If an author’s publisher has a little marketing budget (rare these days) he or she may get booked on some TV and radio broadcasts to gain publicity and move some books. The publicist (Nashville Publicity) for my first two books did a phenomenal job and I was on all kinds of fun shows.
Several years ago I made a quick trip to Indiana for an appearance on the Harvest Show. These little jaunts can be grueling. You spend days preparing and traveling for an interview that only lasts about 10 minutes, but it’s all part of the game. Hopefully the time spent away from family and work pays off in the end.
This trip was particularly interesting. A direct flight from Minneapolis to South Bend, Indiana where the show was taped was nearly $650, so I opted to fly to Chicago for $128 and rent a car to manage the 2-1/2 hour drive from there.
I was lucky – I had a coupon for Enterprise Rent-A-Car so I was upgraded to a beautiful, brand-spanking-new Ford Explorer with all the bells and whistles – including a leather appointed interior – for about the price of an intermediate car. So my road trip was spent in luxury.
For the most part, business travel isn’t very glamorous. You don’t know where you’re going, you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, and don’t know the lay of the land. The traffic in Chicago was ghastly; the route on my GPS took me down I-90 through downtown Chicago which was under some serious construction. It was stop and go for over an hour. You could see tensions were running high on the freeway by looking at the faces of the other drivers.
Other than stopping to pay endless tolls, the trip was pretty uneventful. I arrived at my destination unscathed and no worse for wear. The hotel was lovely and after running across the street for some spicy Chinese food, I settled in to watch the American Idol results show. (No time for commentary on that, although I will say that many viewers appeared to be tone deaf based on the way they were voting).
When I travel for a media interview, I’m always paranoid that I’m not going to wake up in time and miss the show. So, I go a little overboard on alarms: I request a wake-up call, I set the alarm clock by the bedside, and set the alarm clock on my cell phone. After not sleeping at all that night, I was pummeled with a cacophony of heart-stopping sounds … not good for a girl who recently stopped taking blood pressure medication.
I was truly exhausted, but I went through the routine of making myself presentable. I had brought along a brand-new outfit that I thought made me look relatively hip and slim, did my hair and makeup just so for TV and headed downstairs to get a quick bowl of Raisin Bran.
It’s funny how God gets our attention sometimes…. what happened next was a real reality check. As I walked out the door of the hotel to my rental car, I was surprised to find an unexpected blanket of newly fallen snow. I wasn’t really prepared for that (no self-respecting Minnesotan uses gloves unless it is below zero) but there was a snow brush in the Explorer so I was good to go.
I quickly stepped up into the truck (it’s a big step for a little girl like me), turned the key, cranked the defrost, and looked around on the dashboard for the seat-heater button like I have in my car. I wasn’t very familiar with all of the buttons I found, so rather than stumbling around aimlessly, I hit the button for the dome light to illuminate my search.
To my horror, I found out the hard way that it wasn’t the button for the dome light I’d hit, it was the button for the moon roof. In what seemed like slow motion, I watched helplessly as the roof-top window opened and mounds of wet, sticky, newly-fallen snow dumped into the car. It was a surreal moment … it was almost like I was paralyzed as I realized what was happening. By the time I figured it out, it was too late to do anything other than shout, “NOOOOO!”
The white stuff was everywhere … on the leather seats, in my purse, on my books, CD’s, directions, travel documents, on the carpet, dashboard… and most importantly, all over me. My hair was soaked, I had snow down my back and all over my lap.
Now I could have gone completely off the deep end … after all I was stressed, tired, hadn’t had my morning latte and was supposed to be at the studio in 45 minutes. Instead, I sat in the cold wetness and laughed out loud.
It was almost like God sent me a message that morning to remind me not to get carried away with myself. Yeah, I’ve written several books. Yeah, I’ve been on some TV shows. Yeah, I’ve interviewed some pretty famous people. Big deal. I was reminded once again that it has nothing to do with me… it is all about God.
I trudged back into the hotel, and marched up to my room. Then I toweled off, restyled my hair and grabbed a couple of extra towels to clean up my mess.
In the end, I made it to the studio with time to spare and even managed to stop at Starbucks for my morning java. And the interview was great. Most importantly, I had no indigestion from the huge helping of humble pie I’d been given. God has a great sense of humor doesn’t He?
In love and friendship,
Amy Hammond Hagberg