A couple of weeks ago I flew to LA to sing at the Crystal Cathedral. I was excited. I had been there before, and had a great time singing with their beautiful orchestra. And this time, I was going to get to sing with their choir too. Last time, Angela Bassett was on the same show as me, so it was cool to get to meet her. Her husband, Courtney Vance, was there too. He's on some TV show, right?
So the Sunday after Thanksgiving was when I was scheduled to be there. I was home all of Thanksgiving week. Actually, I had been home for TWO WHOLE WEEKS with no traveling, which was a wonderful Thanksgiving treat. I was the picture of chilled for the holidays. Lots of cooking and playing with the kids and decorating for Christmas. Lots of it. But nothing even remotely high on the stress meter.
Thanksgiving day came and went. We had a great day with lots of family and friends. And lots of food with sugar and starch and cream of (insert creamy soup type here) (apparently I like using the word lots lots). Friday was more of the same. So, when Saturday got here, I was ready for my trip to LA. Not physically ready, as in packed and standing at the door. But emotionally I was OK with leaving, since I knew I would be home in just over 24 hours. I kind of put off packing, because Ang and the kids and I were doing fun things and having a laid back and fun day. I packed a little and played a little, did a little laundry, headed out for lunch and shopping all together, came back and packed some more. The time came to head for the airport. I put my suitcase in the car, said my goodbyes, and headed to my flight.
Everything about the traveling was easy and low key. No waiting. No crowds. No problems. I had a great flight.
At one point during the flight, I said to myself, "Self, did you pack your church clothes that were hanging on the closet doorknob?" But I immediately dismissed the thought, choosing to not be stressed, even if I did forget. Which is very not like me.
As soon as we landed, I turned on my phone. The first thing that popped up on my phone was a text from Angela that said: DID YOU MEAN TO PACK THIS SHIRT AND TIE HANGING ON THE CLOSET DOOR?
I looked at my watch. It was 9:35pm.
OK. Let's think clearly and not make more of this than needs to be. I mean, there are real problems in the world, so I am going to keep this in perspective. I'm sure Dr. Schuller won't mind if I wear my black Adidas hoodie under my suit coat. It will be HIP and NOW and I might even hold my mic like Tobymac.
The church sent a driver to pick me up. As soon as I saw him, I said, "Hi! I'm Travis. Nice to meet you. Thanks so much for picking me up. Now, could you get me to a TJ Max pronto?" or something to that effect. He was all over it. So we hopped in the limo (a perk of being a guest at the CC...let me clarify that that is NOT HOW WE ROLL...but it makes for a good story) and hit the highway.
We drove and drove and drove some more. FInally we exited off, and I saw a bunch of shops and strip malls in the distance. We pulled up to a - YESSSSSSSSSS - TJ Max. He drove me right to the door. I looked at my watch. It said 9:59. Literally. I jumped out and there was a man at the door.
"But I just need 60 seconds, and - "
"Nope. We're closed."
I didn't even try to persuade him. I knew he didn't care that I was going to sing on a world wide broadcast the next morning, and have to wear a black Adidas hoodie with my suit. Especially since I looked like a punk kid who was hopping out of limo and wanting special treatment.
I ducked back in the car, and the driver told me that Mervyn's next door was open until 11. I had never been to a Mervyn's, but I was happy. So I bolted into the Mervyn's. I had never seen anything quite like it. It looked like Dorothy's house, post-tornado. It was going out of business, and this was 11pm the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Do you get the picture? It was A MESS. I didn't even recognize the piles of things as clothes.
I made my way to the men's section. I finally found some dress shirts, and began to look through them. Couldn't find my size. Couldn't find a color that would match my suit. After about 15 minutes, I was despondant. I just grabbed a couple of shirts and a really bad blue tie, went to the register and paid.
I tried to act happy and grateful to the driver, but I was really bummed. As we drove to the hotel, I was so tired (remember? LA is two hours behind Franklin, so it was past midnight to my body). I tried to tip the driver...he was so very nice and gracious and helpful, but he wouldn't take it. I drudged me and my luggage and my new purchases to my hotel room, and began to analyze the possibilities. I pulled out the suit and the new ill-fitting shirts, and laid them out to see if it was going to work. It was clear pretty instantly that it wasn't.
AGAIN...let me iterate that I know full-well that there are REAL problems in the world, and I know that eternity is not hanging in the balance with my decision to wear or not wear an ill-fitting shirt. I am aware of this, and was telling myself this over and over. And over.
I changed my Facebook status to something that expressed my lot. Immediately people began to leave messages. Some funny ones, some encouraging ones, and one very interesting one. One guy said this: If you are close to a Nordstrom, you can call them, and often times, if you can get hold of a manager, they will help you in your dire need.
REMEMBER THIS LATER.
I'm sitting in my hotel room, wondering what in the heck I'm going to do. I decide I'd better find a solution and move quickly. I went to the desk in the lobby and asked if there was a 24 hour Wal-Mart close by. It's 15 minutes away. I have them call me a cab, and I make my way.
I will save you the details, but just know that this particular Wal-Mart was not so much in to the 16 - 34/35 dress shirts in any other color than hunter's khaki. And there were no ties. Well that's not true. There were ties with Christmas lights printed n them. But they didn't match my new hunter's khaki shirt or gray pin-striped suit.
The trip was a bust. And it was 1am (3am Franklin time).
I came back to the hotel and decided that I needed sleep worse than I needed a shirt at this point. I went to sleep and sent up one last prayer with my final waking second.
The next morning, I decided to do it. I was going to call Nordstrom. I found out there was one 5 minutes away. Good news. I called. No answer. I tried again. No answer. I hopped in the shower and started getting ready. You know, with my hoodie. It was 7am at this point, and my ride was coming at 8. I tried Nordstrom one more time. SOMEONE ANSWERED! It was someone who who works in housewares. I explained to him my situation. He told me that he didn't know if anyone could help me. But he said that there was an employee shopping hour scheduled at 8am. He said if I could find someone nice to come to the door, MAYBE, just maybe, they would let me in.
So I called the driver and asked if he could come and get me 30 minutes early. This was, of course, after dialing 3 wrong numbers and waking various Crystal Cathedral staffers and their families. He picked me up at 7:30. We were there by 7:40. I walked up to the big glass doors, and instantly saw my new best friend. Only I don't know her name. I waved her over to the door, gave her my kindest and most pitiful plea, and she told me to hold on for a minute. In no time, the men's store manager was at the door, letting me in and selling me my new favorite shirt and tie. Thank you, Terence, men's store manager at Nordstrom somewhere in California.
I was so happy. And I know that Dr. Schuller was somehow relieved that I didn't wear my black Adidas hoodie. Or my hunter's khaki shirt and shiny light blue tie with my gray pin-striped suit.
As an added bonus: my luggage didn't make it home on Sunday night. It seemed like the right ending to the trip.
It was an adventure. A perspective-strengthening adventure.
PS - You can see my new shirt and shiny new tie on Hour of Power this weekend.