Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Element of Chance

I tend to like having things "just so." I've taken pride in mastering the little systems I've established for myself so they're as streamlined as possible, but I still don't exactly travel light, and my prep time for leaving the house would be a burden or a comedy routine, if not for the fact that I get a meditative pleasure out of the routine itself.

But I am constantly learning the lesson that the world does not come to an end if all my plans and routines are completely short-circuited. Far from it. (The Buddhists say you confront the same lessons over and over throughout your life until they sink in, and clearly this is one lesson I'm still learning.) Recently, to prep for an important meeting, I went out to my car the night before to load the CD changer with the right mental soundtrack for the ride over. I find certain music can really stimulate my creativity -- and I also have certain artists who are my phonic lucky charms, it seems when these guys are on the stereo, I wind up nailing the meeting.

Before the meeting, I had my "lucky breakfast" (there are a few versions of this, all of which involve carbs to absorb upcoming nervous butterfly-juice) and put on a favorite outfit, including one of my "magic jackets." The "magic" in this case having nothing to do with nailing the meeting, and everything to do with the miraculous ability of these jackets to adapt to at least 3 seasons of weather, all while looking great and packing smaller than two pairs of socks. And then I got in the car -- where I discovered that, as part of my careful soundtrack routine the night before, I had left the car's utility electricity on. You guessed it -- dead battery.

At this point I had about 40 minutes to get to a meeting that was 25 minutes away if I hit no traffic whatsoever. This was not good. Calling the triple A would never happen in time. Calling the client to say I had car trouble and would be late was an option, but not a good one.

So. I raced back through the house, grabbing the keys to my truck. If you haven't met Rozinante, let me explain that this 1979 Chevy Silverado is not what I would choose to take to a big meeting! She was bought for road trips and camping trips, and though she's in great shape for her age, she's sun damaged and dinged, and covered with bumper stickers for oddball sports. But, she had a live battery. Unfortunately, she also has a finicky carburetor that requires 5 minutes of precious warmup time in order to drive without stalling.

So now I'm on my way to this meeting in my old beatup truck. With very little time to spare, and without my bluetooth headset, if I do hit traffic and wind up needing to call to say I'm 5 minutes late. Without power steering. Without very good air conditioning. And of course, without my chosen music, carefully staged in the other car.

So. What's the lesson here? Should I be a better micromanager, pre-starting the car half an hour before important meetings, to give time to deal with any problems? Surely that's not it. After all, in this case, the very act of prepping the little details to be 'perfect' is what led to the much larger problem. If I'd missed the meeting due to that dead battery, this wouldn't be a funny story. It would be a morality tale about the person too busy emroidering curtains to notice the house is collpasing.

But it all worked out. I wasn't late. The meeeting was a good one. I'm pretty sure I walked out of it with a sale.

So I guess I'll be taking my "lucky truck" to my next meeting, too?

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