It’s been a long time since I blogged…..not due to lack of something to say, but more that my co-workers clearly have nothing better to do than read about my life. So let’s call this my midlife crisis and I will start blogging again.

Haven’t you always wanted to be that person you hear about on the news that goes into a Tim Horton’s and pays for the next 500 coffees?Last month, I was taking my kids to curling, and pulled into Tim Horton’s to grab breakfast on the way. When I reached the window to pay, I was told that the previous customer had paid my bill. All of it. I am talking about 3 breakfast sandwiches and 3 drinks. I was dumbfounded. And then, I was the dummy the broke the ‘Pay It Forward’ chain because I was so shocked I just drove away. It took about a kilometre before I truly realized what some stranger had done for me (in fairness, it was early). I buy coffee all the time for someone behind me in line, but I have never bought a family a meal. What an awesome gesture! How could I ever beat that?

I am a fairly confident man with everything in my life except women. In my experience, confident guys are usually the cheaters, but these are the men that most women are drawn to.  Since my divorce, I have been trying to break out of my comfort zone and find my 20 seconds of courage that Matt Damon refers to in “We Bought A Zoo”.

I told my daughter I wanted to buy flowers for some women we know for Valentines Day, even though some of them may not know us. We picked out a couple of bunches of flowers, and separated them for delivery with personalized little notes on some. We started with my favourite Costco supervisor, an older woman that always goes out of her way for a customer with a smile. She had no idea who I was, and it felt great, so I told her to watch for the next reaction.  I next went to the very cashier that sold me the flowers, a beautiful 20 something that I would normally never talk to, that always seems to be dancing to a song in her head. To be honest, I don’t know who blushed more, me or her. We also delivered flowers to a senior confined to a wheelchair, some single moms, some neighbours going through a divorce, a neighbour whose husband was away, and a friend whose husband was home sick so she wasn’t getting anything. Yes, we even gave some to my ex-wife.

My final delivery was to some staff at a neighbourhood restaurant. As I was about to go into the restaurant, a beautiful woman was walking by. Completely out of character for me, I asked if anyone had given her flowers. I think she was surprised by the question, but answered no, so I handed her some of the flowers in my hand and wished her a Happy Valentines Day, without blushing! (And sadly, without even getting her name.)

I had no idea the impact handing out flowers would have on people, and for that matter on me. It made people smile, it made people feel good, and it made me feel awesome. The day finished with someone buying me a beer, another random act of kindness, so it was a much better Valentines Day than I expected. In fact, I want to do it again. Soon.

Random acts of kindness are in all of us, and they don’t need to cost as much as flowers or buying a family breakfast. I sent a photo of the flowers to every single woman I am friends with on Facebook, and even a man that felt left out. I posted them on Twitter so that no one felt left out on Valentines Day. All at the small cost of a few minutes of my time. What will your random act of kindness be?

I thought I was improving, getting bolder, ready to date, and trying to get out there. I started clicking on all those online dating ads that appear on Facebook. It started with Plenty of Fish, followed by OKCupid, because my Twitter crowd said it was much better, and then finally Single Parent Meet. Yeah, I had never heard of that one either but all of these three sites seem to offer the most ‘free’ content so worth checking out first.

I was warned by people that ‘the freaks’ hang out on POF. So far, not so much freaks for me, but I have been greated by about a dozen women, all but one older than me, and most making sure I know their chest size up front….no, no, not from dimensions, but from their photos and usernames. Sadly, not one was of any interest to me. But in fairness, I have not searched for any women or reached out at all so my only experience is with those that have come to me.

OkCupid is a little different. It assigns you 3 matches at a time. I have no idea how it picks your matches, and have not really investigated the site much. I have had about 2 dozen visitors on this site, with about half of them located in places far away, looking for  mail order marriage it seems. The other half look 55 but claim to be 40.

