This is the story of a meltdown I had last week, and a meltdown I didn’t have this week. And there’s a lesson at the end.
A little bit of back story: during the first year of Baking for Good’s life, the thing that caused me the most distress was the post office. USPS Priority had some things going for it, namely low shipping rates and quick delivery time, but it also had some major downsides. In particular, the tracking was unreliable, so I never really knew if our packages were getting where they were supposed to go on time. I lost many hours of sleep that year before finally switching to FedEx. FedEx, though more expensive, has been awesome, friendly, reliable, etc. Until last week. After months of daily pickups from FedEx, our Ground driver just didn’t show up one day, and by the time I realized it, it was late and there was no chance of getting that day’s packages out for delivery the next day. Of course, it had to have happened when we had several important, time-sensitive packages going out. Along with a bunch of corporate gifts, there was a gift for a high school friend’s bachelorette party, and I was devastated to realize that it wouldn’t arrive for the start of the girls’ weekend as we had planned.
So what did I do when I realized what had happened? I threw a major fit. I cried. I yelled at the customer service people at FedEx. I punched my desk, and it hurt. I considered renting a car and spending my Friday driving to Atlantic City with the package so it would arrive on time.
After a while of being upset, I calmed down. I emailed the customers who had been affected. I upgraded the bachelorette package to overnight delivery for Saturday delivery (which is monstrously expensive). Lastly, I contacted my FedEx sales rep to alert him to the issue, see what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and get credits for the expedited shipping charges.
That was last week’s meltdown. This week something frustrating happened again, but I remained calm. Here’s the story:
For the past week, I’ve been spending most of my waking moments preparing my best friend’s wedding favors for her wedding, which is coming up on Saturday. More about the favors next week, but for now, suffice it to say that the packaging involves little boxes, strips of paper, bakery string, tags, stickers, and more paper, and all of that work gets multiplied by 250. I’ve finally made it down to the last 50 favors, but yesterday, while I was trying to make the last of the tags, my special tag-making hole punch machine broke on me. There should have been a simple solution — buy a new one — but I searched high and low on the internet and came up empty except for one hole punch that would have made too-big tags, and I’m a perfectionist and want them all to be uniform.
So what did I do? I remained calm. I ran (literally — I made it my workout for the day) to Michael’s across town, since my original tag punch came from Michael’s (which somehow doesn’t seem to sell products online, which I can’t quite explain). Two sweaty miles later, I arrived to find that they were out of the punch and didn’t have anything similar (I was starting to be ready to settle for something similar).
Still, I remained calm, and I thought of a solution. I called my parents, who are always willing to come to my rescue (God bless them). I put in a call to their local Michael’s in Massachusetts, had the sales rep hunt down the hole punch, asked her to hold it for my dad, sent my dad over to pick it up, and instructed my mom to mail it to me today. Easy solution! And honestly, if that had failed, I was prepared to cut out each tag by hand. (And I still will, if USPS fails me with the delivery!) Frustrating? Yes. Meltdown? No.
I was proud of myself for not freaking out when the tool I needed for the favors broke on me. At first it seemed as frustrating as the FedEx issue had been. But then I contrasted the two incidents and came up with this: in the case of FedEx, there was nothing I could do, no real solution to get the packages delivered on time. I had to settle for them being late, and I hated more than anything that they were late for reasons beyond my control. In the case of the hole punch, I knew that I would figure out a solution, because I’m resourceful and I had started the favors far enough ahead of time that there were (are) still a few days of breathing room before they all have to be delivered.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from starting my own business is that, as much as I’m the boss and in charge, there will always be things beyond my control. I’ve learned that it’s (sort of) okay to freak out, but you’ve got to be able to pull yourself back together quickly enough to focus on the solutions and figure out what needs to happen to make things right. In the case of the bachelorette party, we rescheduled the cookies to arrive in time to cure the first night’s hangovers before the festivities started all over again. It wasn’t the end of the world.
I know that what I like to call “cookie emergencies” usually aren’t life and death, but sometimes, with all the weight of a small business on my shoulders, they certainly can feel that way. Breathing and remembering to be solution-oriented help me get by.