When Erika Santos saw it, a few things crossed her mind:
“Is this guy a loser?”
“This is hilarious.”
“Is this a joke?”
“I need a husband. Why not?”
Turns out the man on the other end of the line, Hollywood mechanic and Hummer tour operator Alexander Gorbunov, 37, isn’t in the market for himself. He just likes to play matchmaker for his friends and family.
“I have a lot of single friends,” Gorbunov said in Russian. “It’s for fun. I like to bring people together.”
And it works.
Santos has been dating Gorbunov’s uncle, Michael Korol, for the last seven months.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Santos said.
Korol, who has been married four times before, said at first he thought the sign tactic may have been a joke, but now he is a believer.
“You never know how you can meet someone,” said Korol, who owns a car repair shop in Hollywood.
Gorbunov’s sign debuted about eight months ago.
Since then, he’s gotten at least 15 to 20 calls and texts a day, and not only from local women who have seen him driving through Broward and Miami-Dade. Pictures of the sign have been posted on Facebook, leading to messages from California, Georgia, Michigan, and even Brazil, France and China.
About 80 percent of the callers are serious about finding a match.
Gorbunov thinks the sign attracts women who have a sense of humor.
“Nice Hummer,” one woman wrote via text. “Has your phone been blowing up all day, lol?”
Gorbunov knew right away to back off.
“Whoever starts by saying something about the car is a gold digger,” he said.
Another person wrote: “Hi, are you looking for a wife? I am looking for a sexy, smart, fun, outgoing husband.”
He’s had mothers call on behalf of their daughters, and grandmothers call on behalf of their granddaughters — and at least one grandmother call on behalf of herself.
“I had an 85-year-old call me,” he said.
Gorbunov thinks “Looking for a Wife” could become a nationwide phenomenon. He bought the domain name “datingonwheels.com” and hopes to start a business where customers can put signs listing the website on their own vehicles. Potential mates could track them down by make and model of the car and license plate number.
His system is simple: find out the woman’s age and interests and see which of his friends is the best fit. He forwards her number, and his friend takes it from there.
He has found his next project: getting his friend Arthur Melesh, 27, a date.
Melesh said he hasn’t seriously looked for a wife, but he’s ready and willing to be included in his friend’s list of interested men.
“He gets a lot of calls,” said Melesh. “Maybe it’ll work for me.”
But things haven’t always gone smoothly for Gorbunov.
One time, he was stopped at a red light when the guy behind him smashed into him while trying to get a picture of the sign.
And sometimes he doesn’t get the reaction he hopes for.
“Two girls walked by and said, ‘What are you? A loser that you resorted to this,’” said Gorbunov.
As for himself, Gorbunov is open to love but said none of the women who contacted him felt like Ms. Right. His parents married a week after they met, and he’s waiting for a similar spark.
“I don’t look at the superficial. I’m looking for intelligence, for the right feeling. So far, I haven’t felt it,” he said. “It’ll come to me on its own.”