My day job is working for an aerospace firm filled with hundreds of engineers, dozens of pilots, and a handful of talented writers.  Among these people are a few tech-savvy folks.  I mean this.  While this is an incredibly tech-y group of people, only some are self proclaimed geeks, like myself.  One of these guys is technician named Alan.  He's worked for the company for a few years and has the rather thankless job of cleaning up all the tech issues that other leave behind.  He's a good guy; loves computers, The Justice League, crazy music and helping his colleagues and community in whatever way he can.  He hounded the heck out of us when it came time to raising money for the food bank a couple months ago.

In other news, I want an iPad.  I don't need one at all.  I really don't.  I've got a gorgeous, powerful, and autographed MacBook Pro and a perfectly speedy iPhone.  Now, all that doesn't mean I don't want one.  I could find uses for it.  And, like I said before, I'm just a geek when it comes to tech stuff.  I eat that stuff up, whether I have a strong need for it or not.

What do those previous paragraphs have to do with one another?  Tonight, my company hosted it's annual employee meeting at Skamania Lodge.  How do they entice employees to show up to a mandatory, two-hour, state-of-the-union?  They raffle off two iPads, amongst other gift certificates for ski passes, movie tickets and lunch at a nice little gelato spot.  I never thought I had much of a chance to win anything.  I mean, there were nearly five-hundred people when their names in a hat competing for about twelve prizes.

And I was happy when they ski passes went to someone else because I knew I was still in the running for the iPad.  And I was happy when the movie tickets and lunches went to other people as well.  And when the first iPad went to a co-worker that I didn't know, that was great.  He looked pretty happy.  I mean, how could you not?  And then...they drew for the second and final iPad.  And the called out Alan's name.  And I couldn't have been happier.  He would use it.  He would love it.  He would show it off like a three-day pass to Comic-Con with a front-row seat to the Dexter discussion panel.

The crowd cheered.  We were all so happy.  And then...we realized that Alan had left minutes earlier.  I don't know why.  Maybe he wanted to beat the traffic?  Maybe he had a cat to feed?  I really don't know.  But one minute later our CEO pulled another name from the hat.  That final iPad went to one of our lead software engineer, who could you not love it?  He's a great guy as well, but I'm thinking his first thought upon hearing his name would be: "Excellent!  Now I've got one for the bathroom!"  Minutes passed and many of us were still in shock.  Alan had left!  Why on earth would you put your ticket into a hat and then leave a minute or two later?

I texted him: "I feel so sad for you."

I was told that he had received 42 text messages in the three minutes that followed the drawing.  My buddy, Mike and I walked to my truck and we couldn't get over what had just happened.  "I just really feel bad for him.  Poor bastard," I lamented.

"Yeah, but you'd be thrilled if you had won it," he said, opening the door to the truck.

"I think I would have given it to him anyway," I said.

And really, I think I would've.  It's easy to write that, especially having not won it.  But still.  Tis the season.  And I've got half a mind to start soliciting donations around the office next week to try and scrape together enough for the iPad he should have won.