Just as I was pulling my punch card from my pocket and preparing to bid adieu to responsibility for the weekend, the office phone rang. The caller ID said it was Diane, an office supply agent who came by regularly to restock paper and ink and gossip with the secretaries. Since I was the only one in the office, it was up to me to answer the phone. I picked up the hand piece with a memorized "Good afternoon. General Mills. How may I help you?"
"Hey is this C?"
"Yes it is, Diane, what can I do for you?" I hoped she didn't have any emergency that would take hours to resolve, like the time she wanted me to hand-siphon ink out of a broken print cartridge. That project had ruined both my evening and my brand new shoes.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" Uh oh...
"Sure, fire away."
"Okay, I mean you don't have to answer if it's too personal or whatever. I just-"
"Diane, ask me your question. It's Friday afternoon, I'm in a good mood."
"That's what I was hoping...C, are you single? I mean, are you seeing anyone?" For context, note that Diane is a lovely woman in her mid-forties. We joke around when she comes to the office, but we are not good friends. This question came out of left field.
"Blissfully so, Diane. I'm as single as they come. Why?" I never shy away from a question.
"Well the reason I'm asking is my daughter is single. You know Fiona -- she's dropped off office shipments before for me -- she's beautiful and has a great personality. Anyway, tonight I was thinking about her and thought of you. You are such a nice guy and I know you would treat her right. Fiona's been through some rough stuff -- bad relationships -- nothing terrible mind you, just it would be good to see her with a nice guy. Anyway, do you think you'd want to give her a call?"
Diane was trying to set me up with her daughter! This was not my first experience with mothers setting me up with their daughters. If I had half as much luck with girls my own age as I had with their mothers, I would be set. Apparently being a nice guy is a great bonus with mom, but is a negative with girls who like adventure and excitement. To moms, nice = secure. To girls, nice = boring. Girls want a fixer upper. Moms want a mansion. Diane had used the term "nice" twice in the previous paragraph. I felt like she'd called me a heart of gold.
Pitching Fiona's previous rough relationships was not Diane's best play. She needed me to be thinking about how beautiful and smart her daughter was, not that she'd made stupid guy mistakes in the past or had some heavy relationship baggage to carry into any interaction with me. My mental image of a battered girl who's spirit had been broken like a wild stallion's was not going to make me push the ten numbers to have us connected. I gave Diane an "A" for gumption, but a "C" for execution.
For all of Diane's effort, I did not want to go out with her daughter. I'd met Fiona before and there was no spark between us. She was a pretty girl -- a California 7 -- but she wore her baggage on her face. Diane, too, was not the most enticing salesperson. A chain-smoking, overweight double divorcee, Diane's life served as more warning than enticement. Plus, the last few weeks had not availed very good dating experiences. I needed a break. But the fact that we worked together meant I had to turn this down tactfully -- if only to maintain detente.
"Look, Diane, I'm flattered you would call and offer your daughter like this, but there's some complications on my side. I'm getting ready to leave the state -- to move across the country for school -- in a couple months. It wouldn't be right for me to get involved with anyone -- much less your daughter -- knowing that I would soon be leaving." I dropped the clear hint.
"You're moving to New York, right? That's excellent. C, when I dated Fiona's dad, he had to move shortly after we started going out and I followed him to San Francisco. Even though we later divorced, we had a great marriage. I would marry him again today if given the chance. And Fiona was borne of that union. If you guys hit it off, there's nothing to say that Fiona wouldn't go with you to New York."
Diane had failed to make a great impression before, but her current efforts were permanently foreclosing Fiona's chances. I had never seen anyone move so quickly from "give her a call" to "move with you to New York." It was speed that would make Dez Bryant jealous. It made me want to get off the phone.
"Look, Diane, that's super sweet. Why don't you give me her number and I'll think about giving her a call?" It was the best I could do. Diane gave me Fiona's number and I punched out to enjoy my weekend. Just another Friday afternoon at General Mills.