30,000 Hours Later...I'm Engaged

February 26, 2008
8 min. read

On September 24th, 2004, I met Amy for the first time on our date at Acapulco Joe’s in Downtown Indianapolis. Amy’s car broke down just before we met, so she was driving her dad’s old Ford Ranger. We have been seeing each other since. On Feb 26th, we were going to reach an obscure and geeky anniversary. We will have known each other for exactly 30,000 hours. About two months ago, I targeted this date for something I had been planning for almost a year. She said, “Yes.” I’m now engaged.

Here is how it happened.

For the last few months, I’ve been very careful with how I didn’t give away surprises, while knowing I was giving them away. I knew I would need Amy to know my “tell”. The latest was my response to her asking if I had her favorite pizza place make a heart shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day. This was after I told her a food place was going to make dinner in a way they didn’t think about till I asked if they could. I kind of looked away and gave her a “no comment”, when she asked if I was having a pizza made in a heart. When the heart shaped pizza showed up, she already knew it.

When I told Amy to reserve February 26th as a date night, she didn’t think anything of it. She didn’t know of any special date or anniversary for the 26th. Amy immediately tried to figure out what we were doing, but I gave no clues. After many days, she came across the idea of going out for a play or a movie. Here my months of “giving away” my secret plans had come into play. I “gave away” that I had no comment about that. Amy bought it hook, line and sinker. Now, I just had many things to prepare.

The most important piece was getting insurance for and picking up the ring. Without that, nothing happens. Since I work at an insurance company, I consulted some co-workers for best ideas about getting coverage for this ring. It wasn’t a cheap ring and would really hurt to lose it, damage it, have it stolen, etc. With all of those details taken care of, I picked up the ring in early February. I had to bring it to work on the day I picked it up, because of the way the timing worked out. I told the co-worker who helped with insurance advice that I had picked it up. She asked to see it. I said, “No. Men have died for less than showing someone an engagement before she gets it.” After thinking about it, she agreed. When I got home, I had to find a good hiding place. Just knowing that the ring was sitting there and I couldn’t say anything was tough.

I also started preparations and tried to keep them secret. I was on a time crunch for making the CD and would up letting Amy know about it, just playing it off as a fun scavenger hunt to start the date. I didn’t finish it until the night before the “date.” It was really dorky, but I thought she would get a kick out if it.

The whole night was almost blown as we left work, a day before the big event. A co-worker who knew about my plans yelled, “Good Luck Joe!” I reacted with a quieter, “Its not tonight.” Then I shut up and hoped Amy didn’t hear anything. I learned later that she did, just didn’t think it was for anything special.

Finally, the day was here and I gave Amy a note at 5:20, then left in her truck. It isn’t running very well and took some will power to get to the destination. She now drives a Passat and I use the truck when we need to haul things a short distance. The front of the note indicated that it shouldn’t be opened till 5:30. Then the note told Amy to get in my car (which I left in the driveway) and start it at exactly 5:40. By that time, I was almost to the restaurant. The parking spot I was looking for and hoping to be empty was empty. It is an important spot.

“Amy Cox, this is your mission should you chose to accept it.” That audio greeted Amy as she started the car. The CD consisted of me being a dork and Mission Impossible music, with directions. At a few places where the timing was unknown, I had her skip to the next track once she reached various places. I figured that she would know where she was heading about half way there. It didn’t really matter if she found out. I had more planned.

I had thought about standing outside, right were I was waiting for her on our first date. I decided not to for two reasons:

  1. She would wonder why and possibly think it was a really special day (we couldn’t have that)
  2. It was REALLY COLD. I was willing to do it if I had not thought of #1

Amy arrived a little after 6 PM. I was sitting in the same booth we sat on our first date. This wasn’t an accident. I had come previously and made sure to have it reserved. However, I had done this once before on the anniversary of our first date, so nothing to shockingly new yet. After all, this was the 26th, not the 24th, and February, not September.

Dinner was nice. We chatted and Amy couldn’t figure out something special was going on. All according to plan. After dinner we ordered dessert. We had never eaten dessert at Acapulco Joe’s. Cheesecake was odd for a Mexican Restaurant, but the fried ice-cream felt at home. Amy took the cherry, but gave me the stem. I like seeing how fast I can tie them into a knot with my tongue. When we left the table, I slipped the tied stem into my pocket for something cheesy later.

During dinner, Amy asked what I had to haul in the truck, because that was the reason I told her I was taking it. I wouldn’t tell. She worried that it was sitting in the back of the truck to be stolen. I told her that it fit in the cab. This made her ask why I didn’t just take the car. To that I said nothing and changed the subject. I couldn’t tell her that the cargo I was carrying in the truck was the most expensive thing that truck has ever carried. It wasn’t sitting in the truck, it was in my coat pocket.

We left at 6:54 PM. I told Amy that the rest of the night required the truck and we walked towards it. While crossing the street Amy mentioned, “Its funny. I drove the truck here on our first date and you drove the Maxima.” I resisted the urge to reply quickly and acted out my best thinking look for 10 seconds. Then I replied, “I guess so.”

We walked up the sidewalk towards the truck. When she spotted it, she said “That is about were I parked, too.” It was actually exactly where she parked. The last spot before the hydrant. “Really?” was all I said. I told her she needed to get in the truck, but she couldn’t find her keys in her purse. I opened the door for her. As she started to get in the truck I told her to turn around. I got down on one knee and said some of the things that I had written down throughout the week. I was nervous and don’t remember exactly what I said. The only part that I can really remember is that it was exactly 30,000 hours since we first met and I’ve loved spending a majority of those hours since then with her. I should have had the camera ready to capture her face when she realized what was going on. I placed the ring on her finger and she just stared at it. I let her enjoy it for a while before reaching in my pocket to get something to put in the box. Then I gave her the closed box and told her that wasn’t all. She opened the box and I said, “Here is the knot I tied on the night I asked you to tie the knot.” Cheezy, but she laughed.

I know that she thought we were going to see a movie or play tonight, so I gave her the option of going to see a movie. She said that she didn’t know, but that sounded good. As we were walking to the truck, Amy had mentioned how cold it was. I offered to drive her back to the car in the truck. She mentioned that she didn’t feel cold any more. I just walked her back to the car.

We were to meet up just south of 465, then get in the car for the rest of the way. When I almost got there, my cell phone rang. It was Amy. She called her mom on the way home and was on auto pilot. She was almost home, instead of heading to where we were supposed to meet. I’m guessing shock was involved. She told me that she probably couldn’t stay still for a movie and wanted to tell everyone. I thought that would be the case, but she told me she wanted to go. I started driving back to her house. Amy spent the rest of the night and all day at work showing everyone her ring. I was glad that I was finally out of the “When you giving her a ring?” question. I didn’t know that it was immediately replaced with another question:

“You two set a date yet?”

No. Not yet.

Edit: We were married on June 6th, 2009

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