The freelance job was to start in just two days. The night before, I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to visit an old pal. The entire visit I felt lighter than air. I couldn’t get the smile off my face.
When I returned to Manhattan late that night, I parked in a nearby neighborhood. The following morning, I was going to return the car to my friend, and then take the subway down to where I would meet Mike Silver at Grey Advertising for the first day of my two-week job. I couldn’t wait.
Walking through the neighborhood, I couldn’t find the car that I had driven the night before. “Park?” a man sweeping the sidewalk said with a thick accent, pointing to where I thought my car should be.
“Yes!” I said, exasperated.
He shook his head. “No good.”
I looked again at the parking sign nearby. I had parked on the wrong side of the road. The car had been towed. I stomped around in circles, throwing my arms and fists. I ran to my house, confessed my stupidity to Nicole and then dialed the number of the girl whose car it was, praying she would say, “No worries. Get it to me whenever.”
“I’m in a wedding in Connecticut tomorrow,” she said. “ I need my car!”
I couldn’t believe it. On the most important first-day of any job I’ve ever had, I was going to miss it—it takes an entire day plus $187 to get your car released from the NYPD. I said goodbye to Nicole and ran out the door. I felt like the biggest heel of all time.
I arrived at Grey, drenched. I sat in the lobby and prayed with all my might. I had to keep this job even though I was about to walk out on the first day.
I sat in the lobby and prayed with all my might. I had to keep this job even though I was about to walk out on the first day.
As Mike Silver stepped out of the elevators I offered him my clammy hand. “I’m Dave Franco. May I have a word with you?”
“Sure,” he said, surprised.
“I know this is my first day, but I have an emergency. I can’t stay.” I held my breath and cringed.
He looked at me quizzically. “I guess an emergency is an emergency,” he said. “Come back Monday?”
I ran out of there feeling like the chances of me keeping that job had just been cut in half. When it comes to making first impressions, I had just made the worst one imaginable.
By the end of the day, I had gotten the car to its owner, then spent the entire weekend trying to psych myself up that I was going to be the best writer in the agency to earn that job. It was my only hope.
On Wednesday I was to show Mike Silver print ads. I felt good about the work and walked into his office with confidence. He hated all of it. “Start again,” he said.
The days to follow were identical to Wednesday, where everything I wrote was met with rejection from Mike. Suddenly, I was no longer writing from a clear mind, but panic. It was like trying to call forth delicately crafted ideas with a freight train speeding through your mind.
Over the weekend, I spent hours pleading with God and wringing my hands. Week one had been a disaster. I had taken a risk that two weeks freelance could turn into a job—and now it was crumbling.
On the following Tuesday, Mike asked me to write copy for a print ad. All he needed were two paragraphs. Short, smart copy is my specialty. This would be my chance to shine.
When I gave the copy to Mike, he looked at me as if to say, You have to be kidding.
I ran back to my office and began to question everything about myself. Thirty minutes later, I was finishing the rewrite when Mike showed up at my door. “Got it?” he asked.
“Take a look,” I replied, my heart beating out of my chest.
He read it. “Move over,” he said, with disgust. And so there I sat, with my boss sitting next to me doing my work for me because I couldn’t do it myself.
That’s it, I thought, feeling lower than low. It’s over.
At home, Nicole and I tried to talk about contingency plans, but neither of us had the strength. We were beyond our wits end. This was completely God’s to mend now. We were out of money, time, and answers. If God wanted us to be on the streets with a toddler and an infant, there must be a reason.
Thursday late afternoon I was to present TV ads for one of the agency’s more important clients. I walked into his office with storyboards that even I didn’t like that much.
He liked them even less.
That night, we held hands and prayed—the boy who trusted his parents, the mom filled with hope for her son and unborn baby, and the guy who let them all down. The job was a goner, our gamble had not paid off, and now there was nothing between us and homelessness. There was no going back to California. Nicole was too far along in her pregnancy for flying, and we didn’t have enough money to buy a car to get us across country. I felt such guilt as I watched her close her eyes and sweetly ask the Lord for His favor in the low light of our living room.
It was done.
The next morning, I walked into Grey for the last time and the receptionist told me to go straight to Mike’s office. Oh no. On the other side of this conversation was the process of leaving our apartment for the streets.
“Come in and close the door,” Mike said. Close the door, I thought. I think every firing starts by closing a door.
“Come in and close the door,” Mike said. "Close the door," I thought. "I think every firing starts by closing a door."
I took a deep breath, shut the door and turned around to find Mike standing by his desk. “Franco,” he said, holding out his hand. “I want you to be a part of my team.” I looked at him for a moment as if waiting to come to. Suddenly the blinking red light of my phone machine flashed through my mind.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I want you to be a part of my team,” he said again.
Tears began welling up in my eyes. I raised my hand to his and swallowed hard. I could think of only one thing to say. As the muscles in my face struggled to keep control, “It’s my birthday today,” barely came out of my mouth.
“Well, happy birthday,” he said cheerfully as we shook hands. I said nothing. I wasn’t sure it was really happening. I just stared at him with my eyes about to overflow.
I ran down the hall and into my office. I wanted to shout. I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know what to do—so I hugged my computer.
“Thank you, God!” I whisper yelled.
Today, whenever I am filled with fear, I remember the blinking red light. God never forgets His children.
If you need some encouragement in the midst of fear, watch this message.