Chapter IX  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 error.


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. 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 foul.


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 it.


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.


i-81Hills.JPGInvariably 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.


Insurance companies 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. 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.