From the very start, there were clues that said Kristie Clark should never have gone on a date with Joe Oligschlaeger.
First, she had to work with him. As a damage assessor in an auto-body shop, she'd send her customers and their wrecked cars to Joe, a mechanic. Even though she thought he was cute, she'd heard too many horror stories from her friends to consider dating a co-worker. It was one of her dating rules, and she wasn't about to break it.
But then she was transferred to another shop in the summer of 2000, and a window of opportunity opened.
She called him up one weekend and asked for a favor: Her car needed a tune-up. She ended up getting more than she asked for.
"My car got a tune-up. I got a tune-up. It was all good," jokes Kristie, now 28. Fun and games, maybe, but Joe felt apprehensive about heading into a serious relationship.
A former military man and a divorced dad of teenagers, Joe says that, at first, he thought of Kristie as just a work friend. She was 10 years younger and a nice, college-educated girl. "We had next to nothing in common," he says.
While Joe, 38, admits the initial attraction was physical, he says that the two found connections in shared interests. Both love to people-watch and sing karaoke, he says. More than anything, the two suggest their relationship was really about a pair of good friends who happened to have make-out privileges.
It was under the guise of this strong friendship that Kristie asked to rent a room in Joe's house when she lost her job at the end of 2001.
In January, Joe was her landlord. For two people who make a living out of fixing wrecked vehicles, Kristie and Joe were blindsided by the fact that their relationship had just taken a very wrong turn.
They made good housemates, Kristie says, noting that they didn't even have a "sleepover" until that spring. And yet, a thread of miscommunication ran through their relationship. Kristie says she thought the two were headed toward an official relationship. Joe says the "seeing other people" clause was still in place.
So when Joe started dating an acquaintance of Kristie's in August 2002, Kristie was devastated. Within weeks, she'd moved out of Joe's house and into an apartment. Despite the hurt feelings, the two remained in touch. They would hang out, she says, but "he wasn't the kind of friend I'd call if my car died in the middle of the night."
The two were determined to restore their friendship and last March started counseling. "We spent a lot of time establishing trust and setting expectations as friends," Kristie says.
It didn't take long before the two became a couple again. "I finally realized that Kristie and I would be a part of each other's lives no matter what happened," Joe says. In May, he made that statement more official, and Kristie accepted the proposal.
Their wedding, a small ceremony in Banks, took place on one of the stormiest days in October.
No matter, say the couple. They had already weathered--and conquered--tougher storms.