Part XX: A Holiday Story
Against the Odds
Taking Care of Business
My prosperity teachings and spiritual philosophy champion the use of positive words and ideas only. However, in an apparently negative situation usually lies the seed of a valuable lesson and I decided to share this story with you, hoping that you, also, will appreciate the lesson.
I previously mentioned that I had been contracted by my client, Michelin North America, to produce a gala New Year’s Eve event in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bibendum, the Michelin Man.
The event was to be held at the spectacular Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and the client was flying in 250 of their best dealers from the East Coast to celebrate the New Year with this formal event and a float in the Rose Parade the following day. I started preparation many months before. We received the deposit payment at that time and the balance was due about two weeks before the holiday. Well, not unusual for that time of year, the check had not been put through their accounting department on schedule and the client had to Fed Ex it to me, so that I would be able to pay all of my vendors before the event.
The overnight package arrived at my office the day before Christmas. I was concerned about getting payment to my vendors in time, so I decided that early on Christmas morning I would drive to my office, pick up the check, prepare and drop the vendors’ checks in the mail, then deposit Michelin’s check in my bank the day after Christmas. Michelin’s check for the balance was $60,000. At around 7:00 am Christmas morning I carried out these plans, and pulled the car over to mail the vendors’ checks in a mailbox, as our office building and its mail service would be closed the following day (Friday) and through the weekend.
As mentioned earlier, my office was in Century City, the business community bordering Beverly Hills, a very good area, and the streets were empty that holiday morning. I pulled over to a local mailbox and while sorting the payment envelopes in my car, I noticed that a rather trashy looking automobile passed and continued down the street and out of sight. I didn’t pay heed and went back to my sorting until a few minutes later I was distracted by that same car blocking mine and a young man was pointing an automatic weapon at me through my car’s closed window. My first reaction was to lock the door and then realizing that that certainly wouldn’t do any good, I unlocked it and opened the car door to get out as he beckoned. I could see that the male passenger in his car was lying back looking very drugged. I remember being amazingly calm through this whole ordeal. The robber said only one thing to me: “Give me your wallet or I’ll shoot your a-s”.
Now follow me on this...I happened to be in a rental car that day while my car was being serviced, so I had placed all of my belongings in the back seat in a large tote bag, so I wouldn’t have them scattered and wouldn’t forget anything when I picked up my own car the following day. The tote bag contents included my purse with wallet, credit cards, etc., the $60,000 Michelin check and some other business papers.
The man nervously repeated the sentence above and his eyes were darting around the car looking for my purse, not knowing it was in the tote. So as I started to reach in the tote to get my purse, he leaned forward and quickly grabbed the whole tote bag.
I believe you will find the next part interesting…or bizarre! This was the test of a true entrepreneur. Here was this young tortured looking man aiming an automatic weapon straight at me, grabbing my tote bag, and the only thing I could instinctively do was say, "Please don’t take the business items." I was negotiating with my gunman for the return of my business items! And I was cool as a cucumber, as they say (or so I thought)…
No sooner had I asked that question than an SUV with a couple of guys came speeding down Olympic Boulevard and what did I do then? I ran away from the car and the gun and stood in the middle of the street waving my arms like a madwoman for the driver to stop. The men in the SUV sped past me while looking stunned, then slowed down, made a u-turn and stayed at a distance with their motor running watching the scene. In the meantime, the robber sped away, tote bag and all. And of course, I never did get his answer to my plea. The men in the SUV approached, asked if I was all right and I asked them to stick around until I started my car. At that point, after it was all over, my hands were shaking so violently that I couldn’t get the key in the ignition. Cool? Sure. Delayed reaction.
The Show Must Go On…
I drove to the Beverly Hills Police Department and was told that the witnesses I the SUV had already called in from their cell phone and the police were already searching for the car. I spent the next couple of hours at the police station.
I remember two things very distinctly: First, the officer in charge explained how lucky I was. I asked him if I did the right thing by running away from the gunman. He said that everything I did was right because I was standing there telling him about it. Made sense. However, he then told me that many times a person on drugs will do crazy things when they get nervous and that when you make a move like that, they could “lose it” and shoot you in the back. He also said that I was very fortunate because many times they will hit you with the gun and cause bodily damage. The second thing that was important was what he said about the Michelin check. I told him I needed the check for the corporate event to take place and didn’t know if I could get it replaced in time. The officer told me I would never see the check or my belongings again – he said the robbers would take the money and trash everything else in a dumpster.
Now here was the major issue: Michelin North America’s offices were closed until after the first of the year – there was no possibility of getting a replacement check in time for the New Year’s gala. I didn’t have a line of credit for my business because I never required one. I was always paid in advance for events, so I just maintained my regular business account. Most of my vendors had worked for me for many years and many of them could have waited until after the first of the year to get paid, but some of these vendors could not carry the larger costs until after the event – the balance on the catering food costs alone were about $35,000.
