Flick

So, there’s an acquaintance of mine I know through frequent flyer circles whom, when chatting recently, happened to mention a really nice friend of hers in Perth who seems to be perpetually unlucky when it comes to love.

This friend pointed me in the direction of a photo, and a blog she runs (linked above), and I was quite intrigued. I laughed along at her writing, and some of the interesting things, behaviours and hygiene issues she’s encountered over a few years of dating.

And, as any reasonable person would do, taking a wander over to her public Facebook profile, she looked quite nice and seemed to be a pretty sane and sorted person.

Ticks all the boxes so far.


I was being egged on by this friend to try and make contact with this women. And I don’t blame her really, who wouldn’t want to be a virtual wingman for a single friend when they know people also struggling to find a decent partner (big hint there friends).

As luck had it this evening, I’d fired up Tinder after putting away this evenings haul from Lakeside, which included Season 1 of The Two Ronnies on DVD, and The Fat Duck Cookbook by the legendary chef Heston Blumenthal.

And wouldn’t you believe who popped up – but this very lady my friend had suggested.


I wasn’t quick or eager to respond, took me 10min to think of a message. I didn’t want to seem creepy having prior knowledge or her blog, or cliché with a hi or hello.

Her Tinder profile was devoid of any interests or profile description as well, so I winged it. On a limb, I went with this – to the best of my recollection, which will become apparent why I’m doing it from memory in a moment:

“The problem with replying to a Tinder match, is that you want to lead with something that you hope starts a conversation. Hi is too boring, hello is used too often, and when you’ve got a profile without interests or an idea of who they are, it makes it hard to find something common to try and start from”.


Except, she didn’t see it, or read it.

Barely less than a second after finally hitting send – the message vanished from the screen.

Unmatched.


And here is the problem with dating via technology these days – nobody takes the chance.

Too easy to tick, or flick, when we’re not interested without giving it another thought.

It leaves me to posit the question – how can you have the cheek to complain there’s no decent men out there, when the ones who are decent aren’t given half a chance to say hi.

It leaves me to ruminate, and wonder that if, in at least the case of this lady, she is fickle. In her tastes, desires, wants, attitudes, her approach to life and to those around her.

Suggesting she might not care about those she crosses the paths of may be unfair. But to not stop, and spend a few seconds saying thanks but no thanks, let alone giving someone the opportunity to engage, speaks to an attitude of a person whom, in some respects, I’m glad not to have made the acquaintance of.


But it also speaks to a wider problem. How often do we not take a chance, or give someone the chance.

Yes, there are people who do take the piss, and milk the leeway they are given for everything its worth, giving no effort or results in return.

But how hard it is to stop. To breathe. To invest. To say, you know what, let’s see where this goes.

If you don’t like where it goes, then you can walk away easily. Block, report and ignore – depending on the person of course.

But at least have the decency to show someone the courtesy and respect of a hi, a hello, an attempt at trying to make a conversation.

It’s why, if I match with someone or get a message where I’m not interested – I’ll at least have the courtesy to tell them. To not leave them hanging so they know i’m interested, or not.

Because if someone isn’t interested, who are you to not be polite and respectful, so the other party isn’t waiting around for an answer.


And this pivots to the greater point – being that technology has, for all intensive purposes, allowed us to be mean without consequence.

And to do so, without a second thought, or an undo button when we realise that we made a mistake.

As an example, block lists on phones exist for a reason. I know of people who’ve had genuine needs to use them because someone doesn’t understand No. I don’t suggest for a moment that things like block lists shouldn’t exist, but we as a society – in a reversion to the mean – use these most of the time without having the courtesy, or decency, to explain why we’re using them on someone.

Technology has made it too simple for us to be mean, and be mean spirited. To show discourtesy to others without giving that persons feelings a second thought.

I don’t claim to be without sin in this area, as I too have done it, and I feel ashamed when I do.

