A Midnight Mistake
--by singlestep, posted Apr 28, 2007
It was late as we left the restaurant after a meeting. It had been a busy week and we still had a lot of work ahead of us before we went to bed that night. We had already crossed the toll booth when I discovered I'd left my purse at the restaurant. It had my husband's phone in it and he was leaving for out of town the next day. We needed that bag. There was nothing to do but to turn around.
There wasn't much chance that we would make it back to the restaurant before closing time but we decided to try anyway. A little monologue of reproach started off in my head. How could I be so careless. Now we wouldn't get home until a couple hours later and who knew if we would even find the bag that night, and we were already running low on sleep and oh I'd really botched it this time!
Then we remembered a friend of ours who lives six blocks from the restaurant. The kind of friend who you can call in the middle of the night if you need something without having to think twice. He listened cheerfully to our story of the forgotten bag. "I'll run right over there," he said. It was already more than an hour past their closing time. I gave myself over to the reality of the situation. There's a kind of peace that comes when you've done everything you can and realize there's really nothing left to do except accept what is.
When we were five minutes away from the restaurant he gives us a call, " Boy this is your lucky day!" he says, "The restaurant manager had closed everything up and was locking the door when I turned onto the street. I got to him just in time. Bag? What bag? There's no bag he said. Then we both went back inside and looked under the tables and there it was." Our friend sounds delighted to have been a part of this little (mis)adventure. And listening to him, I too feel a sense of elation that has to do with more than just finding a lost bag.
Suddenly a little lost sleep and a little delay in our plans doesn't seem like such a big deal after all. I am struck by the loveliness of a life where people pitch in smilingly to help each other in the middle of the night. We pick up the bag and head back in the direction we came. When we get to the toll booth this time I ask my husband to pay for the person behind us along with a smile card.
It was a small gesture, but somehow one that seemed to make the whole bungled evening make sense- in a strange sort of way. If I hadn't been so careless then we wouldn't have had to go back and I wouldn't have been touched by the readiness of friends to help bail me out and I wouldn't have been here at this particular point brimming with gratitude in time to pay-it-forward to the person who was behind us then.
A small reminder to be aware of the quiet doors of opportunity that open (even at midnight :-)) in the midst of our most mundane mistakes. (Because it is never too late to find a way to be kind).