Saturday, October 20, 2018

A story about paying it forward & surprising someone you don't even know.

I promised yesterday on Facebook & Twitter I would offer up a story today that will make you smile, so here we go...

With my online business, A Web of Fine Music, I still endeavour to fill CD orders for customers on a very small scale, as the public demand for CDs is shrinking almost by the day.  But I still fill orders as they come in, even though I no longer advertise the business any more.  I simply rely on my Facebook business page (you should Like it if you have not already done so) and to a lesser extent, my website at to market the business.

Back in July I received an order for a couple of CDs I had to order in from a supplier I deal with in the United States.  I've used them many times over the years so I know they are a trustworthy organization.  However, they slipped up on an order this summer, and it wasn't mine.

In early August I received a small box with the CDs I ordered for my customer as has happened many times before.  However, an identical box bearing my address arrived the same day, from the same company's second-hand reseller arm.  I knew it must be a mistake as I opened it up and sure enough, inside were several used CDs along with a sales receipt made out to a gentleman in Poland.  Yet the box was addressed to me.

I correctly deduced they simply put the wrong mailing label on the box after correctly labelling mine, and off it went in the post.  So what to do?  I promptly emailed the company explaining the situation and the fact I was now in receipt of several CDs I don't need that were intended for a customer in Poland.

After a couple of days I received an email back telling me not to worry about it, just keep the CDs and no RA# (return authorization number) would be issued, as they would have to be returned at their expense from Canada to the U.S. and they clearly didn't want to absorb the expense.

So I thought about this for a couple of days, and finally decided if this guy in Poland is as enthusiastic about his music as I am about mine, he would rather have the CDs.  I knew the company would be writing to him and more than likely refunding his money as the CDs had gone missing.  But they had not gone missing; I had them right here.

I decided to try to pay it forward and make someone's day I likely will never meet.  I took the CDs and with my years of shipping experience placed them in a smaller package that would cost significantly less to ship and walked down to our main post office downtown.  I know the people there of course, having worked there myself briefly over a year ago.

They thought the idea was hilarious, but dutifully weighed the package and told me - at my request - the cheapest possible way to get them over to Poland.  It would cost about 14 bucks to ship the package via surface transportation, which is a fancy way of saying it would travel by boat across the ocean rather than by air.  I asked, in jest, if there was tracking on the package...uh, no, sorry.

Okay, so I know the guy in Poland doesn't know they are coming so that's not a problem; he'll be surprised whenever they do arrive.  Surface transportation from Canada to Poland would take about two months, I was told, and this week I started to think about that package and the fact it should be arriving any day now.  But how would I know without tracking unless he reached out and got in touch with me?

I included a note explaining the situation and enclosed my business card and didn't think anything more about it at the time.

So yesterday when I arrived home from work around noon I had a phone message awaiting me.  It was from a gentleman named Isaac Chombe of Ottawa, and he wanted to thank me for sending the CDs on to his father in Poland.  He emphasized he wanted to thank me personally, so please call him back at the number provided.

With great bemusement I did just that.  Turns out Isaac is a funny, well-spoken guy who got a message recently from his father who still lives in Poland telling him about this package that had just arrived.  I explained to Isaac my rationale for doing so and he agreed his father would rather have the CDs rather than the refund.

Turns out his father is quite a character.  He's a doctor who still practices, apparently, and his home in Poland is full of about 20,000 CDs of every description.  That makes my collection of several hundred seem tiny in comparison.  None of the CDs he had ordered were people I had ever heard of before, and trust me, I have known a lot of musicians from every walk of life over many years.  So I can only imagine how large and eclectic this guy's extensive collection really is.

We talked for about 20 minutes and he invited me to call him if I'm ever in Ottawa and we'll get together.  I'm sure if we do his father will no doubt come up in the conversation!

So there you go.  You just never know what the outcome will be when you pay something forward but my simple gesture made the day of not one or two people, but all three of us.  Isaac's father is thrilled to have the CDs he thought he would never see, and Isaac was happy to relay to me how happy is father was.  I was happy I made both of them happy!

I also told Isaac to relay this fact to his father back home and he assured me he would.  But before the conversation ended he related to me his father himself received a big order of 40 or 50 CDs he never actually ordered, that were destined for a customer in Japan!  I suggested if he looks into surface transportation it might be doable to make that person's day too.

Oh, and by the way.  Turns out surface transportation didn't take about two months as I was told.  Isaac said his father actually received them in August, so it couldn't have taken more than a couple of weeks or so.  Amazing.

Funny how life works sometimes, doesn't it?  I mean, I could have just tossed them out or put them in the basement and forgot about them, but I did what I felt was the honourable thing and made sure the errant order was shipped to the correct address.  I hoped I would hear how things worked out but didn't think I actually would.

Karma works, and this is proof.  So when you can, do something nice for someone you don't even know.  Just for the pleasure of doing it.  The rewards may be there or they may not.  But you'll have the reward of knowing you surprised someone else in some small way when they least expect it.

Have a great weekend!

October 20th, 2018.

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