Last week some relatives from Lausanne, Switzerland came to visit us in Miami (where they thought it would be warmer, but not). Their little girl, Maddy is so cute that we were all having fun playing with her and dolls and animals I’d bought. Then her Mom, Christine, asked about her daughter’s new coat, and when she could see it.
Coat? Why would anyone want a coat in Miami and how would I know where Maddy’s coat is anyway?
Turns out I not only should have known, I should have been looking after the coat for the past three months. Chris had Facebooked me in October that she’d bought a brand new winter coat on eBay and the seller wouldn’t ship overseas so she had it sent to me.
And I’d forgotten all about it.
That’s why I was looking at Christine with a blank face, my mind churning furiously for clues, excuses, rationales – anything. Maybe they hadn’t sent the coat, maybe the sellers were ripoff artists. Finally something tugged at a loose thread in my memory.
A mystery package … months ago … no note, no message, not even a return address … a little pink coat. Yeah, the coat … oops, my heart sank. I’d given it away.
This is the way it happened…
I’d been chatting with Julie, the wonderful nurse who’d cared for my Mom in her last three years. Julie happened to mention that her four year old granddaughter in Oregon had outgrown her winter coat.
Wow, I’d thought at the time. Talk about lucky coincidences. The mystery coat is perfect for a four year old girl. How wonderfully strange things work out…Karma. So, brought it over the next day and Julie mailed it to Oregon.
A few days later a delighted little girl in Oregon called her gran to say “thanks”.
Well, that was nice. But now I sat listening to Christine describe the fancy designer coat she’d bought, how costly it was and the fact that it was perfect for Maddy’s coloring. It was pink and pale green, and had special embroidery around the button holes.
I felt like a coat thief, a Robin Hood coat thief, but a coat thief just the same.
I ‘fessed up to Christine and, against her objections, bought Maddy a new coat (it’ll be here soon and I’m going to print MADDY in magic marker all over the box) and ever since I’ve been thinking how this mixup happened.
I guess I’m just on Internet Overload. I have too many things to remember: 100 or so Facebook messages a day, 200+ emails and thousands of Twitters. And that’s just the personal stuff. The business stuff has me on overload.
I’ve made some doozie mistakes over the years.
When I worked for Hearst I once mixed up book club shipments so that 100,000 Good Housekeeping ladies got the Cosmo Love Book. Funny about that one; nobody complained.
One time, working for our Ford of Canada client, we were in a hurry to merge databases and wound up sending huge English language truck-offer packages to 50,000 French speaking Quebecers and French packages to 50,000 Albertans.
Disaster, right? Nope, the exact opposite. We recovered quickly, mailed the right language to all 100,000 with a small added note and later we noticed that those people bought a lot more trucks (as a %) than the 900,000 who got the right language in the first place.
We wanted to send the wrong language to everyone in the following year and then the right language with a small note. Client wouldn’t let us.
Making thing right works because it’s a human thing to do. People sympathize and appreciate the extra effort. It is a good idea when you make a mistake to admit to it…and use a Whoops! Letter, or I’m Sorry, Or, “This might cost me my job, but..” note.
Mostly, though, things work out for the best as Pangloss said “in this best of all possible worlds”
I’m just happy a pretty little girl in Oregon has the nicest, fanciest new winter coat in her whole school! Another little girl in Switzerland will have hers soon….because this time I’ll remember!