Stephanie walked into the Errand Solutions office one morning, a little before 9:30, as usual, coffee in hand. When she reached the door, a post-it was there saying “Need help, please call!” A little nervous, she unlocked the door, sat down and called the number.
Just one ring later, Jennie picked up.
“So glad you called!” Jennie exclaims. “I have an unusual request. Can I come down to your office?”
“Sure… no problem,” Stephanie replied.
“I’ll bring them down in a just a moment,” Jennie said, clearly relieved.
What was Jennie bringing into her office? Stephanie was now more curious than ever.
A knock on the door a few minutes later, Jennie came in carrying a cardboard file box and placed it on the desk. A faint mew escaped, while a paw poked out of a hole in the side of the box. A kitten!
“I was planning on dropping them off before work, but completely forgot about an early meeting I would have missed,” Jennie said.
“Here’s the vet’s address and my phone number. I’ll pick them up and can pay the vet at the end of the day, so all you have to do is just get them there and checked in.”
Stephanie said she loved animals and was delighted to run the errand. Jennie thanked Stephanie and hurried off to her meeting.
Stephanie couldn’t help but laugh to herself—how strange this day was starting out! She sat down and started up her computer to get directions to the vet’s office, but couldn’t help but take a peek at what was inside the box. She opened the lid and gasped. Inside the box, she saw five sets of precious blinking eyes looking up at her.
Forcing herself to gain her composure from all the adorableness, Stephanie carried the box to her car. She drove the kittens to the vet and got them all checked in. After saying goodbye to each ball of fur, she left the vet’s office and headed back to work.
Later that day, Jennie called to say that the kittens were all doing very well and thanked Stephanie again for running this unusual errand. Stephanie was more than happy to spend her morning with a box full of kittens!
Alison had a theory in life: when you’re in over your head, it’s all about how big of a risk you’ll take to keep yourself afloat. That mentality had made her a successful young woman, and there was no denying that her mother was proud of her for it. This time was different, though.
Usually, Alison’s risk taking didn’t interfere with someone’s health, let alone her mother’s. She tried to tell herself that it could only get better, but, even knowing this, it still took all the nerve Alison had in her being to be able to confront her step brother about his care – or lack thereof – for her mother.
Alison’s mother had been very sick for a long time. When she had first fallen ill, she had gotten better and had been discharged from the hospital into her step son’s care. Almost immediately, she started getting worse again. She was hospitalized again, and again discharged into her step son’s care, but the same thing happened. When her mother got worse a third time, Alison checked in on her step brother. She stopped at her step brother’s house one day after work to visit her mother. As soon as she walked in the door, she knew what was going on.
The house was dark, filthy, and stuffy. Medication bottles were jumbled on the table, some half empty and others completely full. Picking her way through the clutter in the house, Alison made her way to her mother’s room. When she saw her mother, she immediately called 911.
Alison’s step brother met her at the hospital after getting her call. “What’s going on?” she asked him. “Look, if you can’t take care of her, I can help,” she added when he didn’t answer. “This isn’t healthy for her.”
“I don’t need any help,” he said, and left.
It was the third time Alison’s mother had been hospitalized for the same illness, and after speaking with her step brother, Alison knew why. She also knew that he wasn’t going to let her help care for her mother. The only course of action she could think to take was to file for custody of her mother – which was the biggest risk she had ever taken.
Not knowing where to start, Alison went to the government’s website and found the forms necessary for filing for custody. She printed them out and read through the directions. Then she reread the directions. Then she read them again. The instructions and lists of requirements were so confusing that they had even Alison’s strong, detailed mind in a knot. She decided to ask the nurse about it the next day when she visited her mother in the hospital. If anyone knew how to figure this out, Alison thought, it would be the nurses who treat abuse victims.
“I can’t help with that,” the nurse said apologetically. “Unless there’s obvious physical evidence of abuse, I’m supposed to stay out of affairs like this.” She started to turn away from Alison, but thought better of it. “If I were you, I’d go downstairs to the Errand Solutions desk. They might be able to find someone who can help you.” Alison thanked her and left.
