2 months. 1260 Doors. 550 cd’s sold. If you add some dramatic orchestral music, those three fragmented sentences sound like the opening to a commercial for the next reality tv show. This ain’t reality tv. This is my life.
This week I’ve been forced to take some time off from pounding the pavement of Jackson, banging on doors, and selling cd’s. It’s not cuz I’m slackin.’ It’s because I’m sold out. All of my cd’s are gone, so now I have some time to write the story of how it all started.
Two and a half months ago on Thursday, September 16, at 5:30 p.m., twenty bucks was all that remained in my checking account as I sat upright in bed and searched the web for possible substitute teaching jobs. Two days earlier, I had finished the summer long task of repainting my parents’ huge two story farmhouse. The painting job became a gift because it enabled me to pay off all my debts and stay close to my family during my Grandpa Vischer’s hospice stay in June and his funeral in July. It was a summer literally filled with sweat and tears, but on Tuesday, September 14, my chest swelled with pride when the last coat of paint dried in the heat of an Indian summer sunset. On the other hand, my wallet deflated as I said, “Goodbye” to under-the-table pay and “Hello” to unemployment.
Within the first two hours of unemployment, I grew to hate the feeling of not earning a living, so I busted my butt to find a job. I applied at Planet Fitness. Nobody called me back in the first day, so I decided that I would give substitute teaching a shot. I called Ben Goodrow, my longtime friend and drummer, for advice. He told me that my best bet was to fill out some forms online and go to a meeting. With my Apple laptop resting on my legs, I sat in my bed and began to Google more info about my chosen profession. Out of nowhere, a gnawing feeling of discontent began to grow in my gut. At one point, I closed my laptop abruptly and shouted a prayer out of my frustration, “I don’t want to be a substitute teacher!” I yelled with determination. “I want to be a singer/songwriter!”
The dam of God-given patience that had kept me sane during a summer of disappointments, mundane work, and loss, finally broke with two exclamation points. Immediately following, a thought came to me that I was compelled to give voice to, “I wonder if American Idol has any more auditions.” What? Stop right there… If you were a close friend of mine, you’d know that I don’t even like American Idol. I’ve never been tempted to watch one whole show, let alone keep up with a whole season, so when a thought like that demanded to be spoken out of my mouth, I paid attention.
I feverishly pointed and clicked my way through a maze of Google and Myspace computer screens, until I found the answer that seemed to be destiny. Days earlier, American Idol had just added an audition in L.A., and I barely slipped in under their maximum age! I checked Spirit airlines, Orbitz, and Priceline.com for airfares to L.A. thinking that I might get a miracle rate. The lowest fair that I dug up rang in at four hundred and fifty dollars. Auditions started Monday, and I figured that I needed to leave on Saturday just to make sure I would make it in time. I needed four hundred and thirty dollars in 24 hours just to buy a plane ticket, but I refused the urge to borrow any money from anyone. I slowly repeated one of my mottos that I learned from Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events, “There’s always a way. I just have to find it.”
Only one option rushed to my mind. I could paint my parents’ shed for twenty four hours straight! Surprisingly, that option initially received most of my attention. Then I thought about how stupid it was. Twenty four hours of work meant no sleep. No sleep automatically signs me up for a voice that sounds worse than a ninety year old man with laryngitis. If I sound like a ninety year old man with laryngitis, what was the point of going to American Idol in the first place? Once I realized option one was unrealistic, I quickly prayed for a second option. “What do ya have in your hand?” was the overwhelming question/reply. I thought for a moment and stated the obvious, “I have 600 cd’s and a borrowed guitar!” I knew what I had to do. “I’m going door to door to sell cd’s! Lord, if you want me at American Idol, help it to be easy.”
That “light bulb” moment illuminated the next twenty four hours of my life. In the first hour and a half of going door to door, I sold 11 cd’s. My neighbors, Jeremy and Theresa bought seven of those for Christmas presents. The other four were sold to some really nice people on my street. A couple people even handed me tips because they thought my dream “was cool.”
When dusk settled and the porch lights on our street automatically brightened, I strolled home with more than a hundred and ten dollars. “Why stop there?” I thought. “I’m gonna go to every bar in Jackson until I sell all forty cd’s tonight.”
to be continued…