My friend Joe is a battalion chief with the Auburn Fire Department and owner of the local Two Men and a Truck franchise. More importantly, he’s a great husband, father, and friend. He’s also a pilot. For years, he’s told me that he’d fly me somewhere if I needed to get to a show or speaking engagement in a hurry, particularly if it was something involving veterans.
I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity, but I did keep in the back of my mind just in case the opportunity ever presented itself. Well, on Sunday, March 7 the opportunity presented itself. I had to be at a fundraising event in Tampa on Sunday night and back in Auburn on Monday morning to open up a conference at the university.
The event in Tampa was with my brothers born to international mothers, The GIs of Comedy. It was for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college scholarships for the surviving children of fallen Special Operations Forces.
Joe vowed to fly me down, weather permitting. The second to last place I’d ever want to be is in a small plane during unfavorable weather conditions. The only place worse would be Tuscaloosa after a national championship, but I digress.
The weather was perfect, and I was looking forward to the two hour flight versus what would have been a seven hour drive in the middle of the night had I been forced to drive. There was room in the plane for an additional passenger. In fact, there was room for two, but I was only going to take one.
Initially, I asked a couple of my good friends to go. I thought it would be a wonderful experience for them, and it’d be neat for them to see me in action outside of East Alabama; however, each had prior engagements which prevented them from making the trip.
On Saturday, I asked another friend to go. She writes for a magazine. She could have followed us around all day long capturing the moments in color for the magazine. I thought it would have been made a nice spread and a great story. She couldn’t go either.
It was at that point that I realized that it’s really up to each of us to write our own story. I knew it would never happen. I knew she would say no. The chances of it happening were slim and none, and slim and was nowhere to found. Be that as it may, I took a shot in the dark anyway. I texted my mama.
At 66 years old, she swore up and down that she’d never fly. She’s said as much for as long as I can remember. She’d wear an Auburn shirt or have a pet rat before she flew.
“Makes me dizzy just thinking about it,” she texted back, “But I’m almost tempted to say yes. My arms are so weak.”
She did more than think about. She did it. I was so proud of her. Never say never. She conquered one of her greatest fears.
Joe is such a calm, trustworthy guy, so she had faith in him from the start. He told her that the plane, a Cirrus SR-22 was equipped with a parachute. According the Joe, the plane also floated. I thought he was just saying these things to comfort her, but his statements were indeed true.
The flight went off without a hitch, although there is probably a pile of fingernails in the back seat. Once we got past the crosswinds, she did just fine. It was a beautiful day to fly.
The show went well. On the way back, she slept most of the way. Her first flight was on a small four-seater plane. If she passed this test, she can do anything. I think I’ll go to the pet store and get her rat. I might even get it a little Auburn shirt.
Never say never. Have faith and conquer your fears.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He 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.