A young man, alone in a new city, tries an unusual tactic to meet someone new, but it doesn’t work out quite the way he thought it would.
The New Guy
The manager pointed to a row of offices. “This is the group you’ll work for.”
The manager stopped outside one of the offices. Bob watched the man in the office type away on his computer as he talked to someone on the phone.
“He’ll be your supervisor.”
They watched the man in the office work.
The manager looked at his watch. “Look, I’ve got some important things to do. You’ll meet everyone eventually.”
The manager pointed at the man in the office with his thumb. “He’ll have some work for you in a few days. In the meantime you can study our procedure manual.” He gave Bob a one page pamphlet, then turned and walked away.
The apartment was nearly empty. A camp cot stood against one wall. Outside the window, people’s legs walked by. A phone sat on the floor. Bob sat on the floor with phone receiver pressed to his ear. A pile of empty pizza boxes lay on the floor next to him.
Bob listened to the voice on the other end of the phone line.
“Don’t worry, I’m eating well balanced meals.” Bob pushed the pizza boxes away.
“No. I haven’t made any new friends. It’s only been two weeks.” Bob frowned.
“My boss says he should have time to talk next week. I should get some work then.”
The First Encounter
Bob walked along the street with a pizza box under his arm. He started to walk faster as he caught sight of his apartment building.
A car drove by and parked in front of a small house halfway down the street. Bob slowed down as a beautiful woman in a red dress got out of the car. She walked up to the house, and let herself in. Bob’s eyes followed her from the car to the house.
Bob walked slowly past the house. He glanced furtively at the house. When he passed the walkway, he hesitated for a fraction a second. The moment passed, and he continued to walk back to his apartment.
The Sports Commentators
A new TV sat on a cardboard box next to the camp cot. The pile of pizza boxes was higher. On the TV screen, a man in a blue suit talked to man in a green and purple checked sport coat. Bob stood by the window and craned his neck awkwardly as he tried to look down the street.
“You agree he played very well this week, but you still think he’s history?”
“One good week doesn’t make a turn around. He’s dropped the ball far too many times this year. I just don’t think he can recover.”
Bob turned away from the window to look at the TV. A flash of anger passed over his face.
“He’s been at the top of the game for years. That has to count for something.”
Bob walked over to the TV and picked up the remote.
The man in a green and purple checked sport coat said, “If he doesn’t get his act together, he won’t be mayor much longer. And with the election set for this fall he hasn’t got much time. My advice to him is to retire.”
Bob started blankly at the TV. Then he shook his head and then he smiled.
Bob looked at the vegetable counter. His shoulder slumped. He glanced up at the mirror over the counter. His eyes widened. The woman in the red dress pushed a cart down the aisle behind him. He turned around, but she had already turned into the next aisle out of sight.
Bob grabbed his cart and rushed toward the aisle she had gone into. He stopped short, and then turned into the next aisle over. He hurried down to the other end. He turned the corner and stopped. She hadn’t reached the end of her aisle yet. He relaxed and waited.
He saw the front of the cart come into sight. He pushed his cart forward and the other cart hit it. A bottle of ketchup crashed on the floor.
“Are you blind?” The man towered over Bob. The man pulled his cart away from Bob’s. He took Bob’s ketchup bottle to replace the one on the floor. “Idiot!” He stomped away down the next aisle.
Bob looked around, but saw no one.
Bob walked by the house. He glanced at the house. He walked past the walk way again. He stopped and took a step back. He swallowed and walked purposefully up to the door and knocked.
A few seconds later, or maybe it was an eon, the door opened and the woman in red stood before him. She looked a trifle surprised, but smiled at him.
Bob reached out his hand and said, “Hello, my name is Bob . . .”
He paused. In his mind, he fought a 1,000 battles and died a 1,000 deaths. It happens too fast for her to notice.
Bob continued, “. . . and I am running for mayor.”
