Failure to Plan!

The Christmas Rush is over.  That’s not true in our “brick and mortar” store, but in our online store the onslaught has subsided and we’re starting to breathe a sigh of relief.  Oh, there have been mistakes made, packages misdirected, and defective products discovered.  It hasn’t all been fun or stress free, but we’ve survived another Christmas season in the accompaniment track business.  The requests for “O Holy Night” and “Mary Did You Know?” have given way to the more mundane, familiar titles, which run the spectrum of music genres, from Gospel to Contemporary Christian to Traditional.  I am starting to breathe easier, believing that we’ve done a respectable job of satisfying customers, but something is still keeping me on edge, there’s still a niggling fear running around in my brain.

Why should that be?  How is it that I’m still anxious?  The truth is that this is the week that the procrastinators come out of hiding.  There are still Christmas Eve programs at which to perform.  The day after Christmas, there will still be soloists who are expected to sing at Sunday worship services.  And, they’ve all realized that there are only two shipping days left to order their product.  That’s still plenty of time to make it someone else’s fault if they don’t have a track to sing with.  They can still call the toll-free phone number to somewhere far away and give this problem to some voice on the telephone.   I’ve cringed every time line number 2 has rung in the last couple of days, knowing that the chances are good I’m going to have to explain the high cost of overnight shipping, or explain why UPS doesn’t honor their transit-time guarantees the week before Christmas.  And, I’ll still have to figure out a way to get the product to them in time!

Do I sound bitter?  Am I looking for sympathy?  Actually, I was thinking I would just vent a bit, but as the lines are being written, I realize that I’m describing myself (as the procrastinator, not the unfortunate salesperson), which may explain why I dislike these people who put things off until the last minute.  They’re so much like me!  We live in a virtual world where we expect instant gratification, therefore, it is acceptable to wait until the week before the holiday to make your holiday purchases.  There should be no reason for disappointment.  Obviously, this doesn’t take into account the physical realities of the tangible world in which we live.  Greatly increased quantities of items which need processing result in slowdowns and greatly increased quantities of errors.   Fewer days in the process take away the possibility of redemption, of making right any errors and delays.  As a professional procrastinator, I understand this, having been under the gun with a project, only to make a critical mistake right before a deadline, insuring the failure of timely completion of the task.  Somehow, when I give the job to someone else, I forget that aspect, knowing only that it is now someone else’s problem.  And, I expect perfection from those I pay to cover my deficiency.

I love the sign that used to hang in the repair shop of our instrument technician.  It read, “Failure to plan ahead on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine!”  Even though I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of that sign, I feel a kindred spirit with my customers who call and beg for me to insure that they won’t be left high and dry.  I do everything humanly possible to make them happy, simply because I know that I will be depending on someone else in the next day or two to do the same for me.  I don’t believe in “Karma”, but I keep hoping that if I do my best to help, someone else will do their best to help me.  Most of the time, it doesn’t work that way.  Frazzled and worn out from bending over backwards for my customers, I make my requests of my potential benefactors, only to find that they have the same sign over their desk as the repair technician.

If you’re a procrastinator, you’ve read this with understanding, nodding your head in sympathy.  You know that this is our week.  These final days before Christmas are the ones we wait for all year long, the ones in which we either are deliriously happy that we got that last minute gift, or are casting about desperately for the appropriate words to explain the tardiness of the present that won’t arrive in time for the day.  If any of you find yourself in the situation, may I suggest that you face the facts, accept the responsibility, and enjoy the season anyway!  True, there’s a lesson to be learned, but there’ll be time for that later.  As you’ve read here before, the spirit of Christmas is love and redemption.  This week, there are people to enjoy and a Savior to contemplate.

Oh, and a last minute trip to Target or Walmart may just set the other things right anyway.  There’s always hope!  And, just a hint…probably, wrapping a brick with a picture of the item taped to it isn’t the best way out of your quandary.  At least, it wasn’t the last time I tried it…

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

(Oren Arnold, American writer 1900-1980)

One thought on “Failure to Plan!

  1. Nicely done. BTW, do you have the Imperial’s “Trumpet of Jesus” backing tracks in stock? I need to sing that at the Christmas Eve service at the local non-sectarian, ecumenical holiday service down at the YMCA. 🙂

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