Finding some grace among the moving pieces

BY BILL HORNER III, Publisher
Posted 4/3/20

Somewhere amongst the verbiage in the 137 or so email messages I wrote out last Thursday and Friday, I included the phrase “moving pieces” in a commentary to someone about life in a …

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Finding some grace among the moving pieces

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Posted

Somewhere amongst the verbiage in the 137 or so email messages I wrote out last Thursday and Friday, I included the phrase “moving pieces” in a commentary to someone about life in a pandemic.

As in: the reality of the life these days, with scenarios changing and news breaking constantly, brings with it lots of moving pieces.

Instability, uncertainty, navigating choppy and uncharted waters.

Dealing with shifting norms.

It’s understandable if there are minor breakdowns along the way. And that will necessitate finding, and extending, grace among those moving pieces.

This was reinforced in a humbling way to me on Saturday. My wife Lee Ann, our son Zach and his wife Sarah and our daughter Karis, having had a handful of planned spring and summer trips get canceled or postponed, decided on a getaway to the mountains of North Carolina for a few nights at the end of last week. So we sequestered ourselves in a rental house on the banks of the New River between the hamlets of Todd and Fleetwood in a valley north of Boone. It was a tranquil setting to do what we went to the hills to do: work, primarily (our group included two journalists and two teachers); and, when there was opportunity, chill out and grill out.

Circumstances, however, necessitated a trip “into town.” We had five MacBook computers firing on all cylinders as we worked Thursday, taxing the rental house’s internet, but a malfunction with one computer led to a rush order and a replacement shipment. Zach and Sarah volunteered to do the pickup at the UPS/mail store in Boone the next afternoon, and combine the trip with a run to the grocery store (we’d brought our own food, but had forgotten or run low on a few things) and a side trip to Mellow Mushroom, the groovy pizza place near the Appalachian State University campus, for take-out for dinner.

So imagine my bewilderment when my phone rang some 20 or so minutes after they left, with Zach on the other end telling me the laptop wasn’t at the UPS drop location.

Impossible, I said. Was he at the right store?

Yes, he said — the store he was calling from was near Walmart and adjacent to two ethnic restaurants in a shopping center, just as the caller from the UPS store described his location to me earlier that day.

Turns out, though, that Zach and Sarah were at the wrong place. They had entered “UPS store” on their GPS and, not being familiar with the mountain roads, ended up going north to West Jefferson from the rental house instead of south to Boone.

As chance would have it, the West Jefferson UPS site was indeed near a Walmart and two ethnic restaurants — just like the one in Boone.

In short order, after a bit of panic, we re-confirmed the location of the computer and the kids were on their way to Boone ­— to the correct UPS location — some 30 minutes away.

There was no harm done; the kids had just gone the wrong way after picking the wrong store on their GPS. But I have to admit I was still pretty incredulous. Having spent a lot of time up there, I know there’s a big difference between Boone and West Jefferson. How could they have made that mistake? I mean — BOONE! Knowing that’s where the computer was, why would you drive in the opposite direction to West Jefferson?

I’d offered up guidance and thoughts about how to get “there” from “here,” but the kids trusted their GPS — despite, I found out later, a brief debate in the car about the accuracy of the directions — and ended up going away from Boone, not toward it.

Lee Ann, being the good mom, chided me for my reaction, but for me it was still a “SMH” (shaking my head) event in my book.

So, as I sat there in my state of judgment, I continued doing what I’d been doing when Zach called. In an effort to help expedite things for everyone, I’d earlier volunteered to order the pizzas online to have them ready when Zach and Sarah arrived. I completed the order on Mellow Mushroom’s website not long after Zach’s call from West Jefferson, entered my credit card information and pressed the “order” button, timing the order for their arrival.

Imagine my surprise — my shock — a few minutes later when, upon checking my email, I saw the order confirmation from Mellow Mushroom. The message confirmed that my payment was good and that the pizzas would indeed be ready in 23 minutes — in Acworth, Georgia, some 300 miles from Boone and an awfully long way to go for a few pricey pies.

What the heck?

How did I make that mistake?

Simple: by not fully paying attention to what I was doing, which led me to ordering online from the very first Mellow Mushroom location listed on the website — instead of specifying the correct location.

I got distracted by the moving pieces and made a blunder of my own.

Lesson learned.

I called the kids to tell them that the pizzas would be ready when they got to the restaurant — only that, because of my mistake, their short hop from the UPS store to Mellow Mushroom was now going to be about six hours or so.

I was kidding, of course. I got the Georgia store to cancel the order and re-placed it with the Boone store.

All in all, I guess, the two wrongs DID make a right. The new computer works beautifully and the pizzas were delicious, but, most importantly, the kids had a good laugh — at my well-deserved expense.

(And Mellow Mushroom didn’t charge extra for the additional “humble” topping on my pizza.)

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