Somewhere in the confines of an office building, a buyer at corporate headquarters for a national retail chain made one, tiny snafu.
It just so happened that the buyer ordered the right product, Maseca corn flour, in 50-pound sacks.
That was OK.
It just so happened that there were four little words printed in bold, plain English on each and every sack. It was impossible to miss these four words. Imagine a neon sign on a brown paper sack.
That's how much "Not For Retail Sale" stood out on these bags of Maseca.
These particularly marked bags are supposed to go to a manufacturer and not to a retail operation.
Therefore Sam's Club was sitting on thousands of sacks that obviously could not be sold to the public. Imagine the uproar at headquarters. The problem was too big to cover up with a super-duper thick Sharpie.
I can only imagine management at both Collier and Lee county stores scratching their heads at the sight of truckloads of Maseca taking up precious space, asking themselves "Now what?"
This is where the story takes a positive and moving turn, where one little mistake of the computer mouse inadvertently ended up helping thousands of families in Southwest Florida and beyond.
So who do you call when you have hundreds of thousands of pounds of Maseca sitting in your stores and the most prudent thing to do is donate it? Your local food banks, of course.
Neal McAlister at the Harry Chapin Food Bank, based in Fort Myers, as well as other nonprofits received a call from the retailer.
If there is something that many nonprofits have perfected it is streamlining their operations and the speed at which they answer the door when opportunity knocks.
Harry Chapin within minutes was handling the task of accepting 2,700 sacks of Maseca and putting into action a distribution plan.
At a time when work is scarce for many, and countless families find themselves with empty cupboards, this one little mistake turned out to be one humongous blessing for many.
At Bethel Ministries in Immokalee the youth group was called upon by Pastor Josue Rincon to help.
At the Amigos Center in Immokalee, well over 500 people — each person representing one family — formed a line starting at 8 a.m. for distribution at 11 a.m. The center's volunteer force, along with director Karl Glander, did an amazing job of organizing and distributing.
It was amazing to see scores of mothers with strollers taking their children in their arms and pushing the 50-pound sacks as they made their way home, and in many instances the children sharing the stroller with a heavy sack and many people helping one another.
I don't know who the person was that made this mistake and maybe this person in some way paid a negative price. Therefore, if it's any consolation to hear it from someone who was there, I saw the people. I saw the smiles. I beheld the gratitude and I witnessed the joy that your misfortune brought to hundreds of families.
So on behalf of all those who were blessed yet have no way of sharing that joy with you, I want to thank you, sir or ma'am.
If you just so happen to make your way into Immokalee, for the next few weeks, please do take the time to enjoy the smell of freshly made tortillas, tamales, pupusas, sopes, empanadas, gorditas, huaraches, chilaquiles — and even sweet the way only mom can make cornbread — in the air.