I had an experience recently that tested my integrity in a big way. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an organization to bring storytelling around the fire for an event involving middle schoolers. This was a paid gig and one that I was quite excited about. I was to give them a bedtime story and send them off to sleep filled with the images found in an old folk tale. I put it in my calendar for Saturday and as the day grew closer I prepared in the ways that I do.
On the Friday night before the event I was enjoying the company of some friends when my phone rang. I didn’t answer as I did not recognize the number and let it go to voicemail. About an hour later, I listened to the message and it was the organization calling asking where I was and if I was coming to tell stories. There was also a second message telling me not to bother coming as the kids were all in bed. I was totally confused as the event wasn’t until the next night. I called back, but no one answered so I left a message apologizing if I made a mistake, but that I was pretty sure I was asked to come Saturday night. I went to my computer to check the emails, just to make sure. And yes, the email said what I feared it would… the event was indeed for Friday night.
I felt guilt, deep sadness and embarrassment in the pit of my belly. I had no idea how I made this mistake, and I did not like the thought that I let anyone down. Normally I am so on top of things when it comes to performances. I was just so convinced that the event was on Saturday that I did not question it for a moment. What was I to do?
Immediately I sent off an email to the organizer of the event:
I want to apologize to you in the deepest way. Ever since we connected I had written in my calendar that the storytelling was for Saturday night and have been both prepared and excited.
So when I received the call Friday night asking where I was, I was very confused.
I then looked back at the emails we sent and sure enough, it was for Friday. I am not exactly sure how the mistake happened and I am both saddened and embarrassed. I would love to make it up to you if there is a way that I can.
If there is room in the schedule and a possibility for storytelling on Saturday, I can make myself available for anytime in the day at no charge to you as a way to make up for the mis-schedule. If this is of interest, please give me a phone call.
Thank you and I apologize once again for this error.
Then at exactly 9am the next morning, I gave a call to the person who tried to call me and said a similar thing to him. I feel so blessed at the generosity of the people who were putting on the event. They were very understanding, saying that we are all human and everyone makes mistakes. Though they were very excited to have me come, they were not angry or disappointed. Unfortunately, there was no time in the following day’s schedule for me to come and tell a story. In this way, I was never able to make it up to them. I did receive an email back letting me know that all was well and that there were no hard feelings.
This was the first time in my career as a performing storyteller that I missed a performance outright and it threw me for a loop. I know in most people’s lifetime, this will happen once in a while. That we can do our best to plan, but that mistakes will happen. Fortunately these folks were kind and understanding. Important as well, I did the best I could to make up the situation and was able to be kind and understanding to myself.
And too, I now know to check and double check my gigs for accuracy of dates, times and location before each performance!