Over the weekend, I thought I was taking an ordinary trip to Ace Hardware to buy a new grill. As I walked into the store, I was thinking about work and how to overcome a certain obstacle. What happened next was an extraordinary moment that certainly put those obstacles in perspective.
I had been considering buying a green egg grill, so I asked the employee in the grill aisle his opinion.
“I wouldn’t buy a green egg,” he said. “Not worth it.”
I guessed he was about 72, and he had shoulder-length gray hair, tattoos on his forearm, and a goatee that looked almost as faded as the ink on his arms.
He pointed to a red Weber and convinced me to save the money. He stooped down and removed the price tag, and that’s when I noticed something was wrong.
He began to stumble, and it almost seemed like the computer program that helped him walk had been full of bugs. He lost consciousness and couldn’t stand.
That’s when I held him up, struggling under his weight. The grill hit the ground and sounded like a cymbal crashing. After a few moments of fighting to keep him from hitting the ground, his legs began to operate again.
As if nothing had just happened, he started talking about the grill. I stopped him and asked him if he was all right, and he said he was fine, but I implored him to take a break.
He was about to respond, but he stopped abruptly. His eye contact became intense, and he was standing taller than I remembered. That’s when his eyes rolled into the back of his head, his body went rigid, and he began to fall backward. It was like watching a Jenga tower fall. I wanted to try and stop him, but there was just too much momentum.
I ended up grabbing him just enough to slow down the impact, but when shoulders hit the ground, his head whipped against the floor, and all I could think about was someone trying to crack an egg against a bowl.
Now I was holding him in my arms, and I was sure that I had just watched a man die.
Everyone in the store was watching. I pointed at someone and yelled: “You, in the red shirt, call 911.”
I was considering whether or not to conduct CPR. Other employees were rushing over. It was a grim moment.
Then the man just woke up.
The next few moments went by quickly, and other Ace employees rushed over to carry him into a seat. Later the paramedics burst into the store. Ace employees began to check on me. I watched all of this in slow motion.
As I was about to leave, the man thanked me and said: “I can’t help but go out of the way to get you a discount on the grill.”
Everyone laughed. And he was right. They gave me $75 dollars off.
But the lesson was priceless.
It’s funny how the universe can take the most ordinary moments and make them unforgettable, teaching us lessons at the precise time we need to see it. It was a great reminder that marketing is marketing. Business is business. An obstacle is just an obstacle. But being alive and healthy, well, that is everything.