The single serving [girl]friend that almost was

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/01/24 07:01 -05:00, original URI:

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TECHNICAL. All of what happened that is described in this blog you are reading occurred either before, during, or the time following Alaska Airlines flight 613 from Las Vegas to Seattle on January 9, 2011. It represents something that I'll call a failure of sorts, but only because I attached more to the situation than might have been there. Several friends have suggested that I am being a little too hard on myself, but that is, in the end, how I roll.

CES was over, and the AEE was over. The exhibits and the meetings were over. The various parties and after parties? They were over too.

For now I was in the Continental President's Club, even though I was not flying on Continental. It was some deal Alaska Airlines had made since I was flying first class.

Plugged in and charging, I worked on my laptop to try to catch up on mail.

I lost track of time and started packing up to head to the gate almost 30 minutes later than I wanted to, and when I reached the gate, it was empty. By the door to the jet-way there was one Alaska Airlines employee who saw me and said "you must be Michael Kaplan."

She smiled and told me not to worry, there was one other person they were waiting on, so I still had time

Just outside the plane, the light attendant admired me moving from two wheels to four, and she said "Wow, that's like the Cadillac of wheelchairs, isn't it?"

I smiled and agreed. She helped get my laptop on the plane.

I was in 1F. My preferred seat -- I like not having to get up out of the way of the person in the window heading to the bathroom, and I like the extra leg room that the front row provides. It allows me to be much more nimble once the plane lands!

Next to me, in 1D, was a woman.

Now despite what regular readers might think after Better than an elevator friend, but... and Better than a single serving friend!, it is seldom that the person sitting next to me on the plane is female, even less often that she is a female that strikes me as attractive, and its lottery winning odds that I have any substantive interaction anyway.

So I didn't think of this is as any kind of special opportunity.

Truth be told I was looking forward to several hours of sleep on this particular flight. After less than six hours of sleep over the previous three days, I needed it.

It turned out that the one other person we were waiting for was someone who got off the flight to get something and promised he'd be back in time for the flight. His wife was still on he plane and they had come on late, so their bags were randomly stuck in various random overhead bins. And the wife was now making noises about getting off the plane so they had to find all her bags.

I made an offhand comment about this man and his wife to the woman next to me, and she smiled.

At this point, I knew absolutely nothing about this woman other than the fact that I loved her smile. :-)

Unsure how to really inspire random smiling, I was grateful when she turned out to be very curious about me!

Between my wild tales of parties and of "the other conference" and so forth, she had so many random questions, which led to things I would say which led to things she would respond to that we were talking for pretty much the entire flight.

Serious chemistry was happening in the first row of flight 613 that night, let me tell you!

 When we were nearly ready to land I suddenly realized that she had no idea I was in a wheelchair, and there was no way to follow her to baggage claim since I had to wait for the iBot. So I broke the news about it, suddenly dreading the reaction for the first time in I don't know how long.

No need to worry, she didn't even blink. "So that was your wheelchair the flight attendant was talking about?" she inquired, smiling.

I asked her if she had seen Fight Club and she had. So I told her I had to wait for them to bring the chair up, so if we never saw each other again than she was a stellar single serving friend. But it would be really nice to see her again.

She smiled again. "You have a bag checked, right?"

Yes, I do.

"Well then don't worry, I'll see you in baggage claim!"

Okay, everybody filed off the plane. The two flight attendants sitting in the front of the plane came back, and one of them was clapping.

"That was quite a performance you two had going on!" she laughed.

I quipped "That lady who was sitting next to me? I think tonight you met my next ex-girlfriend!" thinking about the TV show NCIS and the way DiNozzo approached the marriages that Gibbs occasionally had.

"Really?" the flight attendant asked.

"Well, maybe just friends. Chemistry doesn't always lead to physics, after all."

Both flight attendants laughed.

Everyone was off the plane now. This is longest time it has ever taken baggage handling, including the time they broke my scooter in Germany.

I asked about where the iBot was; I was really getting nervous. "She isn't going to stay all night after all the baggage is collected and everyone leaves," I worriedly stated.

It was unfathomable that Alaska Airlines baggage handling was salting my game, all while the Alaska Airlnes flight attendants are rooting for me. But there it is.....

"She'll still be there. We saw how she was looking at you" one of them says.

"Maybe she was meant to be something at some point, and baggage handling is mucking with our relationship mythology," I opined.

They smiled and one of them called down again.

Finally, the iBot came. I made sure it was working and rolled as fast as I could to baggage handling. Of course the belt was not moving, and no one was there.

Though when I fully rounded the corner, I saw her. There was that smile again....

My bag wasn't on the belt though we found it pretty quickly. And then we just started talking, once more.

