How It All Started
Its different for each guy. For me, I had just turned 28 years old and I was getting tired and bored with the rut my life had become. I had finished college and found a great job and career in Banking with a decent paycheck. I had traveled quite a bit and had high-risk adventures that challenged me to my limit. But I was looking for that certain something that you can hardly describe let alone find. I was confused about what to do next since I seemed to have done it all before. Why wasn’t it clicking for me?!?
My best friend told me that I was being too particular and had so many great choices available. I felt a growing desire to establish roots. That it was time to settle down, find a good woman and begin the next phase in my life. The problem was the type of girls I had been dating. They were attractive and fun, however, they were a bit wild. Basically girls you would find at an 80’s Rave Dance. None fit the bill for what I wanted. Someone to share life with, build a home together and have kids. I had yet to find someone with those same aspirations.
I was the Operations Manager for a bank that serviced a Bay Area Mall and it’s retail stores. In fact, most of the girls I dated worked in fashion stores and shops there. So many in fact, that I seldom went there anymore in fear of running into an ex-fling. My staff had overheard my lamenting that it was hard to find the right girl to marry. That is when a short and plump Indian employee by the name of Anita discretely took me aside and confidently said, I have the woman for you!
Normally I would have laughed off such a cliche statement, but Anita was a kind gentle soul with old world wisdom that I respected. Being that it was 10am, I suggested we talk in the break room; a coffee for me and a tea for her. Once seated, she began to methodically ask me question after question about my preferences of a life partner, the lifestyle I envisioned and future hopes. These I was able to answer clearly with her purposeful inquiry. She was helping me finally grasp what I was searching for.
With the break coming to an end, I thanked Anita for being a good friend and for listening to my personal problems. I resignedly said, “This dream girl of mine doesn’t exist, does she?!?” She laughed and said, “Not only does she exist, but she is going to be coming to this office this afternoon!” My jaw dropped at that bold statement. “How is that even possible? I only just now shared this secret desire with you…” She simply said, “Trust me, I know what you need.”
The rest of the day was a blur of routine tasks until while sitting at my desk behind the row of teller counters I heard a whispered voice. “She’s here…” I looked up at Anita just as she turned away from me to greet someone at her sit-down merchant teller station. My gaze turned slightly to see an attractive woman in a business suit with a rather large purse sit at the counter. She proceeded to withdraw a small canvas bag that had a stack of cash and checks for deposit. I recognized her as being the manager of Ricky’s Toys from the mall. We had never really spoken before as my duties always kept me looking at customer accounts on the banking system or running to the vault to check in and out tellers from their shifts. I really didn’t even know her name.
That is when Anita called mine and asked me to come to her station. I reluctantly got up and stepped to just slightly behind Anita’s chair. “Good Afternoon” I nervously said as my eyes slowly met with the customer at the counter. She immediately looked down in a shy way and busied herself with laying out another day’s deposit to be processed. “You’re scaring her!”, my mind screamed as I turned to Anita. Anita began the introductions, “I would like to introduce you to our customer, Jinky Ledda. She’s the manager of the toy store in the mall.” I reached out to shake her hand while she politely offered hers, and then she quickly pulled it back. She coolly turned back again to her deposit. Good job Lance, I thought to myself, that was an awkward start!
I gathered my thoughts and courage to muster up a barrage of small talk and general chitchat to engage this young lady. I was in good form from years of customer sales and service experience. I talked about the weather, the news of the day, the economy, the upcoming Christmas Season. At least the topic of increased retail sales and customer traffic mildly interested her. The conversation was mostly one-sided as the last transaction was processed. After a polite thank you, she left the branch and I, in low spirits, returned to my desk. Anita excitedly spun in her chair and pointedly exclaimed, “Well?!? What did you think of her?”.
“The relevant question is what did she think of me?”, “Not much I am afraid…” I remarked.
“Are you kidding me?!?” Anita exclaimed. “I never saw her more interested in anyone before!”
