“Tell me about yourself, Joshua”, the woman across the table asked.
She was wearing a suit. He thought it strange that she would wear a suit on a date. They were meeting at Starbucks, which, while frequented by professionals with tablets and Bluetooths, was not strictly enforcing a dress code. At least as far as he was aware. Joshua looked down at his own clothing—a Star Wars t-shirt and a pair of board shorts that he had found in the lost and found at the gym. Maybe he should have dressed up more.
“Let’s see… a bit about myself,” he started.
They had met on Craigslist. His friends had urged him to try dating, since he had been a bit morose and solitary lately, especially since he was home all day, unemployed. His roommate had found his girlfriend on Craigslist, on one of those message boards where people write: 5’10, single video game enthusiast looking for a companion to watch movies with. Joshua didn’t want to write a post like that. He would rather answer a personal ad.
He had clicked on Human Resources figuring that that would be a good place to find listings of people like himself, a resource database to find another human seeking a dating match. He had found her post right away. “Seeking enthusiastic, reliable professional” the ad had read, with her name and phone number listed at the bottom. He had called right away, and now here they were, face to face at a small coffee-bean printed table. Their first date.
“Well,” he said, “these are the main things to know about me: I am extremely loyal and reliable. I have successfully attended the last 20 meetings, or dates, I have set up.” This is going well, he thought. These are certainly things she would want to know about her future boyfriend.
She was scribbling furiously on a notepad as he spoke. He found it a little strange but rather flattering that she would care so much about what he had to say.
He figured it would probably be polite for him to ask her something now. He opened his mouth to speak, but she was already asking him another question.
“What is your greatest strength?” she asked, looking at him intently and rather seriously.
Joshua smiled. “My greatest strength is my ability to be fair and solve problems. I have dealt with heated arguments in the past, and am able to stay calm, to listen, and to come to a compromise. I was a peer mentor in high school, and so I’ve been developing those skills for some time.” He shifted in his seat, “not that we would argue, necessarily,” he added.
“You never know,” she nodded. “You put different personalities in a room together and there is bound to be some conflict. Thank you. Let’s move on,” she said briskly. “Joshua, what is your greatest weakness?”
Joshua was surprised that she was asking such a personal question on a first date. The thought occurred to him that perhaps she was fed up with online dating, and wanted to weed out poor romantic matches as quickly as possible.
As for this weakness question, Joshua was not quite sure what to say. Should he tell her about his tendency to eat his roommates’ cereal, or to wipe his earwax on the car seat? No, those might scare her away. He decided to go with something truthful, but not too incriminating.
“I would say that my lack of experience could be a weakness,” he admitted. “I have really only been in one serious...arrangement….before…” he paused. He wasn’t sure what to call the girl he was referring to, as she had not exactly been a girlfriend.
“Do you mean that you have held just had one job before?” she clarified.
“Yes, I suppose you could call it that,” he nodded. “Yes, it certainly felt like a job at times, and I took my role very seriously.” Joshua felt the need to say more. “Though I am a bit lacking in experience in this area, I am willing to put in a great deal of effort to be a good match.”
She nodded, writing down a note. “And Joshua, why did you leave your last position?”
Joshua assumed she was referring to his last relationship, with the aforementioned pseudo-girlfriend. “I left because I felt I was ready for something new, something that would challenge me more. Something more like this,” he finished, gesturing at the two of them together.
She looked at him slightly quizzically, but then seemed to relax, and glanced down at her paper. “Joshua, this role is going to require effective communication on a daily basis. Can you give me an example to prove that you will be able to succeed in this realm?”
“Sure,” he started. “I volunteer weekly at an after school program, where I tutor students in physics. Because these concepts can be frustrating, I really tune in to each individual to help them understand the material.” He clarified, “I know that may seem unrelated to what we are talking about here, but I just want you to know that I am good with people, and good at explaining. I could teach you physics if you’d like.”
“It all sounds good, Joshua,” she smiled. “Now, do you have any questions for me?”
Finally, Joshua thought, a chance to reciprocate. He had been talking about himself for the last 20 minutes, which made him uncomfortable. “I would like to ask, what are you looking for in a person?” Joshua asked.
“Well Joshua, she answered, “I am looking for someone with strong communication skills, who is not afraid to deal with difficult interactions. I am looking for someone who can think quickly on their feet, and who is reliable. Joshua, I think you would be a good fit for this role. Are you available to start tomorrow?”
Yes, he was available tomorrow indeed. How wonderful! He felt a little guilty, knowing that he should probably be searching for a job during his free daytime hours. But never mind. He was available. The date had gone well. They shook hands, and made arrangements for tomorrow.