So I was shaken but alive and unhurt, and in a major dilemma.
I was exhausted. I needed rest. I drove home and couldn’t wait to just crawl into bed and rest. I left a message for friends I was to see later that day to cancel and said I would tell them why after the holiday. I told them that I could guarantee my holiday was more exciting than theirs. And then something came over me…
Almost like being on automatic pilot, I had a compelling feeling to just sit quietly. I gave in to this intuitive feeling. I closed my eyes and all I could see was the young gunman’s face.
A tremendous feeling of compassion came over me and at the same time heartfelt gratitude. All I could think of was to thank him. I thanked him for not hurting me. He certainly shook me up, but he didn’t hurt me. He never touched me. He made me realize instead how precious life is. How it could all be gone in an instant.
I realized how much he must be hurting. Here it was Christmas morning and he could have made a move that could have ruined him for life, all for the sake of a little drug money. That’s pain. I thanked him over and over again until I knew I had to get some sleep…
Lost and Found Department – The Universe, Upper Level
I awakened hours later with a very strong feeling to call my office and check the voice mail. Remember this was Christmas Day, offices were closed, no one would be calling. But I called and there was a message on the voice mail.
A woman in Hawthorne, a city some distance from Los Angeles, said in the voice mail message that she thought she had my belongings. I called her immediately. She said she found the phone number on either a card or business letterhead that was with the items. She said she had nine children and she had driven to the mall with a couple of her kids and the 13-year old saw the large envelope lying in the parking lot. When she found the phone number she called.
We discussed what was in the envelope, which was one of my large presentation package envelopes that I had put all my paperwork in.
Everything was there except for my casual purse, wallet and the $25 or so that I had carried. Everything! My credit cards (which I had cancelled, of course, after the robbery), my license, all of the vendor checks that were to be taken to the event that weren’t mailed, the business papers and THE $60,000 MICHELIN CHECK!! What relief!
I asked her if she would be available the next day and she said she was going Christmas shopping (the day after Christmas) because of the sales. I asked her not to go until I came down and saw her (I intended to give her a reward). I called the Beverly Hills Police Department and told them what happened and they warned me not to go. What? They said it could be a setup – to let the Hawthorne Police handle it and get my things. No way. I was picking up my Michelin check that next day and giving the woman her reward. I did, however, call the Hawthorne Police and they said they should escort me to her home. Fine.
When I arrived in Hawthorne the next day, the police asked quite a few questions. They told me that the automatic weapon used in my robbery was real, as there were a lot of them floating around that area, so the robber was most likely from that area. They said what didn’t make sense was that the Hawthorne Mall was closed on Christmas Day, so there was no reason for the woman to be there to find my things. She didn’t have a record, but they suggested that she might know the young robber and perhaps he gave her my things for the purpose of getting a reward. They agreed with me that she had earned her reward anyway just for getting that important check back to me.
They escorted me to the woman’s home. She was very nervous when she saw the police car, but I explained to her that I was advised to have them escort me. She calmed down, gave me my belongings and thanked me profusely for the reward.
Now, What Do You Think?
I want to believe that at some soul level, the young robber, even in his agitated state, had heard my plea to return my business items and couldn’t trash them. I believe that when I had later meditated on his face and expressed compassion and gratitude to him for not having harmed me, that he had felt the connection, as we are all one in Spirit, and had found a way to get my things back to me.
The original police officer in Beverly Hills who said I would never see my things again, had a colder view of things (I called to let them know I had retrieved my things). He said the gunman didn’t care, that he just figured he could get something more out of it. When someone is on drugs, robbing at gunpoint, do they really have the presence of mind to calculate and think about these things? Wouldn’t the instinct be to take the money and trash the evidence as quickly as possible in case you were caught, stopped by the police, etc? Trust me, that car was a police magnet.
One thing I do know for sure…the Universe protected me and the Universe returned my items to me because of my faith and because I blessed and looked for the good in the situation. This was spiritual law in action regardless of whether the young man planned this or not. He was under the law of right action and was acting under divine guidance responding to my call, whether conscious of it or not.
What was the lesson for me? At that moment in time, we were the only two entities on one of the most traveled streets in all of Los Angeles. Why did that happen? Perhaps for me to learn more compassion, forgiveness, gratitude? Or to increase my faith that all things are possible, even in the face of opposing odds? To appreciate the gift of life more? To increase my conviction in the universal laws I believed in?
Now, what do you think?
Later in the evening on Christmas Day, after speaking with the woman in Hawthorne on the phone, and since I had decided not to meet with friends, I went to the only supermarket that was open to pick up a few things. There was only one other person in the whole market at that time – a very attractive man who was “eyeing” me and who finally spoke. He had just come from visiting his father and had stopped to also get a few things on the way home. George became the man in my life for a while. Go figure. Held up in the morning. Picked up in the evening :-)
To be continued...
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