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embracing the Unexpected

I had a profound experience that made me reflect deeply on my journey from lumberjack girl to educator. For Spring Quarter, I’ve been making the commute from LA to teach classes at the University of Washington’s Milgard School of Business in Tacoma. One of my courses caters to working professionals pursuing master’s degrees in accounting, which means my days extend until 8:00 pm.

One evening, I returned to my hotel room craving chicken noodle soup. Instead of heading out, I opted to try the DoorDash app. I’ve never used it before, and quickly became entranced with being able to watch the progress of my order. Feeling a bit homesick, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my soup. When the app indicated the delivery had arrived, I ran to the hotel lobby, scanning for the Panera Bread bag, but saw nothing.

After a frustrating 45 minutes of anxiously searching, I sought help from the hotel host.

"I have a DoorDash delivery that's late. Have you seen anyone?" I asked.

"Panera Bread?" the host replied. "Yes, a delivery boy came about 45 minutes ago. I directed him to leave it on a table, but he insisted on delivering it to your room."

"He couldn't use the elevator without a key," I said, suddenly realizing.

The host pointed to the stairwell. There he was—a breathless young man with the coveted Panera Bread bag. Gratitude washed over me as I claimed my order.

When I made it back to my room on the 20th floor, I shut the door behind me and instantly began to cry. Not because I was hungry, not because the wait for this soup felt more like hours than minutes, but because I felt humbled by the turn of events.

While I was busy getting flustered about how long it was taking to get my order, a young man was making his way up 20 flights of stairs, diligently working to get me my order.

Eventually, I pulled myself together enough to open the bag and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw what was inside: a small cup of cheesy rice. I checked the receipt, two signatures confirming I ordered a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a baguette and that it was correctly in the bag.  

The University of Tacoma Campus at sunset from the twentieth floor of the Marriott Hotel next door.
University of Tacoma Campus at Sunset

Looking out from my 20th-floor window, I could see the entire university campus, and that’s when it dawned on me—a reflection of life itself in embracing the unexpected. We envision our futures, place our orders, and await their arrival. They’re often delayed and seldom as expected. At least for me. Teaching university-level accounting courses to 150 students was never my envisioned path. Truth be told, everything I’ve “ordered” has either refused to come on schedule or never arrived at all. But in that moment, it felt okay. Because the life I have now is more beautiful and full than I could have imagined. So I took the cup of cheesy rice out of the bag and bravely took a bite. And you know what? In that reflective moment it was better than what I ordered.


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