Single Parent Meet is the only site that I do not seem to get spam messages from. It shows you who checks out your profile and also sends you 5 matches a day. My very first day, a beautiful woman checked out my profile, twice. But the only way for me to learn more, was to pay the fees and reach out to her. To my surprise, the fees were about the same for 6 months as some other websites were charging for ONE month! So, I thought, what do I have to lose? I immediately paid my fees and sent her a message saying hi. As I expected, I got an response that told me she had just started seeing someone, but thank you so much for the message. What is kind of cool about this site, is that once someone views you, you can tell every time they are online so that you can chat with them. However, this is also rather stalker-ish too. For me, it showed me that she was online several times a day, so one had to wonder if she really had started to see someone. However, I felt very stalkerish, so I told her that I was deleting her from my list and that I wished her the best. However, she continued to come back and view me, putting her back on my list, perhaps because I kept changing my profile, trying to figure out what to say.

The old me would have just moved on…..but I kicked in that twenty seconds of courage! I sent a message and told her it was my last try, and was extending an invitation for coffee again. But again, she shut me down, citing some imaginary guy that is making her so happy she is stalking the site several times a day.

Next blog, I will tell you about my sort of date, and deleting all my online profiles because some single moms told me I had it all wrong!

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but sometimes life really gets in the way. I would love to tell you that I have been busy dating…..but yeah, I would be lying. But I have started trying!

Last month I had to go to Saskatoon for a Convention. People always get excited about convention locations and for me, I am there to work. Make sure there is an affordable breakfast nearby, and make sure there is a good bar nearby, and the rest doesn’t matter. But I was not sure that Saskatoon was going to provide either.

I also have one Twitter follower from Saskatoon, that I find both funny and intelligent, so I had hoped the mention of coming to her fine city might draw her into the downtown to say hi. No, I still was not in the right mindset to actually ask her to come out, but instead just dropped hints it would be great to meet her. Suffice to say, we did not meet.

However, Saskatoon did offer an affordable breakfast, thanks  always to a nearby Tim Hortons. And I was amazed by the nearby bar, Hudsons Taphouse. Yeah, I know, many parts of Calgary already know it, but unfortunately, there is nothing like it, well honestly almost nothing at all, for the 80000 plus people in North Central Calgary.

Hudsons is where I met Amy, 24. Yes, here we go again, 24. It started off innocent enough as our group was large and spread out in the bar. However Amy was our server and quickly got involved in our conversation and we quickly got to know her personality. I will spare you the details, but the conversation evolved through the early evening. I have to say that Amy was one of the best waitresses I have ever seen when it came to working her crowd and knowing her customer quickly. We were a big group scattered over numerous tables and she knew how to serve us and knew how to recover when she got behind. But she always had a moment to chat while cleaning the table, or taking orders.

I do not know what got into me, other than several ounces of courage, but I asked Amy if she would go to dinner with me if I was ever back in Saskatoon. As a demonstration of her great personality, she said yes…..because a free dinner is a free dinner! I gave her one of my Single Dad business cards and will buy her that dinner if she ever gets to Calgary. (No, I do not plan on going back to Saskatoon anytime soon.)

In the meantime, I really hope for a Hudsons in my area where they are building a new retail complex. I have become a fan, but the closest one to me is a half hour away. And maybe they could hire Amy?

Already working on my next blog,  which is all about entering the online dating world. Ugh! Coming soon.

My last blog was about the impact anyone can have on your life. Call it bad luck, fate, or just how life rolls, but 20 somethings continue to be the only women in my life it seems. There really is nothing wrong with that, because I don’t discriminate by age, because nobody every treated me that way when I was a 20 something. In fact, my best friend was 39 when I was 20. And since the whole point of this blog, is to get twenty seconds of courage to meet the woman of my dreams, I figure I should be able to talk to anyone, if I can talk to 20 year olds.

