by Jerry Guarino
Hannah could have had an
easy life. She could have spent her days with
charitable causes or artistic pursuits. She could
have been free to write or paint. If only she had
chosen Richard or Ben. Their devotion and money
was the type of temptation that many women would
be satisfied with, but Hannah was less
A modern flower girl in looks and dress, with a
contemporary liberal arts education, she had
borrowed her parents idealism and combined
it with her grandparents pragmatism. She
was everything an accomplished man might want as
his mate, a partner with values, intelligence and
But we all know that it isnt the man who
chooses the woman. Richard didnt know that.
Neither did Ben. As successful as they were,
there was one area of life, they couldnt
control. Finding a mate.
Richard was a financial analyst. His rise from
Harvard business school to a seven-figure income
on Wall Street was typical of the privilege that
comes from wealth. His path was as sure as his
parents had designed, laying out the ladders from
a private grammar school to elite prep school to
the Ivy League. One ladder led to him to sailing
camp on Marthas Vineyard, another to
meeting debutantes in cotillion balls and another
to a summer job working at the stock exchange for
family friends. With his family connections,
wealth and resources, it would have been
surprising if he hadnt been successful.
Like many in his social circle, he attributed his
success to providence, while ignoring the more
demanding requirements of responsibility that
privilege may owe back to others.
Ben was a brilliant software engineer. Unlike
Richard, Ben didnt grow up surrounded by
wealth and family connections. His path was more
pragmatic, hard work in public schools and an
academic scholarship to a top public university
to study computer science and engineering. These
EECS, as they were called, were pursued by the
power companies in Silicon Valley, recruited
almost as soon as they were admitted to school
and followed until they graduated, with summer
internships along the way. Starting work two
weeks after graduation for $140k, Ben launched a
successful career in a short time. Ben didnt
take his good fortune as fate. He had
compartmentalized his life into boxes, boxes for
education, for work, for hobbies and even for
people. He even grouped his friends and family
into an online program showing their
relationships so he could understand his social
David had been born to teachers in a small New
England town outside Boston. He lived comfortably
but not lavishly. He didnt have Richards
family connections or Bens engineering mind,
but David was given freedom to follow his own
path. He took this freedom seriously, excelling
in school and playing town soccer, without the
anxiety or expectations of other parents. This
allowed David to find his way, in spite of his
parents divorce when he was 14. His inner
strength persisted through a trip across country
to live with his father, leaving his mother on
the East coast. This made his journey even more
remarkable and admirable than either Richard or
Bens life. David
could have put his considerable intellect and
personality into making money, but he had an
idealistic, almost hippy like temperament for
Although Richard used ladders and Ben used boxes,
they both had one thing in common. They were both
about to fall in love with Hannah.
All four of them met one evening at a benefit
fundraiser for homeless healthcare in the Bay
Area. Richard was there looking for West coast
financial connections. Ben was there representing
one of the tech companies, meeting investors.
David was there as a member of the coalition that
distributed funds to free clinics in Oakland and
San Francisco. And Hannah. Hannah was with the
catering group, although she was as lovely and
educated as any of the junior league women who
organized these charitable benefits, there to
find a wealthy husband for their continued
lifestyle of leisure. They too were ladder
climbers, although their ultimate goal wasnt
the working world, but as the proper social
family director, raising good children to
continue the legacy.
If you observed carefully, you could tell what
line of work people were in. Ben was dressed in a
sports jacket, button down blue shirt, matching
tie and khaki pants so typical of tech managers.
Richard had an Amosu suit, Eton shirt, Ferragamo
tie, platinum cuff links, and Italian shoes,
easily a $5000 outfit. No secret who the women
were tracking, Richard, not Ben. David was
virtually invisible, looking more like a graduate
student than a key figure at the benefit.
But Hannah noticed him. Who is that?
she asked her boss.
Thats David Wilson. Hes the
project manager for the company distributing
funds to the free clinics.
Are you sure? He isnt dressed up,
just a casual shirt and pants.
Thats his way Hannah. Very
understated. Look him up on Google and youll
I might just do that.
But if you want rich, there are plenty here
to choose from. But dont get engaged too
soon. Ive lost too many staff at these
Hannah laughed. Im not here to find a
husband. Just here to make some money while I
figure out what to do with a degree in English
Thats not very reassuring dear,
said her boss. My last two girls were
liberal arts major seeking their destiny and now
they live in Atherton. You will remember to have
me cater your events when you get there, wont
Too isolated for me. Im more of a
Berkeley girl, said Hannah.
Yes, and the two girls in Atherton both
went to Cal.
Ben was the first to notice Hannah in her white
chef jacket. Excuse me. Do you have any
more of these shrimp puffs?
Hannah looked up. Sorry, I dont know.
Ill go into the kitchen and check.
No wait he said awkwardly. I
dont really want the shrimp puffs.
Hannah looked confused. All right. Some
other pastry perhaps? Ben blushed. I
just wanted to meet you. Im Ben.
Thank you Ben, but I really shouldnt
be socializing with the guests. May I ask why you
wanted to talk to me?
Ben wiped away sweat from his brow, realizing
this wasnt going well. These charity
women arent my type. Im more
comfortable with regular people.
Regular people? said Hannah.
Thats not derogatory. Ive been
analyzing relationships and it says that I would
be suited with someone in the restaurant or
catering field. Ben realized how lame that
A program told you to find a relationship
with someone in the food industry?
Actually, it was my own program. I have
these groups and assign everyone I meet into them,
like boxes. Seems the people Im interested
in all work in restaurants.
You put people in boxes? Hannah put
her tray in front of her body as she took a step
No, I dont put people in boxes. I put
their traits, their qualities, aspects of their
personality into boxes, then I quantify which
ones would appeal to me most.
So you put people in boxes?
Ben was crestfallen. Yes, I suppose so. But
it works for most parts of my life; shouldnt
it work for relationships?
It was nice to meet you Ben. I have to get
back to work. Hannah made a beeline for the
kitchen when Richard blocked her path.
May I help you sir?
Call me Richard.
All right Richard. What would you like?
I dont usually do this but I couldnt
help notice how beautiful you are.
Im flattered Richard, but I am afraid
youre not my type. Besides I have to work.
Sorry. She turned to walk away.
Not her type, he muttered to himself.
A common shop girl. I dont understand.
As he walked away, several of the junior league
girls went to consol him.
Hannah came back from the kitchen and set out
more food. Then she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Oh no...which one of these two is it now?
She sighed and turned around.
Miss. I just wanted to thank you. Your
service and professionalism has helped make this
fundraiser a success. Please thank the others for
me. He turned to leave.
Wait. Youre David Wilson. Can you
tell me more about your organization?
Well, would you really like to know? Dont
you have to work?
Hannah turned to see her boss, gesturing to her
to go ahead. Its my break. Why dont
we go out on the balcony?
Hannah finished packing her
belongings into the boxes. Everything was ready
to go, except for some things above the closet,
under the high ceiling. She couldnt reach
them from a chair. Honey, can you get these
David looked at Hannah. Looks like were
going to need a ladder.
Hannah smiled and put a finger to her cheek.
I dont have one, do you?
David smiled back at his new fiancÚ. Nope,
never had the need for one.