That sinking feeling
Ever had ‘one of those days’?
As suppliers, we’re destined to make mistakes.
Sometimes we make really big ones.
Errors that turn our blood to ice and make us shudder to recall them decades on.
This is mine.
Twenty-five years ago I was hurtling along Melbourne’s Nepean Highway with a family of four in my hideous taxi.
I’d picked them up from the international terminal.
With a four-hour window in their global sojourn, they’d organised to meet long-lost relatives in a bayside suburb.
Time was precious.
‘Leave it to me!’ I cried, flooring the accelerator.
Having read most of Wilbur Smith in the endless airport cab queue, I was elated to escape with such a massive fare.
It was a glorious Sunday – fine weather, light winds, little traffic.
For once, the tires and engine sang.
Smiling, I watched the meter tally my burgeoning wealth.
Even the smashed gas cylinder indicator seemed to wink.
The family chattered excitedly about their impending reunion.
Lovely day for the seaside, I thought, as the sun stroked my face.
… Chelsea …
Funny how we inherited so many names from England …
… I wonder if they’re both by the sea … like they are here …
After 40 minutes, the wife asked how much longer we’d be.
‘Not long now!’ I replied cheerily.
To be on the safe side, I glanced at my map. Yep. Chelsea was just ten more lucrative clicks south.
‘I didn’t think it’d be this far’, she said. ‘Are you sure this is the way to Brighton?’
(We’d passed it 20 minutes ago.)
‘Yes. We said Brighton.’
With beet face and white heart, I threw a screaming 180 and backpedalled furiously.
My sunny reverie had slashed this family’s face time.
I switched off the meter and apologised ALL the way back.
The wife was chillingly silent.
The teen kids vocally hostile.
Only the husband, sitting next to me, responded to my vomitous mea culpa.
When we finally got to the restaurant, surly kin shot my tyres with daggers.
(This was before we all had mobile phones, you see.)
Completely overwrought, I refused payment and tried to make a getaway.
But the husband pressed notes into my hand and said, ‘These things happen’.
He even …
Despite his kindness, my massive service fail haunts me to this day.
Catastrophic service errors.
I’ve told you mine.
Will you tell me yours?
To err is human.