pieBefore we somehow managed to find ourselves girlfriends, my roommate Shane and I were typical bachelors in many ways. I had a Superman poster in my bedroom. Shane had a bunch of Star Wars toys in his. The furniture in our place was a mishmash of used pieces, chosen for utility and convenience over what’s stylish or “in”. You’d find a stack of comic books behind the toilet in our bathroom.

Our meals weren’t exactly Martha Stewart-approved either. I remember Shane having cottage cheese, celery, cucumber slices, peanut butter toast and yogurt for supper one night. I had a hardboiled egg with a side of broccoli, carrots and some cold brown beans.

So I was surprised and impressed when Shane tried to get domestic and make a pie from scratch one past weekend. He’d been thinking about it and planning it for quite a while. His mom got him a brand new pie plate and a pie cookbook for his birthday this year. He hummed and hawed for a long time, trying to figure out which pie he wanted to make. He finally landed on a maple-walnut pie. I was rooting for rhubarb or cherry but this was his baby so I didn’t fight him on it.

He went out at 8 am on Sunday to purchase all the ingredients he needed. He followed the directions on the recipe precisely. He preheated the oven and set it to exactly the correct temperature. He timed it all perfectly. This was the result:

burnt pie

Ain’t nothing pretty ‘bout that. As far as pie fails go, this ranks pretty high.

Turns out our oven was actually a portal to the surface of the sun. As a result if you left anything in there for more than a moment, it would burn to a crisp. Of course, if we been in the habit of using the oven more instead of eating toast and cottage cheese for supper, we may have known this.


Life is full of curveballs. External factors outside our control can derail even the best-laid plans. Shane did everything right but in the end was foiled by an appliance on the fritz. I’m sure my friend Julie who managed a golf course can also attest to this fact. She could have a big tournament organized and planned to the finest detail. But she can’t keep those skies from opening up and stop the rain from coming.

As a former project manager and a bit of a control freak, I know these external wild cards can really ruin a person’s day. The best you can do is accept that something unexpected can (and usually does) happen, have a plan B, be quick on your feet to adapt your new reality, and make any changes you can to reduce the chances of it happening again (like getting our oven fixed… or just sticking with the store-bought pies).

What do you think? Do you have examples of life throwing curveballs at you?

Got a lesson you learned from one of life’s memorable moments that you want to share? Email it to Josh.

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