In the early nineties I decided to take an Audit Assignment for a large Insurance company in Salt Lake City, mainly because I’d never been there and I wanted to stay on the “Left Coast”. One of the perks of working for a National Healthcare Consulting Company was you could pretty much pick and choose where you wanted to go. Another perk is you could network with other colleagues who may have done projects for the Client and could give you pointers. Such was the case for me; my friend Jake had previously done an audit for the Client and also had a close friend who lived here.
“PeeCee my friend Gabe can be your escort and show you around. He’s a nice guy; I will give him a heads up and give him your cell number.”
This was fine with me as I have a habit of getting lost easily and Salt Lake was a fairly large city. Upon arrival at the airport I met up with two other ladies assigned to my car pool and we made our way to the corporate apartments which btw were very nice….personal Jacuzzis and all.
There were quite a few females and a couple of guys in the group…we had our own floor in the Client’s building. The Client was all business because they had a huge back log and wanted to avoid penalties. Four days flew by and before I knew it, Friday had rolled around. I was concentrating on completing my audits for the day when I felt a tap on my shoulder. “There’s a gentleman here from downstairs to see you,” Project Manager James informed me. “Do you want me to send him back?” I nodded yes.
I heard a murmur echo over the floor and knew it must be the arrival of Gabe, Jake’s friend.
A couple of the ‘thirsty’ females actually got up from their desks and followed Gabe to see where he was headed. One guy also stood up and watched over his computer to see. When Gabe rounded the corner I immediately knew why; picture Clint Walker aka Cheyenne Bodie but with a braided ponytail almost to his waist. Or, for you youngsters, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Gabe was dressed in a white dress shirt with a black lariat neck tie and rocking some blue jeans with cowboy boots. Well over six foot and muscular to boot. He had Native American handsome features with an olive complexion and green eyes which lit up when he stood at my desk.
“When Jake gave me the address I could not believe you were in the same building as my office. I’m downstairs on the first floor. Would have been here sooner but I had to visit a Client in Provo,” Gabe smiled. He was a soft spoken gentleman. Turns out he’s an architect who also plays guitar.
“Can I take you to lunch?”
“That would be nice.”
We walked out together, under the leering eyes of my female colleagues and one very interested male.
Gabe and I got to know each other over lunch he even introduced me to some colleagues in his office – all very nice people. We did sightseeing on the weekends, attending the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Park City and all the other tourist sights. There was never a dull moment.
One night he visited me at the corporate apartment with a bottle of wine and his guitar. We had a glass while we talked and I told him my project would be ending in a couple of weeks. I would be doing a lot of overtime during the next week to ensure we met our deadline.
“Man the time has flown by fast; I wish you were staying longer.”
“Me too. I like it here especially with my own personal tour guide.”
He smiled widely showing dimples and reached for his guitar.
“Know any Hendrix?”
He laughed and shook his head. He gently strummed the guitar and proceeded to play the most beautiful haunting song…my heart skipped a beat. As he sang the lyrics I was reminded of a Beatles song, ‘Norwegian Wood.’ Afterwards he informed me it was an original that he’d written. Gabe was indeed a special man.
The next week I decided to do a few hours overtime along with a couple of other ladies.
My car pool ladies left me our rental car and caught a ride with another group. When I finished up, I realized the others had left and I was alone. I signed off my computer, grabbed my purse and walked to the elevator. It was still light outside as I pushed the call button.
The doors opened and revealed a tall black man dressed in a khaki brown uniform, similar to what UPS delivery guys wear. The hair on my forearms and the back of my neck stood at attention. I took a step backwards. An alarm in my brain went off and I thought of how America has a preconceived image AND fear of black men, me a black woman did not want to feed that monster.
“I…I….forgot my keys.” I said to no one in particular. My heart was hammering in my chest.
I will never forget the evil knowing smirk that crept over the man’s face as the elevator doors began to close. I rushed back to our floor and used the phone to call a security guard to walk me to the car. Still shaking I looked around the garage while the guard waited to make sure the man was not lurking and then sped out of there and to the safety of the corporate apartment. Little did I know how important that chance meeting would be.
The next morning an all-inclusive meeting was scheduled first thing. Our Project Manager pulled no punches and announced that a female employee had been assaulted the night before. He continued speaking but now his voice seemed like it was coming from far away as I began to feel nauseous and light headed. That woman could have been me! The meeting ended and our floor was abuzz, I took the opportunity to call Gabe and have him meet me outside. I shakily told him what happened and he wrapped me in his arms and hugged me.
“I have a friend on the police force who I will call you must give him a description and also tell your Project Manager. I’m just glad nothing happened to you.” He held my hand tightly.
Gabe accompanied me to alert my Project Manager and his friend the police officer met us in the office.
I told them what happened and described the man. All employees working overtime were instructed to pair up going and coming. Gabe confided in me that there was a possibility of a serial rapist at large in SLC, as the recent victims’ descriptions matched mine.
The remainder of the project was uneventful and we made our deadline. On the last day the Client had a luncheon for us and of course I invited Gabe….all the man-hungry females still ogled him but he ignored them.
Gabe insisted he take me to the airport the next day…it was a bittersweet goodbye. He hugged me tight kissing me on the forehead and made me promise to keep in touch.
Later on in the year I learned a serial rapist was apprehended and he looked exactly like the UPS guy in the elevator. Thanks to my sixth sense, ie intuition, that I chose NOT to ignore I was spared.
Gabe and I kept in touch for a while, he invited me back a few times but life got in the way. Jake would tell me he always asked about me whenever they talked.
“PeeCee you know that Gabe has a crush on you,” Jake teased.