It is a weird thing to meet someone on a date when you have no interest, whatsoever, to date that someone at all. Although he did strike me as an interesting fellow, with the kind of a lifestyle I could imagine me and my future partner living, the only reason I wanted to meet this guy was so I could talk to him about his work. Or, to be more accurate, to meet a living human being that works from his laptop for two hours a day and making a living.
We had been texting for a couple of days and I was anxiously waiting for our scheduled “date” so I could pick his brain, ask a ton of questions, and decide if this eBay business is really for me. Everything was going according to plan, except for a small problem - a moral one. As fascinating and nice to look at as I want to believe that I am, and even though my mom always says that most guys would be lucky just to spent five minutes talking to me, this guy was most likely counting on a real date, followed by the prospect of future dates, and not just for a one night trivia quiz about his financial success on the internet.
I felt bad playing along with the whole courting session when I knew I was only taking interest in his work, but I also didn’t want to be too honest about my intentions and miss the opportunity of meeting a successful, living and breathing, e-commerce entrepreneur. I figured he would just have to take one for the team. My team. I would deal with the consequences later. Did anyone say blazing Hellfire?
One crucial question that has accompanied me during my entire dating history, since I can remember it, or actually; when I think about it - my entire life, is: ‘How tall are you?’ You see, I’ve always been tall, and kept getting taller and taller over the years until at some point I could only feel comfortable around Dutch people. But it's been long enough since puberty and today I feel good about my height. Still, this question does have an impact on my decision whether or not to date someone, and it can kill a relationship before it even starts.
Usually, it would be my final question to a guy before continuing from virtual reality to the real one, but in this case, I decided to not ask or say anything that could freak him out and hurt my chances to interrogate him face to face about his livelihood. I assumed that even if I am significantly taller than him, he would find it much harder to bail on me if we met in person than on the phone, giving me the time I needed to get the information I was after. So I didn’t ask that question and prayed that he wasn’t a midget. Even if it’s not a ‘date date’ I still needed him to focus on the thousands of questions I had prepared for him and not on my height.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only shallow person that chooses whether or not to date people based on the distance of their head from the ground; and since my height is apparent in my social media photos, I should have realized that this question would pop up sooner or later. And it did - an hour before our scheduled date.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but you look rather tall in your Facebook pictures. So how tall are you?” Damn it! I had really hoped he would have avoided asking me that. But he didn’t, and yes, yet again, I’m remarkably taller than my date. I couldn’t care less about his height. I had no romantic intentions toward him; all I needed was information. But he did care, and now, thirty minutes before the date that may or may not change my economic future, he wondered: “So what do you think we should do?” implying that it might be too awkward to meet now.
I was not about to lose this chance of a one way ticket to financial freedom, so I answered: “You sound like an interesting person, and I would love to hear more about your work. Let’s meet for a coffee, and worst case scenario, we end up having a friendly conversation.”
It worked. And I was on my way to meet him. A shiver went down my spine as I was walking to the designated date location, and it wasn’t because of the chilly evening. My mind was running wild from excitement, imagining how this could be the financial discovery that would turn my life around.
As we met, the guy standing in front of me was nothing like the guy in the pictures. I was a bit disappointed because the pictures from the tinder app showcased a rather handsome man. I quickly forced myself to snap out of this dating mode and focus on the real reason I came to this date. When we sat down I couldn’t hold myself back anymore and immediately got to the point: “Tell me everything about your work.”
I don’t think he ever met a woman, or anyone actually, who was so interested in what he does for a living. Luckily for me, that made him very eager to talk about what he does. It felt to me that he'd been wanting to tell someone about this for a long time, but nobody really wanted to hear. Lucky for him, I was very eager to hear about his work, and let him talk about it for the entire evening.
I found his story to be enchanting, like it was the story I'd been waiting to hear my whole life. It turns out that a few years ago, when he was my age, he was working at a hi-tech company. He had a good role, was on his way up, but he wasn’t happy. He kept asking himself if that was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He was tired of coming to the same place every day and coming back home exhausted every night. Working for other people and basically being a tiny cog-wheel in well-oiled machine.
One day, without any early preparations, he just quit his job. He had no idea what he wanted to do, but he just couldn’t do that anymore. For a few months he tried different things that didn’t work out, until one day he thought to himself: “Maybe I should try selling things on eBay.” And he'd being doing that ever since.
Every day he wakes up in the morning, goes out to a different coffee shop and works on eBay and Amazon for about two hours. Then he has the rest of the day for himself, he can go to the gym, take an afternoon nap, travel the world or do anything else he wishes to do. No office, no boss, no annoying people to handle face to face. Complete freedom.
I was thrilled, giggling like a little girl, I couldn’t hide my excitement. He thought it was amusing. You might say he was trying to impress me, but I could tell that he wasn't. It was an easy-going conversation about his work, no fireworks and no romantic sparks. He was definitely not trying to impress me because he didn’t think it was impressive at all. It’s just what he’d been doing for the last few years and he thought that anyone else could do it as well.
“But if it’s so easy to do that, why doesn't eveybody? How come you didn’t teach your friends and family to do that and free them from modern slavery?” my skeptical self kept insisting. His answer surprised me and it might surprise you as well:
“People just don’t want to know.”
He said that he had tried to share it with others, but they just weren't interested, even if it didn’t cost them a dime to try.
I wondered how he would explain that, and he said that most people are not like us, they don’t want to be free even if their job is killing them.
I thought it was a ridiculous assumption to make but then I remembered asking my mother a while ago what she would do if she won the lottery and became a millionaire all of a sudden. Would she quit her job? Would she travel the world? Would she save the rainforests? Her immediate response was that she would probably stay in her job, maybe work only half a day, but still she would continue working because otherwise, what she would do the entire day? And as hard as it is to believe, she is not the only person to give me that answer.
On my way home from the date I wore the biggest smile I'd had for the longest time. I felt like I had just won the lottery. I was so happy I tried to clap my feet together in the air like they do in the movies, only to kick myself in the shin and feel like an idiot. But still, a very happy idiot. I don’t remember when was the last time I felt so enthusiastic about something and so relaxed at the same time. I felt like I'd gotten the answers to all my questions.
And even though he told me that it takes time to get there and it won’t happen overnight “You gotta have patience”. I knew one thing: If it’s something that you could promise me would happen eventually, then I have all the time in the world.