But, I do try to espouse the values I want to see in others as often as I can – remembering that the person on the other end of the conversation is also a human being, with feelings, and deserves some decency and courtesy when you’re not interested.

Sometimes, the silence from someone saying nothing speaks more loudly than anything they say could.

Tomorrow

Six months is a long time.

Things change, people change, lives change, the seasons change at least two to three times depending on when the six months started.

In six months, lots of good progress can be made, new things can be explored, and challenges overcome – or at the very least faced.

You can feel more comfortable with yourself. Feel a little more relaxed about things. Be able to get up and say that hey, at least today will be that little bit better than yesterday.

But then tomorrow comes.

And it isn’t the day you were promised in the pop song that Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart sang in 1985.

That presumes of course, possibly falsely, that 80’s pop songs were ever a good yard stick for life and expectations.

Like the evil foot solider of an enemy thought long vanquished, clad in black and blending in with the surroundings that nobody else might see it, the unexpected reappears in a dark alleyway at the one moment you’d least welcome its arrival.


I wrestled with what to title this post. There were so many other one word descriptions that came to mind, but in the end – as more often than not – I drew inspiration in part from Lennox and Stewart; and also from Episode 155 – the last episode of the final series, of The West Wing (I’m sure you know how much of a fan I am of this long finished show).

The episode to me is a reflection, in parts, on decisions made by you, and for you, and the opportunities lost. The decisions we struggle with, in the vein hope that what we do today creates a better tomorrow. For ourselves, our friends, our family, those who’s opportunities of tomorrow are closely aligned to the decisions we make today.

That might be overselling things a bit given the context, but it gives me to pause to reflect on the past six months, and a change of direction that – for better or worse – is likely happening tomorrow night, and how much of a positive impact this time has had.


It’s likely not a change I want to happen. Reverting back to almost a previous status quo, not being able to enjoy something specific in the way I have recently, and likely not attaining anywhere near as much opportunity for pleasure in the physical and emotional context that the last six months have brought – no matter how limited that pleasure might have been.

I see this women as my equal in so many senses.

Putting aside all that has happened in the last six months, even before then – this is a women who’s company, intellect and conversation I’d crave.

If it was possible to pick from a menu and find another women with all her skills, her knowledge, talents and abilities, the lust for life – please tell me where that women is and how I find her.


I feel annoyed in some respects. Because there’s, at least to me, still more than a few miles left on the clock for what this has been in the current context.

I don’t feel that the current context has reached the end of a road, or a natural conclusion, and that I’ve been able to grow personally anywhere near as much as I might want, or need, to – I feel there’s still more unexplored opportunity for that.

And I also fear what comes next.

As someone for whom, you’re likely aware, has been perpetually lonely and led a life sadly lacking the physical validation and emotional nourishment that comes from any such experience – will I ever experience this again?

Given the disappointment that has come before, and likely will continue to come – where is what I seek to be found, and on which of the tomorrows might this come.


I am left to ruminate today, if I’d have ended up in the city at a high school reunion party that Saturday night instead of Leederville.

If I’d not had the iPad with me as a distraction on a train journey for something to read, and used a certain application, looking through photos and finding hers.

If I’d not started a gentlemanly, respectful and friendly conversation with a good friend, only to uncover a nugget of truth.

If I’d let that nugget of truth slip through the cracks.

Where would I be today? Would I be feeling the way I am now? Have I been blinded as a result to other opportunities that have passed me during this time? Would I have done, or have been able to do the things that I’ve enjoyed during this time.

So many questions. What Ifs. Whys and wherefores. Like the choose your own adventure books of our childhood, but targeted at a more discerning adult audience.


These things, like all matters in life, come to pass. When you’ve waited as long as I have, you do get sick of having to ask the question of when your time will come to have that which you so greatly crave.

It’s not an outcome I’d want to happen, but it’s one that – for better or for worse, I’ll have to respect.

And hope, possibly in vain, that somewhere, the women I seek, is out there, ready to be found.