Alison found the Errand Solutions desk with no problem, but found that she was incredibly nervous about telling someone about the situation. The nurse could see the effects of what had happened, and knew her mother’s condition, but how was she supposed to convince someone else that her mother’s life was at risk if there was, as the nurse said, no physical evidence of abuse?
“Hello,” the woman at the desk said when she notice Alison standing there, trying to muster the nerve to ask for help a second time. “How can I help you?” The woman introduced herself as Amanda, and Alison started to explain what she needed.
“I have these forms I need to fill out,” she said, holding the papers up for Amanda to see, “but I’m not sure how to go about it.”
“Let’s have a seat at the table over here and take a look,” Amanda said, pointing out a table and chairs next to the desk. “So,” she started when they had sat down, “what exactly is going on with your mother?”
Alison told her story from the beginning and found herself describing in vivid detail the state she had found her mother in when she visited her step brother’s house. Amanda let her talk without interruption, and as the story went on, her brow became more and more furrowed. Between the details of the story and Alison’s emotional state in telling it, it didn’t take long to convince Amanda that Alison’s mother was suffering from abuse due to negligence, and that something needed to be done about it.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s go through this paperwork.”
Together, they sat at the table for several hours, poring over the paperwork, figuring out the instructions which had left Alison so confused, and reviewing all the information that was filled into the boxes. When they had finished filling out the forms, Amanda went over them again, looking for any tricky language or exception clauses that they had missed the first time through. Then, she and Alison went over the information one more time, making sure that the correct information had been entered into the correct boxes.
“Phew,” Alison sighed when they were done. “I don’t think I would have done this right without your help.”
“We’re not quite done,” Amanda said. “It says here that the forms need to be filed at the office in person, so you’ll actually have to take these over there yourself. Here’s what I suggest: you probably don’t want to spend too much time away from your mother, so I think we should fax these over and have the clerks review them to make sure there aren’t any mistakes or anything like that.” Amanda pointed at the Errand Solutions desk. “We have a fax machine here, so I could do that for you right now. That way you don’t waste a trip.”
“I probably wouldn’t have thought of that, either,” Alison said.
The next day, Alison stopped at the Errand Solutions desk on her way to visit her mother in her hospital room. Someone else was sitting at the desk, and Amanda wasn’t coming in that day.
“Are you Alison?” the associate asked. “She left a note, saying that the office called and said the paperwork was in order.” The associate looked a little confused. “I suppose you know that that means?”
“Yes,” Alison said, smiling. “If you see Amanda, tell her I said thank you.”
A few weeks later, Amanda arrived at work to find a voicemail message for her on the machine. “Hi Amanda, it’s Alison,” Alison’s voice said. “I just wanted to let you know that the paperwork was approved, and my mother’s going to be released into my care.”
The entire staff seemed to be running around like chickens with their heads cut off when Serena got to work. No matter who she spoke to, they all seemed to be stressed and in a hurry. She finally asked one of the staffers what was going on.
“We don’t have anyone to run the blood drives,” the staffer told her.
“What do you mean we don’t have anyone?” Serena asked. “We’ve been having blood drives for as long as I’ve been here. Who was organizing them?”
“The woman who was doing it was hospitalized last night,” the staffer said. “We don’t know when she’ll be able to come back to work. She had an assistant, but he resigned yesterday.”
“Why?” Serena was beginning to understand the stress that was running rampant in the building.
“I don’t know,” the staffer said, turning to leave. “I just know we need to find someone to do it soon. We’re running low on our supply. We can’t afford to lose our donations.”
Serena thought about what the staffer had said over her break. The CRMC was the leading trauma center around; they were in constant need of blood. Patients would be brought into the center after a bad car accident or something like that, and many times were kept alive only because of a blood transfusion.
In addition to being the leading trauma center in the area, there were many patients who received blood treatments at the center for other reasons, including diseases of the blood. Serena was especially concerned about these people, because she had a personal connection to the issue. A few weeks earlier, her good friend told Serena that her son had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. Not knowing anything about ALL, Serena had done a considerable amount of research; in her reading, she found that the treatments for ALL included blood transfusions. She and her husband had decided that they would start participating in blood drives as often as they could. They had gone to the medical center and donated blood, but she also knew that most people only thought about donating blood when there was an event that called their attention to the need for blood.
