No Show

In Google I Trust…. NOT!

My GPS brought me here.  I am sitting in my rental car in front of a vacant lot.  A vacant lot that is supposed to be a church where I am to perform in one hour.

I have never missed a show.  In 37 years of touring and performing… never been a “no show.” Only a handful of times have I arrived late for the set up (not the show) due to traffic delays, etc.  I have only canceled or rescheduled a couple of shows in my career, those due to family emergencies.  I figure for all the hundreds of performances I have given… my record is pretty good.

I had a performance in Spokane, WA a few weeks ago.  A typical morning worship service.  I had booked the performance well in advance.  The pastor was going to be away and I was to do one of my presentations in place of the sermon.  We talked details, I sent an agreement to the church. I got all the address, phone numbers, etc. from the church website.  I sent the agreement off to the church via email… everything looked good.  A week before my arrival I had called the church to talk through all the details with my contact person.  Even exchanged cell phone numbers “just in case.” We were good to go.

I always plan to arrive at a venue one hour before the program begins.  It is usually more time than I need to set up and sound check, my performances are simply staged.  But I allow for the hour just in case.  I am an “arrive too early” rather than “too late” sort of guy.

So here I am sitting in front of this empty lot wondering what went wrong.  My GPS has let me down a few times before.  I double check the address, Google it again on my smart phone.  As far as Google Maps is concerned I have arrived.  Hmmm… maybe they have the east and west messed up–maybe it is on West 2nd instead of East 2nd.  I drive the street and go to the corresponding address on West 2nd… no, this isn’t it, unless they meet in a laundromat .  Glad I have that one hour buffer!

Time to call the church… it rings… and then goes to a fax tone! What!?  Oh well, no problem… I have the cell phone of the contact person.  I dial, it rings, and rings…and then voicemail.  NO!  I leave a message. And then say a quick prayer!

I have a friend in who lives in Spokane, maybe he can shed some light.  “Hey Jerry, is there more than one 2nd Ave. in Spokane?”

“Not that I am aware of,” says Jerry.

I dial the contact cell again… no answer, voicemail. I try a text message… no reply.

I am starting to sweat. About a half hour till showtime!

Okay, think, Chuck, think.

I call the numbers again, and again, and again.

Maybe another church of the same denomination can help. I Google again.  Aha… there’s one, I will drive to that church and see if I can find somebody that knows where this church is!

Did I happen to mention that this was one of the busiest weekends of the year in Spokane?  HoopFest…the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world is taking place on the streets of Spokane this weekend.   The downtown streets are cordoned off to make way for 400 basketball courts for the competition.  The nearest church requires me to drive through downtown.    I start to drive there and quickly come to a standstill in traffic.  I realize I will never make it to that church in time, let alone get from there to the correct destination.  I try calling them… no answer.

I drive back and wait in front of the vacant lot.  More prayer, more sweat.

There is a man doing some yard work in front of his house.  “Excuse me sir, do you know anything about a church that is supposed to be at this address?”

He scratches his beard for a moment, “Yes, there used to be one there but they moved over a year ago. Don’t know where they went”

Moved!?  Somebody forgot to tell Google!

The clock is ticking… I am running out of options.  Well, I did give them MY cell number too… maybe they will call me when they realize I am not there.  Surely they have noticed by now!?

Maybe they have tried to call my office, which is in my home. Lorie doesn’t usually answer my office phone… but worth a shot.  I call Lorie.

“Honey, did my office phone ring this morning?”

“Yes,” she says, ”just a few minutes ago.”

She gives me the number in the caller id… a Spokane exchange.

Finally… I call the number and we connect.

Service has started but they are waiting… no problem, just hurry. But where? Different address… about 15 minutes away.

Turns out the church moved because the city bought the land to do some road expansion.  In the process they also changed the church name.  So I was looking for a church that didn’t exist. About the website? “Oh is that site still out there? I guess we forgot to take it down.”  The contact person forgot their cell phone at home, which explains the no answer… she also forgot to bring my cell phone number with her.

In the future, you can bet I will be double checking addresses before I leave home!

They were a wonderful and gracious audience. I’m glad that my record is still intact. I was not a “no show,” just a late show!

Stressful, to be sure… but at the same time, I was thinking “this is going to make a great story.” That’s the thing about stories, so many of them come from things that go wrong.

Now before you forget, check to see if Google, your website, and the facts are in sync!

3 thoughts on “No Show

  1. Charlie Jones says:

    Hey Chuck, great story. You had me interested & reading waiting for the punchline. Good writing. I almost have as “spotless” of a record as you… however, there was one Thursday night the sponsor of a weekend conference called. He asked, “how you doing?”. I said, “Fine.” He said, “Where are you?” I said, “I’m at home. We figured we were close enough to you that we will leave tomorrow morning and still have plenty for set-up, etc.” He said, “That would be great if the conference started tomorrow night… but it started tonight!” I have never had so much fear, anger, anguish and frustration run through me in a matter of 10 seconds! We traveled into the night to make there for breakfast and meetings afterward.

    1. Chuck Neighbors says:

      Charlie, if you only knew how many times I have had that nightmare. Especially when I have a weekend with NO bookings. I wake up in a panic thinking “oh no, where am I supposed to be? Surely not here in my own bed!”


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