February 24, 2017
Monday I took my church keyboard to Norfolk for repairs.
After my 2-hour journey (which included stopping by Regent to take Sarah to lunch), I pulled up in front of the store and went in.
There were three employees there, all young men in their 20’s and 30’s. They sported band t-shirts, cool, shaggy hair, and funky jeans. In fact, if you were to happen to see them walking down the street many miles removed from a music store, you would still know they were musicians. They had The Look.
And me? Could they tell I was also a musician? Probably not. (Well, apart from the fact that I was bringing them my keyboard.)
I have no doubt that when I walked in and their three heads raised from what they were doing to size up their new customer, they were all thinking the same thing. “Meh. Middle-aged, grandma-type, unfunky hair, slightly plump, not at all cool. But looks nice enough.”
And I am certainly fine with that. If I were a young musician in a music store, I would have made the same split second assessment.
The young man who greeted me was polite and courteous as he carried my keyboard in and talked with me about what needed to be fixed.
All fine. All dandy. Just another business transaction in the middle of another business day.
But you know what?
I was so very, very tempted to drop the middle-aged momma persona and tell those young guys “the rest of the story.”
Because here’s the thing.
There are thousands of amazingly talented musicians on this planet, most of whom dream of making a living with their music. However, only a small percentage ever succeed at doing that.
And what those guys did not know about the non-impressive middle-aged mama in their midst was that I had made a living with music for sixteen years, traveled full-time to about 35 states, covered 500,000 miles, wrote songs, and recorded 12 studio albums. Over the course of sixteen years, Steve and I (and our various band members including my two sisters and a brother-in-law) averaged about 180 dates a year.
(Actually, what Steve and I did included more than just music since Steve also preached in the churches we went to; however, music was a huge part of what we did.)
Steve and I have recorded CD’s with some of Nashville’s best players providing the track for songs we have written. (On about half our CD’s we played our own instruments but we eventually transitioned to studio players.)
We have loaded gear in and out of so many buildings I have lost count. I have been 8 months pregnant with a 6-year old child in tow, setting up and tearing down equipment all over the country. We’ve been broken down by the side of the road in huge cities and on deserted country roads.
In this particular RV, the engine was accessed from the inside, hence the hinder most parts of Steve and my brother-in-law, Randy.
After driving and living in some pretty old, decrepit vehicles, we eventually worked our way up to this lovely rig which, like all the vehicles before it, was our full-time home. And that semi truck was my family car, which I drove to the grocery store, Wal-Mart etc.
We started young, with my two sisters who were still in their teens. They lived with Steve and me in a battered old 31- foot R.V. for 18 months.
This is one of my favorite road pictures. Steve (who was raised without sisters) had to get used to living with three women in very close quarters. He was a real sport.
We entered a large music contest in Asheville, NC and took third place. The prize was a recording package at Mark Five recording studio in Greenville, NC.
The studio was owned by Eddie Howard who ended up producing half a dozen albums for us.
The kids spent a lot of time in those studios . . .
in vans and trucks . . .
and in churches and auditoriums.
The kids also got involved in the setting up process as seen in this picture when Nathan is helping his Grandpa Campbell unload stuff.
We went through quite a few permutations over the years.
We met thousands of people and sang in enormous, fancy buildings, store-front churches in inner cities. rural churches bordering corn fields, and metropolitan churches, one of which was in Arlington, VA and had people of 55 nationalities in attendance.
We did a little TV and radio and plenty of outdoor concerts in all sorts of settings. We got a kick out of the fact that our contemporary christian band was placed on a flatbed trailer advertising beer.
I could write story after story after story of our adventures but that isn’t really the point of this particular post.
The point is this:
It is so easy to see someone and sum them up in an instant without knowing a thing about them. I have done it countless times and you probably have, too.
The guys in the music store did what we all are prone to do. They put me in a preconceived middle-aged mom category, never dreaming that I have probably done more concerts in my life than the three of them combined.
I wasn’t upset about it then and I am certainly not upset about it now because they didn’t do a thing wrong. In fact, they were the epitome of courtesy and professionalism.
I just look upon the incident as a lesson to myself to never stop being curious about the story behind each person I meet. The temptation is to size them up, look at their clothes, their hair, their bearing, their socioeconomic status and imagine I’ve got them figured out. But I don’t.
It reminds me of a man who came to a meal our church was serving a while ago, someone most people wouldn’t look at twice. He was slightly over the hill, more than slightly unkempt and at first glance, not exactly impressive. Turns out he used to a university physics professor.
Who really knows anything about anyone at first (or second) glance?
And so this blog post is written to myself, reminding me that I should always give people a chance to show me who they are before I plop them down into the category I have created for them. Because I sure appreciate it when people do that for me.
And that’s my thought for the day.
The Middle-Aged Mom
What about you? What is that people would never guess about you when they first meet you?
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie are all on the list of things I love.