No Situation

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One time when I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Birmingham I tried to ask a question about the menu to the woman who was bringing people salsa. She gave me a confused look. Not realizing that she didn't speak much English, I repeated my question.  We sat in silence until she finally said, "No situation. No can." And then she walked off. She was basically saying, we are at an impasse in this situation because I can't understand you therefore I cannot do anything to help you.

I went to Puerto Rico in November to do my last wedding of the year and I don't speak Spanish. I had a lot of no situation, no can moments. The only thing was that no can was not an option. I had to push through and find solutions to a world of problems. Like when your street is closed for construction and you have six 50lb boxes of flowers that you have to move two blocks from your illegally parked minivan to your apartment. No situation. No problem. I walked down the street with a box on my head until I found a construction crew and mimed to them that I needed to borrow their wheelbarrow while saying over and over, "Mas flores aqui," and pointing towards the stack of boxes by the minivan in the distance.

I did have one no can moment. After about 87 nightmare conversations with Dept. of Agriculture officials who were determined not to release my flowers to me the day they arrived, I decided my only option at that point was to source additional flowers from a local wholesaler. My trusty assistant and I piled into the minivan and navigated our way to a store in San Juan that upon first glance did have rather a lot of bars on the door and windows for being a flower shop. Undeterred, I entered. Actually, I had to be buzzed in the barred door. Once inside, I found myself separated from the contents of the store by a floor to ceiling wall complete with thick plexiglass window. A man stood behind the window and spoke to me through perforations in the plexiglass. What did I want? To see the flowers. No see the flowers. He pointed to a dogeared, yellowed poster - essentially a grid of flower mugshots. What flower you need? Roses? Tulip? Hydrangea? I tried to explain that my primary concern was palette not variety. For some reason, this was not convincing to the gatekeeper of the Fort Knox of flowers. Finally I realized I was in a no can situation. We retreated.

Flower-less, confused and discouraged, we trudged across the street and ordered a burger that arrived sporting an inexplicably bright blue bun. It was more like fuel than food so we force fed ourselves a small portion and sat in silence for the eternity it took our waitress to bring us our bill. Morale was low.

In the end, we found a great wholesaler who did care about the subtleties of my palette. I learned how to say hyacinth in Spanish. Jacinto. We found the cargo area of the airport with the help of several complete strangers, two policemen  and one highly complex hand drawn map. They released the flowers to us that same day. I didn't have to bribe anyone and I only had one notable meltdown.

I was repeatedly reminded on this trip how important it is to be flexible. As beautifully orchestrated as your Plan A may be and as hard as you've worked on it for months and months, it's Plan B that's going to save you.  I wish life went according to plan so that I could always feel safe and secure but the fact remains that it just doesn't work that way. This is something I'm beginning to accept and it's making my life easier. I'm also learning that I might need a minivan, but I'm not ready to accept that. No situation. No can.