One of Brett Morrison's responsibilities was to make daily calls to Corporate to verbally confirm various production statistics and offer background information on particular statuses. The person on the other end the phone was Lisa Winchester and the two chatted every day.
In the beginning, it was just the factual reporting, cut and dry, but as the weeks (and months) went by, the two started to innocently and naturally expand the depth and width of the daily calls to include topical comments on the weather, sports, culture and current events.
Lisa had a deep, raspy voice – Brett pictured her as a sixty something year old overweight heavy smoking whiskey drinking truck driver type based on the way her voice sounded, but she was humorous, engaging and fun to chat with. She loved to laugh!
Over the course of time, Brett came to learn that Lisa was divorced with two adult children. She liked riding motorcycles which only furthered the stereotypical image Brett had in his mind about Lisa – he saw her in skin tight jeans (even though she was probably 250 pounds), leather jacket, tattoos, maybe even a nose ring, puffing on a cigarette – or maybe even a cigar!
Brett was hesitant to reveal personal details about himself, embarrassed to admit that he was forty and still lived at home. He was helping support his ailing widowed mother but it still sounded pathetic. He had no idea why he cared what Lisa would think anyway. She was two states away with her motorcycles, probably old enough to be his mother. She talked about boyfriends (ex-boyfriends?) and motorcycle trips and Brett had a hard time coming up with comparable subjects. He'd mention his niece and nephew when Lisa talked about her kids and he'd cite his classic '67 Mustang convertible (he inherited it from his father, actually) when she talked motorcycles but the truth was he led a boring life. He hadn't dated in forever, still pining over the girl he loved in college who wasn't interested in continuing the relationship beyond graduation
Brett knew that any guy who was single, unmarried without kids, still living at home at the age of forty put him outside the norm and was a red flag People assumed he was either gay or psychotic! He had already spent half of his life single and while he hoped to find a relationship he didn't mind the independence and freedom of being single despite the stigma it caused. He was socially reserved and personally shy but he considered himself a kind and decent guy, not that it mattered talking to Lisa on the phone for fifteen minutes every day.
Brett understood that it was human nature to be judgmental so he was careful in what he revealed to Lisa about himself. He almost wished he was divorced because that status was more acceptable than his single-at-forty stereotype. Still, he discovered that talking with Lisa came easy which was unusual for Brett who wasn't the most confident guy. There were even the occasional borderline flirtatious or innuendo lines from Lisa although she usually accompanied them with a laugh and Brett rarely responded to them directly.
Brett enjoyed their conversations and he looked forward to them each day. He even found himself thinking about things to say or reminded himself to remember something he observed to share with Lisa the next time they chatted. He knew Lisa was much more worldly and experienced than him and he would never humiliate himself by presuming she thought of him as anything else than a work colleague – a voice on the other end of the telephone line.
Brett realized that there was no threat or pressure being friendly with Lisa. There was no danger of falling for her and certainly no speculations on her part. The safety of being separated by two states allowed Brett to relax and he found himself becoming much more open and honest conversing with Lisa. There was something detached and benign about the phone and Brett was pretty sure he'd never have the opportunity to meet Lisa anyway so he didn't worry about what he said as long as he didn't cross the professional boundary lines of appropriateness. He wasn't sure if there was chemistry between them or if it was simply casual and comfortable chatting that had become familiar and routine over time.
Brett feared that life was passing him by, especially when Lisa mentioned the restaurants, night clubs, concerts and other activities she attended. He knew he was hopeless when all he did was watch The Walking Dead and other shows on the cable or sit around reading a good book. He liked his down time but he realized that he wasn't making the most of his opportunities if he rarely left the house. Some at work thought he was an aloof elitist snob because he didn't shoot the breeze with his co-workers or hangout with them afterhours. Brett didn't consider himself better than any of them – he just didn't have a whole lot to say and it wasn't as if he had a lot in common with anybody either.
Brett was embarrassed to realize that his most intimate, personal, honest and meaningful relationship was with a woman he had never met! A woman who might be as old as his mother and a member of a bike gang! That wouldn't look good on his profile sheet! Of course, he would never delude himself into thinking that there was anything between them beyond their cheerful and friendly professional working relationship even if their phone conversations had expanded in length and topics discussed. It was pleasant and enjoyable interaction but hardly intense, romantic, or intimate. Did that mean Brett couldn't be happily secure interrelating with someone without physical contact?
Brett never mentioned his telephone calls with Lisa to his mother or sister even when they asked for updates on social status or if he had met anybody (as they often did!). He didn't want to get into the whole 'Can men and women be friends?' discussion – mostly because he was one of those men who believed the answer was no (he had seen 'When Harry Met Sally' enough times to know!). Sometimes he wondered if he was Tom Hanks in 'You've Got Mail' and Lisa was Shop Girl – only they talked on the phone instead of e-mailing one another. Ah, it was all fantasy thought anyway. Whatever it was he was doing with Lisa – platonic or business only – the issue still came back to sex because at forty and alone Brett was no longer interested in platonic relationships anyway. He was longing for love and romance.
But how could Lisa be anything else but a co-worker and friend if he never laid eyes on her? Could somebody be attracted to someone simply by the sound of their voice and what they talked about? Actually, Brett wasn't all that keen on Lisa's raspy subway station announcer voice to begin with. But he liked the way she laughed and how easily he was able to converse with her. That was enough to describe what they had as a friendship, wasn't it? She made him feel liberated from his shyness and insecurities, at least when he was talking with her and that was a good thing.
The Status Quo might have continued indefinitely had Brett's Manager Chuck McPearson not informed him that he was sending Brett to Corporate for a few days of training sessions and management meetings. Brett was struck by panic – Lisa worked at Corporate! Then he relaxed when he realized that he just wouldn't mention it to her.
"So, I hear you're coming to Corporate," Lisa remarked the next day when Brett made his regular phone call with the statistical reports.