It had not been a good day. Nor a good week. Nor a good month.
Here’s the thing about the television business: It looks easy but few jobs are harder.
Working in television can be rougher than the hottest day in a hay field.
And much less rewarding.
Here’s another consideration: Living in the rural South is a three-hour time difference from Hollywood, so that means bad news calls come in until 11 p.m. and bad news emails are awaiting you at dawn. There’s little time to recoup your senses.
Sometimes, it’s a star who is causing trouble. Or a network executive who is under pressure. Or a deal you thought was made — and you already have plans for the money — that falls apart unexpectedly.
We had lived through months on the edge. One communication would be glorious. Then, all the good was wiped away and only disappointment remained.
Through it all, we were comforted by the plentiful blue skies: We had our health, we had saved our money and, most importantly, we are saved by Jesus.
You and I are good friends. For over 20 years, I’ve shared my life’s journey so, here, I will be most honest: My nerves had had it. It had been such a constant battle of ups and downs and in-betweens.
The only time we caught a breather was in church on Sundays. No one in Hollywood works on Sunday. They either play golf or tennis.
Three days before the day I am about to share, we attended a show performance of one of our favorite storytellers: Marty Stuart. Just as the lights dimmed and Marty and his band walked on stage, Tink’s phone buzzed. He stepped out to take the call.
I took a deep breath. I had looked forward to the evening for months. When Tink returned and stumbled over the disgruntled woman who didn’t want to let him back into his seat, there was nothing but a grimace.
“That wasn’t a good call,” he whispered.
Even now as I write these words, I feel the thump in my stomach where my heart and worries landed hard. For an hour and a half, I tried to focus on the incredible show but in the back of my mind, dread beckoned.
An encore later, I was finally able to ask anxiously, “What happened?”
Tink had not exaggerated. It was not good news.
Monday rolled around. I went into town for an appointment. I put on a dress and comfortable high heels. When I returned, the dusk of evening was approaching.
“Let’s go out for a bite,” Tink suggested.
We went to one of our favorites — the Soda Fountain, a place with red leather booths, vintage Coca-Cola signs and scrumptious hamburgers. They’re always busy so, most times, you have to wait a bit at the door to be seated.
After a few minutes, a bright-faced young woman showed us to our booth. We sat down.
“Let me quote Mama here,” I said, as I picked up the menu. “I need a nerve pill.”
While Tink waited on his hamburger and I, without much enthusiasm, anticipated a patty melt, a young family with two children walked by us, headed for the door.
A girl, around 12, who looked very much like I did at that age - the awkward age that all girls know — stopped for a moment. She had pigtails, braces and chubby cheeks. She smiled shyly.
“You are so pretty,” she said sweetly.
Long-suppressed tears sprang to my eyes. Such kindness from someone so young. Needed so much by someone not young.
“You are an angel!” I exclaimed. “I needed that. Thank you so much.”
Her mother graciously added, “She has been talking about how pretty you are since you walked in the door.”
I saw myself in that young girl’s face.
And I pray she saw her future in me.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know About Faith.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column publishes weekly.