Putting her coffee aside, she went to the human resources department. “I’d like to take over the organization of blood drives,” she told the clerk, who looked a bit surprised, but got her the information she needed nonetheless. He gave her several binders.
“This one has a list of regular donors and their phone numbers,” he said. “This one has the contact information of people in other departments who you might need to talk to, and this one is the list of regulations for blood drives.” The last binder was the heaviest, and papers were sticking out of it at odd angles.
“No wonder you don’t have someone yet,” Serena said, eyeing the regulations binder. It even looked daunting.
“It’s not that bad, really,” the clerk said. “The nursing staff already knows what to do, so your job is more marketing the event than anything.” Reassured, Serena took the binders with her to flip through.
For the next few days, Serena worked to get the binders in order. She retyped much of the material, printed it out, and organized it in the binder so that all the information was categorized and easy to find. She then went to the marketing department to set a date.
“I want to triple the number of donors that we have at the next drive,” she told the marketing director. “We have a loyal base of donors, but it’s not a lot of people. Not as many as we need to donate blood in order to treat all the people that come through here.”
“Okay,” the director said. “You know they had already set a date before you took over?”
“Oh?” No one had told Serena that a date had been set already. “When is it?”
“Two months from now.” She smiled at Serena. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us if you want to triple the number of donors.”
For the next few weeks, Serena worked on the blood drive effort in addition to her regular job at the Errand Solutions desk. She made phone calls, printed up flyers, and posted advertisements in every community bulletin board she could find around town. A month before the drive, the number of donors who made appointments had doubled from the last drive. Seeing her progress, Serena redoubled her efforts, and started making calls from her home phone and on her days off, trying to get the word out. She did her best to explain to everyone she spoke with why blood donations were important.
The day finally arrived, and the drive went off without a hitch. The nursing staff was even more prepared than the human resources clerk had led her to believe; they were juggling the many appointments Serena had been able to secure, along with quite a few walk-ins, with perfect professionalism. At the end of the day, Serena helped to clear away tables and other supplies before sitting down to organize the books and write up a final report to put in the binder as a reference for the next drive. She looked at the information carefully, paying special attention to the number of donors. When she had a tally, she checked it against the number from the last drive. Then she checked again.
It was just over three times more than the last drive.
On Friday morning, we received an email from an International user from one of our virtual locations. The user, Patryk, lives in Gdansk, Poland, which is approximately 4,617 miles away from our Hub in Chicago.
“Would you be able to order food delivery? I’d like 2 servings (for 2 adults) of Chinese food delivered at 9:30pm to my home. Credit card payment preferred, but cash is also ok. For specific dish selections, pick something for me and my wife. No dietary limitations.”
While a food delivery is a pretty standard request for our concierges, everything becomes more complicated when different countries and languages are brought into the mix. However, we don’t let that stop us.
Upon receiving the request, we emailed Patryk right away. “Hi Patryk. Thank you for your request. We’re working on it now and will get back to your shortly.”
Immediately, one of our team members went online to look up local restaurants and read reviews. At the same time, another team member reached out to our local Gdansk concierge network to get personal recommendations. It turns out, there are not a lot of Chinese restaurants in Gdansk, so we had our work cut out for us.
Along with one of our concierge partners, we selected a highly recommended restaurant and carefully picked the dishes from their online menu. We placed the order via conference call with both the restaurant and our Polish associate to ensure the delivery would happen and nothing would be lost in translation.
Eventually, we placed an order of wanton soup, crispy wantons, sesame chicken with vegetable fried rice, duck breast with jasmine rice and a side of sweet & sour Peking cabbage to be delivered to Patryk’s home that night for him and his wife to enjoy.
After the order was placed, we called Patryk. “Just wanted to let you know that the order is placed and will be delivered at your requested time,” we said. “We really appreciate the opportunity to serve you today.”
