All good stories about the happy side must begin with a situation that appears less than “happy.” This one is about a dock at the lake near my home.
It began last summer on a particularly hot day. Having mowed, edged, and weeded my lawn, I (Alan) was also particularly hot. What a perfect time to dash over to the lake and jump off the end of the dock into the cool, refreshing water. I did just that. And as I dove and my feet left the dock I suddenly realized that my cell phone was still in my pocket. Big mistake.
Fast forward to this summer. Remembering last year, I now take special care when going on to the end of the dock. I learned to leave my phone in the car. At the dock I shed what I have with care. My sunglasses and car keys get carefully wrapped inside my rolled up shirt which sits on top of my flip flops and under my carefully folded beach towel.
Nothing could go wrong, right? On a particular recent sunny day, the end of the dock was crowded with sunbathers. With limited room, I carefully place my systematically and thoughtfully prepared belongings next to a neighbor I know, near the edge of the dock, but with plenty of room so that it will not be knocked into the water.
I go and enjoy a cool jump in the water, and after cooling down, I get out. My carefully placed belongings are exactly where I left them. I take the towel off the top and dry myself off. I unroll my shirt, grab my glasses, and then as I go to grab my keys, as if in slow motion, my keys fall out of my shirt and drop down to the dock. Is this story done? No. Upon hitting the dock, the keys take one short bounce and drop directly into the lake.
Luckily I have another set of car keys, so all is not lost, but I still can’t believe my keys are at the bottom of the lake, eight feet down, in a bunch of weeds.
I jump back into the lake and dive down three times holding my breath (proverbially and literally). No keys.
I’m thinking that the keys aren’t going to move much since they have some weight and there’s no current in the lake. So I go back the next day with my SCUBA mask, confident that I’ll find my keys. Again I dive down three times without results. I’m frustrated and out of breath.
You may be asking yourselves about now, what does any of this have to do with the happy side? I could have done nothing. I could have gone to the dealership and obtained another key and fob. Expensive. Or I could approach the problem creatively, seeking a “happy side” solution.
I dried off and approached the teenager who was checking memberships at the entrance, hanging out with five of his friends, all looking bored. I took out a twenty dollar bill and said . . . who wants to make twenty bucks? The first person to find my keys at the bottom of the lake will get twenty dollars!
For this group of teenagers with nothing to do and probably little money in their pockets, the money, and the fun of diving for the keys, was just what they were looking for. In short order I had six teenagers diving off the end of the dock looking for my keys. Thinking it might be a while, I left my phone number and went home to make some lunch.
Within fifteen minutes I received a call. Keys found! I jumped back in my car and ran back to the beach. Standing there were six wet kids, all with huge smiles on their faces. And the biggest smile of all was on the kid who found my keys. That put a big smile on my face too.
The “happy side” is almost always there. We just have to be open to finding it. That twenty dollars was the best twenty dollars I’ve spent in a long time. Six happy kids, one relieved and happy adult (me), and keys that were now back in my pocket.
Post script: After two days in a baggy filled with rice, the key fob dried out and is now working perfectly.
Choose to find the happy side in everything you do!
Alan B. Havis and Alice B. McGinty