8/09/2011

Governor of the Coffee Bar

Story Sent in by Terry:

Back when I was really into online dating, I wrote to Christy. She mentioned on her profile, "I used to be a bit of a wild girl, but I've gained a lot of life wisdom in recent years. Also, being the daughter of an elected official has its drawbacks."

While that was a little off-putting, the rest of her profile was well-written and she seemed to have a creative streak, something that I wanted to develop for myself. I also hadn't planned to ask her whose daughter she was unless she brought it up. If she wanted to, she would.

Our introductory messages went over well, and I finally met her in person. She suggested a nearby country club that had a driving range and a coffee bar.

After hitting a few golf balls on the range, we went to the coffee bar, ordered drinks from the barista, and sat down.

She said. "So, I looked you up. I hope that's okay."

"Looked me up?"

She replied, "My dad's in a government job. Just wanted to see if you had anything on your record that I should be worried about."

I froze, drink in hand. "That's kind of creepy."

She sighed, "It's not like I looked up your social security information or anything. Just your criminal record. Know what I found?"

I seriously didn't like the direction the conversation was taking. I had nothing on my record, but the idea that someone would check anyone's records before a date struck me as invasive.

She continued, "There was something sealed in there. Did you know that? A sealed judgment."

"Bull. There's nothing like that in my record. Must've been another Terry."

She shook her head. "Terry Oliver, 60 North Salem Way. Sound familiar?"

It did. It was my address. She went on, "So if it's okay with you, I'd like to know a bit more about that."

I said, "I have no sealed judgment, and you had no right to look into me that way."

She replied, "I'm the governor's daughter. I can do whatever I want, if it means protecting myself!"

I became more agitated, and my voice involuntarily rose. "I don't have a sealed judgment! I have no idea what it's about."

She pressed herself back in her seat and said, "Now you're the one who's frightening me." She then frantically waved at the middle-aged barista, who bounded over.

He gave me a stare and asked her, "Trouble?" Without waiting for a reply, he turned to me and said, "Out, right now. Or we call the cops."

I paused for a moment to let his words sink in, then I stood up to leave. As I did, he added, "You stay the hell away from my daughter."

That stopped me. I asked him, "Your daughter?"

He pointed to the exit and said, "Or we call the cops! Get out!"

I looked at Christy, who had put her face in her hand. I asked the guy one more question: "You're not the governor, are you?"

He stepped into my face and replied, "You have ten seconds before I deal with you myself. Ten..."

"Bye Christy!" I said, with a happy note in my voice, then turned and made for the exit.

The way I figure, she made up the whole daughter-of-an-elected-official nonsense to intimidate potential dates. I know for a fact that there are no sealed judgments on my record, so she had made that part up to trick me into confessing something. She had likely done no worse than look up my address. Her cover might have worked if her barista dad hadn't blown it. Sad.

41 comments:

  1. "I had nothing on my record, but the idea that someone would check anyone's records before a date struck me as invasive."

    I don't think it's invasive at all. Why is it invasive to check and make sure the person I'm dating isn't a sex offender or something? Granted, she didn't have to wave it in front of your face like that, but I see nothing wrong with doing a quick criminal background check.

    The father was an asshole. Seriously, he was awfully quick to assume you were making trouble without even giving anyone a chance to speak. What if she just wanted him to meet you? Then he gets in your face and threatens you when you didn't argue or yell back? What a dick.

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  2. You raise a good point, but I have to confess, BC, that when a date tells me that she "Googled" me, I find that creepy. Feeling better about someone because you distrust them in the first place never struck me as a positive way to go into a relationship. And who's to say that (in the example you cited) a sex offender can't try to turn over a new leaf and become a better person? They'd be wrong to never confess it to you, but you'd be wrong in holding it against them if they truly wanted to change.

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  3. I say search all you want, but don't tell them about it. If you find something that worries you, better to call it off then present them with the evidence.

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  4. Doing a search is a basic safety practice. Like meeting in a public place. And like telling someone who you're meeting, where you're meeting, and when you'll be home.

    Being an ass about the search you did, well that's just being an ass. And being an ass about a search you made up, that's ass(squared).

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  5. The problem with that: after searching, the searcher has to pretend as though he/she never searched to begin with, so that when his/her date says, "I wrote for such-and-such magazine and this-and-that quarterly," and if the searcher already knows that through his/her search, then a certain level of dishonesty is present in the proceedings.

