Keys and Tryouts

I’m near Columbus, Mississippi, auditioning for a preaching job.

I stop at a gas station just a mile or so from the church building where the audition was to occur.

You may be surprised to hear the word “audition” associated with interviewing for a preaching job. My experience is that folks are interested in hiring you only if you sound good not if, you know, you are concerned for ministering to people. But I digress.

It was winter and cold, even for Mississippi. I got out of the truck, spun around, and the door shut. This was not part of the audition.

A feeling somewhere down in the far reaches of my stomach told me that the keys that would have normally accompanied my hand on the way from the ignition to my pocket lay, not in my then empty hands, but still in the ignition.

I had locked the keys in my truck. The engine was still running.

I started doing what any sane person was about to audition for a preaching job, cursing at the top of my lungs.

OK, I didn’t.

Tony Campolo may be able to get away with colorful language to make a point but I wasn’t trying to make a point.

My keys were still in the ignition laughing at me.

I was supposed to be at the church building in 30 minutes or so and my only mode of motorized transportation was slowly burning the gas out of the tank.

Here’s the thing that fueled my anger: Church people came and went from the store. I knew they were church people because they were dressed up on a Sunday morning in a little community. They drove up, parked, looked at me, shook their head, and muttered that I, like Job, must have committed some terrible sin and continued on their way.

A little old lady, maybe 80, asked if I had locked my keys in the truck.

I punched her.

No, I didn’t. It was actually a gentle nudge and I don’t see why she had to make such a big deal about falling. It was only a sprain.

I explained the situation to one person. And through the help of a delicate instrument specially made for such situations, I used my skill to free the keys from the ignition.

We made it to the audition.

But didn’t get the gig.



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