This time of year is always my busy season. Corporations hold their holiday events in November and December, so after Thanksgiving I pack my bags and hit the road for a dozen shows around the US before Christmas arrives.
Thanks to the snow and cold, flying and driving around the country this month is always an adventure. And this past weekend was no different.
Last Saturday was what has become over the past five years a typical December travel day. I was traveling from Colorado to Ohio for my show that night, so my plan was as follows:
• 90 minute drive to Denver
• Flight from Denver to Chicago
• Flight from Chicago to Columbus
• 35 minute drive to my event
To the uninitiated that looks like a brutal day but all of my friends are “road warriors”. THIS IS WHAT WE DO.
I had to hit the road at 2:30 am, since I had a 6:00 am flight out of Denver. Hell is having to wait in an airport security line before the sun comes up.
Everything was going smoothly until my flight out of Chicago was cancelled minutes before we were supposed to board. Suddenly, all flights to Ohio and neighboring locations were cancelled, too.
I called my client and told her the news, assuring her I would do everything I could to make the show. But I wasn’t sure I’d actually make it.
In 10+ years of professional performances I have never cancelled a show. NEVER. I’ve gone out of my way to make shows happen, including last-minute flights, all nighters, and absurd travel plans.
One time there was a fire at Chicago’s airports and cancellations were announced the night before. Without a second thought I loaded up the car and drove 17 hours overnight to the East Coast to make my show.
I haven’t had to cancel a show yet, so I really didn’t want to break that streak last weekend.
Luckily, after several hours, I was the last person called for a standby flight. I landed in Columbus with a little over an hour to go until showtime.
The only problem? My bags were on a later flight.
That’s right. My microphone, props, toiletries, shoes, and more stayed in Chicago while I went ahead. I did the math and realized that if everything was on schedule then my bags would arrive 45 minutes before showtime and I might be able to pull it off.
I raced to my hotel and got ready, hoping I wouldn’t have to wear these shoes to my gig:
Then, I raced back to the airport and realized I was going to pull this off:
Bags in hand, I drove to the venue, set up, and took the stage on time. My client was the only person at the gig who knew what a crazy day I’d had. To everyone else, nothing was out of the ordinary. They simply got to enjoy a show and be amazed.
When I tell people about life on the road - especially days like last Saturday - they always look mortified. They say “Wow, that sounds horrible!” or “I could never do that!” However, I don’t feel that way at all.
Some people say that if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. But that’s not true. You’ll actually end up working harder - but when you have a dream that keeps you up at night you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.