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Finding the Right One

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© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. All characters depicted are 18 years and over.


It was time to get off the road. It had been five long years of weekly trips all over the United States to help our clients overcome problems they usually made for themselves. I was tired. Tired of restaurant food, tired of hotels, tired of flying, and mostly tired of seeing problems clients had made for themselves through lack of proper planning or just plain old negligence. Software is not a static entity, it lives and grows, changes over time (if the client applies updates), and the data it processes grows in size every day. I guess there is just no cure for stupidity.

So I had a meeting with Stan my boss. I told him he had two months to get me off the road and back into the office or I was looking for another job. He told me he was surprised I had not come to him over a year ago with this declaration. If I was willing to take a month to train my replacement he would be glad to accommodate me. That was a total revelation for me. I had expected a battle with him which I would probably lose. I had expected to be looking for a job after I left his office and now my boss was more than willing to meet my terms.

So I went back out on the road with a trainee for a month. He was intelligent and good with people and he was ready to take my place after a month. So I returned to the office on a Monday to see what my manager had planned for me.

When I got there Stan was not in yet. His assistant said to just wait and he would probably be there in about ten minutes. Actually, it was not that long until Stan came strolling in.

“Hi, Mark. Come on in.”

He opened the office door and led me in.

“Have a seat for a minute. Sharon! Would you bring us some coffee, please?”

“Sure, back in a minute.”

“So, Mark, I bet you are glad to be off the road. I am still surprised you made it as long as you did. You deserve a big ‘Thanks!’ for the job you did for the last five years and I want you to know we all appreciate it.”

“Thanks, Stan. It was tough and I’m glad its over. I am looking forward to my next assignment.”

“Great, I think you will like what I have planned for you. Are you aware of the project we named Constantine?”

“I’ve heard the name but not much about it.”

“IBM has a new hardware project they are working on and we have been contracted to write some of the software to run parts of the system. We have specs on the hardware and we also have a system that can interpret the software. The team has been working on the software for a few months now. They are making really good progress. But a month ago the team lead gave us his two weeks notice and left us for something he was hush-hush about. He has now been gone about three weeks and the team has been without a head during that period while I waited on you to get back. Now that you are here I want you to take over the team. What do you think?”

“It sounds exciting. How big is the team?”

“There are eight coders split into two teams plus two project coordinators, one for each team. I want you to lead both teams and coordinate directly with IBM. You will also take on the standard management functions for the team and set both teams schedules and tasks. I don’t expect you to be able to hit the ground running because you will need some time to ramp up on the project and get to know the people you will be over. So lean on your project coordinators. They are good people and have been handling things in your absence very well. I trust them and so should you.”

“That’s good to know.”

Stan and I discussed the project for another thirty minutes. Then it was time to meet the team members. Stan had called for a meeting of both teams in their conference room at 9:30. A few minutes before that time we left his office and headed for the conference room.

The first team members to arrive were the project coordinators, Rod and Patricia. Rod had been with company a long time and was very knowledgeable about the project. Patricia (‘call me Pat’) was much younger and just as knowledgeable. She was also extremely good looking.

Then the rest of the team started to filter in, six men and two women. I was glad to see that the company initiative for hiring females seemed to be working. I could never understand how the software industry came to be dominated by males, it made no sense to me.

Stan introduced me and then we spent an hour talking project plans, time lines, responsibilities, and deadlines. By the end of the meeting I had a pretty good idea of where the project stood and where they were going. Everything seemed in pretty good shape but sometimes that can be misleading. It would take time to know for sure.

The meeting broke up after the appointed hour and Stan showed me to my office. It was nice with a window looking out over the parking lot. At least there was some natural light even if the view was less than optimal. After a short time Stan left me and I settled in.

The office had a PC so I used it to log Maraş Escort in to the office system and check my mail. After that I began looking at the manuals IBM had supplied us as well as what paperwork the old manager had left behind. I was deep into it when Pat stopped by.

