As always, the great unknowning rules all. But the evidence is swinging twoards “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
To the larger extent I have attempted to present here only the factual account. A am conciously aware of several places where this is imperfect, and as always the ‘facts’ I have chosen to mention are subject entirely to my discretion, to say nothing of the bias in my own perception of events as they happened.
She worked as a secretary with my employer for a while, starting when I was in Las Vegas every week. I remember that because on the first trip, we called back, there was somebody new answering the phones.
It may have simply been that I was there only there two days a week for the first month, but she almost seemed surprised to see me. We managed to keep up some light conversation, usually while I heated up my lunch. After a few months of this, it finally dawned on me that she might be flirting with me. I’ll admit to choosing lunches that needed heating during this time.
My latest cooking experiments were one topic of conversation, and at one point she asked me to bring her something. I figured I’d go a step further and asked her if she wanted to come over for dinner some time.
That was a martial arts night, and I came home to two messages on my answering machine. I called her back and we talked for a little bit. After a while, she said she just wanted to be friends. All very well and good – I’ve few enough friends – but it did baffle me a bit. I figured it took pretty obvious flirting for me to even notice.
In any case the dinner was the first of many attempts; at least she called more often when she couldn’t make it in the beginning. I brought the leftovers in to work the next day, and she suggested we eat together. After that I figured company was better than eating alone, and we starting having lunch together almost every day.
She told me the rumor mill made great sport of this, though none of it reached me personally. I took her statement of friendship at face value, and was just mildly amused.
She quit about mid-February, citing personal differences with the main person she worked with. By this point we still hadn’t actually pulled off anything outside work. A last one got snowed out, but a few days later she came over for a half-planned lunch.
Next week (February 27) she was back, this time to say she was interested in me. She admitted to drinking a bit in order to be able to do so. She said she’d be back every week on Tuesday (my usual day off). She also asked to borrow $10 for gas; I only had $20s.
Next week there was no word. She had lost her cell phone service, so I sent an-email. This at least re-established contact.
Late one night she sent an e-mail saying she might be falling in love with me. It was late (or rather early) enough that I suspect she was drinking again. I had to speak honestly: i had taken her statement of friendship in good faith, and was starting back from square one, so I couldn’t match her feelings yet. Next time I saw her, she said she had probably overstated it, and overall it seemed a much cooler reception.
There was a benefit harp concert in Madison on March 15th. With all the other things going on, I didn’t ask her if she was interested until a few days before the event. She finally said yes, but it was very poorly planned and I think she ended up with the wrong time by several hours. When I finally got in touch with her by e-mail, she said she had been in a car accident coming up to meet me at my house.
I saw her briefly the next weekend. She wanted to borrow $100 for drugs and acupunture. She said she’d come back in a few hours, but I didn’t hear anything until a few days later when I guessed an IM account. Apparently, the morphine (Question: do they prescribe morphine these days?) for the accident pain really knocked her out.
She suggested spending an entire Sunday together, but disappeared again. I didn’t see her again until the next Saturday, on short notice as usual. She came over and immediately started looking through phone books to pawn off her laptop; it seems she was having trouble making rent. Now, I’ve never dealt with pawn shops, did, and probably still do misunderstand them, but have a prettty solid impression that they are bad news. I’d also been thinking about getting a laptop, so I asked if I could give her a better deal. She said the pawn shops would do about $200, and asked for $500. I looked it upon ebay later, and that was the high end for the model, so it was reasonably fair.
She also suggested that I might come down to visit her the next day; I hadn’t had anything other than an e-mail address up this point. She did give me a resume, (including address; curiously it listed the address she moved to while at my company, but did not include that company) since she was looking for work. Very early the next day, she called to say she was coming to me, and that she had some how come up with the money to pay me back overnight. She called later in the morning to cancel that and say she would be by Tuesday.
Tuesday (we’re at April 3rd now) she came and hung out for a few hours. She wrote me a check for $620 against a joint account with her ex-husband (actually, only his name was pre-printed on the check) and shortly afterwards asked about selling the laptop outright for $500 again. I thought this was weird enough that I didn’t want to do it right away. She said she was having trouble getting by in this area, and her relatives in Texas were putting pressure on her to return there. I deposited the check immediately after she left, but a little net research afterwards said it could take weeks for a bad check to come back.
I got an e-mail Friday afternoon saying she was on the edge of eviction. She was desparate, would ‘do anything’ and really needed me to buy the laptop. Since this was an immediate problem, and because I was a bit bothered by the continued denial of visitation, I puposefully respond to the e-mail, went to the bank, and then drove down there (40-60 minutes travel) without waiting for permission. She was at the offered address, but came out and told me to leave. She asked why I didn’t e-mail first, but when I got back I found a reply timestamped only a few minutes after my message.
Saturday we met half-way, and I bought the laptop (again) for $500. She mentioned that she still needed to find the other half of the rent, being a bit behind. I said I’d e-mail her when I got home on Sunday.
Sunday, (Easter) I got back from my parents about 9pm and saw her car parked outside. She said she had been waiting about 10 minutes; after she left I found an e-mail message saying she would be there at 7, and a phone message from about 7:35 saying ‘in ten minutes’. She came up the driveway in tears. I held her for a minute, only asking about the time. We went inside, sat down, and I held her until she was ready to talk. She said her brother was in prison, (in Texas) and she wanted $1600 for bail. After reflecting for a few minutes, I offered to pay the bail personally rather than simply handing her the money. At this she started to pack up and leave, going on about how trust was just as important as the money and asking if there were any good places to sell her body. The ensuing conversation game me more time to think, and I came to the same conclusion as before: I still prefered a world where someone at the last resort could receive help over one ruled by self-interest.
She left saying we would have sex soon (not that I would, especially under the circumstances) but it just happend to be her period. Monday, I got a thank-you e-mail. Tuesday I got an e-mail saying she would be by in the morning; which she wasn’t. In the afternoon I got a phone call saying she had a new evening job, and that her parents had come up with the money “plus interest” and she would be able to pay me off perhaps Thursday.
Wednesday I logged into my e-banking and found the $620 check had bounced on Monday. Later in the day I stopped by the bank and was told the reason was ‘account closed’ When it was closed isn’t public information.
Backing up a bit, as I’ve omitted some relevent set-up. Her family is Laotian; according to the web, the culture is very easy-going and has tight family ties, which generally seemed to fit with the observed behavior. In an case, Laotian New Year was April 13-15, and a few weeks ago she had invited me to go to Texas with her to meet her family. The the 13th was the coming Friday. She told me that her ex-husband worked with an airline, and she was able to get free flights as long as she kept his name, which explained how she had been able to go back to Texas so often while in a state of poverty. (Question: do these programs really exist?) It also meant she had to take care of the tickets, and could do so at the last minute.
On Friday morning I got a call saying she didn’t have tickets yet. The bounced check came in the mail. In the afternoon, I got a call saying the airline reservation system wouldn’t accept me, so she was giving up and going to work instead. She said she would see me Tuesday, which she didn’t. I haven’t heard anything since. I haven’t been pushing contact since it gives me time for research and reflection.