I would have strangled me. I certainly deserved it. But lucky for me, Dave is not that kind of friend.
I met Dave at Pacific Lutheran University while enrolled in a course called "Quantitative Analysis." He was an unassuming chap who chewed on his eraser in the back row while effortlessly setting the curve for the rest of us to shoot at. That was the first of many classes we shared in our quest to permanently park the initials M.B.A. after our names.
It wasn’t until we both landed in "Business Law," however, that I uncovered the true caliber of Dave’s character. That’s when he gave me a gift of grace that I will remember long after I forget the details of the ADA regulations and equal opportunity employment laws.
Dave and I partnered to do an assignment that we were required to present to the class. “Let’s meet early Sunday morning to work on our project,” I suggested after class. “If we haul, we can knock out the whole presentation by noon.”
“Sounds good to me,” Dave replied.
True to form, Dave pounded on my door 10 minutes early. Immediately, we started to shape a presentation worthy of a showing in Congress. With animated video and slick sound affects, we were crafting a work of art that would impress the president, not to mention the professor. That was good.
My ETA, however, was not so good. By noon, we were still tweaking the introduction. We worked feverishly against the backdrop of a talking TV. By the end of 60 Minutes, it seemed we’d been slaving for 60 hours.
“My head is so thick,” I lamented.
“Me, too,” Dave agreed. “Let’s take one more break, then we’ll come back and finish.”
“No, let’s just finish. All we need to do is get this background color right,” I growled as I manhandled the mouse in search of the perfect color.
That’s when the computer asked me a question. A very important question. It queried: "Delete BusLawADA presentation.ppt?" I quickly hit “Yes”—only to be asked: "Are you sure?"
“We don’t want to save this background color do we?” Dave shook his head and away I clicked.
No sooner did I hit the “Yes” button than the screen went blank. So did my heart.
“What happened?” Dave asked.
My eyes swelled to the size of kiwis. I couldn’t talk. Never have I so desperately wanted to be wrong in my understanding of the secret rapture. Dear God, I thought, now would be an excellent time to take me home! For a blurry hour we hacked, prayed, pleaded, screamed, squealed, cried and begged the computer to give us back our 12 hours of work. My Pentium displayed the emotions of a Brillo pad. Like a professional wrestler taunting his victim, it scoffed at our pain.
Finally Dave resigned to the inevitable. “I guess we start all over.”
On through the night, we recreated our efforts of the day. After a dozen infomercials, we made our 1,000th (and final) save.
Now here’s the amazing thing about that whole ordeal: Dave never mentioned my mistake. He didn’t blame me—although he should have. He didn’t shame me—even though I deserved it. He shrugged it off as if I had misplaced a chewed-up pencil. When I insisted on wallowing in my blunder, he always replied in the same way. “No big deal,” he said. “It will be better the second time.”
That was the first of many projects I shared with Dave. He consistently proved to be a friend of extraordinary grace. In many respects, Dave reminds me of another Friend who always treats me with grace. He is a Friend who hits the delete button on a gigabyte of mistakes and never brings them up again. Now that is a friendship worth saving.