A drum. A beat. It whiles away the seconds of my life with it's tiny, steady, rhythm. The clock that sits in front of my work place every day is the very bane of my existence.

We have a love-hate relationship at the moment. As it ticks slowly around its track, I imagine my way home at the end of the day. It's a good thought. A lovely thought. But on the other hand, I hate it because the hands seem to be moving slower than they have all day.

As time crawls by, I finally and triumphantly watch my little boss point its hands to 9:00.

I am free.

Picking up my briefcase, I walk my well-beaten path to the door, passing the water cooler and the overflowing garbage can on the way out. Just as I'm about to reach for the door, it swings open and throws me and my briefcase flying awkwardly out of the way. As I struggle to regain my composure and dignity, a small object is tossed onto the floor next to me and the door shuts.

A tulip.

Someone dropped a tulip? Or someone attacked me, tried to beat me with a tulip and then ran, realizing what a horribly stupid plan it was.

Either way, there is something I hadn't noticed in my prior irritation. A note is tied by a thin bit of string to the tulip's stem. It has my name on the front.

Disbelief straining towards me from where the fallen tulip lies, I grab the note and hold it up for inspection.

Madalyn.

The Great Pacific.

8:00.

If you'd likeā€¦

It's simple and enticing. It's not signed.

Having dropped my briefcase off at home and changed into something more appropriate for public flauntings, I push the door to The Great Pacific open and quickly survey the various crowds of people. Teenagers in the back pretending to be drunk. An old couple on what looks to be an anniversary dinner. A small band playing in the front window.

A man. A man sitting all by himself in a corner booth. I can't tell who he is from the back of his head, but he has a tulip sitting on the table next to him.

"Excuse me," I place a tentative hand on his shoulder and he turns around. His eyes flick from the tulip in my hand to my face. He smiles. He stands and offers me the seat opposite him and then seats himself again.

I can't tell who he is from his face either.

"Jerald Ogdon," he introduces.

I ask him where he knows me from and he laughs. "Your work."

I explain that he can't know me from my work because I work with people over the telephone, not in person.

"I know."

And I ask how he could possibly know me, especially well enough to ask me on a date.

"I'm not the best person to be working with computers. But somehow I got a job that requires me to. So, of course, when something went wrong, I couldn't fix it on my own."

We give the waiter our orders.

"So for the past three months," he smiles a little. "I've been calling your company asking for help. I usually get sent to you and am very appreciative for that."

I have nothing to say.

"I'm sorry. You've been such a good friend to me though. I figured I owed you something."

I ask if this is like giving a tip to the kid at the gas station.

"No. It's like taking the woman with the voice on the phone on a date."