Jody Fuller

I didn’t sleep worth a toot.

I seldom sleep well in nice hotels. I’ve said it before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever written it. I sleep better in slasher motels than I do in fancy, high-dollar establishments, and I think it’s because I tend to pray harder in places where I feel I may die. I used to take my own pillow on trips. I may have to start doing that again. Hotel pillows just don’t cut it for me. 

My room was on the 11th floor at the beautiful Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel overlooking the river, convention center and port. I’ve stayed there a couple times, but this was the first time since the pandemic. I was there to speak at a conference, so it wasn’t quite a ghost town, but it was close. 

Mobile is one of my favorite cities. I spoke at two conferences earlier this year during the week of Mardi Gras, and my next two events are down there as well. Unfortunately, they aren’t until January and March, respectively. I hope they come to fruition and more opportunities become available. I pray these vaccines are safe and the real deal so we can get on back to work, but we still have a long way to go. 

After checking in around 4 p.m., I eased on down Dauphin Street to eat at the original Wintzell’s Oyster House. It’s not a successful trip to Mobile unless I partake in at least a dozen on the half shell. Since they weren’t doing happy hour, thanks to our nemesis COVID, I only had one dozen, but they sure were good. 

My sound check was at 7 a.m., so after walking around for a spell, I moseyed on back to the hotel at 7 p.m., was in the tub at 7:15, and in the bed by 7:45, but as you know, I didn’t sleep worth a toot. 

I was there to give the closing keynote at the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators Fall Conference. Pre-COVID, this would have been an incredible event to be part of. While I am extremely grateful to have been asked to speak, I left feeling somewhat defeated, even though there was really nothing I could have done. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but when you do what I do, energy within the room is essential. An hour is a long time to go when the energy is lacking. 

During a normal year, there would have been three to four times more people in attendance, but as we know, there is nothing normal about 2020. Due to social distancing guidelines, attendees were spread out from one side of the room to the other. When they are spread out like that, the energy dissipates. Sometimes, I wish I’d just gone to barber college. Sorry, that’s an inside joke. 

I did get to meet Dr. Eric Mackey, the state superintendent of education. It turns out I deployed to Iraq with one of his cousins. My friend said he wasn’t sure he was real blood, because Eric was so much smarter than everyone else. He was a real nice guy. He even bought one of my Chicken Soup for the Soul books. You can, too, of course. 

I got packed up and left me room around 11. I wanted to go grab a bowl of gumbo or something, but I had places to be. Pensacola was my first stop. I brought a horse saddle to give to Lucy’s aunt. I wasn’t able to see her, but I did meet up with her husband. He even took me to lunch!

I had a full tank of gas and three and half hours to go pick up Abby at daycare. I had a long way to go but a short time to get there. Lucy’s mother was going to do it, but I wanted to see my baby. The highlight of my day each day is when she runs through that door right into my arms. I wasn’t going to miss out on that if I could help it. 

Fortunately, I had nothing impede me on my trip and made it back in time to pick Abby up with time to spare. I was tired. It had been a long day, but a good day, and that hug from Abby was my long-awaited reward. 

We all have a long way to go but hang in there. Our reward awaits us. 

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 jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com