Where Do We Go From Here?

“So, where are we at?” is a good line to use in a business conversation but not when driving or on the receiving end from a ticked off female.

There have been a few times in negotiating with a business prospect that I sensed that they were ready for the kill. Homed in on their emotional connection, I made sure not to seem as if I was pushing the agenda. It would be better to let them state the willingness to proceed with the deal. After all, it was their money to spend.

“So, where are we at?” was spoken and the usual response was “when can we get started?” and it meant I scored a new customer.

Then there have been times I was involved with a lady that offered intriguing possibilities. I came close a couple of times to giving in and showing a firm commitment but then there was that voice I heard swirling in my head saying “don’t do it- you’ll regret it.”

“So, where are we at?” she would say and I would reply that I wasn’t sure. She would then say, “well, I’ll give you a little while longer to make up your mind.” Then I would make sure that when it was all over, it was her idea and not me brushing her off. Sometimes I did get the heave ho and felt miserable but more often I was more relaxed when I no longer felt the obligation.

Back in 1978 while on vacation in the East Coast I met a young lady from New Jersey. The fact is we were both young. She was a talented musician and I was a bum. In retrospect, I think she sensed that right away. She also had a certain elitist attitude against people from the Midwest. Yours truly was too infatuated as well as naive to recognize it. Or maybe I preferred to ignore it.

I convinced her to let me come out to visit her on a Thanksgiving holiday weekend or maybe it is better to say I surprised her when I showed up and knocked on the door of her parent’s house. I thought my charm would melt her away but she was quite upset although she tried to be nice.

When I left the cheap motel I was staying at the next day and started on the long drive on a New Jersey State Road back to the Newark Airport, I could only think, “where do I go from here?” But for two reasons. One was how I could salvage my dignity and the other was where the heck was the rental car return joint? I was in a panic because New Jersey has a very dumb concept to getting over to the side roads that run parallel to the main highway road. You either have to know in advance to get off at a service exit that gives you conduit to the side road or you go a few miles out of the way until the next service exit. As I was getting more in a panic with only a half hour to boarding time for my flight, I finally noticed the car rental office on the service road. Knowing that there was no exit within sight, I did what any normal East Coast driver would have also done- I drove over the five inch high and foot wide curb that separated the highway from the service road and limped into the rental office lot praying that I had not torn up any tires.

Luck was on my side. No obvious damage to the car and the rental office people courteously drove me to the airport in the nick of time. More than thirty years later, even with web-based mapping sites, I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going from here.

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