Unintended Consequences

One thing I've been discovering is the role of unintended consequences in my life. My husband, Leif, and I talk about this a lot. He tends to look at people and think that if someone chooses something, then it's their responsibility to live with the consequences. While I think there's some real truth in that idea, I also see many people who if they knew the full breadth of the consequences would have made a different decision. These are the unintended consequences of our decisions - and they happen in my life and everyone I know.

I have to make dozens of decision every day and while I can predict a percentage of the outcomes with certainty, the reality is there are all kinds of outcomes that are simply unintended.

Some good. Some bad.

A while back, I realized that I desperately needed a prescription filled 20 minutes before the pharmacy closed. Since the drive took about that long, I knew I didn't have a minute to spare. I raced to the pharmacy and called in the refill on the way. Pulling into a spot, I foolishly miscalculated the distance between my vehicle and the one next to me and dented the bumper. Afraid to move the vehicle and cause greater damage, I jumped out and ran to the pharmacy - the much needed prescription still on my mind. After paying for the prescription, I ran back outside where I discovered a less-than-happy driver of the other vehicle examining the damage.

I explained the situation, begged for her forgiveness, and promised to pay all damages. The middle-aged woman was slightly aghast at what had happened and for good reason: She had just purchased the vehicle, her first brand new car, the day before.

I could not grovel enough. When the repair bill arrived, I quickly delivered the check and a copy of my latest book to her with a sincere letter of apology.

To my surprise, I received a thank-you note that said, "If anyone could have hit my car, I'm glad it was you."

What do you do with that? When I think the back over the events, I find myself second guessing where I went wrong and where I went right. If I had paid more attention to the prescription bottle's contents, I would not have had to rush to the pharmacy which led to the miscalculation in parking which resulted in the accident which led to a difficult day for someone else which miraculously turned around into being a somewhat good or at least not terrible experience for someone else. The experience of filling a prescription is laced with all kinds of unintended consequences. Then again, most of our experiences are filled with them.

July 17, 2009 at 6:54 PM

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