I expected to find the dating service in a back alley.
Instead, the crisp, uncluttered offices nestled inside a gleaming business tower.
But those two nagging questions remained: WHAT am I doing here, and how do I log it on my expense report?
It started a few days earlier as I muddled through the office e-mail. It was jammed with the usual nonsense of offers to shrink, enlarge, multiply, save, lower, get away or peep. And there was the standard array of dating services.
Judging by the plethora of ads on radio, TV and e-mail, I don’t think any industry outside of Smilin’ Bob’s has grown faster than dating services.
Service attendants used to pump gas while we hunted our own dates. Now we pump the gas while service attendants cross-match our preferences in a data base to find our one and only. Several of them, if we wish.
We’ve spent so much time in this self-service society learning to run gas pumps, scan and bag our own groceries and even cook our own meals at some of the finer restaurants that we no longer remember how to ask a person out for coffee. We’re probably jittery that we won’t remember how operate the self-serve latte machine.
As a fully licensed journalist, it was high time I investigated this trend. I did so as a public service. And to find out if hot women really were looking for me, why didn’t they just say so while I was pumping gas.
My personal dating service counselor asked me a few strategic questions designed to expose the heart of my personality. In just a few keystrokes, she was able to determine that I indeed have a good credit rating and a valid Visa card. I was exactly the kind of person to match what they wanted.
After a few more questions about hopes, dreams, qualities I wanted in a woman and when I was due for a raise, she asked, “How much do you think the average person spends a week dating in hopes of finding true love?”
I calculated the cost of a Taco Bell run, video rental, dessert, doubled it, then tacked on aftershave and breath mints.
“I dunno – $40?”
“Yes, well, let’s say about $55 to $65 a week,” she said.
She figured she could eliminate all that costly searching if I would just hand over my Visa card for their complete services for about $5,000 over the next three years. Plus incidentals.
I was beginning to doubt I could sneak this through my expense report.
She kept slashing the price till it was less than half the original figure.
“You said you were willing to pay $40 a week,” she snapped.
“Not EVERY week,” I said. “Besides, wouldn’t I still have to pay that much to keep the woman of my dreams in gorditas AFTER I paid you your fee?”
“We’ve screened these woman. They can buy some of the burritos.”
“Plus the hot sauce?”
“Look, you can’t expect Cupid to send the perfect person to your front door,” she said.
“What if he did? What she’s knocking right now while I’m stuck here with you? Say, do you want to go get a enchilada?”
I could tell my service attendant was working up misgivings about my qualifications.
I intended the research to extend to a moonlit evening on a lake cruise with the sample client who looked like Sandra Bullock – at company expense, naturally, since I was conducting an investigation. Instead, I felt fortunate to escape dateless but with my credit card in my own pocket.
I picked up a couple DVDs, ordered Taco Bell and went home with most of my $40 for the week intact.
But I’ll be watching the next time I pump gas.