Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Comfort for Dummies

My TV co-host, Kirk Cameron, passed me his cell phone so that I could speak to his eight-year-old daughter. He said that she had been laughing a lot as she read my book 101 of the Dumbest Things People Have Done. I'm the book's main character, and she said that her favorite incident was when I made a four-year-old Asian boy laugh. I told him to look up, and when he did I gave him a gentle tap under the chin. He loved it (I'm great with kids). When he then told me to look up, I played along with him. I love making kids happy, so I smiled as I gazed heavenward and waited in anticipation for his gentle under-the-chin tap. He karate-chopped my throat! 

When she asked if I had done as many dumb things as the book said, I told her that every word was true, and that I could easily begin Volume Two. 

That afternoon we were filming post-production for our television program. We had traveled to 13 European countries in 13 days to film 13 episodes, and I had penned the "Vienna" script. I loved Vienna and had fond memories of it, despite the blur of going to so many countries in such a short time. So I had skillfully woven in the fact that even though the 400 gondolas in the city were popular with tourists, the locals preferred taxis. 

As we began filming, Kirk asked, "Isn't Venice the city that has gondolas and canals?" We quickly changed the script and carried on filming. 

I had also skillfully used venetian blinds as an allegory for the blindness of a godless world—how, as a team of evangelists, we wanted to "open the shutters and let the light of the gospel come to the locals." But for some reason Kirk questioned my blind metaphor. Sure enough, venetian blinds originated in Venice. Duh. 

Later that day I laughed with my staff about the incident. I'm close to each of them—knowing each staff member personally is important to me. Then I said, "I hope your wife has a safe delivery, Chad." He responded, "I'm Brad." I knew that. As Kirk dropped me off at home, he smiled and said, "I'll be sure to tell my daughter about today." 

The next day I watched as Chad (not Brad) addressed envelopes in his office. He was in his twenties, had little to do with "snail mail," and was therefore handwriting the address in the wrong place on the envelope. It was way too high and lacked the professional look for which we strive. There was a dry-erase board beside him on his desk, so I picked it up, cleaned it with one swish of my hand, then grabbed a marker and drew a rectangle to show him where the address was supposed to go. Now he could see at a glance exactly where the address should be placed for the rest of the envelopes. Excellence is that for which I strive, and I want our staff to do the same. 

His eyes widened and jaw dropped as he pointed to the erased board. That's where he had written the addresses he was transferring onto envelopes! I picked up the board and looked at the addresses that were now nothing but powder on the palm of my stupid hand. Then I touched the rectangle I had just drawn and noticed that I had used a permanent marker. So now Chad had a permanent reminder of where to put the addresses he no longer had. 

A few days later, I told Sue that because of the high cost of gas, I was going to secretly fill up the van in which five of the staff members travel to work. I said not to tell a soul, because the Bible says to give "in secret." If anyone even suspected that I had driven the van to the gas station, they would conclude it was me, and my giving wouldn't be in secret. 

I quietly told her to, without anyone seeing her, bring me the spare keys for the van. She came back and whispered that they weren't where they were supposed to be, and that I would have to ask Mike for his set. I gingerly approached Mike and quietly asked, "Do you have the keys to the van?" Mike's a biker, and he has a good strong voice. He said, "I don't have the keys to the van" loud enough for Ron to hear him as he walked by, and as he was walking down the stairs he called back, "Miguel has the van keys, Ray!" Mike then said, "You will have to get them from Mark" because Miguel was working from his home that day. 

In a matter of seconds, my secret was now known by Mike, Ron, all the customer service representatives, and anyone else within a two-mile radius. I walked into Mark's office, gently asked for the keys, and walked out into the parking lot toward the van. 

By now Ron was in the parking lot, no doubt wondering why I was heading toward a van I never drive. Scotty was doing his daily workout and watching me as I walked to the vehicle. I took no notice and opened the van door to quietly sneak out and fill it with gas. Suddenly its stupid alarm went off, sending me into a wild panic. It was so loud Sue came running out of the building to see what was happening and Scotty immediately burst into a song my son-in-law had written about me doing dumb things. It's called "Ray Comfort's in Town," and talks about how, when everything is breaking, and everyone is left aching, that there's no mistaking, Ray Comfort's in town. 

I ignored Scotty's silly song, Sue staring at me, Ron and any of the neighbors who may have been looking, turned the deafening alarm off, jumped into the van, turned on the ignition and noticed that the gas tank was on "full"! 

I walked back up the stairs, into Mark's office, tossed the van keys onto his desk, and said, "Here's some cash for gas," and walked out with the knowledge that I had more material for Volume Two.