    Maybe I'm old school, but I prefer to let details slip out naturally, not because I've read a dossier of details that they haven't already supplied to me (i.e.: a profile).

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  6. JMG, you've clearly never been date-raped. Googling is standard pre-date behavior, and I always let people know what I've found. So if they'd written for a magazine, like in your example, I'd ask them about the piece, or how they got the gig with the publication-- whatever. It's actually good to go into a date with some basic information-- like you'd get from a friend if they had set you up.

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  7. I disagree that it's standard. I don't do it, and I know a lot of people who don't, or at least claim to not do it, as I have no way of knowing for sure. What you find out about someone on the Internet is no guarantee at all that they're liable to date-rape you.

    How did people ever survive without the Internet? How did people pre-Internet come together without having legions of background on each other? They had to rely on trust, which is how a constructive relationship should start.

    If someone said to me, as they have, on a date, that they looked up any information on me that I didn't make publicly available on a profile, I would automatically consider it creepy. Period. If they looked it up and never told me about it and I was never the wiser, fine. Doing a background search on someone is disturbing, and indicates that they think I'm someone who needs to be "looked up" in the first place. No thanks.

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  9. I agree to not mentioning that you did a search on someone. It's like telling your date "Well, after you, I'm meeting someone else for a date." There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be exclusive after one date, but you still don't talk about it.

    I don't believe criminals like sex offenders can be rehabilitated; I do not believe people like that can just "turn over a new leaf." They'll still have those urges, even if they don't act on them. I'd rather not take the risk.

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  10. That's fine, and I certainly can't speak as to whether they can be or not. However, I do think that if someone claims that they want to be better than who they are, their actions, of course, should prove it. However, they should be given a chance to demonstrate those actions in the first place.

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  11. Oh, and as for the whole pretending not to know stuff, you won't have to. If you're doing a simple search on criminal records, then you won't see that sort of trivial info. They DO generally give you an address, but not little things like their career.

    Now, if you're sitting there searching for things like that (like this girl), then I agree you're going a little too far.

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  12. Ah, you answered before I could post again. XP

    Eh, I tend to be paranoid; whenever I pass someone on the street, I immediately look behind me to make sure they don't turn around and attack me. I guess most people will be willing to take chances; I'm too nervous.

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  13. I went out with a guy who, when I asked for his last name, got upset cause, as he said, he was interested enough in me to google my first name along with some job info he knew (even before we met), and found mine. I was obviously not interested in him cause I did not google him (his logic). Totally creeped me out not because he googled me (whatever) but because he blamed me for not doing the same. I'm with JMG on this one.

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  14. Googling a date is completely acceptable when you've met them online. You don't know who they are or have any mutual friends with them. Verifying their identity and making sure they aren't a criminal is perfectly fine. A lot of the dating sites do offer background checks or some sort of identity verification.

    Saying "oh what did we do without the Internet" is not a valid argument against googling someone that you've met online, considering meeting on the Internet.

    There's a difference between "oh let me make sure nothing HUGE pops up and that they're actually who they say they are" and digging to find out where they went to elementary school and their favorite boy band.

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  15. With respect, I disagree. What about when you meet someone at a bar? Or a ballgame? There, you have even less information than that with which a profile would provide you.

    Saying, "What did we do without the Internet" is indeed a valid argument regarding the importance of a relationship founded on trust. "I trust you are who you say you are" is a far more honest way to begin a relationship than, "I trust you are who you say you are because I have proof." At that point, why not ask explicitly for his bank statement? Or testimonials from her former flames?

    I see no difference. Looking someone up is looking someone up. Creepy is as creepy does.

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  16. Time for a NEW poll question JMG!!!

    Personally, I think if somebody wants to google, me or even oogle me, let em! I don't find it creepy. I find it responsible if that is what makes them more comfortable going out with me.

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  18. Absolutely nothing wrong with doing a little checking on a prospective date. Years ago some friends introduced me to a guy I thought was Mr. All American Boy. Things started just dandy, but took a dark turn after a couple of months. He was finally arrested after he'd assaulted me, stalked me, and filled up 4 answering machine tapes with threatening messages about me and my family. Imagine my HUGE shock when I was in his bond hearing and found out that made this 12th or 13 arrest! (My "friends" knew about his record, but didn't tell me because they thought he would. Assholes.) He had several prior DWI's, drug charges, and God only what else on his record I had no idea about. If I'd done a little searching in public records I would have found out all that first and saved myself several months of fear and anger.

