Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catch and release...

I was at a work lunch with five colleagues (all male) weeks ago. One of them is a roguish, tall, freckled fellow with a reputation for picking up women (let's call him League). Another was telling a story of unsuccessful pickup on a recent vacation. "I should have got advice from you, League. But you probably don't do it any more, you have a girlfriend."

"I do catch and release," League said.

A few more jokes about having the relevant fishing/wildlife licenses followed.

So here's my catch and release story.

I'm waiting for the bus at the subway station, heading to the pool for a swim in the morning. I notice a very pretty girl, probably a few years younger than me, brown hair, very stylish clothes, waiting for the bus. She gets on, I get on behind her. The bus is not empty, but it's not full. She sits by a window and I sit next to her. She pulls out a series of papers - printed out emails, memos on letterhead, and is working on them with a pen. I read fast, so I see a bit of what she's working on after a few glances.

"You can get work done on the bus?"

She laughs. "Well, some."

"I always find I can do work on the subway, but the bus is too jarring, too many turns, too much motion."

She shrugs, alternating between her papers and looking straight ahead, smiling.

"You're a lawyer."

"No, I'm in sales, and events."

"So, you plan events? So like, if there's a big party, you book the venue, order the balloons?"

"Well, we only do events outside the country, actually." She's starting to look at me.

"There's a team that goes around, from place to place, doing these events?"

"That's exactly right."

"And what are you selling?"

"Well, it's party supplies."

"So, a team of Canadians travels the world selling party stuff? In China, Latin America?"

"Mexico, mostly."

"Then you must do weddings!"

"Not too many... we should get into that market, actually."

I've lost her. Her body language screams of wanting to return to her papers. I go into my bag and pull out a book - one I'm actually really interested in reading. I read a few pages of it and laugh at an insightful comment the author made (this is real, by the way, I react emotionally when I read or watch a movie). She looks at the book and at me from her papers.

"I'm getting out at Dundas," I say. Not a false time constraint, but the real thing has the same effect. "I just read this part about obstacles to success. It says that some people are afraid of failure but sometimes people just fear change. Especially if you grew up with a deprived or difficult childhood, you might learn to fear any kind of change because you think it's bad."

"What's the book?" I show her. "Nice," she says. She looks me up and down. "What kind of work are you in?"

I tell her. She asks for more details. I tell her. I tell her I'm not going to work but to the pool. My stop comes up. I get off the bus.

I think to keep the fishing analogy going, this was less catch and release than dangling bait and getting a nibble before packing up the fishing gear and moving on (to the swimming pool, but that's neither here nor there). But another frame for it is that it was a conversation I struck up that went where it went. No one was rejected, and some small fun was had. I really like the way Lex put it at the Naked Loft Party in his post "There is No Such Thing as Rejection." (That's also where I found the Bad Man's blog, so I can thank Lex twice over).

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