If I know one thing for sure about new business, it’s that nothing is predictable. And every single second counts. No amount of planning or proactivity can ever prevent the inevitable madness that comes with finishing a final submission or polishing a final presentation. We use every last second – and then some.
And sometimes it puts us in odd situations. Like almost getting arrested six days before Christmas…
While the entire story of this particular RFP is rather amusing, I’ll focus on the delivery: getting the submission to FedEx by 10 p.m. to ensure that it will arrive at its destination by noon the next day. If we don’t make it, we’ll be disqualified from the review.
Kate (my partner in this operation) and I hop on the elevator at the office. We’re headed to FedEx at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, hoping to turn a 38-minute drive into a 23-minute one. Off to a great start. Right.
Kate drives maniacally, focused only on speed while I try to focus on keeping us alive.
We desperately search for the exit, only to find that we still have eight highway miles left. Kate asks how long it would take us to drive the package to the client if FedEx is closed when we get there. I start saying Hail Marys.
We arrive at FedEx and screech into a parking spot. The lights dim right as I reach the door.
An unfriendly security guard stares at me through the glass doors. I smile and try to persuade him to help us. We’ve done this before. We’ve got this. Oh, wait – like I said, he’s not what you’d call friendly. I continue to chatter through the glass doors while Security Guard realizes he has an opportunity to feel very powerful. Fun.
Two other desperate package-shippers join us at the doors. One is a lady who we’ll soon learn has an impressive yell. The other is a 20-something, disheveled, um, hippie who has a random stack of papers he’s hoping to ship. He repeats, “They told me it closed after 10.” Emphasis on after. What? Oh, boy – this is about to get interesting.
I convince Security Guard to open the door a crack so we can talk to him. Meanwhile, we see that a customer is inside the store, still packing her item. It’s not labeled or even in a box yet. She’s barely started. So, I use her. I tell Security Guard that we’ll be even faster than she is, because our packages are ready to go. As if my determination isn’t obvious enough, I’m pressed against the door so that with any sign of weakness, I can plow him over and get into the store. He’s not a fan.
Security Guard isn’t feeling the Christmas spirit. He continues to get only inches from my face, repeating, “They’re closed. They’re closed. There’s nothing I can do about it. They’re closed.” His body language is even more irritating. My blood is boiling. I remind him that it doesn’t make sense that another customer is still checking out. The computers are still up. And it’s 10:05. He doesn’t appreciate my logic.
During this lovely conversation, I have managed to wedge myself in the doorway. My riding boot is jammed between the door and its frame, so Security Guard literally cannot close the door. Suddenly, he notices what I’m doing and gets mad. Really mad. His eyes narrow so fast, I only wish I could’ve seen my reaction. And Kate’s. He yells, “MOVE YER FOOT.” I ignore him and continue negotiating: “But I’d like to speak to someone who works here. Can I speak with a FedEx employee?” Scary eyes. He’s starting to breathe through his teeth. “MOVE YER FOOT.” Oh, dear. “Right, but you aren’t answering my question. I’d just like to talk to a FedEx associate to see what we can do.” I really start to think I may go to jail – only to be confirmed by Loud Lady, who asks if Security Guard has the power to arrest. He does. Joy.
We stand there for at least five minutes. I refuse to move from the door, and I continue to stare at everyone inside. Including lovely Security Guard, who is now hiding to the right of the door, so we can’t see his face and he can’t see mine. Meanwhile, Kate starts to Google routes to the client’s office – four very large states away.
Loud Lady earns her title, beginning to bang on the door. She’s really mad now, pounding on the door repeatedly for a solid three minutes. With screams in between: “I NEED TO SPEAK TO YOUR SUPERVISAH. CAN I TALK TO A SUPERVISAH? DO YOU HAVE A MANAGAH? GET ME YOUR MANAGAH OR SUPERVISAH!”
The staff tell us (through the glass) that their supervisor is coming. Oh, that other customer? She’s still tidying up her packages. Logical, huh?
They tell us that a manager or supervisor will be coming soon. I’m not so sure, so I start to make a desperate/sad/pathetic/can-I-get-a-Christmas-miracle face in the window. Loud Lady continues to chant.
I realize that Loud Lady and Hippie might hurt our case, so we start to strategize. I tell her that if the blessed supervisor does come outside, “aggression will not work.” (Pot, kettle.) She follows my instruction but says, “But you know they wouldn’t be doing anything if I didn’t knock like that!” Fair point. But please, be quiet.
We’re still waiting. Security Guard is still hiding like a big baby, and the staff are continuing to avoid eye contact. This is pretty bad. So we scope out alternatives and see if there are any other entrances or random FedEx associates who might be willing to add a package to their truck.
The other customer is finally done with her underprepared packages, but she’s stuck inside. The associates and Security Guard start to panic. We hear them say, “We’re surrounded. They’re at every door.” There are two doors. And we’re just standing there. But whoa – hostage situation.
“Can I get YOUR SUPERVISAH?” We’re pretty close to giving up. They’ve shut down the computers. Security Guard shows his face again, so it seems they’re going to completely close. He’s still proud, and I still hate him. We think they’re going to leave us without the chance to talk to the supervisor. Learning from Loud Lady, I stare at the crack between the doors and consider my opportunity to loudly say to Security Guard, “MERRY @#$&%*! CHRISTMAS!” but my better judgment tells me to wait just a little bit longer.
The doors on the other side open, and we think it’s for the hostage customer, but a very tall man comes out. Just by the look of him, I can tell we’re golden. He’s glowing with kindness. Really. He calmly says, “So. Can you tell me what happened?” Loud Lady starts to chant. I interrupt, explaining that we arrived at 10:01 p.m. and there was a customer inside. How does it possibly make sense that we are ignored when she spends 20 minutes inside taping up and labeling her boxes? Illogical. He can’t help but agree. He listens to every single one of us. Even the disaster of a Hippie, who is clearly shipping something illegal. Talk about an odd situation.
The supervisah agrees to accept our packages. We’re all in shock. Kate cries, “Thank you soooo muuuch,” through happy sobs. We did it. I only wish I could’ve side-kicked Security Guard during our victory dance.
The packages arrived on time, and we weren’t disqualified. Win or lose, we proved once again that every second counts. And if you’re really lucky – and perhaps unnecessarily determined – you’ll get 1,380 extra ones. By the grace of the supervisah.