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Conversations With Raymond

Who Ray Is

I've written about some of these conversations before and you can find them listed under "Conversations With Raymond," in the main index at the beginning of articles listed under Culture, Society, Politics. Those conversations did not explain much about Raymond or my relationship with him. Since I intend to record more of our conversations I thought it best to explain a little more about how they came about.

Some years ago I managed a large publication department in a major telecommunications company. Raymond LePage was one of the writers in that department. I think, at the time, he was the youngest writer, but in spite of that, because he was so eager to learn and willing to accept positive criticism, was one of the best writers I ever had the privilege to manage.

I had made it a policy as a manager to never socialize with any employee I managed. There are a number of reasons for that policy, particular with respect to the opposite sex, and that policy saved me from a number of possible disasters. I was always aware that Raymond would have liked to extend our relationship beyond our working one, but I never allowed it, even though I was rather fond of him.

Nothing lasts forever, and as is inevitable, my relationship with that particular telecommunications company ended. As a result, most of those who had formerly referred to me as, "boss," became friends, and I have continued, as much as is possible, to enjoy that relationship with most of them.

Raymond, of course, took advantage of the new situation immediately. I have very little tolerance of anyone taking advantage of me, but there is something about Raymond I cannot help liking. Perhaps, more than anything else, it is his ingenuousness and his independence. Raymond is who he is, without a note of pretension.

I no longer work for anyone myself, but I managed to help Raymond land a good writing position with another company, which just happens to be in the same city where I now live. I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but for some time now, Ray has payed me frequent visits, usually by invitation, for a meal or just a conversation. Ray always has questions, usually of a political or philosophical nature. We sometimes agree, but usually not, which is alright with me, though Ray is sometimes frustrated with me.

Ray has very strong opinions but is naturally good natured so our differences never affect our friendship. I really do enjoy Ray, and we have quite a few laughs in spite of the seriousness of our conversations.

A long time ago, during a rather intense discussion with Ray and some co-workers, Ray paid me one of the best compliments anyone ever has. I've forgotten what the conversation was about, and you'll have to forgive the language, but what he said was, "Regi, I do not always agree with you, but you do know how to cut through all the shit."

I thanked him, and explained I had no special insight. "It's because I think only in principles and appeal only to reason. 'All the shit,' is all the half-truths and vague ideas used as arguments that appeal to people's feelings, desires, sentiments, fears, superstitious beliefs, gullibility and wishes, but never to their reason."

He said, "Well I think feelings are important."

"I do too," I said. Ray looked astonished.

[NOTE: Clicking "Raymond" in the upper right-hand corner takes you to an index of all "Conversations with Raymond."]