“Hi, Mark. I just stopped by to let you know that Rod and I are getting you access to our systems and setting up all your permissions. We also are adding you to the group e-mail and chat system.”

“Thanks, Pat. Just let me know when you are finished and I will check them out.”

“Okay, I will see you later.”

Pat and Rod seemed very efficient. And Pat was really easy on the eyes. She was about 5-5, maybe 125 pounds, great legs, nice bust line, and a face and smile that could melt butter without the sun’s help. Her hair was shoulder length and something between a cross of blond and brown. It had been a very long time since I had been with a woman and Pat was just my type, or maybe I was desperate. In any case, I was attracted to her. Trouble was, I had no idea about her relationship status, single, married, or involved?

I put the idea out of my head and went back to work.

Around five o’clock Pat dropped by.

“Mark, I think we have you all set up. If we have missed anything just let Rod or myself know.”

“Thanks, Pat. And thank Rod for me. I appreciate you guys setting me up.”

“I will. Are you staying late?”

“Yeah, I want to dig into this a little more.”

“Do you want me to stay a while?”

“Don’t you have someone expecting you home on time?”

“No, it’s just me.”

“Well, thanks anyway. Go ahead and leave, I will be fine.”

“Thanks. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Well, that settled one question about her. Not that I did not have a hundred more.

I read for another hour and decided to call it quits for the day. I got back to my apartment and made myself some dinner. I had decided to never eat out again except for special occasions. That meant cooking for myself, which I had only done on the weekends up until now.

After eating my mind wandered back to Pat. She was not only nice looking but a really nice person as well. I started to wondering what she was like after work, or maybe even in bed. Then I told myself to stop it, I should not get involved with someone from work, even if there was no company policy against it.

The next few days went by quickly. I worked getting to know the people and project at work while trying to get my apartment back together at night. After five years of only occasionally living there I needed to clean the place up and get it livable again.

On Thursday evening I went to my old gym to see if I could get a new membership. On the road I tried to keep in shape by running or, when they had one, working out at the hotel gym. That kept me in passable shape, but I needed to at least continue and hopefully improve on my physical fitness.

The gym had great equipment compared to what I was used to at the hotels. The fee was very reasonable and the hours the gym was available were generous. I purchased a membership that began immediately. Since I had my workout clothes with me I changed into them and started my workout on the treadmill to warm up. The treadmill can be kind of boring so I watched the people while I ran.

The gym was not that crowded so there were a lot of empty machines. There were a surprising number of women present all working on different machines or on the free weights. And then I saw her. Pat was working at the leg lift machine. She was dressed for working out in a pair of shorts and T-shirt. Then I noticed the amount of weight she was lifting. She was lifting about 70 pounds which was very respectable for a woman on that machine. And damn, she looked good.

As I ran she moved from machine to machine working out different parts of her body. It was obvious she knew what she was doing. She had perfect form and lifted respectable amounts on each machine. When she reached the rowing machine my warm up time on the treadmill was reached so I got off the machine and went toward Pat.

“Hi, Pat.”

“Mark! I didn’t know you had a membership here.”

“I just joined up. I used to have a membership here until I went on the road. But that was five years ago.”

“You still look pretty good.”

“I have tried to keep in shape while on the road, but it was intermittent at best. I figured now I need something a little more regimented. So here I am.”

“That’s great! It will be nice to see a friend here once in a while. None of the other team members live close by so I never see them here.”

“So you live relatively close?”

“Yeah. About two miles from here over off Rose Street.”

“That’s near me. I live at the Summer Trees Apartments.”

“What a coincidence. That’s where I live!”

“How bizarre is that?”

Suddenly the conversation dried up.

“Well, I will let you get back to your workout. I am just getting started.”

“See you tomorrow, Mark.”

“Yeah, tomorrow then.”

I Maraş Escort Bayan spent the rest of my workout stealing glances at Pat, until she left to go home. She was so attractive. I hardly knew her but I was already infatuated. She intruded on my dreams at night and into my thoughts during the day.

