“Ellen Wilson, Occupant.” “Ellen Wilson, Homeowner.” “Ellen Wilson, Gardener.”
Ellen wondered how the direct mail companies decided how to address the junk mail they sent her way. That morning, following a recent trip to the Container Store, she was enjoying a much-anticipated day of cleaning and purging. She was tossing old bills, magazine offers, and pretty much any piece of paper that wasn’t absolutely necessary to running the household.
Why didn’t the mail ever bring a nice surprise sometime? For that matter, why don’t I send a nice surprise sometime?
Ellen wasn’t quite sure where the thought came from. She’d planned to spend the morning cleaning her home office and tidying up, yet she had a sudden but very strong impression to stop what she was doing and send a gift to her friend Lisa. She knew just the thing to send. Ellen had been downsizing her china collection, and she had a teacup with pink roses on it that Lisa loved.
In the middle of her morning’s busyness, Ellen stopped what she was doing, packaged up the teacup for her friend, and included a note that read simply “Just Because.” The two had long had a habit of doing things for each other for no reason or any reason, and their “Just Because” gifts were one way the two friends had managed to stay in touch.
Ellen wasn’t quite sure why she felt such a strong urge to send Lisa something that morning, but she did. She drove to the post office, sent the package on its way, and returned home to continue climbing Mount Junk Mail.
Three days later …
Lisa Andrews was having a bad day. First, her blow dryer died while she was getting ready for work. It gave a rumbling sound followed by the distinct smell of electrical unhappiness, and Lisa’s hair was only halfway dried. She combed the damp hair back and pinned it in place, artfully applying gel and hair spray to try to make herself look more presentable.
The marketing company where she worked had a leadership team meeting that morning, and Lisa—rumored to be up for a promotion—was hoping to make a good impression on the company vice president who would be visiting. The “bad hair” impression was not the one she wanted to make.
She was confident in her skill as a marketer, and Lisa knew deep inside that she was worth so much more than how she looked on any given day, but still … the woman in her wanted to look nice at the meeting. She was headed out the door when she remembered to wear her lucky heart necklace, the one she’d often worn on important days and to important events. When she got to her car, she discovered the clasp had broken and the necklace had dropped into her bra. Lovely.
On the way to work, Lisa told herself that just because her hair and jewelry were having a bad day didn’t mean that she had to. She hit the interstate for the twenty-five-minute drive to the office and determined to give her best at the meeting.
About a mile up the interstate, she hit the brakes when she saw a sea of red taillights before her. Roadwork? Thank goodness she always left a half hour early. She’d forgotten they were repaving that section of interstate, and a sign told her to expect delays. After five minutes of waiting, she started to get nervous. After ten minutes, she called the office and told the receptionist she might be late. When she was still sitting in traffic fifteen minutes later, she let go of any hopes of having a good day after all. It wasn’t going to happen.
When Lisa finally got to the office forty-seven minutes late for her meeting, she learned the vice president had left after just twenty minutes, so she wouldn’t get to see him after all. Maybe it was just as well.
Her day didn’t get any better. At lunchtime, she stopped by a drive-through intending to grab something she could eat back at the office. When she opened what was supposed to be her chicken sandwich, she saw they’d given her fish instead. She was allergic to fish.
Around five, Lisa’s husband called to report he had a dead battery and wouldn’t be home in time to make their reservation at that new restaurant after all. In no hurry, Lisa took a back road home only to find an accident had brought traffic to a standstill. She sat in traffic for the second time that day.
When she finally got home, Lisa couldn’t wait to shed her suit and heels and have a cup of tea and maybe watch a movie.
To her surprise, a package sat by the front door. It was from her friend Ellen, who lived a couple of hours away. The two had met when they worked for the same company right out of school, and they’d been friends ever since. Ellen had a home-based business processing insurance claims, and she loved it.
Lisa took the package inside and carefully opened it. Hiding in the bubble wrap was a beautiful pink teacup with roses on it. It was one of the prettiest ones she’d ever seen—and she knew that because she had admired it at Ellen’s house for years. Ellen had joked that one day, she’d tire of it and send it Lisa’s way.
How interesting that it arrived today. Her friend must have had a feeling Lisa would need a little pick-me-up, and that beautiful teacup certainly did the trick.
After changing into jeans and a comfy T-shirt, Lisa went to the kitchen and prepared her favorite tea, a new Keemun from Harney and Sons. The first sip relaxed her instantly.
She fingered the pretty teacup and admired its cheerful pink flowers. Yes, it had been a bad day, but she certainly didn't have a bad life. Not at all.