I almost dropped the ball. More specifically, I almost forgot the tea.
Several years ago, a fantastic vendor set up at a local celebration, and many of my friends and I quickly became supporters of their business. They make delicious flavored iced tea and are especially known for sweet tea. Because of their popularity across the region, they promote gallon sales, when people in a dozen or so towns can order gallons of whatever flavors they choose and pick it up a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving or Christmas. For most pickups, customers have to be at a designated place within a fairly brief window of time. It can be a little inconvenient in the middle of work days, but I’ve often thought, “Who would forget their tea?!”
Me, that’s who.
Pickup was scheduled for 4-4:30 p.m. the day before Christmas Eve. I thought about setting my alarm, but I didn’t do it. I was going to eat lunch at work, so I’d just need to slip out for a few minutes later in the day, then head back to work for the last hour or so. But I was trying to knock a few more things off my to do list before the long weekend, and I got so focused that 4 p.m. came and went. I was troubleshooting something in my office when an unknown number called twice. I didn’t check the message. It wasn’t until close to 5 p.m. when I looked and realized what happened. I immediately called, and the person let me know he was already twenty minutes away and didn’t have time to turn around or wait.
I understood. It was my fault. Bye bye, Christmas tea. We would all survive. But…
The driver asked me if I knew anyone in the town he was approaching. I couldn’t immediately think of anyone along the main route, but I knew living among small towns might be to my advantage. I asked him what open businesses he could see, and there was a Dollar General. He pulled in and asked if he could leave my tea with them for 20 minutes. Of course, they had no objections. And 20 minutes later, I had my tea and headed home from a quick evening trip.
It was an odd combination of forgetfulness, flexibility, and hospitality. But aren’t most holidays—and everyday life—odd combinations of characteristics and skills we might not think would fit together? Maybe those odd combinations invite us into new adventures that might not be our first choice but end up teaching us about ourselves and others along the way.