The Opportunity I Won’t Get Back

June 30, 2011

It was my first year in college and I had an important job interview with a Ramada Inn close to our house. I really wanted this job as desk clerk. I thought dressing up in a suit and handing out keys was pretty cool.

I had an eleven o’clock morning meeting, which meant I had to drive six hours back to Chicago from downstate Illinois on a trip with a few friends of mine. I had the timing worked out perfectly. I would check out of my hotel very early and drive back to Chicago and have thirty minutes to spare.

But the night before, I stayed up way too late. You know what happened, right? The next morning I overslept. I rushed back and was miraculously (thanks to a led foot and the absence of state troopers) able to pull into the driveway of the hotel by 11:10.

I felt pretty good. I’m only ten minutes late. Maybe their clocks are off and they’ll think I’m on-time.

I walked into the lobby of the hotel, adjusted my tie, brushed some lint off of my suit and asked for the manager. I told them I had an appointment.

I waited what seemed like forever. Two minutes later the receptionist returned and said, “The manager just informed me that the interview is over and the position is no longer available to you, because you were late.”

That was it. I didn’t have a chance to explain, to come up with a novel excuse. Just cold hard reality.

I blew the opportunity.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, because it burnished something in my mind. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time,” (Ephesians 5:16). That morning I had communicated to this hotel manager that I was sloppy, immature, and didn’t care.

I ended up with a job at Ace Hardware, where surprisingly, my boss was a stickler for time.

I can’t stress this idea enough to young people. Maturity matters. Being on time matters. Caring matters.

We live in a culture that says goofing off, immaturity, and not caring are actually cool things. And sometimes even the people who love you the most won’t make you grow up. They’ll tell you it’s okay to be late, to live sloppily, and to blow off life as if its unimportant.

But sooner or later it will catch up to you. It did for me that day at the Ramada Inn.