If not today, then hopefully, on another tomorrow.

Eight long years

Photo of a document cover from a bank

A pretty significant photo to me

Being able to take this one photo tonight actually has some pretty significant meaning to me.

That’s how long its taken for me to be considered credit worthy once more.

My signature forged on business loans and credit contracts, a mortgagee repossession of my house (voluntary on my part – explain in a minute), and youthful indiscretions in managing ones own finances….

…to come out the other side, eight long years later, with my credit worthiness restored and back on an even keel.

The repossession of my house is a bit of a story, but a former high school friend and I went into a partnership agreement to own it, with the intent of setting up an investment portfolio of property.

Well, he started screwing up his credit thanks to his lack of self control, and vanished from existence before I could get signatures on the legal documents to get it in my name, and sell the thing.

Long story short, easiest way was to hand it back to the bank, with the bonus that I walked away with some reasonable cash in 09′ after the sale and all the costs paid.

That’s all a long chapter in my life, that I’m glad to have put behind me.

Let’s hope October doesn’t rain on September’s parade…

(…goes off and starts humming the Barbara Streisand performed Don’t Rain On My Parade, from the end of Funny Girl).

A word on using the phone to sell

You’re a small business. Potential customers call you by phone to ask questions before buying things.

How hard is it to teach your staff basic phone skills that, I don’t know, might help bring customers to your business so they give you their hard earned money!

There are a number of bike shops in Perth, who all either carry, or can order, the bike I am going to buy (in the Radioactive Yellow colour if anyone’s interested).

Of those I called this morning, four  of them lost a guaranteed sale because their staff displayed an embarrassing ignorance towards a customer, terrible phone manner, or communicated with the customer in a way that made them feel like an idiot.

Each time, there was an opportunity for recovery, but none of these staff recognised or took it.

And you wonder why your customers are buying online? The phone manner of your staff is likely a big driver for it.

These stores lost an opportunity for $650 in immediate revenue today, in addition to ongoing income and loyalty from parts, repairs and accessories.

Now that might not seem a lot, especially when these stores have bikes worth $2,000-$4,000 plus sitting on the shop floor. But bikes of that value don’t sell every day, nor do the expensive parts that go with them. So constant sales of smaller price ticket items, like a $550 bike and the accessories the customer initially buys, are what keeps the doors open, the wages paid, money in the bank to buy new stock, and the tax man off your back.

Each and every phone call you receive is an opportunity – one to build your brand reputation, recognition, and most importantly convert callers into money in your bank account.

If you have a phone for your business, make sure you, and your staff, learn how to use it properly.

Some simple tips to do this:

  1. Treat each customer as knowledgeable, and when they don’t know a given answer, empower them the information in a respectful way that will help them answer or set them on the right path.
  2. Don’t have people to answer the phone who aren’t trained to sell, or understand your products.
  3. Don’t use cordless phones, unless they have an actual Hold option (preferably with music so the customer doesn’t think the line has gone dead). Nobody wants to hear Assistant X talking to Assistant Y to get an answer about something, or inane workplace chatter, whilst you’re waiting for information.
  4. Get your friends to visit your home one day, have them make some test calls to your stores. Do it on a speaker phone so you can observe and listen to what your staff say and sound like when talking to regular customers, so you can give your employees specific and actionable feedback to coach them, and drive them to do better.

And please, if one of your staff persistently displays an awful attitude or phone manner – ban them from answering the phones. They are going to be one of the key reasons that your phone calls aren’t converting into sales.

And credit where credit is due – to two Bike Force stores – Gerrard from their Subiaco franchisee, and Joondalup (can’t remember the staff member’s name there sadly. The individual staff who answered the phones at these locations were professional and personable. They knew and understood that phone calls mean sales, and took the time to answer my reasonable questions. If Joondalup wasn’t closer to me, Gerrard and Subiaco would have got the sale.