“Oh wow,” Patryk said, surprised. “That was fast. I actually already received a confirmation text from the restaurant. Thank you so much!”
At exactly 9:30pm, Patryk enjoyed a delicious Chinese dinner at his home. Our Gdansk associate called the restaurant around the time it was to be delivered to confirm that everything went off without a hitch. The restaurant ensured us that it was delivered on time.
Later that night, Patryk sent us to text. “Everything was great, thank you! 🙂 ”
While we couldn’t be there to see the smile on his face directly, the emoji sent from across the world was plenty.
“Emily, it’s Linda from the fourth floor. I was wondering if you could do something for me.”
Emily never knew what to expect when she picked up the phone. Working for Errand Solutions, she knew that this call could be about almost anything. There was, however, a certain framework. Picking up the phone meant keeping an open mind, and being ready to think creatively.
She never could have expected a request like Linda’s. Linda was a nurse who primarily worked in the oncology wings. Even over the phone, Emily sensed that Linda was worried.
“Of course, Linda. What can I do for you?”
“Well, first…do you like dogs?”
Emily laughed with relief. “Who doesn’t?”
Linda explained that she was caring for a visually impaired patient named Julie whose seeing-eye dog was staying in the ward with her.
“We’re really shorthanded right now, and we have a full ward. Everyone’s been running around so much, there’s no way we’re going to be able to care for this dog the way it deserves,” Linda continued.
“Sounds like things are a little hectic up there.” “More than a little,” Linda sighed. “I was hoping you might be able to help us. You could maybe walk the dog a couple times a day while the patient’s here. I know it’s sort of a weird request, but do you think you could—?”
“Of course I could do that!” Emily blurted before giving it a second thought. Linda laughed. “Sorry. That might have been a little overenthusiastic.” “It’s fine,” Linda chuckled. “I’m just relieved you said yes!”
Emily jotted down the room number and went up. She could tell she was at the right room because she could just make out a chocolate lab resting its chin on the patient’s bed. Emily knocked on the door, and a woman’s voice beckoned her in.
“Hi, Julie. I’m Emily. Your nurse Linda was telling me you needed someone to walk your dog?” “Hi, Emily. It’s so nice of you to come! I’m sure Lucy is ecstatic too.” She pointed to the lab by the bed, whose tail thumped excitedly.
Emily could see Julie’s relief. She’d always been a pet owner, and understood how caring for an animal could be. She loved to keep busy, but agonized about her own dog’s schedule being interrupted. Julie was clearly feeling a similar uneasiness.
Emily and Julie worked out that two walks a day should be fine, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, for the next week. With that, Emily secured Lucy’s leash, and their week together began.
Every morning and afternoon, Emily and Lucy went out for their walks. For Emily, it became the best part of the day. She loved the fresh air and the warm, sunny summer days, as well as spending time with her well-behaved companion. Emily had noticed a quiet, fenced-in park on their first walk, and on the second day, Julie offered up the tennis ball she had brought along so the two could play.
“Alright, Lucy,” Emily cooed to a patiently-sitting Lucy, making sure the fence was closed, and there were no park-goers nearby. “You ready?”
She shook the tennis ball and Lucy’s ears perked up. She shook it again, and the lab got on her paws, crouching playfully. Ready, indeed.
“Okay,” Emily smiled, winding back her arm and tossing the ball. “Fetch!”
And she was off. Bounding across the small field, ears flapping and tongue stretched out of her open-mouthed canine smile. Lucy got hold of the toy as it rolled to a stop in the grass, gently scooping it up in her mouth. She turned tail and galloped back to Emily who was giggling to herself. No matter how important its job, it seemed no dog was immune to the thrall of a simple game of fetch.
“Good girl!” Lucy dropped the ball by Emily’s feet. Emily crouched down and patted the dog’s neck. Lucy was grinning, and her coat glinted, slightly brindled in the sunlight. She nudged the ball with her nose.
