Twenty five years is a long time to do one thing, but what a great ride! Good days and bad ones, they’ve all gone into making some wonderful memories. And, as great as it is to get to the silver anniversary, we’re thinking we might wait to really celebrate until the golden one. Hope you’re still around to celebrate with us!
Twenty-five years? How is that possible? Today marks exactly that many years since the Lovely Lady and I purchased the family business from her dad. We had been married seven years by that time and had two very young children and a mortgage on a recently purchased house, but we jumped into the music business without thinking twice. Well maybe twice, but not much more than that. I thought that this momentous day might be a good time to mention an interesting experience or two along the way. (And, knowing me, maybe a sermon point or two to be drawn from them.)
We learned early that self-employment wasn’t going to be a bed of roses. The first complete year was filled with pitfalls, including the first and only time I’ve been accused of being a crook by a customer. I didn’t handle it well. We also learned about the rights (or lack thereof) involved with leasing property. Rain damaged music and instruments led to a showdown with the building’s owner. Of course, the cure, a new roof installed during the rainiest time of the year, proved to be worse than the disease, with two inches of water coming into the building when a downpour arrived with the roof unfinished.
But we got past the first year or two in decent condition only to realize that the government also wanted to have its share of our take. One April brought us to the week before the fifteenth to discover that we were $2500 short on the amount needed to satisfy our obligation to Uncle Sam. Two things stand out about that week. The first is a young boy, who lived in our house, coming downstairs after bedtime one night with fourteen dollars and a few cents in his hand. He had opened his piggy bank and taken out every penny he possessed and was offering it to help. Yep…I cried then and I still get choked up when I talk about it. The same week, my dad reminded me that Jesus told His disciples to go fishing when they had taxes that needed to be paid. In thinking what that meant, I decided since the disciples were fishermen by trade, that meant that I should just do my job. What a shock! At the end of the week, the entire amount was in the account to pay the taxes! When we do what we’re supposed to do, God does His part!
August, 1997…After several years of grudgingly paying lease payments, we noticed an ideally situated building that was for sale. Quick negotiations led to a contract, but we needed a couple months for remodeling before an October 31st deadline for moving. As you might anticipate, a long delay in approval and closing gave us scarcely four weeks for the job. With the help of many friends and a few really dedicated relatives (who worked until 2:00 a.m. many mornings), the job was completed for the move to our own building by the deadline. Were we apprehensive about the move? You bet! We had obligated ourselves to almost double the monthly payments with no visible way to meet them, but our business grew an incredible amount immediately after the move and we’ve never even come close to missing a payment. Oh, and we got a great house right next door in the deal, so presently, I have only to walk down the sidewalk to be at work any time day or night. (And, I do mean any time day or night!)
So many stories, so little space…You’ll just have to keep coming back here for those, a little at a time. There have been many great opportunities, and more than a few mistakes, but I’m anxious to get to the next 25 years. Who knows what the future holds? I love what I do. Period. There’s no “but” or “if only” to add to that. It’s a blessing that not many men can count as theirs. I’ve known many people who daily go grudgingly to their jobs, counting down the years, months, and days until retirement. God has given me the perfect job, one that I still love after 25 years. I only hope the customers can put up with me for a few more, while I figure out how to be a success at it.
Oh, and one more thing…I have prided myself in being a student of human nature, but I’ve been fooled more times than I would have thought possible over the years. I’ve trusted people who were lying barefaced to me and have been suspicious of others who were more trustworthy than I myself have been. I’ve discussed the concept here before that we can’t look on outward appearances, but I’ve been shamed more times than I care to admit by my naivete in doing just that. The thing that has amazed me the most is that people are far more honest than we expect in this suspicious age in which we live. On several occasions, customers have returned to tell me that I undercharged them or that they had inadvertently put a guitar pick in their pocket without paying. I even had one man return after more than15 years to apologize for his deceit and make it right. Yes, there have been plenty who were dishonest, but the good experiences far outweigh the bad.
“The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better”
(Elbert Hubbard, American editor and writer, 1856-1915)