"There’s a Hooker in Your Drive!"

During the trip when I went to Queens by myself I had made contact with this pastor in Long Island. I do not remember the circumstances around this contact. He was a pastor and he may have had some connection with someone in Greenville, SC, but I really do not remember at this point. I do remember calling him and going to his house. I stayed overnight, we talked and then I went home to Greenville.

I called him before I left Queens to get exact directions to his house. I think I took the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) to Long Island. I seem to remember that. He gave me good directions and I knew I had to hit it just right. I would arrive at night time and I didn’t want to be asking anyone for directions in NY late at night with out of state plates and an even further out “out of state” accent. My goal was to drive from Queens, through Brooklyn into Long Island and to his house w/o stopping for anything and w/o talking to anyone. I also didn’t want to miss his house and drive around a neighborhood with one way streets and seemingly disorienting traffic engineering configurations. It is much better to hit it “spot on” and not have to wander too far off the straight line.

I made it to his street, but was unsure of his house. I knew it was on the right side of the street. The houses were like “row houses”. They were very close together with minimal front yard, but enough front yard to place them back about 75 feet from the dark city street. I couldn’t see the house numbers unless the porch light was on. I eased onto the street and made my way down toward my goal counting the houses the best I could and hoping I didn’t miss it since it was one way and nearly impossible to turn around. Looking down the street I saw a lady standing at the end of this drive seemingly waiting on someone.

As I got closer it seemed apparent that she was standing in the very drive I needed to turn into. She was dressed in black, including black netted stockings with high heels. It was evident she didn’t live there. She was in the way so my hope was that she was one house down or up from where I needed to be. I eased past her, very slow and looked at the next house number and noticed I’d just past my destination. I eased a bit forward and then stopped, not wanting to go around the block and possibly get lost. I put it in reverse and my backup lights came on. I had out of state plates, was driving real slow at night and was backing up to a hooker. She knew exactly what I wanted. It was a dilemma. I backed-up to the drive and there she was, larger than life. I let my passenger window down and she stuck her head in and asked if I wanted some company tonight. I asked her if she knew about Jesus and whether or not she knew if she died tonight where she would go, heaven or hell. She backed up so hard that she caught her head between the window and ceiling. About that time a jeep pulled up in front of me and she went to the passenger side and said something to the driver. He let her in and they drove off. I pulled in and met the pastor. I told him there was a hooker in his drive and he said she is down there a lot. They had called the cops a few times, but she keeps coming back. Welcome to New York.

Tongues at the Pizza Place

We were in-between witnessing events one afternoon and decided it was time to eat something. We settled on a pizza place. This pizza place had an outside area that was quite large like a food court with picnic tables. The place was bustling and every picnic table was full except for one. There was a lady sitting at this one table by herself. There were about 8 of us. I “told” the Lord that if that lady is still sitting there after we order our pizza that I would go sit by her and begin witnessing to her. I knew she would not be there when I came back out so it wasn’t much of a “bargain” with the Lord. There was a line in the little restaurant and it would be nearly impossible for her to be there.

I ordered my pizza and came out and low and behold, she was still sitting there alone. There was no way. The place was too busy for her to be there by herself. I had no choice. Fear of man kicked in and I had to do what I “told” God I would do. I sat down beside her and began talking to her conversationally. My friends eventually joined me and I introduced her to them. At one point I asked her why she was talking to me because that was unusual for New Yorkers. She said she talked to me because I was harmless. I asked her if she knew karate. She said, “No”. I then asked her what she meant by “harmless”. She said when I sat down she looked in my eyes and knew I was a peaceful man, harmless. She said I was like “Daniel” whatever that meant. The conversation turned religious and she began to tell me about how her and her husband had been in a search for a church for a long time and couldn’t find one. Both of us were intrigued that this Southern boy was in NY telling her about a church in her area. This was a sign for her.

The other guys left and I continued to engage her with my friend David. As I was about to leave I asked her if I could pray for her. She said, “Yes” and I did. I was about to get up and she asked if she could pray for me. I was surprised by that because I come from a world that doesn’t do that kind of thing, women praying for men. Without thinking and with no exit strategy I said “Yes” and she then asked if she could put her hands on me. This was really out of the box for hardcore fundamentalists. Once again, I said, “Yes”. She put one hand on my head and another on my neck. I was securely locked in. I couldn’t move. She began praying and then went off into tongues. That had never happened to me before. I started laughing and the more I laughed the worse it got. Finally it was totally out of control. I couldn’t stop laughing and knew I could offend her. So I began saying things like “praise the Lord”, “Hallelujah” and “praise God” and more. I said this in the midst of laughing my butt off. It was hysterical. My thought was that she would think I was overcome by holy laughter or something. She finished praying and then asked my friend David if she could pray for him. He was mortified. He was more fundamental conservative than me. He didn’t know what to do. He said, “Yes”. She put her hands on him in like fashion as me. It was hilarious. Once we left David asked me to never tell anyone about what just happened. We got back to the apartment and the guys were laying all over the floor sleeping or trying to. I walked in and said very loudly, “Hey Guys!! Guess what just happened?” David was mortified all over again.