After much encouragement and coaching, I agreed that she was quite a different woman and very professional. I would give it another chance and ask her out for lunch when she returned tomorrow with her next deposit. I spent the next 24 hours rehearsing the magical phrases that would win me that date! The day came and went with a no show on the reluctant manager’s part. Where was she?!?
Anita called the store to express concern and discovered that Jinky had actually made her deposit at another branch across town. She had driven 4 miles away to avoid another confrontation with me! That really shook my confidence to the core. In fact, I never had experienced such a rejection from any girl in my life up to that point. What happened? Did I try too hard? Did I overstep some cultural boundary? She was a Filipina and my understanding was that some did have a very conservative upbringing. Heck, maybe she just didn’t find me interesting enough to waste her time. A typical American male. Seeing me in my blue funk, Anita again rallied me to try again and this time I would have my chance!
Anita called the Toy Store later in the day and spoke to the Assistant Manager who she was quite chummy with. Together they conspired to touch base the next day once Jinky set out to make her deposit. Perfect planning was required since the scheme needed expert timing and coordination. Another phone was made to iron out details and the trap was set. This time nothing would be left to chance!
The next day, I prepared myself mentally for what was ahead and waited. Slightly before 2:00pm, the call came in. It was Go Time! I ran out of the branch to my VW Golf and quickly shifted into high gear. I crossed town in record time and was able to settle into a vacant desk behind the teller stations at the crosstown branch. My co-conspiring Operations Manager hiding in the staff break room. Once Jinky had her deposit spread out on the desk and the counting began, I sprung into action!
You should have seen her reaction to my bright smiling face as I greeted her to the office. Her questioning expression was exactly what I planned on and I explained that I was filling in for the other manager. She sighed resignedly and slumped back into her chair as I began making small talk as before. At the conclusion of her transaction, I quickly moved to the other side of the counter to escort her out the door. Once outside, she abruptly turned and ask what it would take for me to leave her alone… This was totally unexpected and I was momentarily gobsmacked!
My composure quickly returned and I curtly replied, “I would like to take you out for lunch!” She blurted out that she couldn’t do that and I said, “Yes you can.” and she emphatically said she could not because, “It’s totally out of the question because I have a husband and children in the Philippines.” I instantly froze and then began to profusely apologize. She said a brisk goodbye and I dejectedly went back to my branch. With that encounter, I was strike three and out!
Anita was shocked at my description of what had just transpired and said she didn’t believe it for a moment. Jinky had never mentioned a husband or children to her in any of their previous conversations and they had talked about everything under the sun. It was obvious to Anita that Jinky was afraid of either relationships in general or me in particular and she was going to find out which it was. Again another phone call to her in-store conspirator and the answer was revealed. There was no foreign family in the picture. She had even talked about settling down, “someday” to have a family of her own. The awful truth was that It Was Me! I was too much. Too scary. Too American! What was I to do now?
Anita would not give up and neither should I, she said. Anita knew in her heart that Jinky and I were right for each other and she would not take no for an answer. I was to go back out there with my best Prince Charming persona and sweep Jinky off her feet! Easier said than done. I was told straight to my face that she was not interested in a lunch date with me let along a long term relationship if it all worked out. I had only one strategy left for me. It had to work since I had no more plays left in my playbook. I was going to have to play dumb and keep asking her!
After a few days of bouncing between branches to intercept Jinky during her banking, I finally confronted her about her fib about having a family. I told her I was reviewing records and discovered that she indicated that she was single on her new account form. Now I was fibbing because we don’t have such a question on our forms! It worked. She confessed that she was trying hard to avoid my advances and felt that she had to play that card. Now I had my chance. I told her I would accept her apology only if she went to lunch with me and she acquiesced.
Well, to bring this tale to an end, we did have that lunch. At Red Robin and it lasted two hours! It went very well and was quickly followed by another and another and then Jack Pot! An actual dinner date at Pasquinelli’s Farm House Restaurant. It was very romantic and that’s when I asked her to be my girlfriend. She happily agreed and shall we just say, the rest is history! That was 29 years ago and I enjoy telling this story to anyone willing to listen. That is how it all started: how a mixed up boy and a highly reluctant girl met, overcame the awkward odds and became a loving couple.