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A Better Read Than a Car Rental Agreement

By Norris Burkes
Contributing Columnist -- As I stepped into my house after a cross-country business meeting with my editors, my wife asked, "How'd it go?"

"I told them that since my reader emails had recently doubled, they ought to double my pay."

"I thought you only got two emails last week."

"That's right, that's doub-le," I said syllabically, knowing she only taught fourth grade math.

"Two more emails are going to get you a raise?" she asked, knowing she was talking to someone who enjoyed fourth grade math twice.

"Numbers aren't important. I presented charts, graphs and anecdotes which should convince them of my worth."

"What else did you take?" she asked, nodding her head toward the stacks of newspapers.

"Oh, those are my past columns."

"Haven't your editors already read them?"

"I'm not sure I'm emotionally ready to explore that question, so let's just say that they were for my seatmates."

"You're serious?" she asked, as her eyebrows grazed her bangs. "What clue do these strangers have that you are a columnist?"

"Well, I usually open my briefcase wide enough to give my seatmate a glance at my column photo."

"What if they're too busy reading something else?" she asked.

"Hey, I'm a writer - a keen observer of human behavior. And I know the subtle hints, which tell me that they'd rather be reading my columns."

My wife's look of incredulity urged me to back my claim with something fact-like - and I did.

"Take, for instance, my seatmate on tonight's flight who was reading some kind of legal document"

"What kind of document?"

"A car rental agreement."

"Yeah," she conceded, "It's probably not much of a jump to think of your column as being more interesting than a car rental agreement."

I paused to consider if this was a point for me or against me.

"Did he read them?"

"Yes. All ten of them."

She paused and nodded, giving me back the point I lost earlier.

"Then he asked me to read something."

"Let me guess - you read his athletic club contract?" she snickered.

I glared.

Tie game. My move.

"Apparently, my seatmate is associated with an organization helping homeless people on both coasts. He asked me to help him write a solicitation."

"Did you?"

"Yeah. It was a nice surprise to know that I could use the talents God gave me to help the homeless - all at 40,000 feet. The whole thing had me soaring.

"It was quite a reversal. I started out with the bragging heart of a child and things turned around to remind me that God's got other children too - some of them hungry and homeless."

She smiled at the wisdom of my discovery.

"My guess is," she said, "that we can all feel hungry and homeless - hungry for love and without shelter in a world that is always trying to knock you down and sometimes times God allows others to help us."

But to make sure I'd keep my new-found wisdom in perspective, she added a suggestion.

"Why don't you use this week's column to convince your editors that your columns are a better read than most car rental agreements? Surely they'll promote you to editorials.

"Now, you're getting the picture," I said, convinced I was married to the smartest woman in the world.

At that, she headed off toward the bathroom, grabbing a stack of my columns on the way out. Great, another anecdote for my editors - "Chaplain's column is bathroom reading of choice."


Special thanks to my good-natured seatmate, Leron, CEO of Christlike Ministries in DeLand Florida and on staff with Future Begins Now.

Also, thanks to my wife who sometimes lets me get away with exaggerating her naiveté - but never her patient love for me.

For more information about Norris Burkes please log onto his website at

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