Genius Reflection: The Perfect Proposal and What it Takes to be a 'Trooper'

As Senior Developer here at SignUpGenius, Jojo is known for designing new site features with gusto. He takes dressing up for staff functions seriously and is the guy to call if you need MacGyver or Einstein on the case. As Alabama's No. 1 fan, staff rivalries can get brutal in the office … but his genuine love for his wife, three kids and faith shine through, overriding any office shenanigans at his hands. Here's his New Year's proposal story (and a couple of bloopers along the way).

In December 2002, I was going through a rollercoaster ride via a long-distance relationship. I was in the South; she moved out West. I decided to put a stop to the dizzying ride. I had a plan: buy an engagement ring; fly out to see her before the New Year; take her to a nice restaurant; propose in a romantic and cheesy way. I like simple plans.

New Year's Eve was the big night. Ring bought — check. Arrived out West — check. Nice restaurant — check. The plan was in motion, but not without a slight derailment of her taking me to see lighthouses!

Little did she know a proposal was about to take place, but off we went to see those lighthouses. I'm sure she was telling me stuff, interesting stories about the lighthouses, but I had a one-track mind — how am I going to do this!? After looking at a few lighthouses and trying to muster up enough courage (trying to stop my hands from shaking), I reached in my coat pocket, knelt and asked this beautiful woman to be my bride. I received a warm and resounding "Yes!" Now, I didn't realize this, but apparently as I was proposing, fireworks were going off (in the distance) behind me — well played, well set.

The next day, we planned our trip back home. We wanted to take our time driving and stop at specific cities to enjoy the scenery. We did just that.

One impressive stop was the Grand Canyon. As we drove through Arizona to get to the park, I noticed the stack of snow covering, well, pretty much every inch of the state! We arrived at the park in the late afternoon. I suggested we look for a hotel to stay instead of camping. It was cold and unlikely that our sleeping bags were sufficient to keep us warm. My fiancée's response? "Oh come on, be a trooper!" So trooper I was, hesitantly agreeing to find an open campground — and we did find a campground, but no attendant.

Instructions were to leave the camping fee in the mailbox and find a suitable spot. We paid and found the spot with the least amount of snow covering the ground. Knowing it was going to be a cold night, we pitched the tent and went to a local grocery store to buy a few bundles of firewood to keep us warm. Later, as we sat around the fire pit, occasionally gazing at a beautiful starry sky, we realized we didn't have enough firewood to last the night. Stores were closed, so we huddled in our tent, under sleeping bags that were not made for a winter wonderland! Shivering, I sarcastically asked my fiancée, "This what being a trooper is all about?"

We both laughed and tried to rest … only to be woken up at 2 a.m. by someone claiming we took his camping spot! We politely disagreed and stated our case that we paid, found an empty spot and pitched our tent. We hadn't seen any notes stating the site was reserved to anyone. Annoyed, the individual left to find another spot.

After a sleepless night, we rose early to pack. It is then that we noticed a small piece of paper (not larger than a sticky note) stuck to a short pole, off to the side of the campsite. It said that the spot was reserved! We loaded up the car as fast as we could and drove off! Of course, we got rid of the evidence, too.

Today, after 12 years of marriage, and three amazing children, we still chuckle about what it means to "be a trooper."

By the way, the snow-covered Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.  

If you'd like to hear more from Jojo, see what he has to say about our office environment in this SignUpGenius Up Close Video.