The next day was Friday. I was in at my regular time. I was getting my morning coffee when Pat dropped by.

“Good morning, Mark. How was your workout last night?”

“Good. I’m a little stiff this morning, but nothing I did not expect.”

“That’s good. Listen, we are reaching our current goal today. The team thought a little celebration was in order so everyone in going out tonight. Would you like to go with us?”

“Sure, sounds like fun. Where are we going?”

“That’s not been decided yet. I will let you know later.”

“Alright, you know where to find me.”

“Good. See you later.”

She left my office with me watching her. I sighed and tried to shake my wistful mood. She always did that to me. I hoped she was going to be there tonight. It would immeasurably improve my evening if she was there.

About two o’clock Pat dropped by again to let me know where everyone was going. It was a restaurant near the office. We were leaving a little early to get the celebration going. Almost everyone from both teams were going, including Pat. My evening was looking up.

Everyone left at four thirty and reassembled at the restaurant. A few drinks were had by all, but not too much. After an hour or so most of the group went their separate ways but a few stayed for dinner, including Pat. We got a table and I sat down by Pat. The place served very good food and everyone had a nice time.

Soon, it was just Pat and myself left from the group. We both were drinking a little and it improved the conversation.

“So tell me a little about yourself, Pat. Why are you still single? Where did you go to school?”

“Well, I’m still single because I have not found the right man, yet. I’ve looked and have just not found anyone that is willing to let me be myself. Even during college they all seemed to want me to fit into the form they wanted. I didn’t mind marriage, it was everything else they wanted that I could not handle. Most wanted an educated stay-at-home mother of their kids, or a trophy wife that they could put on a mantle. I needed to be free to make a life for myself. I could be a wife, but not a slave.”

I thought about that for a minute. “I can appreciate that. I also value my freedom. And I can appreciate that you also value yours. Actually, I find that refreshing. Most women I meet these days seem to have fallen into the very trap you have avoided. They have grown sad and angry, mostly at themselves. You are like a fresh breeze.”

She smiled. “That’s nice of you to say so. But it has been a lonely life sometimes. My work helps a lot, but when I am not working it does get lonely, especially at night. I occasionally meet someone, but it never seems to last. But there is always hope that someone will come along and sweep me off my feet.”

I smiled at that. “So, ever the optimist, huh? Well, I’m somewhat the same. I just never seemed to find the right woman. So I keep hoping as well, that someone will come along that can be both herself and what I am looking for. Not that I am looking for anything really special, just someone who does not mind living with a slug like me.”

She smiled at that. “You don’t do yourself justice. You are not a slug, just someone who is a little tired of looking. You never know, the right woman may come along any time. You just have to be ready and willing to see her when she shows up.”

“Oh I am ready and willing. I just hope she is.”

She smiled again. “Oh, she will be.”

Then we both seemed to be a little reluctant to go any deeper.

“Well, I had better get on home. It was nice that you came to our little party. I will see you on Monday.”

“Pat, before you go, would you like to spend a little time with me this weekend?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Do you have a bicycle?”

“Why, yes I do.”

“Would you like to go riding with me tomorrow?”

She brightened considerably. “Yes, that would be nice.”

“Say ten o’clock tomorrow. I’m in apartment 226 in building five. Meet me there.”

She smiled again. “That sounds wonderful. I’ll be there.”

We left together and then went to our cars. I followed her to our complex and then went to my apartment. I watched a little TV and then got ready for bed. I tossed and turned a while before I dropped off to sleep. I dreamed of Pat again. Every time I was with her it reinforced my feelings for her. She was just what I was looking for, and she at least hinted that she might consider being with me. That pleased me no end.

My bike had not been used in a while so I had spent the morning getting it ready so it would not break down on me today. That would be embarrassing.

