An acquaintance of mine related to me a story about his experience with one of his friends. To wit, he valued the friend’s advice because he was trustworthy and dependable.
One rainy day in August, Mike (not his real name) received a call from his old friend in college. They were classmates and very close to one another. His friend’s parents even considered Mike a son since he was often a visitor in his friend’s house.
Ted (not his real name) was wealthy. His family owned a large recruiting firm and a small tourist agency. In short, Ted and his family could travel around the country and even abroad if they so wished.
Mike had no idea why Ted called him that day. Four years had passed since they last met. It was a trip to a mountain resort in Baguio City, the nation’s summer capital. It was Ted’s family who sponsored and paid for the expenses of their entire class.
About a year earlier, Mike saw Ted’s photo in some benefit show for homeless families. He was also described in the article as a volunteer for a non-government organization helping to build houses for the poor.
“Why do I deserve the honor for your call?” Mike jested after the initial pleasantries were dispensed with.
“I want you to come with us.” Ted said, his lively enthusiasm was audible. “We’ll go to Venice.”
“You want me to come? Are you sure?” Mike was overwhelmed.
“Of course, we need you. You are very dependable.”
“Okay, it’s a deal.” Mike was already making a checklist on his head on what to bring.
“Be at my house tomorrow morning.”
“That soon? I am not ready.” Mike did not want to miss the chance.
“Okay,” Ted said sadly. “Maybe next time.”
“No wait,” Mike did not want to disappoint his friend. Also, the trip was well worth the haste he was required of. “I’ll be there.”
“Sounds great. See you tomorrow.”
As soon as the line was disconnected, Mike went to his desk drawer and took out his passport. He would withdraw some of his savings later. What he needed were appropriate clothes and footwear.
Ted’s timing was also good because Mike was on leave.
Mike could not sleep that night. His excitement was total. It would be his first time in Italy. He imagined riding the world-renowned gondola and seeing the floating buildings.
It rained the whole night. Mike was nervous that maybe all international flights would be cancelled. He thought of it while on his way to Ted’s house. He prayed that the weather would cooperate.
“Here I am,” he announced at the gate. He saw Ted wearing a life jacket which Mike thought as highly unusual since they would travel by plane. “Am I late?”
Ted opened the gate to let him in. There was surprise in his face upon seeing Mike’s outfit: designer clothes and loafers.
“I thought you’ll be joining us?” Ted asked, perplexed why Mike had a travelling bag.
“You said we’re going to Venice,” Mike was unsure if he missed something in their conversation.
“Yes,” Ted replied seriously. “There were reports of missing people so I thought of you. I know you are a good swimmer and a competent diver.”
“Wait a minute,” Mike was dumbfounded. “What missing people?”
“Didn’t you watch the news? The storm had claimed a number of lives. We’re going to Venice to search for survivors.”
That ‘Venice’ was located in one of the low-lying areas in the metropolis. Reports of two-story houses that went under water was on the news the day before.
They looked at each other with utter seriousness. Mike began to laugh as Ted joined him as they realized what the misunderstanding was all about.
“Of course, I’ll join you,” Mike reiterated. “Just lend me some clothes. These,” he pointed to his garb, “does not fit the occasion.”