Disturbed on the Road
We had a schedule to
keep. Robert had already missed
one event in Glasgow, KY and it would be terrible to miss the second
one in a row because a driver needed sleep.
How do you explain to
your home church or the host churches?
I kept thinking this is a God trip and that God would see us
through. But what was becoming
evident to me is that I was not sure I was going to see us
through. God could not bless my
For my entire life,
I always completed what I started.
Even when it seemed impossible, I kept at whatever I thought I
should be doing. It was not
until it was so obvious that I should not be attempting something that
I would even let failure enter into my thinking.
Every step I had
taken in my life could easily be evaluated. God’s hand was so obvious in getting
me where I was. The good, bad and indifferent all had a purpose for me.
They prepared me for
the next step in my life. That
does not mean that I followed perfectly but when He closed a door, He
opened another one.
In 1965, I started a
wooden pallet business in Houston, TX.
We built pallets for the companies adjacent to the Houston Ship
Channel. The companies ranged
from chemicals to plastics and everything in between.
I had determined
that I needed help running the shop.
That person had to have a sharp mind that could learn the
business from the beginning to shipping. Orders needed assembly along with
combining other orders to minimize waste.
Dick Calicut, a person I had befriended through
our business relationship with St Regis Paper Company, seemed to be the
man I needed. I made an offer
and he accepted. He saw in me
the potential for growth and he wanted in on the ground floor.
Dick could give me a
level of continuity in the process.
He was a finish department supervisor and had the skills needed
to keep everything on an even flow from front to back.
Getting a 2x4 or 1x4
to a finished pallet did not just happen. You had to run combination runs to
keep your scrap at a minimum.
You had to constantly monitor the production and assembly
operations to assure that you were getting the best from your
labor. That is getting the best from
labor without over taxing them beyond their production ability.
We made plans for
his coming with me shortly after the first of the year. A mistake I had made was making this
arrangement without consulting God.
At the close of the
year, I submitted my inventory figures, sales, and cost of goods sold
to my accountant. He prepared
the reports and though we had been busy throughout the year, we were
not showing a profit. I had
concentrated my energy learning and controlling the operation and had
overlooked the cost factors.
With my commitment
to Dick and his family – a man who is leaving his job after many years
with his company – left me with a great amount of anguish. AND in the midst of the anguish that
I was not making a profit meant I would not be able to keep Dick for
very long if take him at all.
I only had one
choice – I had to call him in and explain where I was and what I could
do. The best case scenario was
that he could talk to his company and remain with them – no harm no
Dick was a proud man
and could not see getting his job back as a possibility. He believed to save face; he would
need to leave any way. I offered
him compensation to help with his transition but he refused to accept
Dick left my office
rather bewildered as he contemplated his future. I don’t think I have ever had to make
a decision that affected another man and his family to the same degree
as telling Dick that it would not work.
God showed me over
the next five years how to run a business. He taught me how to count the cost
even to the very cost of each nail that went into each pallet. My accountant said that I got a
degree in business going to the school of hard knocks.
Invariably when I
start making decisions apart from God, I get in this type of circumstance. You would think that you would learn
from just one experience.
But as in the case
with the children of Israel, I just keep going back and back. The same old well is always standing
by waiting for me to return expecting different results every time.
Now I have got
myself into a situation with this choir tour where the outcome seems to
be headed for a complete failure.
I have got to call this thing to a halt. I have got to go down for sleep.
The decision with
Robert and the choir tour quickly equaled the decision with
Calicut. I don’t like for my
decisions to put me in a position that I am governed by outside
circumstances rather than my personal accountability. Not to mention that so many – choir
members, chaperons, host churches, and our home church plus the staff –
will be affected by my decision with the coach.
If I alerted Robert,
we could make new arrangements.
Tomorrow would be a new day.
We could take stock on where we are; where we need to be; and
develop a plan to salvage as much of the tour as possible.
I knew that the trip
would not be a total loss, but I felt compelled to help Robert complete
his assignments. It was more of
failure for me since I was letting him down.
So many avenues were
available to me in Nashville to keep us on course. The breakdown of the coach was not my
fault but what was happening now definitely was my fault.
I could have reported
to Gary what was really happening time-wise and he could have flown a
driver to Nashville to take over for me. Companies are required by law not to
endanger the people or the equipment.
address these issues in safety meetings. If during their audit of company
records, they see discrepancies, they can just drop coverage.
If the insurance
companies were to pull out, Gary would have to shut the entire company
down until he could find another vendor. The Department of Transportation gets
involved to insure proper coverage.
No one wants to go down that road.
My daily log book was a charade. Professional drivers are required to
log miles and activity while assigned to a tour. The entire time from Jonesboro, AR to
our current location could not be logged legally.
I had not told Gary
because I needed the money. My
family was very close to being without any money for food or rent. I needed the work and if I could only
make it to Alexandria, the decision to stay with the coach though wrong
could be handled.
If I had been
thinking straight and assumed the parental role of a family back home
with their children on my bus, I would have known the proper decision
to make. Shut the coach down –
let the driver rest and the trip goes well from that point. But I was not operating in the proper
frame of mind and I tossed the thought.
The decision to stay
with the coach would never be right.
When I made it, it was wrong.
Too many hours; not enough sleep; placing these kids, and
chaperons in danger just magnified the wrongness of my decision. I was totally disturbed on the road.