Pat was right on time. We started out towards the park about three miles Escort Maraş away. The park was lightly traveled but had nice roads to bike on. We spent an hour there riding around and then stopped for a break at a little drink stand. We both got Cokes and then sat down for a rest. The conversation was pleasant and not really about anything important. But I really had a nice time with her and I hoped she had a nice time with me.

When we were rested we made out way out of the park and towards a shopping strip center. There we dismounted and proceeded to do a little window shopping. There was a little specialty food store and we went in and shopped around. I bought just a few items including some french bread to take back home with me.

When we finished shopping we mounted our bikes again and headed back to the apartment complex. When we arrived I invited Pat up to my apartment for a little bread and wine. She accepted and we secured her bike to the railing before we went in.

“Sorry about the state of the apartment. It looks bare because I have only lived her no more that a few days at a time for the last five years. I need to do some shopping for furniture, throw out some of this stuff, and basically refurnish the whole place. I just have not had the time to get it done.”

“That’s okay, I understand. Living on the road must have been tough for you.”

“It wasn’t at first. But the drudgery of working away week after week eventually got to me. I only had a few friends outside of work and I got really tired of hotels, restaurant food, flying, and disgruntled clients. In the end it was either get off the road or look for a new job. Luckily Stan was accommodating and I wound up on this project.”

“Well, all I can say is we are lucky to have you. We were okay by ourselves for a few weeks but I think it would have ended badly without some leadership. We were lucky to get you as the project leader. You have really made a difference this last week and everyone agrees with me on that. You have insights that we have badly needed and your direction has been spot on during this week.”

“Thanks. What kind of wine would you like? I have only a small selection but I like all of them.”

Pat selected one and I opened it and poured two glasses. Then I put the bread in the oven to warm it up and took out some butter and garlic for the bread. When it finally got warm I took it out of the oven and sliced it up. I set it on a tray with the butter and garlic and moved that to the table by the love seat in the living room. It was the only sofa I had.

Pat joined me on the love seat and we ate the bread and talked. Pat described her schooling while we ate.

“After I graduated with a business and information technology degree I got a job offer from Stan himself. The salary and job was just what I was looking for so I accepted the offer. I’ve been here for three years and I have loved every moment. Stan makes sure everyone here falls into line and I have never felt harassed or left out. I think I might be in line for a promotion soon so I am kind of on pins and needles about that.”

“I would say you are ready in the little time I have known you. I am not sure why Stan did not promote you to take my position.”

“Stan talked it over with me and we both felt it might cause problems among the team members. We both decided I should wait for a new position to open up. That would give me a smoother transition without any hard feelings.”

“That sounds like Stan. Always thinking ahead and watching out for the team and the business at the same time. It is the reason I like working for him.”

“Yeah, I like him, too. He seems to watch out for everyone at the same time. Sometimes I wonder how he does it.”

“Stan told me that he can do that because he cares as much for the people as the business. He once said to me that we are not really in the software business, we are in the people business. And any leader that does not believe that will not last that long. Of course, you and I know there are exceptions for that, but Stan really believes it.”

“Yeah, but at least he can make money, too. I hope he continues to succeed so I can have a job. I like being employed for a firm like this. The people are great and so is the work. The only thing lacking is someone to share it with.”

“Yeah, that would be nice for me, too. Would you like to have some lunch?”

“Oh no, that bread really filled me up. In fact, I should get home and take a shower. I must smell a fright.”

“If that means you smell like a woman then I like it.”

“You would. But I had better go.”

“Okay, see you Monday?”

“Bright and early to start the new phase.”

“Me, too. See you then.”

With that she left. I cleaned up the dishes and then took a shower. With some of the day left I went shopping to pick out some furniture and pick up some groceries.

On Monday we started the final phase of the project. It would take about a month to finish in my estimation. We would have to work hard, but it was doable. We spent most of that day planning and splitting up the work between the two teams. By the end of the day we had a plan of action that I thought would work and more important, the teams believed in the plan. That was the important point that most team leads forget, the team has to believe in the plan for it to work.

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