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Reconnected by Held-Up Hibachi

Has an inconvenient delay ever turned into a convenient blessing for you?

Hibachi. Photo: Thinkstock.

Last Saturday, my wife and I were in New Jersey for the birthday party of my friend Andrew’s three-year-old daughter. I hadn’t seen my friend or his family for a while. New York City and my hometown on the Jersey shore are only a little more than an hour drive apart, but in the winter months I don’t leave the city often. I was feeling a bit disconnected from my suburban friends.

The party—at Chuckie Cheese—wasn’t the best place to catch up, not with all the kids running around, so afterwards, we went to dinner at a favorite hibachi restaurant. The five of us sat at around the flattop grill table and waited for the hibachi chef to begin his performance. And waited. And waited.

All around us, flames leapt from the other grill tables, knives were twirled, shrimp tails were tossed into chef hats, little onion volcanoes erupted with steam. But our table was chef-less. My friend’s daughter grew annoyed. “Where’s our chef?” she asked.

The wait gave us plenty of time to talk—about my friend’s new job, his daughter’s latest antics, his plans for his backyard garden. All that was great. However, as it got later and later—and the three-year-old among us started to fade, way past her bedtime—we were beginning to get annoyed. My wife and I especially. We had a long trip back to the city ahead of us.

Finally, the chef arrived and gave us a rushed performance. My friend’s daughter even had to remind him to make the onion volcano.

My wife and I hit the road around 10:00 p.m., much later than we’d planned. We entered the East Village just as the streets were filling with Saturday-night revelers, enjoying the warm evening in the city. We stopped at a red light a block from our apartment. That’s when my wife called out. “Isn’t that Chris?”

There, on the corner waiting to cross, was my buddy Chris. We’d gone to high school and college together, and his music career often brought him up from Jersey to perform in the city. But I hadn’t seen him since he’d DJ’ed the Guideposts Christmas Party in December. Probably the longest time I’d gone without seeing him.

“Chris!” I shouted out. He turned and was stunned to see us.

He’d been dragged out to a bar in the neighborhood by some friends. He thought we were in Jersey for the weekend and didn’t think to call us. We would have missed each other—if he hadn’t happened to be at that street corner the same time we were.

The only reason that happened? Our endless wait for hibachi.

Little moments like this are easy to dismiss them as coincidences. But my experience with Mysterious Ways has taught me otherwise. I’d been feeling distant from my out-of-state friends. Then, in one day, I’d been given two perfect opportunities to reconnect.

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