    Some real psychos and fruitbats are out there - you never can be too careful. I see nothing wrong with doing a little searching to make sure your date wasn't headline that included the words "Manhunt Ends...."

    Oh, the one bright moment of dating such a dickhead? It led me to a nice career in investigating.

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  19. I may be in the minority here, but it would never even occur to me to google someone before going out with them for a number of reasons.

    One, how do you know the person that comes up in google is the same person you're going to go out with, or a different person with the same name?

    Two, I think it's a huge invasion of privacy. If the person I'm dating wants me to know something about him, he'll tell me. I think googling him up front is the equivelant of looking in his medicine cabinet.

    And three, I've just never cared enough to deeply research a date beforehand. Later, once I'm more interested in someone, it becomes an issue of not wanting to feel like I'm stalking a person so I don't google them out of respect. Again, if they want me to know something, they tell me.

    It's just not necessary. When you go out with someone you don't know very well, be safe. Meet in a public place, don't let them follow you home, etc. Trust your instincts.

    Just my two cents as a woman who doesn't google.

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  20. I think unhealthy paranoia and irrational fear has gotten the better out of some folks out there. Sad.

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  21. Ha, what funny timing. I just came across this article, which agrees it's not psycho or weird for a woman to Google a date. In fact, it's listed as #1 out of 6 of a reasonable thing for women to do:

    http://www.howaboutwe.com/date-report/1510-6-psycho-things-that-women-do-that-are-actually-pretty-reasonable

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  22. Looking up someone's information that they don't voluntarily surrender to you is creepy, no matter what How About We says. Maybe that article will be reassuring to people who already do it. To me, it's a turn-off.

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  24. Fish makes a good first point. We've read of MANY dates on here who have looked up the person they're meeting and confronted them with damning evidence of past crimes, only to find out that the person they're accusing isn't the right person at all.

    When I dated, I never thought to Google anyone. Then again, most of the guys I dated were friends or friends of friends, and I guess I'm just trusting. While I think doing a full Google search is a bit much, looking in the public criminal records for a person's possible past is a smart thing to do, considering the times we live in.

    And I'm surprised that no one has responded to Baku about the fact that these days, not everyone who's listed as a sex offender has actually committed the types of heinous crimes that immediately come to mind when that phrase is uttered. Look at the teenagers who send each other silly dick and tit pics of each other to their partners. Technically, it's sharing child pornography, and in some more hardcore states, those teenagers are arrested and labeled as sex offenders.

    Yes, most of the men/women on the registry don't fall into this relatively milder category of sex offender, but such exceptions DO exist. If you find out such information about a potential date (or current, if you're searching after having met already), then you should be able to CALMLY confront/ask them about it and see what they have to say. Then it's up to you and your instincts to decide whether to stop seeing the person or to continue onward with that information in mind.

    Long story short: criminal check/sex offender registry check: understandable. Full-on, multi-page Google hunt: creeper.

    PS: I routinely check my "Google footprint" just to see what information people can find about me. Luckily, it's mostly my theatrical accomplishments and my photography. w00t.

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  25. Jared - I absolutely see your point.

    Perhaps line between invading privacy and checking out publicly available info might be a wiggly one and depend on the people involved. I mostly want to know if what comes up on google is not mutually exclusive with what I've learned in the profile (or during our conversation at the bar). And if he's married. This probably isn't so much as issue for all you young 'uns but it comes up a lot when you try to date in my vintage age group.

    Also, as usual, I'm with Nikki. It's always a good idea to google yourself every so often to see what's out there. Thanks for the reminder.

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  26. I think Googling and criminal record check is fair enough. As katefolsom said, you can use the info to start conversations. Be open with it - and that can avoid mistaken identities.

    When you're dating someone from online, you have no other way to find out more; if your sister's friend's cousin you met at a party asked you out, you'd probably do a little background checking too - asking your sister, etc.

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  27. I see no problem with Googling someone prior to the first date.

