Anyone who knows me knows I'm always trying to earn extra money by doing odd jobs. Lord knows weekly newspaper reporters do not make the big bucks, and ever since I became a homeowner, I always seem to need more money.
From house and pet sitting, to babysitting, to occasionally laminating items for people, if it is a job I think I can do, I will give it a whirl.
As I mentioned, I bought a home and ever since I have, in some ways I feel as though my life has become rather boring. All I really seem to do is work and go home to eat and sleep and do it all over again. I used to travel more and cool and quirky things used to happen to me, but lately I've felt stuck in a big rut -- until Thanksgiving night, when something odd happened.
We celebrated with the family in Carrier Mills, and when we got back to town I dropped Mom off at her apartment and noticed a strange number had called and left a voicemail. I listened to the message on my way home. It was my friend, Jennine Searcy's husband, Joe, who works at the Carson Center, wanting to know if I would be interested in being a "runner" for the Oak Ridge Boys concert on Nov. 29.
I wasn't entirely sure what being a "runner" meant and was sure hoping it didn't involve any actual running because my knees and heel spurs wouldn't like that. But all I heard was Oak Ridge Boys -- and concert, and I was intrigued, so I called him back. I learned it was more or less a job being a personal chauffeur for the band, the bus driver and truck driver and running to get anything the band might need.
It sounded like it would be fun so I told him I'd do it. Which meant I had to arrive at the back door of the Carson Center at 9 a.m., sign in with security and be on-call until around 11 p.m.
That Thursday night I tried to get myself to bed to get some sleep. But I ended up waking up around 3:30 a.m. and didn't fall back to sleep. Actually around 5:30 a.m. I was telling Siri to play some Oak Ridge Boys music. I was already feeling nostalgic, because I had watched the NBC special for Dolly Parton's 50th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member. I grew up on Dolly and the Oak Ridge Boys music and was excited for this new gig.
When I arrived, my first trip was taking the bus driver and two band members to their hotel. Later I took the truck driver and his wife to the hotel so they could get some sleep. By that time the piano player, Ron Fairchild, was ready to go back to the Carson Center.
He was quite a character, and I learned he has been in the band for 40 years, and this December will mark his 41st year as piano player. Before he became the piano player, his father had also been a piano player for the Oak Ridge Boys.
I took two more band members to the hotel and then another member of the band needed to go to the cell phone store, and the production manager, Jeff, needed to go to a home improvement and grocery store. We went back to the cell store to pick up the other fellow, and by that time, one of the band members was ready to go back to the venue so I swung by and picked him up. We made a stop at a grocery store before heading back to the Carson Center.
That morning, one of the catering staff brought some leftover breakfast to the security guard and myself for a little bit of brunch. After the grocery store run, around 4 p.m. I went to the room where the food was and had a sandwich and some pasta salad. All of the exercise mashing down my foot on the gas and brake pedals and navigating my way around the Black Friday traffic at the mall, well, I had worked up an appetite.
When I went to pick up the remaining band members at their 4:45 p.m. pick up, as I was traveling down Park Avenue, I looked up and there came the bus carrying the Oak Ridge Boys on it, and I got all excited.
When I got back to the venue, I saw Richard Sterban, Duane Allen and William Lee Golden pass by me on the way to the dressing room area. I didn't know if I should talk to them or not so I didn't. Later on I had my head down looking at my phone and out of the corner of my right eye I saw someone walking. I looked up and thought, 'Oh, that's an old man.'
I did a double take and saw it was Joe Bonsall heading back to the bus. It had been awhile since I had seen the Oaks in concert and his hair was all gray. Later on in the evening I was standing up against the wall and as Golden passed by, he stopped, tilted his head and said, "Merry Christmas," and I said, "Thank you."
I guess it was better I didn't talk to them because it could've been like I was back in 2003 when I met Vince Gill and could barely even put a sentence together because I was so star struck and tongue tied.
I got to see about the first 30 minutes of their show featuring some of their biggest hits. It was awesome seeing them on stage. They still sound great and had a surprising amount of energy. The youngest Oaks member is 71 and the oldest is 81. I hope when I'm their age I have half as much energy as they do.
As they finished the first part of their show, I had to go pick up the truck driver and his wife. I got back just in time to see the final minutes of the Christmas portion of their show. They were getting ready to come off the stage, and I didn't want to be late to pick up the bus driver so I left without getting to see them or get my photo made with them. As it turned out I got to the hotel about 10 minutes early so I could have stayed back at the Carson Center a little bit longer, and I'm kicking myself because I didn't.
Before I left to go get the bus driver, I told one of the crewmembers I had brought my guitar for them to sign. He said they would probably take it to the bus for them to sign.
So I picked up the bus driver at 10:15 p.m., and when we got back to the Carson Center, the bus carrying the Oaks had already pulled out. I went back inside and spotted my guitar, which looked like it had been moved. When I went to inspect it, I felt like it was Christmas morning. There it was, autographs from the Oak Ridge Boys. Shortly after 10:30 p.m. Jeff said there wouldn't be anything else for me, so I shook his hand and thanked him and was on my way home. It took quite awhile for me to unwind enough to fall asleep.
When I thanked Jennine for thinking of me for this job, she actually told me it was her cousin and my friend, Desiree Chumbler, who had thought of me, and Jennine said all she did was provide her husband with my phone number.
I can now add Runner for the Oak Ridge Boys Band to my resumé. Thank you, Desi, Jennine and Joe for helping bring some coolness back to my life. Stella got her groove back and after this interesting adventure, I think I may have gotten mine back too.