OK, so I received the opportunity of a lifetime. I was scheduled to speak at my alma mater (Harding University Graduate School of Religion) in Memphis on Thursday. I had everything planned out. Catch the 6am flight to Dallas, then Memphis; arrive at 3pm; meet with the students; and then lecture on the Prophetic Church and Social Justice in the Gospels from 7pm to 9pm. I was excited because this was a chance to give back to the school that gave me so much. I had arrived! I was finally a keynote speaker.
That was the best, the worst came next. As I passed through the security at PDX (I always comment that I feel like I just went through some Fraternity initiation) and was putting my shoes and belt back on--a horrible thing hit me. Where is my zipper? Somewhere between saying goodbye to Lori and passing through the checkpoint, my zipper fell off. No tab, no zipper, just a gaping hole in my flat front Dockers. "What am I going to do about tonight?" I thought. Even worse, "I put my hands in my pockets a lot when I speak." "Everyone will see this--how unprofessional." As I hurried to the bathroom I was concerned people were looking at the guy in Dockers who forgot to "XYZ". I saw one of the stores and went in. Thank God we can have safety pins on airplanes now. I bought a pack of pins and headed for the bathroom. Needless to say that didn't work and I was already late to board the plane.
Unfortunately it was a full flight and I sat by a female and her husband. Obviously I did not want to create any problems with the husband ("Hey, why are your pants unzipped, and you are sitting by my wife?"--which may be better than, "Hey, why are your pants unzipped and you are sitting by my husband?"). So, I read a book the whole time. They were a nice couple headed for Cancun with a group so I thought it best to smile and nod.
When I got to Dallas, I headed straight for the restroom. I found a handicapped stall (with lots of room), took off the pants and painstakingly pinned the fly hole (4 pins) together so that you could not see the pins outside the pants. As I pulled the pants up I realized something. "I can't get these over my hips." The pins stretched and bent but I got the flat front Dockers to squeeze over my hips and buttoned them and buckled my belt. My shirt and boxers were all in a bunch so that took 5 minutes to smoothe everything out. I exhaled and felt better. Until I realized--how do I go to the bathroom between now (12noon) and 10pm? Praise God I am fasting today so that will help.
I know what will happen if I mess up and have a stain on my pants the rest of the day (I was wearing Khakis). Then I will try to put water from the sink on my pants to look like I spilled water on them making it look like I had a relly bad accident (believe me, I did that once before on a date when I was 17--it looks worse).
All in all, I made it and things went well. Lori laughed pretty hard on the phone and told me not to begin my talk telling the audience what happened. "If you do that they will sit and stare at your pants during the lectures and not hear what you have to say." So I took her advice and kept my mouth shut.
Today I have an open discussion with students, speak at chapel, and talk with the student leaders and faculty at lunch. I have my jeans on today--no way they will malfunction. I may say something to the students, I may not. But I know that I will never take something as small and routine as a zipper for granted. It can sure complicate the day. Whoever said XYZ was pretty wise and I think I will do that more often.