Right Place at the Right Time


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My name is Mark Ryles and I am a professional that has been implementing principles of the Best Value Approach for the last 3 years. The Best Value Approach was developed from the leadership model that is utilized by the Leadership Society of Arizona. I am a licensed architect, and have worked a third of my career (15 years) in the private sector as an associate architect, and 2/3rd’s in the public sector (27 years), in charge of the public school building program in Kentucky (17), and currently as a school facility consultant for the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative for Kentucky Schools (10).

I have learned from this philosophy that all events (at some point) are predisposed, sometimes predictable, and are not random. This is a hard concept to understand sometimes. I believe this concept is easier to approach when an event occurs that is good, because it is harder to see bad events as being at the right place at the right time. If you are not sold on the concept of things happening for a reason, those events sometimes appear that “you were at the wrong place at the wrong time” and might also just seem like bad luck. I suggest those things may not seem understandable or predictable, but that is because we do not know all the information.

The following story is true, and I am sharing this as simply an observation of what happened one day recently. I hope you will enjoy the story. If you knew my wife and I better, you could see that at least some conditions and events, getting “the right person to the right place”, were somewhat predictable.

Finding a Place to Eat

I was on my way home at about 12:15pm after a cello lesson. I decide it would be nice to invite my wife, Mary, to lunch. Since she loves eating out and hates to make a decision, I offer the restaurant, the Chop House (which is one of her favorites). She of course says, yes. She is near, and the restaurant is in a nice location and also near her other chores she has planned for the afternoon. So, we both proceed to the Chop House in separate vehicles from separate locations.

Not 2 minutes later, given the cold, damp and gray February Kentucky day, it occurs to me that some really good coffee and maybe breakfast food might be a better choice. So, I called Mary back and said the Chop House is fine, but what about the new idea…. She likes the new idea, and likes avoiding another decision, I suggest a First Watch restaurant not far from the Chop House, that has breakfast food and really good coffee. When this alternative is offered, it is received well, and we both reroute ourselves accordingly. (In fact, I am already at the Chop House).

I figure I am about 5 minutes ahead of Mary, and when I reached what I thought was the First Watch location, I find that the restaurant has been closed and moved.  So, I called Mary back and let her know. I recommend going back to Chop House, or if we want to keep the breakfast idea alive, there is a Bob Evans nearby. Mary thinks First Watch has a new location nearby, but does not know where it is, and does not want the hassle of looking it up, so how about Bob Evans? And so that was agreed to be the new spot and we redirected again.

I am still a little ahead of Mary, so pulling into Bob Evan’s ahead of her, I have time to Google First Watch and find that there is a new location just 0.3 miles away. As she pulls into the Bob Evan’s parking lot, I get out, walk up to her car, and she rolls the window down. I tell her about the new First Watch location nearby and suggested we could eat here at Bob Evan’s or go up the road to First Watch. Mary points out, we both would like to go to First Watch, since we were headed there before. I agree, so we both head out. (By now I have been to Chop House, Old First-watch location, and Bob Evan’s).

When we arrive at First Watch, there is plenty of seating. Service is quick, lunch goes well, and coffee is good.

A Near Tragedy

About the time we are ready for our check, I notice an older gentleman having dinner with what looks like his wife and daughter. Upon closer look, I see the man is slumping in his chair. The skin on his neck is gray. I then notice the daughter stand up bend over to him and then noticed fear in her eyes.

I gestured to my wife, bringing her attention to the situation. Having 40 years nursing experience, she knew exactly what was happening and immediately jumped to the attention of the gentleman.

As the first responders were called immediately, I had many thoughts about how amazing it was that Mary had gotten to this place at just the right time, to help care for this man while the EMT’s were on the way. I could do little to help, but being an architect, it occurred to me that the EMT’s would need a clear accessible route to the gentleman for their gurney. So, I went the front doors and noticed the receptionist table was in the way. As I tried to move it, I realized it was on rollers and it moved easily out of the way. When the EMT’s arrived, there was nothing in their way; they were in and out.

I am not sure that Mary saved his life, but I am sure she gave the man comfort that things would be OK. By the time the EMT’s got there, he was showing signs of responsiveness. Mary’s expertise gave much comfort to the daughter and wife too. You could see it in their teary eyes and they thanked both of us.

Afterward, I paid our bill, and my wife had their bill, which she told them she would pay so that they could get on their way with “Pa”. I told Mary I would not have it since she had done enough, that I would pay their bill. When I went to the register to pay their bill, the receptionist said no, the bill was on them and not to worry, and thanked us for our help.

Nothing is Random

You could call it “good luck” that the man (father and husband, probably grandfather) was sitting just two tables away from a nurse with 35 years’ experience and an architect who understands buildings and first responders. When I think of how convoluted it was, how Mary and I just happened to be there at the right moment, I went back through the predictable decisions that got us there and at just the right time. I also realized both Mary and I were part of an event where we also learned about the kindness and generosity of others, even the restaurant.

Everything happens for a reason and we are always at the right place at the right time.