Columbus: When Faith Has No Fumes

columbusbyeI’m exhausted. as I sit here and type this, I am waiting for my flight to leave in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve been here a week. I thought this week would never end. But maybe that was because it started out so terribly.

It was a good Saturday evening as my family went to church and then got a quick bite to eat as they dropped me off to catch my flight in Portland. It was a red eye that took me from Portland to Detroit and then on to Columbus. Once in Columbus, I would spend my week driving back from my motel in the middle of nowhere to the downtown convention center in my rental car.

I also had two new books that I really felt compelled to read.

With much to ponder about the coming months, I looked forward to what the week would bring.

But that version of the week came crashing down when I arrived in Detroit and hoped to buy a coffee after my late night flight.

1. Realization #1

My layover in Detroit gave me just enough time to realize that they have a really creepy tunnel that connects two concourses and that the one card I had on me with all my funds for the week to get a car, pay for gas, pay to park, and eat was blocked.

You have got to be kidding me. Already exhausted from the red eye, I began to feverishly make calls to my bank. Of course, being a Sunday, there was nothing I could do. I simply was going to catch my next flight to Columbus with no money and no money meant no car and no way to get from airport to convention center to set up an exhibit and to then get to my motel and then to get something to eat.

Are you kidding me? Why was my card not working? Why did I bring a blocked card? I thought it was just working two days before when I made a deposit. And being that it was East Coast time, all my family and friends were all still sound asleep.

A glimmer of hope.

I realized then that I did have another card with me, but it didn’t have much left on it. But if I could reduce my cost for the rental by just renting it for a day, perhaps that could buy me time to get through the day, into the next, and figure out what to do next? So I called them and made the adjustment. To rent a car, you need to have a major credit card on you.

Temporary crisis averted, at least for a day?

Feeling the momentum of a positive move on the chess board of this crisis, it was time for me to board my flight to Columbia. Time to think about the next move.

2. Realization #2

It was a quick flight to Columbus. I prayed hard for an obvious solution. But honestly, I was so tired still from the overnight flight, I still was not thinking straight. But my blocked card was soon to be not the only crisis.

Upon landing, I immediately switched off the airplane mode on my phone to notice that I had new email in my inbox. What I read next floored me.

“Dear Gunnar, I am writing you to inform you that you will not be able to promote your film at this event.”

Wait, we just emailed back and forth yesterday regarding a package I was waiting to be delivered to the exhibit hall and there was nothing said. I even mentioned in my email that I was catching a red eye to be there in time for the set up window.

Wait, you’re just now emailing me, the day of the event, that we are not welcome here?

You have got to be kidding. Already exhausted from the red eye, my mental capacity was already tweaked hard in Detroit, now I need to apply more bandwidth to this?

I figured I would simply get ahold of my work partner in San Diego who set this all up and ask him to see if he can find a solution from his end and I would get my car, drive to the convention center, and find out what happened.

Having my one card in hand to pick up my rental, I figured this would either all work out and I would be back to my game plan or, I would return the car later that day and catch a return flight.

Nope.

There was not enough on the card for them to charge a security deposit.

But, there was enough to catch a cab and get to the convention center, motel if need be, and back to the convention in hopes something could be worked out by then.. in both crisis’.

When I made it to the convention center, I was face to face with the person who sent me the email. We sat down as she tried to explain to me how this could happen after we had spent thousands on this event.

The result:

  • No real clear reason as to why.
  • They were not going to reimburse any of our travel expenses to get there, only the exhibit cost.
  • And that’s it.

You have got to be kidding me.

Still hoping my friend can work something out from his end. I was too tired to take this unbelievable situation on. I simply smiled and told her I would have my other guy work something out and that I would leave town. Sadly, there wasn’t much grace.

I would hear later that she came back to her booth where her other workers were and felt horrible. She had told them it would have been so much easier if I had been mean. But I wasn’t and therefore, she felt terrible about what she just had to do.

Truth be told, I think I was just too dumbfounded at their actions that I couldn’t even respond.

So, I took my bags and went out into the lobby of the convention center and just sat down to exist for a few minutes. I felt defeated and deflated and had nothing left in the tank to even comprehend what was going on.

My wife then called me. Finally a voice from someone, anyone. But there was no one else on earth I would have rather spoken to at that time than my wife. Her voice was an encouragement like no other as I just sat there with not even energy to pray. All I could do was sit there in what I would learn later was.. His future grace. Though at the time, it felt like my current disaster.

And then I got the call. We were back on. We would be able to promote our film in a booth after all.

It felt good to have a victory for once. But that was short lived, what was I going to do now? My other plan still needed to work. With six more days ahead of me, my faith had no fumes.

To be continued…

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