Emily loved her new dog-walking duties. Between the fresh air and games of fetch at the park, she found that she could not wait to go to work every morning. It only got better when she saw the relief on Julie’s face each day when Lucy returned to her, the canine companion happy to be back at her owner’s side. Emily had always believed that helping people was what she was meant to do. Guide dogs are, of course, trained to help, but Emily couldn’t help thinking that Lucy was born with the same need to help that she felt within herself. The dog seemed almost intuitive. If Emily frowned, Lucy would tilt her head inquisitively. If Emily had a hectic afternoon, Lucy would nuzzle her hands affectionately with her nose. She always seemed to know how Emily was feeling. Emily sometimes wondered who was walking whom.
By her fourth day with Lucy, she remembered she had an afternoon meeting she couldn’t miss. After a phone call with an associate who agreed to take the guide dog for her second walk, Emily headed to the hospital an hour early and headed straight for Julie’s room.
“You’re early!” Julie smiled.
“It turns out I have a meeting later, so I came in a little early make sure you and Lucy were taken care of until then. My friend Tom will be taking her this afternoon.”
“Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I’m sorry you had to come in early, though.”
“Don’t be! I’m a morning person, and I wouldn’t miss a walk with Lucy for the world,” Emily said with a chuckle.
The sixth morning rolled around, and Emily found Julie’s room empty. Puzzled, she approached the nurse’s desk.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where Julie from room 316 is?”
The nurse grinned. “She got to go home! Her recovery was going very well, and her doctor gave her the all-clear.”
“Oh, okay. That’s great to hear! Thank you.” Emily turned to leave. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was forgetting something. She knew it was silly, but she wished she could have had one more walk, and a chance to say goodbye to Julie.
The nurse’s voice called her back.
“Are you Emily?”
“I am. How did you know?”
“Julie said you’d probably stop by today. She wanted me to tell you how grateful she was for all your hard work.” Emily grinned. She was born to help others. Today, she knew she was doing what she was meant to do.
Theresa was sitting at the concierge desk when a woman walked in. She came up to the desk, and was clearly frazzled. Without even giving Theresa a chance to wish her a good morning, the woman started talking.
“Hi there,” she started, but didn’t wait for a response.”My husband and I came in for an appointment this morning, and while we were in here a tire on our car went flat. Can you call someone to come help us? Or do you have a phone number or something like that?”
“Sure thing,” Theresa said. Her first thought was to call the hospital’s public safety office. She talked to the safety official for a minute, asking the woman questions and conveying them to the official through the phone.
“Where is the car located?” the official finally asked.
When Theresa asked the woman, she answered, “About a block down, at a metered spot on the street.”
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do for that,” the official explained to Theresa. “We don’t have the authority to do anything to vehicles that aren’t on hospital property.” Theresa thanked him and hung up. She explained the situation to the woman, who became even more agitated.
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” she asked desperately.
“Don’t worry,” Theresa soothed her. “I can call someone else and see if they can help. Just give me another few minutes to make a call.” The woman calmed down a bit, and Theresa called one of the car vendors that Errand Solutions often worked with.
Theresa explained the situation to the receptionist at the vendor’s office. “Not a problem,” she said after Theresa finished. “We can have someone over there in about fifteen minutes.”
After thanking the vendor, Theresa wrote the name of the company on a piece of paper and handed it to the woman so that she’d know which company’s truck to watch for. Armed with this information, the woman left to wait by the car with her husband.
A little while later, Theresa looked up to find the woman and a man wearing the car vendor’s uniform walking up to the desk. “So, the car’s parked on a bend in the road,” the vendor said. “In order to safely replace the tire, I’m going to have to have the police come out and direct traffic, but my phone is on the blink.”
“Okay,” Theresa said. “I’ll give the police department a call for you.” Theresa dialed the non-emergency number for the local police department and made the request for a traffic cop to come and assist with roadside maintenance. When the vendor and the woman walked away, Theresa thought that everything had been taken care of and that the woman and her husband would be on their way in no time.
Much to Theresa’s surprise, the woman came back to the concierge desk one more time. Wondering what else she could possibly do for the woman, Theresa asked how things had gone. “Everything went off without a hitch,” the woman said. “Thank you so much – we really needed all the help you gave us, and we really appreciate it.”