“You’re just the person I want to talk to! Come in, come in. My name is Linda”.
Yes, I See
“I’m afraid to go out for a walk at night. Why can’t the city put more police on the streets to protect single women like me?”
Bob looked grave and nodded, “uh huh.” Bob sank further into the overstuffed couch, while Linda sat across from him.
“Taxes!” Linda rolled her eyes. “Why do they have to be so high? I wonder how I can make ends meet.”
“Yes, I See.”
“Do you want another cookie?”
“No I’m fine.”
Linda glanced at the clock on the wall, “Oh my, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how late it was. I’ve kept you from your campaign.”
Linda jumped up. “I must help you. The least I can do is introduce you to my neighbours. Come on.”
Bob rose and followed Linda to the door.
“I know they’ll be glad to meet a politician who really understands the issues.”
Bob nodded, while his eyed glazed over.
Before the Debate
Bob paced back and forth, as several campaign workers watched him.
“Calm down Bob”, Linda said. “Keep your energy for the debate.” Several of the others nodded in agreement.
“I’m worried that people will think I’m a fool.”
An older man leaned forward, “Every one feels that way now and then, I’m sure they’ll be sympathetic”.
Bob didn’t look convinced. Linda stood up, walked over to Bob, and put her hand on his shoulder.
“You don’t get nervous when you talk to me, do you?” Bob nodded. “I’ll be in the crowd. Just talk to me and ignore everyone else. That won’t be hard.”
“No, that won’t be hard at all.”
A slap on the back, a handshake, and kiss on the cheek. Bob slowly made his way though the crowd. At the front of the room, he turned and looked at all the people packed into the room.
An older woman came up to him. “I’m so glad we’ll have you to stop that traffic interchange.” Bob smiled as she moved away.
“I never thought I’d see the day when a politician who really would cut taxes would be this close to winning.” The man grinned broadly, as he pumped Bob’s hand before he too moved on.
“I can’t wait for that new interchange to be built. I know you’re the man to get it done!”
“I’m impressed with your plan to increase funding for the parks. Not many politicians realize that people are quite happy to pay higher taxes when they get the services they want.”
Linda appeared at Bob’s side. She leaned over to whisper in his ear. “The polls are closed. It won’t be long now.”
Later That Same Night
Bob stood in front of the microphone and cast his eyes across the people in the room. Eyes in sad and dejected faces focused on him.
“We need not be sad. We can hold our heads up high.”
Some of the people nodded and a few even smiled a little.
“We didn’t win . . .” Bob paused to study his audience as the sad looks returned. He continued, “. . . this time”. The crowd clapped and cheered.
“Tonight we sent the mayor a message.” The crowd clapped and cheered again. Bob waited for the applause to die down.
“I hope you will all join me in wishing the mayor success.” Slowly the people began to applaud. “I wouldn’t want to live in a city where he was a failure,” Bob added. That got a hearty laugh from the crowd.
Bob looked around as the crowd clapped and cheered. He saw Linda in the back. He thought he could see a tear in her eyes as she clapped.
Even Later That Same Night
The hour was late and the night was dark. Two figures walked down the street. They stopped in front of Linda’s home. Neither of them said anything.
Linda held her head down and shuffled her feet. “Bob, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I’m glad you lost.”
Bob watched her and said, “Go on”.
Linda looked around, avoiding Bob’s face. “I remember the first time I saw you. You walked past my house just as I got home. I wanted to run right out and give you a big hug.”
Linda glanced at Bob and saw him smile.
“You’re going to think I’m foolish.” Linda paused to look at Bob. “I imagined that when you walked by, you were going to turn and walk up to the house.”
Bob chuckled. “You’re not the only one who has been foolish.” He made a silly face and Linda laughed.
“I was so excited when you came to my door to campaign. I only joined your campaign so I could get to know you.”
They smiled at each other.
“Do you still want to give me that big hug?”
Then they kissed.