. Pringle worked in our Contract Department and performed his work adequately.
Once when numerous softball teams converged on Dubai for the Mid-East softball championships my wife also participated in the tournament. We flew down together with our two year old in tow. The last day of the tournament my team was coming out of the loser’s bracket so it was a seven game marathon with fifteen minute breaks between games. As the day wore on Allen was in the stands leading cheers acting like a clown enjoying the event and on occasion I would see him sitting in a large sand pile playing with my son. I, like everyone else in the stands, thought he was a good spirited person that enjoyed living life as an expatriate in Arabia. Then his real past began to surface.
“You know he has a law degree,” the late Tom O’Rourke told me when we returned from Dubai. I was amazed and discovered that this person had already led a rich life that most people could not even imagine. Allen was not American by birth even though you would have thought that he had no English birth origin, but he did. His father was a British diplomat and Allen was born and spent his early years in Venezuela. There he learned to play soccer in a country that lives for the game. Later in his adolescent development his father was transferred to Canada so this young Brit never lived in mother England. He continued playing soccer and obtained a first class education in an international environment. Then came time for college and he packed his bags for Rice University where he was awarded a full time academic scholarship. Our clown was a pretty sharp cookie.
While at Rice Allen was outside one Sunday afternoon playing around on one of the football practice fields. He had never played the game but began kicking the football around with this friends. While kicking the ball through the goal a man approached Allen. They talked for a moment and the man identified himself as the Rice Athletic Director. He wanted Allen to talk to the coach. The next day Pringle was getting dressed out for a practice of a sport that he had never played. Despite putting his thigh pads in backward and getting advice on how to get his other pads on, he made it to the practice field. Four days later he was the starting kicker for the Rice Owls. It doesn’t stop there either. He was the 246th player drafted in the 1975 NFL Draft and went to play for Bum Phillips and the Houston Oilers.
In 1975 the Louisiana Superdome was completed. The first game to be played was an exhibition game with Houston. The first points ever scored in the Dome was a field goal kicked by Allen Pringle. A few years later Allen was traded to Detroit and when he was finally cut there after a season or two, he went back to school and received his law degree. After he left Aramco in the mid-80s, he attended Tulane and received a second law degree.
I realized at that time that the adage that you can’t judge a book by its’ cover is so right. Perhaps if we take time to look below the façade of a person and scrape through the veneer covering the individual, we will have a better understanding of our co-workers. Conversely, we may also have a different perspective on our political candidates before we pull the handle in the voting booth.

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