Jasmine had finally met her match.
When Jasmine was three years old, she pieced together a replica of her mother’s face with dry macaroni, Elmer’s glue, and finger paints. The portrait is still exhibited on her mother’s refrigerator.
When Jasmine was nine years old she created a model of Neil Armstrong’s spacecraft, Gemini 8, with papier-mâché and colored paper. She won second place in her school’s science fair.
When Jasmine was in high school, she made a panorama of the battle scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V. She molded each horse and soldier from red clay, and she crafted the landscape from foam and acrylics. She passed her AP English class with flying colors.
But Jasmine was finally presented with a challenge she wasn’t sure she could overcome. Early that cold spring morning, a nurse wearing bright teal-and-orange scrubs strode into Jasmine’s office. The nurse was a larger woman named Linda; her huge smile and booming laugh seemed to illuminate the entire room. Jasmine pulled out her binder (which was covered in cherry-print duct tape) and pen (which she glued glitter and Hello Kitty stickers all over) and listened to Linda’s story.
“So our alarm clock doesn’t go off, and we’re running to the airport. Half of my things are in Mark’s bag, and half of his things are in mine. I swear we left a trail of socks and toothpaste behind us the entire way!” Linda gave a chipper chuckle as she told her story, and Jasmine instinctively smiled with her. “Anyway, we make it to the airport, and we get to security, and TSA is just tearing through every little piece of junk in our carry on bag. Now granted, we’ve got some random things in our bags. I mean, my husband somehow ends up with one of the hotel’s hand towels and several of my nail polishes. Up to this point, Mark and I are just cracking up at how ridiculous the whole situation is, but TSA wasn’t laughing with us.
“They started examined every item individually. Of course, we start to get nervous. You see, at this point, we only have twenty minutes to make our flight. We need to get out of security soon. But then they find Mark’s shoe.”
“He wore these giant ugly sneakers to the Moab Desert. I kept telling him, ‘They’re going to get destroyed! The Moab Desert is famous for quicksand!’ Sure enough, he sunk into some while we were on vacation. It took me almost an hour to pull him out! Here, check this out.”
Linda grabs her bag out from under her chair and pulls out the most disgusting sneaker Jasmine had ever seen. She swore she could have smelled the shoe before she saw it. The whole thing was calloused in mud and dirt, and the bottom of the heel was breaking apart.
“So this shoe ended up in my luggage, while the other one was in Mark’s carry on. Mark doesn’t know I have it; he assumes TSA took both shoes. To be honest, I had a feeling these shoes wouldn’t go through. I mean, look at them! But he had to have them. He keeps saying that they’re some sort of memento of his survival. I think he’s just being melodramatic, but that’s me. Anyway, the one security officer just picks up the shoe and shakes his head, and Mark knows exactly what he’s thinking. He starts shouting, ‘Don’t you dare take away my shoe! Don’t you dare!’” Linda starts laughing again. “Honey, let me give you some advice. If you want to get to your flight on time, don’t argue with security!”
Although they both laughed, Jasmine felt a nervous swelling in her stomach. She had a feeling she would have to do something with that sneaker, and the last thing she really wanted to do was touch it.
“Anyway, we always play practical jokes on each other, but with me starting this new job at the hospital, we really didn’t have a lot of time to plan anything. But I did come up with a crazy idea the other day. Like I said, he doesn’t realize that I have this shoe, and I know he’s been missing it like crazy. So I thought that you could put it in a box and send it to his office. But then you should leave a note that says something like‘You owe the post office forty bucks for postage,’ or something like that!” She laughed at her own little prank. “He’s so frugal, and he’d hate to pay for something that was always his!”
“So that’s all you want me to do? Stick this shoe in a box and leave it on his desk with a note?”
Linda laughed. “That’s it. It’s simple, yet effective, right?”