Almost like a second date or something!

It was just about midnight, too late to pick up the light rail since no bus would be running to Redmond til morning. So I realized I'd be taking a cab.

I gave her my card and told her my alias (she's a Microsoft employee too), and suggested we continue this conversation some time soon....

It wasn't until I was in the cab that the warm buzz of the chemistry wore off and I realized that I didn't have her alias. Or her last name. and even though she said it earlier in the evening, I was drawing a blank on her first name, too! With a first name, knowing her group can make finding her easy, but without it there is no non-creepy way to find her....

Crap, that meant I couldn't even send the polite "thanks for the entertaining flight to Redmond" mail that I would have sent to almost anyone I flew with under these circumstances.

No worries, I thought. She has my name and my email and my twitter and my phone number and my blog (all on the business card), so it'll all work out, I reassured myself.

You can guess how this story ends, right?

I never heard from her.

That mystery woman who works at Microsoft with the enchanting smile that I clicked with on a flight to Redmond  never made contact after that night

I knew she wouldn't make contact sooner than 3 days (or maybe even 10 days following my friend Stacy's ultra-careful rule). But I wasn't banking on never. Even writing this blog is me giving up on ever finding her in a way that wouldn't make me really creepy....

Taking a brief trip through my neuroses, a myriad of potential reasons for the lact of contact pop up, each of which have happened to me at least once before:

Maybe I have the wrong take on it, though. The wrong take entirely.

Perhaps she thought that I wouldn't have been such a dork that I'd forget her name (knowing a team and a first name of a woman at Microsoft is usually more than enough to track her down). I was the one who ended the evening, maybe she took that to mean something. The fact that I know I would have sent that email suggests that she knew I would -- so perhaps the fact that I didn't is something that she took as a lack of interest on my part. Her whole version of the story might have culminated in my apparent eventual lack of interest after seeming to be very interested!

This is all pretty unlikely, but guys can work through scenarios and rationalize them in all kinds of hopeful ways. Maybe she will be reading this blog and be torn between being either much more interested or hella less so.

And maybe, just maybe, she's wondering how I had managed to turn myself into a single serving [boy]friend....

Stacy on 24 Jan 2011 8:14 AM:

The ten-day rule is a thing!  If a girl is still thinking about a guy after 10 days, she calls or contacts him.  If not, then there wasn't enough chemistry.  The 3-day rule about calls is only applicable if a) you've had a date, b) met someone in a bar or c) are a guy desperate for action.  As most girls have more action potential than guys, there reaction time is inexplicably slower and therefore, if its a 3-day reaction time for a male-centered chemistry, the female enzymes reduce the reaction rate to 10-days, thusly ensuring that the reaction has time to properly process and set before moving on the the next stage.

Now, I'm feeling like a dork because I actually used chemistry to discuss chemistry!

John Cowan on 24 Jan 2011 8:16 AM:

It's funny (or to tell the truth, it isn't one damn bit funny) how nobody knows the last names of women at work.

Michael S. Kaplan on 24 Jan 2011 8:43 AM:

I usually *do* know last names because the ways I tend to know women (work, facebook) usually include their full names behind their aliases. Within one email I have seen it and remembering it is not too hard from there....

John Viescas on 27 Jan 2011 7:44 AM:

It's how you handled the business card issue. I expect a car salesman to hand me his business card and not expect one in return. When handing or offering a card to a "friend" (well, she was your friend for at least the length of the flight), I always ask for one back. In fact, I produce it, offer it, and say "can I have one of yours?" Now maybe you did ask her for her card, and she put you off - and if that happened, it should have been a clue right there. If she didn't, then she may have taken the offer as "here's my card, and I know you think I'm cool enough to call me back."  How arrogant!  No wonder she never contacted you. And the fact that you can't even remember her first name - well that seals it.

Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Jan 2011 8:54 AM:

She actually was out of cards, I was out of one kind of card but had the other. I didn't get into it at length here, but I think it was hanadled as well as it could be.

I agree on the name issue though, I think I made my opinion on how that pretty much wrecked things for me on multiple levels quite clear.... :-(

Rune on 31 Jan 2011 1:26 PM:

"but without it there is no non-creepy way to find her...."

Could you run some options by us?

I'd say all is fair game (short of actually stalking the female in question).

Michael S. Kaplan on 31 Jan 2011 3:06 PM:

Ugh, I'd rather not get into details; I'd hate to be responsible for inspiring anyone to do anything along those lines!

John Cowan on 2 Feb 2011 8:56 AM:

I almost never have business cards, so when I'm in that situation I ask the other person for a second card and write my contact details (usually just an email address) on the back, then return it to them.

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