A few weeks ago, I tallied up the number of states I’ve performed in for pay. That number wound up being 25, so I jokingly said, “Like Bon Jovi, I’m half way there.” In addition, the good Lord knows that I’ve been living on a prayer. Texas was good to me early on.
I’ve performed in several more states but many of them were free shows. When I first decided to run my stuttering pie hole for a living, I’d drive 500 miles to speak for free. The struggle is real but so is the reward.
Recently, I scored a paying gig in New Jersey, which put me over the hump. It wasn’t a full-paying gig, but it was important to me as it was a chance to bring stuttering awareness to the Department of Agriculture as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which takes place each October.
I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and drove to the airport in Atlanta for a flight to Philadelphia. Once I landed in Philly, I rented a car and drove an hour to Robbinsville, where the event was held. I flew back the same night. In the army, we call this a turn and burn. It was a long day, but I really wanted to sleep in my bed that night, so I made it happen.
The Robbinsville area is a lovely place to be this time of year. The foliage was out of this world gorgeous. They don’t call it the Garden State for nothing, although I didn’t see any corn. Corn would’ve been nice.
I’d been to New Jersey before, but it was way back in 2003. All that I took home with me from that trip was the memory of not being able to pump my own gas. I’d never seen that before. Sure, I remember the days of full-service filling stations, but full-service was an option. In New Jersey, there was no option. Patrons were unauthorized to pump their own gas.
I would see that a year later in Oregon, too. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous, but now, I like it. I get tired of pumping my own gas. There were no additional fees for the gas either. It gave people jobs. It gave them a purpose. That’s a good thing.
Two days after being confirmed for the Department of Agriculture event, I was booked for another gig in New Jersey. There were no ties between the organizations; it just happened like that. That event takes place on November 16 in Cedar Grove. Since then, I’ve been booked for yet another gig in New Jersey in late April. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
I’m over that hump and am working my way to 50, so until then and beyond, like Bon Jovi, I’ll be living on a prayer. By the way, Jon Bon Jovi is from New Jersey.
I just received an email from the Maine Speech Hearing and Language Association. Maybe that’ll be 27.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.