The irony does not escape me.
I’d been waiting for a great coupon for weeks after deciding that I would make photo books for some of my grandkids. Walgreens was the winner with 75% off. I decided that the first book would be for John. He loves to recite the names of family members and he loves books. So, a picture book of family members? Win/Win.
I badgered patiently asked his mom and Nana for pictures to supplement the 2,000+ photos currently in my iCloud account. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, the last day of this “best coupon of the year”, I had everything I needed to start designing John’s perfect (catch that word – it matters) gift.
We had a Christmas party Saturday evening with our same age friends and although we had a great time, we were home by nine o’clock. What can I say? Those party animals were all pretty tired. I’d enjoyed a lovely libation, a white chocolate somethin-somethin martini (or three) and I was wide awake and ready to tackle the project.
Let me tell you, this is not for the faint of heart. There are lots of design choices. I’m a scrap booker with mildly perfectionist tendencies so it took a while to settle on one, but I was committed to the “Trucks” theme because, well, John loves trucks even more than he loves books. The next step is selecting photos and I had done my homework! Most of them were organized into a file on a flash drive and I quickly uploaded them. Arranging them…well, see above where I mentioned perfectionist tendencies. Adding embellishments to personalize the pages and make the pictures pop was so much fun!
I remember looking up from the laptop that was, literally on my lap, to the alarm clock past the foot of our bed. Hubby had been softly snoring for a couple of hours and I was ready to call it. Finished at 11:45, just under the coupon deadline. I added my labor of love to the cart, entered my coupon code and it was a wrap! Mark that one off your list, Lorraine. I returned the laptop to the kitchen and slept well, dreaming about the next day’s shopping trip that would move me closer to the finish line.
Then Sunday came and in the midst of shopping the phone rang with a call from someone in the photo department at Walgreens. A slight delay, blah, blah, paper out of stock, blah, blah. I assured him that it was all good, ‘cause this Grandma doesn’t actually need the book in her hands today. I’m rocking this gift-giving thing.
Sunday night…another call. It was ready! I jumped in my car and drove to the store. I couldn’t wait to take a look, but my excitement quickly abated when I noticed a “smudge” on the corner of every page. They agreed to try again. In the meantime, I had a revision or two after seeing it in print. (See above – note word “perfectionist”) The clerk was sympathetic to my plight and agreed that was fine, especially in light of all of the inconvenience I was experiencing. In order to do that, and with assurance that I just needed to call the customer service line to explain, she cancelled the original book. I spent another hour making revisions and spelling my email address over and over to someone in Miami. God bless my husband who simply watches and shakes his head. Add to revised book to cart, cross fingers and wait.
On Monday the call was from yet another tech at the second store location. The book was ready! I couldn’t wait to see it now that it was PERFECT, exactly how I wanted it. The problems were a blessing, actually. Thank you, Jesus, for problems. I raced into the store, more anxious than ever to review my masterpiece. I opened the book and there again, a smudge on every single page. The clerk was at a loss and suggested I call the next day to speak with the daytime person.
When I called Tuesday, this new clerk suggested I try another store (third store location in case you’ve lost count). Maybe it was a problem with the printer at their store, blah, blah, blah. By the way, in order to do that, you’ll need to add the book to your cart and reorder. Coupon code? What coupon code? Oh that…you’ll have to call customer service and ask them to note your account. And perhaps, just maybe, the problem is with that design. The truck paper – perhaps choose another design?
And I complied. By now, you may realize that this book is kind of a big deal. This little guy’s adoption will be final soon. He’s special. This is something that will be uniquely his in a big family. Choosing another design meant starting over. A complete remake. A couple of hours later, it was done. I chose a very basic solid paper design and it was all good. I still felt a loss over the truck paper, but I was willing to let it go. Or so I thought. The fourth call to customer service was to a very nice person who credited my account with a whole bunch of 8X10 collage prints but all I really wanted was my photo book.
The email announcing the completion came around bed time last night, so I decided to stop on my way to work this morning. Just after the store opened at 7 a.m. I rolled into the parking lot, coffee in hand. The photo counter was still dark, but a clerk quickly arrived to assist. I opened the book and it was…..perfect. The colors were gorgeous and while it wasn’t trucks, it was colorful and it was filled with the faces of people John loves. My heart leaped a little as I paged through – these were my people, ya’ll.
And then it was time to pay. I explained the situation…the problems, the multiple calls to the customer service line, the call that I made explaining it all to this store when I placed the order yesterday, the reassurance that I was given that they would honor the discount….and she looked at me like, “Sure, lady” and said there is nothing here about that. And I lost it. I forgot all about thanking Jesus for problems.
All of the frustration over four days of calling, running to the store, redesigning (and maybe a little over the fact that I started the morning searching for a stuffed rabbit that arrived last week and now is nowhere to be found ) boiled up. I don’t know for sure what I said, but my voice was raised and trembling as I turned and walked away from my precious book, resigned to make yet another call to wait for it….”customer service”.
Then she spoke calmly “Please, ma’am, come back.” Four words, and they started a flood. A tear-filled apology from me and a wise decision by her. I don’t even know her name…it’s not on the receipt and she wasn’t wearing a name tag, but she should be promoted. She handled this hot mess like a boss.
I sat in my car, taking the book from its protective sleeve. It is lovely. But the value is not in the paper selection or the timeliness or even in the coupon savings. It’s the precious souls whose faces fill the layouts. As I look into the pages, I realize that this experience is a peek at my anxious heart. So, I’ll say it once more and mean it. Thank you, Jesus, for problems.
I need to make three more of these books. Anyone have a good coupon code?