October 9, 2018

What are you looking for?

All packages delivered to our building come first to a loading dock below my office window. When packages arrive, they're logged in, a bar coded label with the intended recipient's name is applied, and an e-mail is sent to notify them to head down and sign for their delivery.  It works well--even when the loading area is stacked eyeball high with boxes and lab equipment.

I got an group e-mail notice today about a delivery for my colleague in the office next-door. Knowing he was out, I figured I'd run down and pick it up, so it didn't sit there overnight.  When I arrived, there was hardly room to walk, given the large number of boxes and crates laying about.  All were tagged and logged and waiting. The good news is that we rarely get anything but a large envelope (documents), so after perusing what envelopes and document-size packages were there, I saw nothing with my colleague's name on it. So I peeked into the dock manager's office to see if perhaps my friend's package was still being processed.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

"Well," I hesitated, "I got a notice for a package, but it's not out there."

"Oh, it's out there, alright," he replied sternly, "You'll find it if you look hard enough."

I was taken aback by the tone of his response and my thoughts raced as I began another box-by-box look at the hundreds of items stacked on the concrete. How did he know I wasn't looking hard enough? Obviously, he's mistaken. He has no idea who I am, let alone what I'm looking for. How dare he suggest that I--

And then, there it was.  Under a shelf and backwards, yes, but the package was there. Not an envelope, but a large box addressed to my neighbor. I had assumed I was looking for a flat parcel and thus I had completely overlooked the large box I'd passed three times in the last few minutes.  I quickly signed out the package and thanked the dock manager for encouraging me to keep looking.

"You were right," I said. "It was there. I just had to keep looking."

I think he rolled his eyes as I left the dock and headed upstairs.  Still, it got me thinking that in my hasty search, where I had predetermined what it was I would find, I didn't find anything.  It wasn't until I opened my mind completely to any possibility, that the item I searched for was found almost immediately.

And I wondered how many times in my life I go into situations thinking I know what I'm doing and, thereby, miss opportunities that might have presented themselves.  The answer is probably "too many." But I'll try not to do it anymore.

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