The other night I headed south from Chicago to Memphis. A couple months ago, I traded some cash and a car for a truck to a friend of mine living just south of Memphis. I promised him I would return to buy it back and get it out of his hair as per his wife’s request. Now, this is no ordinary car. We have been passing it around for years.
It’s a 1986 Chevy Nova I bought from a librarian in Arlington Hts., IL in 2003 because my Dad told me, “Get Hans something reliable for less than $500 so he can get to and from class.” Well, it’s been more than reliable. I have given it away several times, but it always comes back. It’s been coast to coast, had several paint jobs, and has been registered in a few names but it keeps on ticking.
At any rate, I took an overnight Greyhound from 95th and the Dan Ryan in Chicago straight to Memphis and arrived on Beale St. just after 6am on MLK Day.
My goal was to connect with “Shaggy”, get the “Bean” (as we call the car), and drive it to Nashville. I spent most of the day riding the Memphis public bus to places like Sun Studios or passing by Graceland seeing a bit of the sites as I waited to hear back about the car. Shaggy was a bit hard to reach as he was loading a container of stuff to ship to Honduras. I sent a ditch-effort text to an old YWAM friend of mine, Jonathan, to see if he still lived in Memphis. I thought of staying with him that night and heading to Nashville via the bus if all else failed. These traveling things can be tricky on a tight budget. I have found flexibility is paramount. At any rate, I sat at a Starbucks using the free Wifi on a little ipod touch trying to get the maps and bus schedule straight. Finally, at about 6pm Shaggy’s wife called to apologize and inform me that they left the phone at her Mom’s place and just now got my messages. Also, that he would be heading to the airport and flying to Atlanta for work and wouldn’t be able to meet up. I suggested he leave the car in the long term airport parking and I could get over there somehow and get it. To me, any car beats the heck out of public transportation. She told me he would call back after he got out of the shower. Meanwhile, Jonathan called telling me he did still live in Memphis, had a house, and would love to hang out. I’ve known Jonathan for about 13 years since we connected in Kona, Hawaii working with YWAM. Finally, the phone rings again, it’s Shaggy telling me he is racing up the highway from Mississippi to the airport and would barely catch his flight. I explained and he agreed to leave the car. His phone was dying from a low battery so he’d call back after while. I headed into the rain to catch my 7th bus of the day headed for the main bus terminal hoping for another bus to the airport. It’s a holiday and the buses are running all crazy about 1 hr apart, the terminal is an absolute mad-house. All the buses are parked in rows and I’m assured bus 4 would be the one. I walked onto bus 4 and the driver yells that she’s not going anywhere near the airport and neither is no other bus! I hop off, grab a person who looks like supervisor and ask if he works there. “No, I’m just a homeless man, but I’ll tell you all about whatever you need to know.” I know where this usually ends up, but i listen anyway. He starts in on something when a real supervisor yells to me to run for bus 43 and that it goes closest to the airport, so I do. I ask the driver and he assures me he’ll let me know when we get close. I had a GPS on my phone and turned it on to be sure. We are driving along and people are shouting at each other and the general feel is like we’re in a bad neighborhood. Finally i tell the driver we are turning away from the airport and let me off. He finally does. I walk about 2 miles to the terminal and just because you can see the planes doesn’t mean you are close. Anyway, Shaggy rings back, tells me the car is on the upper level, long term parking against the wall, and to be sure and fill the tires and check the oil. I find the car in the rain after several attempts in 2nd level garages against walls, check the oil, pay the $5, and I’m gone. I call Jonathan several times but don’t connect. I am now free to leave if I want. I decide to have yet another coffee and see if he appears. About 10pm, he calls and tells me he didn’t hear it ring. Anyway, we decide on coffee shop closer to his house and sit there til midnight. We have both seen a lot and there’s a ton to talk about. We head back to his place and talk til 4am about YWAM, discipleship, what we do well, what we do not do well, our families-almost everything.
I am getting ready to staff a Discipleship Training School in New Zealand so the talk is perfect timing. Jonathan has done extensive research on alumni DTS students, post DTS, so i was able to pick his brain, which was awesome. He told me that from all the interviews he did, there was one main thing that determined spiritual health. If individuals are connected with other believers, more often than not, they are healthy. Amazingly simple but so true.
At any rate, I spent the night there in Memphis and hit the road first thing in the morning headed for Nashville…the “bean” is running better than ever, which is no surprise to me.