I wasn't ready for it. I knew what I was going to find when I got there, but I still wasn't ready for it and it didn't help any to know that it happened because of something I'd done.
I met Mandy when she came to work at the XYZ Corporation as a secretary. I had started at XYZ the week after my graduation from Eastern Michigan University and in seven years I had risen to regional manager. Sarah, my secretary was going on maternity leave and personnel had sent Mandy to me as her replacement.
To say I was smitten would be an understatement. I took one look at her and my heart started racing. For me it was a case of love at first sight and that was a bad thing. It was bad because Mandy worked for me. XYZ had been the target of several sexual harassment suits and the corporation had put several policies in place to insure that it never happened again and one of those policies was a strictly enforced "no fraternization" rule. If Mandy worked in a different department or division or different building it would be okay, but working for me or working in my department made her strictly off limits to me.
All I could do was look at her day after day and eat my heart out. Several times I caught her looking at me with an expression that I couldn't decipher. I wanted it to mean, "Talk to me, please ask me out" but of course I didn't dare because I had already seen how ruthless XYZ could be when their policies were ignored. In the space of six months I'd seen three managers let go because of what I considered minor, extremely minor, infractions. All I could do, unless I was willing to give up my career, was look longingly at Mandy and eat my heart out.
One day in the lunchroom Stella, our office manager, sat down at my table and asked me what I was going to do about Mandy.
"What do you mean?"
"The poor girl can't keep her eyes off of you and everybody sees how you look at her. Something has to give here."
"You know the policy, same as I do."
"You two belong together Rob, are you going to let your job get in the way?"
"You bet I am Stella. I can see it clear as day. I ask her out, she says yes, we go on a date and find out that outside of a physical attraction to each other we have nothing in common - nothing else going for us. We thank each other for a nice time, neither of us planning on seeing the other socially ever again and the next day I come to work and get fired for dating my secretary in violation of corporate policy. That is a chance I'm not willing to take. She might be worth it Stella, but she might not."
I suppose I could have asked Stella to move Mandy someplace else in the office so I wouldn't have to look at her every day, but since she hadn't been with me long it would look bad on her record. Stella would know the reason and she wouldn't put anything bad in Mandy's file, but no one else in the corporation would know that. All they would know was that she came to work for me and I had her moved out in a very short while and therefore there would always be questions about her ability and efficiency.
Things limped along for another four months and then a miracle happened. When Sarah went on maternity leave she told me that the odds on her coming back were long, that she was strongly considering being a stay at home mom. Then her husband got laid off and she felt she had to come back. Stella was going to assign her to Bill Brodman, but I saw a chance and I took it.
"Give her back to me Stel. That will give you a legitimate reason to move Mandy. Get her out of this department and into another division. If you do it that way it won't look like I got rid of her because she wasn't a good secretary."
Stella did it and Mandy was transferred. That happened on a Thursday and I began to plan my next move. I'd give Mandy a couple of days to settle in at her new job and then I'd ask her out. I wasted time in making my plan. When I left work that night I found Mandy leaning on the front fender of my car. We were married four months later.
Fast forward five years. Mandy is a stay at home mom with Todd Allen (4) and Nancy Elise (2) and I have risen to divisional manager with a good shot at becoming the next vice president of Engineering. Mandy and I are still as much in heat and love with each other as ever and our marriage is still going gangbusters. I have a great career and a marvelous home life. Life is good. The only bad spot in things is the fact that as a divisional manager I have to travel and at least twice a month I'm gone for two or three days visiting units in my division. I have to do it, but I hate it. As far as I'm concerned time away from my family is wasted time, but it is a necessary evil and I have to do it and do it well if I hope to make VP. If I make VP it is the people under me who will have to do the traveling.
Mandy had a sister who lived in New York and I'd never met her, but Mandy talked with her on the phone several times a week. One day I came home from work and Mandy greeted me at the door naked except for high heels.
"The kids are next door with Sally (the girl who did our babysitting) and I have a great desire to have dessert before we have dinner. Think you can remember the way to the bedroom or has my naked body clouded your mind?"
I dropped my briefcase and took her right there on the floor. When it was over she gave me a passionate kiss and said:
"I should do this more often."
"The fact that you don't prompts me to ask what is the special occasion?"
"God, I can't slip anything by you can I? I want to ask you a big favor."
"Go ahead, ask it."
"Tanya (her sister) is moving here. She got a promotion and they gave her the office here. Can she stay in the spare bedroom until she can find a place of her own?"
"Of course she can. She's family. You don't have to bribe me to get me to agree to that."
"That's only part of it."
"What's the rest?"
"I want to take her out and show her around, but she won't know a soul here except for us. Somewhere along the line I'm going to want you to find her a nice guy to date."
"You want me to set your sister up with a blind date?"
"Yes baby, that's what I want."
"I won't promise you anything. I won't set her up with anyone I know until after I've met her and satisfied myself that she isn't cross-eyed and has buck teeth."
"You are awful. Can we do it again? On the bed this time?"
Tanya was almost as gorgeous as Mandy and I remembered the favor Mandy wanted and realized that it wouldn't be a chore after all and in fact, I'd probably make points with whoever I set her up with. She had a great personality, a wicked sense of humor and was extremely intelligent.
Having another woman in the house to some getting used to. For one thing I had to learn to close doors when I was in the bathroom and I had to stop running around the house half naked.
The first two weeks Tanya was with us she spent settling into her new job and taking over from the previous manager who was retiring. I was packing my suitcase for a three day trip when Mandy reminded me that I said I would find someone to set Tanya up with.
"I want to go out when you get back so think on it, okay?"
"I'll give it my best shot."
"Honestly babe, someone nice. I just want... oh shit! Never mind. She's a big girl now. She should be able to handle what comes along."
That night after I'd checked into the hotel I called home and Sally answered. When I asked where Mandy was Sally told me that Mandy and Tanya had gone out and said they might be late. I told Sally to have Mandy call if she got home by ten and that if not I'd talk to her the next day. I called the next morning when I woke up and found out that the two girls had gone out for dinner and drinks to celebrate Tanya's first day of being in sole charge of her new office.
"We had a fun time being together and I'll probably want to do it again; you know, a girls night out kind of thing. It will let me get to know a sister that I was never really close to."
"It will give you something to do when I'm on my trips. Got to run honey, I'll call you tonight."
That night when I called Mandy asked me if I had given any thought to whom I might try to line Tanya up with and I told her that I had a couple in mind, but that I hadn't sounded anyone out on the idea of a blind date yet. I told her I'd get on it as soon as I got back from the trip.
Two days later when I was back at the office I approached Jake and explained the situation to him, how Mandy wanted to take Tanya out and show her around, but didn't want Tanya to feel like she was a third leg so we needed an escort for her. Jake said he couldn't help. He'd just gotten into a relationship that might go somewhere and he didn't want to jeopardize it. Next I approached Norm, explained the situation and he said he would give it a try, but only after threatening me with bodily harm if he found out that I'd set him up with a dog. I told him I would set things up for Friday and then I went home to give Mandy the news.
"Who is it?"
"Do I know him?"
"No. He came to work for us after you left."
"He's not going to hurt Tanya, is he?"
"Who knows sweetie, they might hit it off and they might not. Whatever, if it goes somewhere and then ends badly it won't be our fault."
Friday I had Norm follow me home, introduced him to Tanya and Mandy and then we headed out. We had a nice dinner and then we started hitting the nightspots. We did several lounges and clubs, did quite a bit of dancing and a good time was had by all.
.... There is more of this story ...