Thursday was an intense day. My transmission line project is in full swing and the line crew is having intermittent trouble installing large reels of wire. Each reel is five feet in diameter and filled with over one mile of aluminum and steel cable. We have thirty reels to install. It requires the use of specialized heavy equipment operated by men who are professionally trained in the field. Hint: Women could do it too, if they so desired. I’ve just never seen one. The pay is excellent!
I requested the wire vendor, Joe, be present during the installation, which took all day. Three reels were installed, each taking up to two hours. The first two reels went in with hardly a problem. Feeling I was wasting his time, I asked if he would see the remnants of the other reels. This was of little use, because the problem occurs during installation, but at least we would be doing something.
Now I don’t mean to bore you with details here, but truth be known I am purposely stalling because I don’t really want to tell you what happened. I will have to eat crow for this. I just know it. One member of this fine Web site will know what I am talking about. She knows who she is …
Finally, the third reel presented the problem that had been seen several times before. The installation procedure was modified in several different ways until the cable was running smooth again. The problem wasn’t really fixed; we just dealt with it. It’s a funny problem, and there is some finger-pointing going on between the factory and the contractor. Contractor says the wire was placed incorrectly on the spool. Factory says the Contractor is installing it incorrectly. Engineer (me) is saying, “Fix the problem, make it work, and stop costing so much money!” It’s a man’s version of drama.
The day turned to evening, and Joe asked if I would join him for dinner. Steve, the wire distributor, was in town for the evening, and he too would join us. I couldn’t pass on the coincidence. There was still much to resolve, I was getting hungry, and I can always talk shop. An hour later, we were sitting at a table at a Mexican restaurant.
Steve is married. Joe is married. I am single. (Okay, finally, I am getting to the story.) As much as we like to discuss work, invariably the conversation turns to women, relationship, and related events both past and present. Men talking about women? Imagine! In fact, most of the men I work with, both internal and external, are married. You can imagine that some of them have a vicarious interest in my livelihood. But once again, I am stalling.
Steve just happened to know one of the waitresses for most of her life. She was a little girl living next door to him many years ago, and she became friends with one of his kids. They have all kept in touch ever since. I happen to know this waitress only from the restaurant, and not very well, at that. Once she discovered that Steve and I knew each other, she friendly-ed up with me right quick. I, of course, started turning up the charm. Damn testosterone!
Five minutes later, she came to our table. She was not specifically waiting our table. (A different waitress was serving us, and she too was enduring some of my single-man charm, but that’s not the story.) She got up close and stated in a quiet voice, “I have never been asked to do this before, but there is a customer over there who would like to know if you are married. Are you married?”
I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Was she really asking for one of her customers, or was she asking for herself, using the customer story as a cover? My reply: “No. No, I am not married. Haven’t been for years.” A bit persistent, she asks, “Are you seeing anyone or dating someone?” Steve and Joe are just looking at each other, shaking their heads; it gets worse. Time to kick it up a notch: “Well, I date. I am a single man and I date. And the ladies I date know this. It’s all for fun.” Okay, I admit it. Those were all full-of-crap statements. But they sure sounded good! Yes, I really did say them; they were just full of crap!
“Okay, well, I guess I’ll tell her that you are single then.”
“Well, yeah. Because I am.”
“Well, okay!” she said. I love flirting with waitresses, especially in front of “the guys.” At this point, Steve and Joe are shaking their heads, both looking at ME. Joe is the quiet one, so Steve says, “Damn, John! Everywhere we go! What is it with you?” Lapping it up, I state, “I can’t help it guys. It just happens!”
Okay, now, you, the reader, should have your nose plug and hip waders on by now, because the BS is at a record level here, in case you couldn’t tell. I play with the waitresses every time one of my vendors takes me to lunch or dinner. It’s just what I do; It’s part of being me. But nothing quite like THIS had ever happened before.
A couple minutes later, a note is placed beside my plate. I look up to my left and see that a cute young lady has delivered it. She really was a customer! We smiled at each other. I said, “Thank you,” and wished her a good evening. She walked on out the door. Steve and Joe looked as if they had just witnessed the most amazing event in history. With all the grace I could muster, I casually put the note in my pocket, as if this kind of thing happens everyday. I didn’t even read it in front of them. We all assumed it was a phone number. “I’ll keep that for later,” I said without any cockiness whatsoever. (Smirk.)
This event will be shared with Steve and Joe’s other customers for years to come. I will see them at conferences and sales meetings and so on, and they will invariably tell the tale to the new business contacts I make. The story will be embellished a little each time it’s told, no doubt, and my reputation as a ladies man will most likely be elevated to legendary status among certain circles. I don’t really mind all that so much—what man wouldn’t—but I want you all to know that it was indeed the most unusual thing that has ever happened to me. Until that night, I have never had a lady just up and hand me a note of romantic interest in the middle of a restaurant in front of the guys. I played it cool, but inside I was truly taken aback. I don’t know what kept me from passing out!
What did the note say? Well, as far as Steve and Joe know, it could say, “I want to have your children and will gladly be your sex slave. Please call me tonight! [phone number] I can’t wait!” And so the embellishment begins.
It really says, quite simply, “You sure are handsome. Karen [Lastname].” Karen, wherever you are, I want you to know that I have never been more flattered in my life. It took much bravery to do what you did, and I can only admire you for that. Thank you for making Thursday night a most memorable one! If we happen to see each other again, let’s stop and chitchat a minute. I promise I won’t pass out.