Cookies (Issue 1034)

In which we are reminded to put things where they belong and to use checklists before meetings.

Summer days in New England, particularly those with clear skies, light breeze off the ocean, low humidity, and golden sun, are like jewels to be savored and this day was one of those. Driving from my office to a client site close to the water north of Boston, I felt genuinely, full-chested happy. A beautiful day, an important meeting with a client, a view of the water. Nothing better. While I’d left the office a little later than I’d planned, traffic was light and I was making good time.

Good enough time that I thought, “I think I’ll just pop into a grocery store and buy some cookies to take to the meeting.” A beautiful summer day AND cookies… wonderful! I recalled a grocery store in a shopping plaza a couple of exits ahead.

When I’d parked my car, I quickly checked the time. Just time enough to scoot in, snag cookies, scoot out and get on my way. I pivoted out of the car, touched the lock on the door, and shut the door.

Cookies in hand, I returned to the car.


I patted my right pocket.

No key.

I looked through the driver’s side window. The key was sitting on the driver’s seat.

I felt nauseous. I wanted to toss my cookies. What to do?

I checked the time; I was running late. I kicked a tire; that didn’t work. I ran through my options. Call AAA to send a truck with a person who could jimmy the window. [That would take too long.] Call the client to let him know I’d be late. Really late… like, “reschedule the meeting” late: “Yeah, I locked my keys in the car. Choose me as your consultant and advisor.” [Not a good look.]

I reached for my mobile phone… and saw it glistening in the sun on the front passenger seat. So, I had a wallet but no keys and no phone.

I looked around. Ah! A hardware store a bit further down the parking lot. Maybe THEY have one of those window-opening gadgets.

“Sorry, sir, we don’t. And, even if we did, we wouldn’t do it. We don’t know who you are and we don’t know that that’s your car.”

I could have asked, “May I please use your telephone?” to call my client and I’m sure they would have said, “Of course.” But I didn’t have that thought. Instead, I recalled the advice I received on another occasion that I’d been locked out of a car, miles from anyplace helpful. “You could find a rock and break a window.”

“Do you have ball peen hammers here?”, I asked the store clerk.

So, the Life Manual issued to each of us includes no instructions on how hard we have to swing twelve-ounce ball peen hammers to shatter modern car windows. I took a couple of swings. The hammer’s impacts made sharp “crack” sounds and produced no result. “Like bee-bees bouncing off armor”, came to mind.

And then I had the thought, “So, there’s this guy in a suit in a parking lot attempting to break into a car with a hammer at 10:00 in the morning.” How long before somebody alerted the local constable?

At the risk of blowing out my right shoulder, I gave everything I had on the next swing and was rewarded with a shattered window. I cleared a hole through the glass, unlocked the door, threw the hammer on the back seat, climbed in, picked up my phone, and called the client.

The cookies were a big hit.

So, these days when I exit my car, I pat down. When I leave the office for meetings, I have check lists. And, on meeting days, I don’t stop for cookies.


Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tagged with:
Navigation Menu