Memoriam

I don’t know how to start, in a way that would adequately convey the emotions and feelings I’ve felt in the last 18 or so hours.

For reasons of personal privacy, there are specifics and details that are best left out of the public sphere.

But the events, and the inescapable questioning of ones self that arise, does give one pause.

It gives the opportunity to breathe, or at the very least try to. To reflect. To review. And most importantly, to grieve.

Ten years ago – 2004 – my year, an unenviable one involving too much shuffling off the mortal coil, could have been best described as an annus horribilis.

In that same year, where a work colleague, in tragic circumstances, committed suicide, I also lost my mother.

I’ve never discussed publicly, until now, some of the circumstances and events that year.

Regarding my mother, not even the family from which I’ve long disassociated, has a clue to how the lead up to, and eventual passing of my mother, made me feel.

And save for my then manager, nobody else knows the circumstances in which I found myself on the day after a colleague committed suicide.

A callous notification, the calls I had to make, the two staff whom I had to ensure kept quiet until news could be called, and having to break the news of his passing to a colleague in another department – his very recently separated, but long time de facto partner – whom my deceased colleagues family didn’t even extend her the professional courtesy of informing of his passing.

After all, I did promise to let her know anything I found out, after reasonably approaching her to try and confirm or deny what had been claimed, in the softest and most gentle way so as not to scare or frighten.

Standing alone, in the middle of campus, propped up against a pine tree, reconciling all of what had happened that day – before walking back to my office, feeling cold, alone, and unable to tell anybody why until we had the support infrastructure ready to help everyone when the news was shared.

I’ve lost count of the number of times where I’ve been the one, standing there to help others in their hours of need. From spending countless hours consoling someone, to just holding their hand, or giving them a hug to say it’s ok and whatever has you feeling down is only temporary, and things someday, if not soon, will get better.

Nobody was, or has been there for me. Except mum.

She was the only person caring enough to be standing right beside me when things went wrong. To protect me from an emotionally and physically abusive father. To shield me from the horrors of the school yard, and the bullies who picked on me because I didn’t want to be like them, or all the other kids. To help me try and feel ok, on the darkest hour, of the darkest day, where you feel that life isn’t worth living any longer.

Yet, she’s not here any more.

Her influence may have rubbed off on me. The strong morals she instilled, the behaviours she encouraged and nurtured, are what has helped me, for better or worse, become the man I am today.

Am I perfect, no. Am I strong, I can be in both emotion and will but not physically. Am I respectful, absolutely.

But, I am alone. Which brings me to today.

For those who know me, or remember the Mallory post, there is someone who has been in my life for a little while – albeit not even close to how I might like them to be, but you take what you can get knowing what’s off the table.

There was some information which came into my possession last night about that individual which gives me serious cause for pause.

It left me speechless.

So much so, it took a 25mg tab of Doxylamine succinate [1] last night to achieve restful sleep – because there was so much running around in my head, so late at night, which it just couldn’t deal with.

As I said earlier, I won’t disclose what the news is, nor will I even hint at it. I’m still processing it, and I’ve not even had a decent and considered conversation with the individual after the shock of the news being confirmed.

Being and feeling alone, there’s really nobody you can lean on for an emotional crutch. There’s a couple of trusted friendship can talk to, strangely one of them has been through a similar situation (twice no less), but that discussion only leaves you with more questions than answers.

With no idea what else I could do to address the talk, and get my brain to quiet down on the news of the previous night – out of the blue, it came to me when out of my first of many walks that day, to go and visit mum’s gravesite.

I’d not been there in nearly ten years, since the very day we carried her coffin out of the funeral car, and lowered her casket into the ground at this her final resting place.

Before she passed, she made it plain she didn’t want us visiting there. Being of a religious background, which I’ve long since disassociated myself from for numerous reasons, her spiritual form isn’t there – just a box of decomposing skin, bone, and also a photographic blanket she was buried with covered in 47 years of pictures and memories representing her life.