I spent the month of January working away from home, living the hotel life, eating out daily, which sucks more than you would believe, accompanied with trips to the hotel gym with little effect as always. When the temperature is steady around -22, most do not venture far from the hotel for meals, but it also means seeing the same servers at the same restaurants night after night. Funny enough, one can sometimes only deal with what they are presented with, and like at home, I am presented with 20 something servers. I know from experience, that the restaurant/bar job is often a temporary one for them, often paying for school, or because they are unable to find work in their chosen field. This often means indifference for the customer, and they want nothing more than a tip; the very kind of service at our chosen restaurant the first week in town.

But then IT happened. We discovered a new place to have lunch and dinner that was closer to the hotel, and offered better service. IT all started one night with a peer that said he could determine a woman’s age by looking at her hands so we put him to the test with the staff that night. I soon found myself playing along, challenging his guesses. To my surprise, I was guessing closer than he was. But I cheated. Men that really know me, will agree I have very different taste in women. Many men out there will call bullshit on this, but the most important feature a woman has to me is her eyes. So while ‘predicting’ the servers ages by looking at their hands, I was really looking into their eyes. And dammit, I was close or bang on every time!

Of course this was an awesome icebreaker for a shy introvert but not sure I could ever attempt it again without someone else opening the door. There was shy Sierra, whose name I only mention so that I remember it when I return there. There was the bartending staff, which included James and Janeen, Mark and Megan, all perhaps a little older than 22. They welcomed us into their bar, and extended their friendly hospitality beyond the walls of where they worked. Little did they know how much business we would provide them in the weeks to come. For that matter, little did we know how much business we would provide them, some days, both lunch and dinner. Yet it led to meeting some awesome people that treated me well, far beyond good service, actually more like friends hosting me in their home. I am not sure this is a good thing, but I felt like Norm from the old tv show Cheers, instead of my usual Raj from Big Bang Theory. (Sadly, I look more like Norm, but hoping diet and exercise change that!)

A little bit of liquid courage one night had me heading over to the incredible Steph. And yes, I mean incredible. Well, as incredible as a 23 year old fitness and dance instructor can be. Even in a dark bar, her eyes were welcoming and friendly. And contrary to my peers who were advising me against talking to her, and a bartender that suggested she didn’t even like me, I found myself compelled to go talk to her while she waited for her staff meal. Understand, this is VERY out of character for me, so I really cannot explain why I would still go over there when I was advised it was a bad idea…….And this was before I knew she was a fitness and dance instructor! At first impression, it is quite possible I have not met a more kind and perhaps tolerant 23 yr old in my life. I told stories, listened intently to hers, and we laughed. According to my friends, we actually talked for an hour even though I gave her several opportunities to brush me off. After all, she was in her workplace, and we were customers, so I did not want her to feel obligated to talk to me, and I told her so. But she told me she liked my stories so I hoped we would talk again.

But as the days wore on, I started to believe that my friends and a bartender were likely correct, and she was nothing more than a polite employee in the place she worked. I pretty much could not get the time of day out of her, getting little acknowledgement even when she was sitting beside me a few days later. I wasn’t looking for marriage or even a date but I thank her, because I grew some confidence from the opportunity of stepping outside my comfort zone each time I saw her.  I have never been one for games, but I definitely see playing ‘hard to get’ the next time I am there! Why not, she might not even notice! (Epilogue – we have since been back, and Stephanie approached me with a huge smile and warm welcome. Did I play hard to get? Of course not! I only had one more day in town. Instead I gave her my number and asked her to come out with us before we left! Yeah, I know what you are thinking……)

Let’s be honest, talking to servers that are working is pretty easy……getting them to talk to you on their own time, well, that is a bigger challenge. However, James, Janeen, Meagan, Megan, and Janna all gave up personal time to get to know me better and each brought me out of my shell in their own way. I am pretty sure they would tell you I am lying about being shy and insecure, but there is a reason I am at home on a Saturday night. Although…….if I could find a restaurant near my home with staff like them, I might never leave.

