€60 pants and a €20 shower in Delden
Today, a single surprising incident shaped my entire day. It derailed me so completely that I did not know how to process it, other than seeing the funny side in it all.
I am seated in a train station in a town called Delden in the east Netherlands. I am 2 hours late for my planned working day in Hengelo with a client. This is the second day in the region, trying to acquire launching clients for our company’s platform. We are launching in 4 weeks.
Upon arrival at my hotel last night, I elected to consume slightly more than half of, a discounted, aged, Goudse Kaas (cheese). It made for a very nice dinner and it fits in very soundly with my planned diet schedule and macro-nutrient framework that we (team members and I) have calculated. Breakfast at the hotel included a variety of greek yogurt, scrambled eggs, cold meats and some more cheese. Lots of cheese and a large variety, in volumes that would intimidate the average person.
I had missed the last bus to the central train station in Delden. I took a walk, it is just over 1km, so nothing strange. Then my stomach sounds a warning. It was a little like the silent alarm at the bank. It isn’t loud and intrusive, but it is fucking serious.
At this point I am looking around, there are a few neatly kept shrubs off to my right, which I have identified as a last resort.
I collected my thoughts and walked the remaining 150m to the train station. Everything is closed, there appears to be no available lavatory and in the panic and confusion, my stomach sounds a short-lived second warning and then the undesirable realisation. And it isn’t just a little patch either. It is a full-on, projectile, liquid shit.
It has serious coverage.
I’m in shock. I am frozen in my shoes right there on the platform.
“What in fuck’s name just happened!?!?”
A couple of minutes have passed. At least now, in the oncoming clarity, the decision appears simple. I have to purchase some new pants and find a shower. Google Maps, clothing store, hotel. Get started.
I walk the 500m or so to the town centre, and I use this time productively. Processing what has happened to me, coming to terms with the fact there is there is absolutely nothing I can do, other than sort this drama out. I nice little microcosm of life in a startup looking for product market fit, which in turn is like life in general, only in fast-forward.
I find a store that advertised some jeans in the window and I proceed to invite the store owner/manager out onto the sidewalk. How exactly do I go about explaining what I need? I mean there is no getting away from it, really. The scent that now emirates from my person, isn’t subtle.
So I pitch my position like I would a startup product that has an ill-defined value proposition, which fortunately, I have had much practice in recently. “I have had an accident, and I need your assistance, to bring me some pants, jeans, formal enough for my business meeting, a 34/34.” With that one line, she understands my request and the context in which it is made. She confirms with a confused face whether I really want a 34? (Later I would exchange it for a 32, but at first I thought she was suggesting it would be me too small and I projected onto her a look of incredulity).
Armed with a new set of pants, I am off to find a shower. The first place I reach, my pitch is already quite refined. “Excuse me sir. I have a strange request. I have had an accident and I need to take a shower and replace my current pants with the clean ones I have in this bag, may I use your facility?” Strong positive response from the manager but the place is booked out. The second one charged me €20 and gave me a key for room #2.
I am now on a bus closing in on my final destination. I bought a new shirt also to replace the one I’d been waring for the past 4 days, which as the result of the running around in Delden this morning, is no longer suitable for work.
The lesson I take with me
There is no backwards, there is no standing still. There is only forwards and accepting what has occurred and getting into a position to make decisions. Making the first [small] post-catastrophe-decision is the most powerful thing you can do in order come to terms with your misfortune and get going again. The results will follow in logical order.