It takes grace to laugh

I was nervous. Actually, some pretty significant frustration had turned into just general nervousness. It began early. We were on the verge of completing a nice looking, color catalog sheet for one of my favorite customers (and causes). I had grabbed a couple of samples on my way to our morning staff meeting with the intent of paying a compliment to our designer and pressman. I sat down at the conference table and opened the piece. Something was wrong.

“It’s upside down,” stated Brian, our production manager, in a matter of fact voice.

“It can’t be,” I said, as I folded the sheet back up.

I guess I was thinking that somehow everything would be right when I unfolded it again. Nope, the fold was a little complicated, but the reverse side was definitely upside down. My next brilliant move was to go get 5 more sheets and open them up to check. I was hoping that somehow only a few sheets had been printed upside down, although I knew this was very unlikely. No such luck . . . they were all wrong.

Standard operating procedure calls for a folding dummy to be placed in each job jacket for the pressman’s reference. There wasn’t one in the jacket for the project in question. I’m thinking that the dummies didn’t do the dummy. The worst part is that I had looked at the piece several times during production and I didn’t catch the mistake either . . . dummy me.

“Everybody just guessed on this one, and you all guessed wrong?” I questioned. There were long faces all around the table.

Back to the nervousness. It was an important job, due now, for a great customer. I had been working on the project with Steve (actual name, don’t think he’ll mind) for over a month. I really wanted it to look great. And now I had to talk with him and tell him what had happened. I called his office.

“Not in yet, but we’re expecting him any minute,” the receptionist said.

“This is Richard at AlphaGraphics. I’ve got a little problem I need to talk with him about. I’m heading your way.”

He still wasn’t there when I arrived, so I sat down in the lobby. I think I knew that it would be all right, but the jitters got a little bit worse.

Steve’s a tall, friendly fellow with a great personality and usually a big smile. He is the prototypical nice guy. I didn’t expect him to lose his temper, but I hated to disappoint him. I heard the door open downstairs and footsteps coming up.

“Hey!” he beamed, as he saw me and the brochures . . . “Our catalogs!”

“Not a good start,” I thought. “There’s a little problem,” I said.

“What, they look great!” he responded, opening the first fold. Then he flipped the piece over . . . and over again . . . and over again and broke out laughing!

The jitters vanished as I heard the laughter and I knew it was going to be OK. I thanked Steve for his reaction and apologized for the mistake and the delay. He was more than understanding and we set a new timetable for printing and mailing the catalog sheet . . . with both sides oriented the same way.

It takes grace to laugh, and I knew where Steve’s came from. His organization is a Christian ministry for women and he demonstrated that he truly lives the life that he espouses. He may not have realized the effect it had, but Jesus came right through in his laughter and in his reaction. Thank you, Steve  . . . and thank God for the little daily blessings!

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