I can honestly say that all of these experiences took me well beyond 20 seconds of courage. I can also say that I have used these experiences in the past few weeks I have been home, albeit most of my courage is with strangers on Twitter….. a subject for another blog. And let me be clear…..I don’t want to date a 23 year old, as I have very different priorities in life. I will be the first one to say that would be a little creepy and frankly, short lived, but I have come to know a few people that truly are great people, regardless of their age. (Epilogue – almost all the staff we had come to know, came out with  us on our last night. They are all great people, some of whom I would now consider friends.)

I believe every experience helps shape us into who we are and who we become, and while I am trying to shape myself into a more confident person, a date is still just a date; A chance to learn more about someone else, and yourself, and the lost art of conversation instead of tweeting and texting. Yes, I am one of those that misses conversation, and I find it so easy to me misunderstood in a text or tweet. Humour does not always come across as well in written form, as you thought it was in your head. This blog just might be another example of that.

In the meantime, I have tickets for Calgary Flames games, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi in the weeks and months ahead, and I will need a little courage, or I am going alone. Older than 23, apply within :)

Thanks for following my journey. I would love to hear your support, comments and criticism, but I have not mastered WordPress to get the reply box to display :( Right under the title of the blog is the published date with // beside it and a number. If you click on the number, it will produce a comment box. Alternatively, feel free to email me at DivorcednotDead@shaw.ca

When I first rejoined the dating world, well, the single world, I didn’t know where to begin. Well, honestly, I still don’t. However, I decided that I would never discount anyone as a potential date, or a potential friend as I rebuild my network. I wasn’t going to judge someone by age, or race, or height, or what their job was, because they might lead me to the woman of my dreams. They could even end up being the woman of my dreams.

Several years ago, there was a cute, young hostess working at a neighbourhood restaurant…..way to young for me to be looking at twice. But I have always been attracted to brains and personality. Yeah, I am sure some of you are gagging right now, but that is the real me. This girl, or woman, was the main reason we were regulars at this eatery. She took ownership, in an otherwise mediocre restaurant, to make every customer feel important, respected, and taken care of. I can be as materialistic and arrogant as anyone, but this ”hostess’ was someone that demonstrated that anyone, ANYONE, can make a difference. ANYONE, can  be someone, regardless of what they do, how they dress, how they look, and so on. I still remember the day she told me that she had taken a job with an airline. It is not that a restaurant survives or dies because of one employee….this restaurant had more problems than that, but for me, it was the beginning of the end and the restaurant was for sale by the end of the year.

I have always been a believer in fate. Everything happens for a reason. But I think in writing this blog, I am driving destiny a little, but just don’t know what direction we are headed! So what are the odds, that a friend ends up getting a job with that SAME airline working with this young lady? What are the odds that she remembers me? Well, I guess I am kind of memorable, or maybe my son is, because she remembered us both. Wait! Maybe for bad reasons? Well……I explain to my friend, that I think highly of this young woman, who is now 22. I admit to her regularly that it would be good to see this woman, invite her along to events, and so on but it is quickly made clear to me that she is too young for me to date! I never said I wanted to date her! What on earth would we have in common? We are both exploring life, but in very different ways I am sure! In fairness, I didn’t just poke my friend about this one woman, I poked her about the number of women she works with, to whom I have never met. You start to question whether you really are a great guy, when your friends aren’t trying very hard to introduce you to women…….or maybe the women they know, aren’t worth meeting!

However, a few months ago, I was at my friends house hanging out, and the 22 year old showed up. I cannot speak for her, but I thought we had a great time while polishing off several bottles of wine. Like my last blog said, life is about building relationships. I really had a great time, but sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me, and when I saw her picking up her car the next morning, I blurted out “Hey you drunk!” Yeah, I know. But hold on……..so I reached out with my new found 20 seconds of courage, and sent a message to her on Facebook. Yeah, I know, again. I lost my 20 seconds by the next day and deleted it, but apparently even if you delete a message off your account, it doesn’t delete off the receivers account. Oh oh. But she responded….although she called me a creepy asshole! But  we are Facebook friends, although I think only because she doesn’t ever use Facebook! lol. I know, I know….22 and not living on Facebook?