Many of those photos were shown on a small screen at her funeral service, and after pressing play on this then vacating the stand to sit in the pews, it was the last time I actually cried.

Until today.

I wish I had some flowers, from a now departed roadside flower stall in North Beach, one my mother would visit frequently when we lived in Gwellup. Something to at least add some colour and life to what was a line of rarely visited graves.

Even whilst typing this, I have tears on the screen of my iPad and inside my glasses. Tears of pain. Tears of frustration. Tears for reasons which I don’t know or haven’t figured out why yet.

I was there for what seemed like forever, but at most was twenty minutes. Even before sitting down, I was already shedding a tear, remembering, passing silent words, thoughts, and rattling through my brain the things I’d want to say and talk about with her, and particually the events of the preceeding 18 hours, in the hope of a sign or at very least some inspiration might come from this rare moment of contemplation and reflection.

As I left, I realised who was buried in the adjacent plot. The plaque of someone whom I also knew through religious circles, an inscription on the plaque quoting part of a hymn [2], that stayed with as I left the memorial park.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

 

It stuck with me, also whilst reflecting on my departed colleague, whom despite him being cremated in this place, there’s not even a plaque or small memorial anywhere to stop at and pay my respects to him.

But, at least visiting this place put me, and my mind, at peace. for now.

Even now, some hours later, the talk has stopped. The questions have subsided. And, mercifully, some calm has returned that I may focus my energies and neurones on something else.

I may have only delayed the necessary conversation, but at least I’ll be in a better frame of mind and calm when I do talk about what needs to be discussed and understood.

And of course remembered that I have my mother to thank for the man that I am today.

[1] Restavit, common over-the-counter tablet to aide with insomnia and re-establishing regular sleep patterns.
[2] Yes, I’m a long-lapsed Mormon. My stance of spirtuality and religion isn’t something I openly discuss, apart from the point that there’s likely something, or someone out there – but who or what form they take, or if they have a specific faith beyond the core principals of kindness, love, and respect, remains open for debate.

I want my Mallory (Warning: Feelings inside)

Mallory O'Brien (Allison Smith)Those who know me, will know just how much I enjoy The West Wing.

No, let’s be honest, I’m a fan. I can quote lines, re-watch episodes often, and can be found occasionally borrowing my oratorical stylings from the show when I decide to get on my high horse about something. Sorkin-esque you might say.

And those who know the show, will hopefully remember Mallory O’Brien (the reoccurring character played by Allison Smith).

The daughter of Leo McGarry (John Spencer) and his former wife, the secondary school teacher was as funny as she was quick witted. As smart as she was stylish. If you didn’t fall in love with her the first time she graced the small screen in this well written show, then something had to be wrong with you.

Mallory is my idea of a perfect women – and I promise you that it isn’t just because of how she looked.

She’s educated, smart, willing to step up to the plate and challenge both misconceptions and the opposite sex, on her way to or has become accomplished in her chosen field, obviously looks after herself, and is aware of her feminine charm that makes the more sophisticated or eloquent of the male species hot under the collar whenever she catches their gaze.

And let’s be honest – her red hair. For me that’s the icing on top of what is seemingly an already perfect cake (yes, I like redheads – but jet black hair does it for me just as well, with blondes next in line).

We then cast our eyes forward in the series to another recurring character, one Jordan Kendall, the attorney at law played by Joanna Gleason.

Jordan, albeit not a redhead, again embodies all those values I see, ageing gracefully to boot. Who wouldn’t want to fall in love with a Mallory who matures into Jordan-type character you want to grow old with, slow dance to the classics of your shared era, and stay up late with sharing all the good memories of times past in the comfort of each others arms.

Ok, so Mallory might be just a character on a long finished TV show you may wonder. Followed by the next obvious thought – being why the fixation, or using her as a reference point for your desires in a women?