    I think what many people are failing to realize is that when it comes to dating profiles, people lie in them... often! I once googled a guy prior to our first date and do you know what popped up? His wedding photos! Now, mind you, his profile listed his status as "never married". That ten second google search saved me a lot of time because at that point I knew that I was dealing with a liar and that there was no point in continuing with the first date.

    Google away people!

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  28. Ok, I don't know about you guys, but the ad banner I got was for online criminal checks hahaha Oh, datamining.

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  29. Claire (and Nikki) pretty much summed up all of my feelings on this one.

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  30. I am pro-Googling. Not to be creepy, but just to make sure the person is legit (to the extent you can tell, anyway). I once googled someone and discovered he had felony charges pending. Yes, it would have made a good story for ABCotD, but I chose to live.

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  31. I actually did think of that Nikki, after I wrote it. XP Although since I tend to be a "goody-two-shoes", I wouldn't want to date anyone dumb enough to get themselves on The List. Getting drunk and running around with your wee-wee hanging out in front of a five-year-old is probably someone I don't wanna know. It was just one example, though.

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  32. Echoing Nikki's point, a friend of mine from high school is listed as a sex offender? His crime: public urination, in an alley in Boston.

    I also don't think there's anything wrong with Googling before meeting someone. In fact, I'd probably be more interested in someone if they can deduce who I am from the information I provide. And I'm more eager to date someone who has a public online life-- online articles, somewhat known in their field, even a LinkedIn profile. One, it means that they're more likely to be an interesting person if there's something worthwhile to put up on the web (many things aren't), but it's also a signal that they're less likely to be creepy and have something to lose if they are a freak (in the bad sense).

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  33. MNW, someone convicted of peein' in public would be charged with "Indecent Exposure," which, while still a blight on the record, isn't as bad as "Rape." And anyone who checks the registry will see what charge the person was convicted of. I would totally hear someone out if they were convicted of indecent exposure, but I'll pass on the rapists.

    Anyone who doesn't want to be Googled probably shouldn't date me.

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  34. Jared, being paranoid and distrustful doesn't make somebody a bad person. Sometimes, it makes them a SMART person. For example, when I was younger I used to live near a bad neighborhood, so when I went walking late at night I would always carry a weapon. Some might say that was paranoid or mistrustful of me, but when two sketchy dudes tried to stab me one night I'm pretty confident that being armed was the only thing that saved my life. Googling people may be paranoid and mistrustful but hey, it's a dangerous world we live in, you know? Better safe than sorry.

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  35. Hey Numbers, you can find an article to agree with pretty much any position you choose. One internet site does not an argument make.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jared - if someone looked for information on me that I didn't provide, that would creep me out. Period.

    PS I know the subject matter of this blog makes it more likely, but I do so wish everyone would stop playing the rape card to defend ridiculous behaviour. If you invade somebody's privacy on the grounds that they might rape you a) don't try to then claim the moral highground, you creepy stalker and b) you are so incredibly unlikely to find a website saying "don't date this guy because he will rape you" (or a criminal record if you prefer) that attempting to invade somebody's privacy like this is not only creepy, it's probably useless. But you don't care, because you're a creepy stalker.

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  36. Hey, JMG. I googled you. Suck on that. :-)

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  37. ^It's a compliment when you do it, J.L.B.

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  38. Well it is Ok to google him but why the urge to tell?

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  39. This reminds me of an actual bad date that I had. I met a guy as an extra for a commercial and then when he came to my door for our date (I was younger then, nowadays I would have met him in a public place) the first words he said to me were "Have you googled me yet?" I hadn't. :)

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  40. With online dating, I don't see why you can't check their criminal background. It's -public- access. So, if you do something stupid, it's okay for me to make sure to what degree of stupid I can deal with. Speeding ticket? Pshaw. That's fine. Sex offender? Well, I definitely want to adopt a child someday, so that's an obstacle I don't want to deal with. I'll mention it to the date, or not, but they have to kind of assume that I will especially since I work in the legal field.

    Also, I didn't before, but now, I do Google searches just to verify that they are who they say they are. This after one guy lead me on that he was an engineer with a house of his own, when really he was working the Amway scam in his mom's basement. I honestly wouldn't have cared about the living in his mom's basement, if he had been truthful. The Amway thing would have been a deal breaker if he wasn't a liar first. The pictures he sent me weren't even of him. What a waste of my time.

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