I still have plenty of free nights, and still have plenty of wine. I hope she wants to hang out again one day, and maybe bring some friends because it seems our mutual friend is just too busy to hang out these days. But to be honest, to my surprise, she doesn’t have to bring friends……we seemed to have good conversation – but who wouldn’t with 4 bottles of wine! And the more friends, the more new connections. If she is reading this, she is welcome to come and hang out anytime. And so are you ;)  Don’t worry if you are only 20 something…..just look at my Twitter account….it is full of twenty somethings! Lets face it, this is my 5th blog, and not many people are reading it and it certainly hasn’t led to any dates! But it looks like hockey season is on….and I will be looking for some company on Wednesday nights!

Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings had been put away with care,
As the children had emptied them I was very aware

The children had opened all presents with glee,
Pretty happy I think with the presents from me.
The kids were now sleeping, exhausted from their day,
With dad off to bed soon, if i had my way.

Quite the Christmas it was, I really must say,
The day with my ex-wife and her family went okay.
The day started off with a bang and a bash
Because of course the kids fought and left the pantry door with a gash.

The sun wasn’t shining on the new-fallen snow
And the temperature was somewhere around 20 below.
We packed ourselves up and warmed up the truck

Headed to her house for turkey, just our luck.

 

Tomorrow we head to a friends house for some cheer

But with the new drinking laws, I won’t have a beer

A year or so single, but have not dated yet,
These new rules and this weather makes dates hard to get.

Many pretty women, I am sure will be there,

But without liquid courage, quite shy I’m aware.

My ex will support me, and give words of good will

But that might freak women out, or give them a chill.

 

The new year is coming, and dating it is time

Or perhaps I should take lessons on writing a rhyme

Unsure who is single, or where I should meet

The odds are not good, walking up and down my street.

 

Oh Danielle, or Tracey or whatever their name

I really dislike dating, I hate playing their game.

I can’t be an asshole, say the women that I know

But my confidence will get better, I am sure it will grow.

 

My wish made to Santa, for a babe under the tree

That likes a nice guy, a guy just like me.

He laughed and he giggled, my wish has yet to come true

But how this poem ends, falls back upon you.

 

If you know a nice girl, between 25 and 50,

please tell her about me, this guy is quite nifty.

The last words I share, as I change the yuletime log

Is give me a chance, respond to this blog!

 

As I mentioned in my first post, the most important initiative I am taking right now is establishing and building relationships. Part of that adventure is reaching out to people from my past. I have been reaching out and contacting old friends and acquaintances from years gone by. For the most part, I don’t remember why we lost touch. Maybe they didn’t like me anymore. Maybe they didn’t like my spouse. Maybe they didn’t like ‘us’. More likely, it is because I became one of those typical people that got busy with family life and never did anything anymore, and they gave up and moved on. I lost some good friends, most of them women. No, they really were just friends, and never would have been anything more. Yeah, by their choice. The friend zone…..but I will save that for a later blog.

I suspect many of the friendships formed because I am a natural flirt. I don’t see it, but I am told so all the time. I am pretty sure that it will even come out in my blogs, because apparently, I just cannot help myself. The result is, that over the years, I have flirted with a variety of women, but of course never followed through because I was in a relationship, but I think it is why my friends have generally been women. I remember one attractive woman, we will call her Sam, that I met through a friend several years ago. Now I am certain that I did not flirt with her. Certain. However, I did mention to my friend that I thought Sam was attractive. I also bumped into Sam occasionally as she worked with my friend and I was a client where they worked. I know at least one reader is upset with me already…..However, Sam was a single mom, and I knew she was struggling, and I was always trying to make a difference in peoples lives. One year I anonymously provided entry tickets and ride tickets for her to take her daughter to the Calgary Stampede because I knew she otherwise could not go. So maybe I once again crossed that professional line, but I think I did a very humanitarian thing for a 6 year old girl. (And it helped her mom was a sweetheart.)