It came to me after starting to re-watch Season 2 of the aforementioned TV series for the seven hundred and sixty second time. I always found it difficult to articulate the kind of women I sought. I knew the values I sought; I knew that her already having kids wasn’t going to work for me; drugs, smoking and excessive drinking were always a bridge too far; but I’ve never been able to get that and the rest of it down to a simple elevator pitch.

And here we take a segue into the life of an introvert. I know what I want, I have a good idea of what I’m looking for, but I don’t have the first dammed clue how to get it.

I struggle in conversations with people, regardless of gender, for whom I have no pre-existing basis to make conversation from, let alone be comfortable around. The anonymous nature of social networks such as Twitter has actually allowed me to build some good friendships, especially with those of the fairer sex.

But I’ve never capitalised on them, except once in a moment of honesty and possibly kismet, that has put me in the situation and place I’m in today.

The number of people who know the more intimate details of my life can be counted on one hand. And the specific, more intimate parts of my life which has put me in the head space I’ve been residing for the last week, are details of which I’m not going to discuss in any form or detail, especially in such a public way.

But I will say this – I’m very close to my Mallory, closer than I’ve ever been. And for someone who struggles to date (my last proper date and steady relationship was over 8 years ago), finds it difficult to engage new people in conversation, or make new friends regardless of gender, it’s a good place to be.

I was also going to make a joke about the lack of making friends not being limited to just gender, but also species – due to the inability to have an animal as a pet for some form of companionship… but I think that most of you have dirty minds and you’re going to unwittingly build an awful mental picture that was entirely unintended.

Ahem, I digress.

But this women, despite having all the characteristics I seek, isn’t available to me in the way I’d honestly like her to be.

I have to settle for something much less than what I truly desire, and I sadly don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. Even then, knowing the limitations of the current paradigm being faced – I still struggle, on a daily basis, to reconcile these limits. I have to balance my desire for some form of limited companionship (if only to get back on the proverbial horse to practice and build skill) against its limitations, if only to avoid this coming to an abrupt, and unwanted halt.

And the way this women makes me feel. To even so much as attempt to describe it, could not come within a thousand miles of giving it the literary justice it so honestly deserves. Just writing this has given me the high of endorphins I get being around her, but not enough to overcome the nervousness of expressing myself and my feelings in this way.

It’s like a high wire balancing act, crossing the deep canyon – where I need to constantly respect the boundaries that are set for fear of falling off in a spectacular fashion, and ultimately being so injured and bruised after the attempt that it’s another 8 years before I try again.

That would be a uncomfortable state of affairs, as I’d be in my 40s by then. May your respective deity help any introvert who’s still trying and struggling to find love at that age.

It’s a sad, difficult situation to be in – when your Mallory, or something very close to it, is so very near – almost in your reach, yet still so very far away.

All hail 2013

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted about what is going on. Let’s give it a bit of a rundown.

Employed, bigger opportunities on horizon: Finally re-entered the workforce in May last year, have just taken a Project role for the next three months with an opportunity on the horizon that I still can’t talk about.

This job is first to give me paid overseas travel: I’m heading to Singapore for a fortnight at the end of next month. Will have three weekends to myself up there which I plan to make bloody good use of. Just have to wait for the travel orders to be approved, but it’s just one final signature on what is pretty much a done deal.

Which means posting in AFF’s who’s travelling threads for the first time in nearly two years: Enough said there, but was starting to get withdrawal symptoms from not travelling. Seriously, it’s been that long and I do miss getting up in the air.

Advice from a friend has helped the relationship front: I seem to be getting somewhere on dating sites for a change, thanks to a small piece of truth one friend imparted on a ride home.

Depression still sucks: Can’t have everything work out as planned, but at least I’m in a better place than this time last year.

Work is going to really test me out: This project for the next three months is going to test every skill I have backwards, sidewards, and upside down. I dare say that there might be a few sleepless nights and some personal angst while it gets going.

So yes, things are really looking up this year. Here’s hoping it stays that way.