Ricky and the Radio Station

Early on at the Blackberry Valley Road trailer, circa 1992, I called the phone company and asked them for a new phone number. I wanted an easy number to remember and asked them if they could give me one. I don’t remember the cost, but there was one. I think they said it would cost $25 to pick a number. I couldn’t afford that so I asked them to give me what they could. They gave me 246-0100. That was cool; I was stoked!

They told me that I had be there when they hooked the phone up. I told them I couldn’t do that because I had to be at work and couldn’t get off. I was disappointed. I had no friends, no visitors, no cards, no calls and this was the day before email and Facebook. I was a lonely man who had no one to talk to and for all I knew the world didn’t know I existed. (Read: self-pity)

Fortunately they came up with an alternative plan when they found out I had an answering machine and phone that was unused. They said I could set the answering machine up and turn it on and all they had to do was hook the service up and call the phone I hooked up. This worked and I was glad. They told me the day they would come. Done, cool.

A few days later they came out and hooked me up and when I got home I checked the answering machine and was stunned. I had 18 calls on it. No way! “This was impossible” was my first thought. Bu then I thought, “The world knows I exist!” I began playing the messages back and came to find out the number they gave me was the old number for WSSL Radio Station. I got their old number! What a hoot.

People were calling me from all over the Upstate asking me all kinds of things. They would call early in the morning, during the day, at night and well into the morning. I was having a blast! Okay, I was bored out of my head. This was my new fun. I started answering the phone saying WSL and not WSSL because that was the radio station’s call letters and I didn’t want to get in trouble. There was a little bit of integrity, just a little.

The people would ask me for requests of songs I never heard of, e.g. “Another Tear in Your Beer.” They would call and ask for the weather report or sometimes just to talk. One time a lady called and asked if the Bristol race was going to be a go for the weekend because it looked like rain. I said it was on. She went. Come to find out it rained the race out that weekend. Oops. I also began a contest line for folks to compete for prizes. I’d ask dumb questions like “what color is your refrigerator.” That was hilarious I thought.

Eventually WSSL called me and asked to stop doing this because they were getting complaints. I told them I wasn’t affiliated with them and I could do what I wanted. Okay, I had a bad attitude. They threatened me, but I continued for awhile until it got real old. One “tipsy” lady called around 2AM and I talked to her for two hours and “led her to Christ” whatever that means. It was a bit surreal.

This was an unusual time for me. After awhile it got quite annoying, but for a season it filled in some very large sadness in my life.

New Attitude Memories

Story #1
Okay, so we are in the mountains of Tennessee. We stop at this white water rafting place with a restaurant, gas station and a few other things. Most of it is built in a log cabin motif. It’s butted up against a river, next to the woods. There’s this mountain man sitting on the front porch drinking a beverage and smoking a cigarette. His beard is down to his belly. (Those of you who lived circa 1975 will remember ZZ Top and get the picture.)Willy said, “I’ve never seen a beard that long.”I asked the resident porch sitter if he wouldn’t mind having his picture made with my friend Willy who has never been in the mountains of rural Tennessee. He kindly obliged and came over to the other side of the porch and put his arm around my Cameroon buddy and the pic was made……and a memory of a lifetime….

Story #2
Okay, so we are trying to leave the hotel. Stephen and Matthew Eastin, along with Mike Morency and me get in the elevator. We are on the third floor heading to the first floor. We hit the 1st floor button and the elevator goes up. Alright, no problem…maybe it was planning to go up. So we hit the 1st floor button again and it comes down to three and then goes back up again. So, not to be outdone, we hit the 1st floor button again and it comes down to the 3rd floor and then goes up again.By this time it is quite perplexing. The elevator is possessed and we’re never going to get off or out of the hotel, I surmise. I heard a song about this one time. I’m not one to be anxious a lot, but I’m curious as to how this could be happening. There are five or six elevators side-by-side and we pick the possessed one. After some deliberation someone concluded that Matthew shouldn’t be leaning near the elevator door with his backpack, which happened to be near the buttons. Mystery solved…