I don’t remember how it happened, but our mutual friend was one of the people I reconnected with a few months ago. One of the first things that came up in conversation, was how her girlfriend was doing. Sam is still single, and still remembers me. What surprised me, is that she remembered me from a BBQ a few years ago, and a nice conversation we were having until my spouse started staring her down. I had no idea. No really, I had no idea she would remember me, or that conversation years later, nor that she got the stare down. So what choice did I have, but to once again reach out on Facebook. But I heard nothing. My friend told me that Sam never uses her account, and not to be discouraged. A few weeks, and a few more conversations later, I am told that Sam will come with me to a community fundraiser, along with my friend and her husband. Awesome. No pressure. Not really a date.

The night came, and so did the call I expected. Ten minutes before leaving, my friend calls to say that it is doubtful Sam is coming due to problems with her daughter. Shortly after we arrive at the event, it becomes clear, I am going to be single for the event. To my surprise, 5 weeks has passed since then, and I have not heard from Sam at all. My friend tells me not to be discouraged. But, she has my number, and my email……still waiting.  In fairness, she is a single mom, and I totally get how busy that can be. Dating doesn’t come first, or second, or even third in my life. Not right now. But I am not waiting either.

Thank you to all those reading about my journey. I think most of you ‘get it’ but I did receive one email from a reader that didn’t, so thought I would focus on her message in this post.

My 20 seconds of courage is in its infancy. I don’t know where it will take me, or even what it means just yet, other than taking risks that the ‘old’ me would never have considered. I do not just mean risks about dating……it might be leaving a miserable relationship, or skydiving (not a chance!) or changing jobs, or moving or buying a house or even starting your own company. My biggest risk is likely writing this blog, as I am pretty sure my co-workers were a little shocked when they learned I was single, and was writing about it. I didn’t tell them for lots of reasons, and they have all been much more decent about it than I expected. I was prepared for a very embarrassing and humbling moment of truth, as I will be each time I write a post. Only you know your own fears, but I am telling you, LIVE LIFE!

Before posting my last blog, I shared it with some of the women in my life to make sure I would not be offensive, including my ex. So when I was told that I came across as creepy by the only commenter I had, I was taken aback. We all know it can be easy for the written word to be misunderstood because it lacks tone and personality. But I was told it was creepy that I sent flowers to my travel agent after returning from a vacation she booked for me. However, every travel agent I know loves getting flowers from their clients. I was also told it was wrong to ‘hit on’ someone I have a professional relationship with. So, um, let me get this straight, people in life should stay dedicated to a relationship that generates a few dollars over potential personal happiness? Maybe it is the hopeless romantic in me, but I don’t think we should ever put barriers up over money. And, well, I don’t think I actually hit on anyone either…….at least not intentionally…….well, unless someone I write about reads this – doubtful.

But, maybe the commenter was right. Maybe I crossed a boundary so will never hear from the travel agent or any other woman I reach out to in this blog. I do not really expect to ever connect with a woman because I wrote a blog about them, but instead it might help me build the confidence that I am told women look for. My experience from this first attempt resulted in dozens of positive responses to the one negative comment, so I like to think that is better odds than a pick up line, online dating, or the bar. My ideal woman will think outside of the box, rather than in it. In the meantime, I would like to think I can entertain you with my stories, as embarrassing as they might be, and only hope my coworkers, mostly men, have better things to do than read my very personal dirty laundry, lol. Like I have said, this blog is about taking risks that I never would have considered taking before.  This blog is about encouraging others to take risks, not just me. What risk are you willing to take today?

