Posted by: R Jonathan Gewirtz | February 5, 2018

There’s Always a Bright Side

Did you ever have one of those days when you asked, “Why, G-d?!” And then, surprisingly, you got the answer and it was different than you imagined?

I got a letter in the mail one day that threw me into a tailspin. Why? Because it reminded me of previous frustration with the sender and I envisioned more of the same.

We’d been in Florida for Yom Tov and my wife got sick. No problem, if there’s one thing Florida has besides senior citizens, alligators and Israelis, it’s quick clinics, places with a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner on call and you just walk in and wait (and wait) to be served.

The problem is that you have to pay upfront even if you have insurance. So, we paid them $225 and she got what she needed. I waited for them to send it to my insurance company but they didn’t. I called them and it took several attempts until they finally agreed to send it out.

So what was the letter? They were billing me another SIX DOLLARS! It was bad enough I had to pay upfront. Then I had to call them to have them bill my insurance. Now they had the audacity to bother me for a few bucks more?! Why not just call it even?

I immediately called them but they were closed. Of course they were! UGGHH!  Then I checked my insurance company. The quick clinic had filed it, but I had to submit the bill to the insurance company to get reimbursed. Wait a minute…

After checking my records, I realized that I hadn’t submitted it and I hadn’t gotten my money back. So that meant that the letter which cost me so much aggravation was actually helping me get back hundreds of dollars.

I got the message. Often, even the things we find upsetting are actually setting us up for good things. It was an amazing lesson but HaShem wasn’t through with me.

One day I got a Dan’s Deals alert (who doesn’t like getting a deal? It’s in our blood. Even Yaakov Avinu went back for the small bottles – I don’t know, maybe there was a deposit on them.) There was a great sale on shoes online and I ordered a pair.

Then I got them and they were too tight. I was annoyed. I emailed the company but they didn’t have the next size in stock. They suggested I try to exchange them in one of their retail stores or if not I could ship them back for a refund – less a $7.50 shipping fee. Now, this was a deal, and that would ruin the whole thing.

I decided to try my luck at the store. Of course, they didn’t have my size there either. I was annoyed. The store manager pulled up my online order and said he couldn’t refund my money because I’d used PayPal, not a credit card. What else could go wrong?!

The manager told me he’d honor the deal (a percentage off) on a different pair. OK, what do I have to lose? I found one in my size that was actually nicer and more comfortable than the ones I’d ordered. I figured I’d have to pay extra and sure enough the manager confirmed it.

Ok, I thought, here we go again. “How much extra?” He began fiddling with a calculator and then said, “$1.97.” Wow. For the shoes I was getting, that was an even better deal than I thought I’d gotten before! I didn’t have to ship them back and I got a better shoe without the hassle of shipping – and it got better.

When I checked out, they handed me a discount card for $25 off an online store that I often shop at.

Here I thought I was going through pain and suffering because the shoes didn’t fit right, but instead HaShem was giving me better shoes at a better price plus saving me even MORE money. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t complain about things that happen to you because at the end of the day, they’re really happening FOR you.

So, that old saying, “look on the bright side,” should probably be amended. I think a better way would be to say “look FOR the bright side,” because, after all, there always is one.

Epilogue:  I wrote this column on an airplane. At one point in the flight, I had to fill out customs forms and needed my passport number. It was in my bag in the overhead bin and I couldn’t get it. Then I remembered that earlier in the week, someone had needed a copy of my passport for something. I’d scanned it and e-mailed it to myself to forward to him. Lo and behold, I simply opened the email (no internet service required since it had already downloaded) and I had what I needed.

Once again, what seemed to be an unnecessary frustration turned out to be a benefit for me. All I can say is: I may only be traveling at 30,000 thousand feet but I feel a lot closer to G-d than that!

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