What happened to me today goes beyond coincidence. I can’t claim to calculate the mathematical odds of such a thing happening, yet happen it did. At first, it will seem a small thing, a minor nuisance, a daily irritation like so many we all face.
This morning, I stood toe to toe with our collective nemesis, the object of our common wrath. I’m speaking, of course, of … The PRINTER.
You see, like many of you, I had purchased the WRONG kind of ink cartridge for my HP printer. Yes, I bought HP number 60, in both black and color.
Silly rabbit, your printer uses number 61s!
- Don’t ask me why I made this error.
- Don’t ask me why I opened both before I discovered it.
- Don’t ask me why I tore the protective gel screen off both.
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions.
I only know that I sat, despondent, with $75 worth of unusable, nonreturnable ink cartridges.
What on earth goes into these two ounces of ink that cause them to cost $75? Perhaps they are filled with Martian water, harvested from a NASA rover and beamed to the HP factory? Perhaps they burst with the tears of an ancient Unicorn named Marcello, collected one fairy tale at a time?
Resolved, I lumbered into Staples, ready to part with another $75, this time for the elusive 61s.
I ran right into a friend. Randomly. 3:00 PM on a Monday afternoon. One in a thousand chance. I said hello and she asked why I was there. “I bought the wrong cartridges.” I told her with my head down, wanting to avoid the knowing look of pity and superiority which I felt the situation deserved. When I looked up, her eyes were as wide as a child on Christmas morning.
“What number did you buy?” she asked, eagerly.
“60.” I grunted.
“That’s the kind I need!” she exclaimed gleefully. “I bought the wrong kind and opened them. I’m here to buy 60s.”
Is that a one in a million chance? I don’t know probability theory well enough to say.
“Well, I’ve GOT 60s,” I offered, “You can HAVE them.”
She smiled widely, for a split second. Then, suddenly, she whispered “So What kind do YOU need?”
One in a billion chance?
“I need 61s.” I sighed.
“I HAVE 61s!” she shouted, like a newly crowned UFC champion staring into the camera!
The Staples clerk turned quizzically toward the celebratory duo in the ink aisle. He slowly shook his head and shuffled back to the returns register.
And so my fortunate friend and I sauntered victoriously from Staples, neither one penny poorer, having each turned the others error into our own victory.
Here is why this matters – The FIRST part of this story happens EVERY day:
- An imperfect human makes a careless error.
- Another imperfect human makes an unfortunate choice.
- Each condemns himself or herself as too flawed to belong.
- Each stays silent, too ashamed to need another.
But every now and then, in a miracle of rich coincidence, we admit our incompleteness, and, in so doing, find exactly what we’ve been missing. So why not take YOUR “one in a billion chance?”
You never know who has exactly what you need,
and needs exactly what you have.