 

(Your comments are always welcome. Just click the little comment bubble beside the date of the post and a reply box will appear under the post. Thanks for reading.)

Part of my job, is working evenings and weekends. I know at face value, that may not seem all that appealing, but I have a fantastic front row seat for some amazing sunsets and sunrises, like this mornings, pictured above. Last night, it was a front row seat for an awesome shooting star streaking from east to west across a southern sky, which I only got to see because the Calgary skies were finally clearing out after 2 weeks of crap.With a drawn out 10 seconds as it crossed the sky, I made a wish, but if I told you what it was, it wouldn’t come true! So instead, I thought I would blog because I have failed to share my stories for almost a year. What can I say….being an awesome single dad takes more time than I thought :)

I am thinking though, that perhaps my wish should have been for more courage. In the movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’, Matt Damon says “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise something great will come of it”.  Last weekend marked the 1 year anniversary of my separation and I still find myself doing the Snoopy happy dance, for reasons I cannot explain, at least not here. Maybe this is why I have taken the first steps towards insane courage in recent weeks. Baby steps, because I am not quite ready for insane courage just yet. MisterYYC recently said on Twitter: “You have no control over how anyone feels about you. Represent yourself well, and all the rest is needless worry”. I have never been a ladies man…..not that confident bad boy so many women seem to desire. But I think I have generally always represented myself well. I am proud of the man I go home with at night so for the first time in my life, I think it is time for courage. I think many of you might be able to relate in some way, and hopefully I can inspire a few of you to join me in taking some sort of 20 second risk. My story might be a little boring or irrelevant to some of you, but I think there are some valuable thoughts near the end (skip to confession #3)

Back in February, I went to a Travel Expo because I wanted to take my kids away somewhere as soon as I could. I was in the honeymoon phase of divorce, unsure of so many things, including how much money I had to spend on a trip that I felt my kids deserved, as did I. I was trying to get a great deal for a great holiday because I hoped to be able to take them on a second trip within the year, which hasn’t come together as quickly as I had hoped. I went to the Travel Expo unsure of where I wanted to go, what it would cost, or what to do. The Expo, and a beautiful travel counsellor helped with that.

Unfortunately, with the nature of the travel show, and my need for specific dates, it was difficult for the counsellor to help me on the spot. Had we found something at the Expo, for the dates I was looking for, I would have booked it, but we were having a hard time with my date range which meant followup in the days and weeks that followed. It had been a long time since I last had expressed interest in a woman, and furthermore, my objective was to book a trip, not get a date, so I did not pay much attention to her business card, hence work location, as much as maybe I should have. We exchanged many emails, a few of them flirty on my part, but there was often a lengthy delay in reply, or at least what seemed lengthy to a demanding customer like me that wanted to travel within weeks. It turned out that she was in a retail location in a shopping mall, so to my ignorance, had to deal with walkin clients, in addition to her regular customers and responsibilities as an Assistant Manager. Because of the delays, I began doing considerable research on my own.

Confession #1. It didn’t help that I know a bit about the travel business and that many agencies deal with selected wholesalers and that those rates used to be great, but since the recession hit the US, both hotels and airlines have been offering significant discounts, often below brochure prices, making the job of a travel agent that much more difficult with people like me. I would say that I can beat a travel agent price most of the time, for the destinations I want to go to within North America. But it takes a lot of work, and often it is worth paying the extra money to have an agent to do that work, and likewise to have someone to call if you run into problems. And don’t get me wrong, there are some great deals available exclusively through travel agents as well, and travel experience you can benefit from, and I find great value in a good travel agent. But travel agents are like realtors; There are some that are really good, and will work really hard and they will get you those great deals that I can find, and some that do the bare minimum, and the brochure price is the price. In both cases, I will only deal with great ones, but I didn’t even give this one much of a chance :)

