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Ruckmann-by Kubota!Have you ever had encounters you wish you could do over?

Sometimes they are with people you know quite well; other times they are with someone with whom you are fleetingly acquainted or have met just once.

This happens to me. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I have a good heart. I try to be fair and treat others as I would wish to be treated.

Over the years I’ve replayed a few conversations or encounters in my head and have thought, “If I ever have the chance again, I’ll do it better.”

An unexpected opportunity came along this past Friday evening. I was hosting an event for the fourth consecutive year. The first time I did it, soon after I moved to the Aloha State, a couple whom I barely knew came into the VIP area of the event. In Hawaii, lei etiquette — presenting, receiving, and wearing lei, usually a wreath of flowers — is still a mystery to me. Lei had been ordered for VIPs. The elderly couple who came in had looked at the table of lei. I was behind the table. I did not see their names on a list. I smiled and welcomed them to the event, but I did not give them lei. I was actually afraid I would run out. I saw a trace of disappointment in their faces.

It was just a trace, but it stayed with me. I would see the couple from time to time. In any conversation with them, I wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated their understated but significant service to the community to which I belong here in Honolulu.

Then it happened: the second chance, three years later.

The same couple did not “make” the VIP list this year, but I saw them arrive late to the event. I smiled and greeted them warmly. I asked them to wait for a few seconds. I ran to the VIP area where I had a few extra lei. I came back to the couple and presented them. The couple beamed! “We so did not expect this,” both husband and wife said. I thanked them again for all they do.

After they went inside to the event, I found a quiet corner of the VIP area and smiled.

Sometimes we really do get another chance to make things right, even if we have to wait.