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The little t-shirt shop was swamped with orders. Fifteen, to be exact. I know this because the poor girl at the counter told me all her troubles. I felt sorry for her, really, I did. She was practically in tears as she explained that she was only one person and she would try to have my order ready by Friday.

She would try? Trying wasn’t good enough, I needed a promise. There were other places I could go, so I needed to know if my order would be ready by Friday at 5:00 pm for a basketball tournament, and not a minute later.

Yes, it was my fault for waiting too long. It was my fault for not calling ahead. I understood her dilemma and was sorry for her stress, but why did her problem become my problem just because I came to her to solve a problem? The real problem was, she would not say, “No.”

Do you ever tell Ms. Jones no? Is it a better service to say no than to say yes and fail? What can you do when you can’t do anything? Can you call your competitors to find what she wants? Can you rack your brain and search your racks to find an alternative? Or are you willing to sacrifice your staff and stretch your resources to “try” to leap through Ms. Jones hoops?

If that order is not done by Friday, my tourney team will kick butt in whatever I can find at Walmart, and it will be a long time before I let that store let me down again. I may not be right, but I promise I will remember if they were wrong.

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