Confession #2. Even after the Expo, I wanted to book with her, I sincerely did. I know commission based pay can suck for travel agents, I used to be one. If someone does the work, they should get paid. When I originally wrote this blog a few hours ago, I thought she had stopped replying to me because she could not match the prices I had. I suspected she thought I was one of those tire kickers that she would pour time into and it wouldn’t pay off. I thought things fell apart. In fact, I wrote this whole blog based on that belief. But after originally posting this blog, and sending it to her, I went back and reviewed emails to discover that we simply could not make it work because I was an idiot that couldn’t figure out she worked in a mall location, and should have gone to see her in person! (Oh crap!) However, I was panicked to book that day. I can’t remember why, but I went to another travel agent I knew that day, who also happened to be attractive and going through a divorce. (Lucky me!) I had all my research, and my direct flights, which I had already booked at a significant discount on my own. It turned out that this other travel agent had been to the exact resorts I was considering, but could not match my prices.  To her surprise, I paid the extra $130 to book with her because I felt better having a travel agency to fall back on if I had a problem going to a foreign country, and she had secrets from being at the resorts I was staying at. But I cannot help but feel it should have found a way to book through the agent I met at the Expo, particularly after I sent beautiful flowers to the travel agent I did book through, and she did not even call to say thank you. (Unlucky me – she might be single for a while)

A few weeks ago, there was another Travel Expo by the same company. I went again, looking for new ideas, and well, curious if ‘she’ would be working it. I could not book anything as I had some upcoming work uncertainties, but was seeking information. She was there, but I couldn’t possibly waste her time until I knew what my work commitments were, and I wasn’t sure what to say. I was not sure she would believe my intentions were sincere and that I was not trying to take advantage of her knowledge and experience. I sure wish I had reviewed those emails before tonight! (I am a man, I am stupid, I guess)

Confession #3. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest, I really wanted to book with her because I found her attractive. Whew, I think 20 seconds just started. If I have learned anything in the last year, its that I am not looking for love, but instead building relationships because love will come when the time is right. Online dating services are doing booming business because people don’t know how to talk anymore. People don’t know how to meet anymore but I just cannot imagine that online dating is in my foreseeable future. I think dating is all about networking, and building relationships, much like the travel consultant business.

A year single, and I haven’t started dating yet, and in fact, most of my friends and co-workers don’t even know. Instead I spend my time bettering my community, and raising the best kids I possibly could. I am a guy trying to change the world, one person at a time, starting with my kids, and I have decided I now need to work on me. On my shyness, on my insecurity, and on being healthy.

I cannot imagine what any of you are thinking right now, as all of you, including her, are pretty much complete strangers. (And lets be honest, that sure makes it easier to post this!) But I can tell you that this post is really about me, changing who I am, taking a few risks in life. Yes, men can change. Frankly, on paper, I am an awesome guy. Now I am just working on the packaging and the marketing and this post is just one of the many learning steps/risks I am taking. So why I am sharing this with strangers? I hope to inspire others to join me and take a risk. More importantly, I hope some of you have packaging and marketing tips! What do you have to lose? It only takes 20 seconds of insane courage!

My last words to M. D. If you are reading this, I am sorry if I offended you at all. After re-reading those emails, I don’t think I did, but it doesn’t change that I feel bad for the time you spent. More importantly, I hope I haven’t offended you by writing this blog, but I think I really needed to do this. I haven’t been drinking, but it is possible I will change my mind in the morning. I don’t expect to hear back from you, or any other readers, but I hope the door is open when I want to book that next trip; you said it was, and somehow I missed that until moments ago. I don’t even know if you are single, but like I said, my life is about building relationships right now so it doesn’t really matter. But I hope some day, I can buy you a drink or a coffee, and talk more about you since you now know quite a bit about me.

Anyone is welcome to post a comment to this blog. There should be a “Leave a reply” box at the bottom of each page.  I have had awesome feedback with only one exception, so I look forward to reading YOUR comments :) Keep reading http://twentysecondsofcourage.ca for more stories.

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