Jasmine nodded in agreement, although she felt a little lost. The job sounded simple enough—and it was—but Jasmine wasn’t known for doing simple things. As an employee at Errand Solutions, she was known for taking simple things and making them beautiful or gorgeous or touching. The crafts she used to do as a kid transitioned into her work at Errand Solutions. When the hospital celebrated the opening of a new wing for cardiac patients, Jasmine crocheted plush hearts for all the doctors and nurses. For Christmas, she not only put up the tree, but crafted each decoration out of tongue depressors, hot glue, and Sharpies. Even her entire office seemed to shine from the glitter left behind from previous projects.
But the thought of that muddy, disgusting shoe somehow created a roadblock in her creativity. She couldn’t think of that little touch that tiny spark, to make Linda’s prank come to life. As she stood behind her desk in her office, staring at that dirty shoe, she felt like Dr. Frankenstein, standing over her dead creation, filled with frustration.
“Somehow I need to think outside the box,” she thought to herself.
And that’s when it hit her, the box. Next to the shoe was an old postal box Jasmine had picked up downstairs. Suddenly all the pieces started fitting together. She pulled out her sharpies and started writing different addresses all over the box. She then pulled out a pink hammer from the bejeweled toolbox she kept under her desk and pounded the walls of the box. She even tore a few holes in it with her fingers. Jasmine then placed the shoe in the middle of the box, and covered the whole thing with various stamps and address labels around her desk. She then wrapped it several times around with masking tape. Finally—the pièce de résistance—she shook the box several times so the dirt from the shoe would cover the inside of the box.
Never before had Jasmine been so proud of a project she had done at Errand Solution. She even kind of liked how gross it looked; to her, it represented the tumultuous yet loving adventures Linda and Mark were always getting into. When Linda finally got to see the box, she cracked up, and her laugh filled the room with so much joy that Jasmine couldn’t help but smile.
“That was the best idea ever! Oh, he’s going to be so mad he’s not going to know what to do! I love it! Love it!”
“You’re too sweet, Ms. Linda!”
A few days later, when she snuck into Mark’s office building and placed the box outside his door, she realized that there was always some beauty in the ugliest and smelliest of things, even in a pair of muddy sneakers. After that project, she was never afraid to get her hands a little dirty.
Matthew was a regular Errand Solutions customer. Whenever he needed something done right, and on time, Nichol was his point-woman. One day, he came into the Errand Solutions office with a larger request than usual.
“One of my best employees has a birthday tomorrow,” he told Nichol. “Greta is the hardest working woman, and I know that she doesn’t do a lot by the way of treating herself. I thought I’d get a cake for her.”
“How nice!” Nichol answered. “What kind of cake did you want to get for her?”
“Well, her favorite fruit is raspberry,” he said, “so I was thinking a chocolate raspberry cake.”
“Yum.” Nichol was a little jealous of Greta, who would be able to eat the cake once it was done. “How big?”
“A half-sheet should do it,” Matthew said. “That way she’ll have some and can share with some people. If she wants to,” he added, laughing.
Nichol laughed with him, but she knew it wouldn’t be an easy order to place. A half-sheet cake was more work for the baker, and would cost extra, but that wasn’t the real problem. Chocolate raspberry wasn’t a standard flavor of cake; the baker would have to custom make it. Never one to give up on a challenge, Nichol looked up the number for one of the best bakeries in town and placed a call.
“What size?” the bored voice on the other end of the line asked when she asked to place a cake order.
“A half-sheet,” Nichol said. “I’m going to need it delivered tomorrow.”
“No problem, but that’ll cost extra. What flavor?”
“Chocolate raspberry.” Nichol was met with a moment of silence.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do it,” the voice finally answered her. “That’s a custom flavor, and I can’t do a custom flavor and a custom size in that time frame.”
Nichol hung up with that bakery and tried another. She met with the same result at several bakeries. After a frustrating hour of trying to haggle with high-end bakers, she came to a realization: if she took the delivery out of the bargain, maybe a baker would take the order.
The last bakery on the list was Nichol’s favorite bakery. It was the place she went to for all of her personal orders for special occasions, and she was on friendly terms with the staff. She had thought it would be nice to go to a more prominent baker with her order, but, upon reflection, she thought that her personal relationship with this particular baker might help her situation.
“Hello, Nichol!” She was met with a cheery voice when she placed her call. “What can I get for you?”
“I have a customer who needs a half-sheet cake by tomorrow,” she said. “He wants a chocolate raspberry flavor.”
“The size and the flavor I can do,” the baker said, “but the delivery might be an issue.”
“I was thinking that I could pick it up when it was ready,” Nichol said.
“In that case, no problem! Swing by tomorrow morning and we’ll have it.”
On her way to work the next morning, Nichol stopped at the bakery to pick up the cake that Matthew had ordered for Greta. It was beautiful. It was a white chocolate raspberry mousse cake (they let her taste a sample while she was there – it was delicious) with red and white buttercream frosting. They had even decorated the edges of the cake with pieces of freshly cut strawberries, pineapples, and kiwis. After showing the cake to Nichol for inspection, the baker placed the cake in a neat white box and tied it up with a red ribbon.
Nichol delivered the cake to Matthew when he got to his office at 10. “It’s beautiful,” she told him. “They gave me a sample of it, too, and it’s delicious. Greta’s going to love it.”
The next day, Nichol received an email from Matthew with a picture of Greta’s face as she opened the cake box to find her birthday surprise. Having tasted the cake herself, Nichol knew that Greta was in for a fantastic birthday.
One of the nurses had called in sick, leaving Michelle to administer medications to all of their patients in addition to those she already cared for. Because of the number of patients she needed to see, Michelle was making her normal rounds at a break-neck pace. Everyone on the floor needed medications, in the correct dosages, and at the correct times. She was going at more than twice her normal pace and had the panicky feeling that she was constantly falling behind. In the chaotic rush of making sure everyone got the physical attention they needed, Michelle was unable to make sure that they got the personal attention that she knew they also needed. However badly she felt about this, she knew she needed to set her priorities, and that the physical care of the patients needed to be her first concern.
“Good morning,” Michelle said as she breezed into a patient’s room. Even to her own ears, she sounded a little out of breath. Hoping the patient hadn’t noticed how rushed she was, Michelle grabbed the clipboard at the foot of the bed, noted the medications the patient needed – anxiety medication and vomiting suppressant – and the appropriate dosages. She returned the clipboard to its peg and turned away to retrieve the medications.
“Stop! Don’t go!” The patient grabbed Michelle’s wrist, detaining her in the room. “I don’t want to be alone! I’ve been alone in here too long.”
“I know it’s lonely, I’m just going to get your medicine and come right back,” Michelle said, trying to gently pry her wrist out of the patient’s vise-like grip.
“I don’t want to die alone,” the patient said.
“You won’t die here,” Michelle said. “I promise. I’ll be right back.”
“No!” The patient wouldn’t let go of Michelle’s wrist. She started crying, begging Michelle not to leave her, convinced she was going to die.
Michelle wondered what she was going to do; the patient obviously needed her anxiety medications in order to have some peace, but she wouldn’t be able to get it for her if the patient kept on this way. Knowing that there wasn’t another nurse on the floor to help her yet, Michelle started to worry that she wouldn’t be able to handle the situation. Just as the thought started to become alarming to her, she heard a knock on the door.
Phyllis from Errand Solutions popped her head in the door. “Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked. Without waiting for a response from Michelle, Phyllis entered the room and took the patient’s hand, releasing Michelle. She sat down next to the bed.
“I don’t want to die alone,” the patient told her.
“I don’t think you’ll die today, but I’ll sit with you,” Phyllis said happily.She started to talk about what was going on downstairs in the lobby, a funny story about a little boy who asked her for an autograph. The patient began to calm down and listened to Phyllis’s story, never letting go of her hand.
Michelle slipped out to get the patient’s medications, and when she came back, the patient took her medications with very little fuss. Remembering how many patients she had left to see, Michelle slipped out of the room again and finished making her rounds.
Later in the day, she returned to find Phyllis still sitting with the patient. The patient was no longer crying, but was laughing and joking with Phyllis. Michelle smiled to herself, glad to see that someone was both able and willing to provide the personal care the patient needed when she hadn’t been able to.