Smarte Carte

Smarte Carte
by Andy Gullahorn
May 23, 2013 – Nashville, TN

Smart Carte
I hate the idea of paying for a smarte carte.

If I happen to really need one
and don’t see an abandoned one on the way out of the terminal
I will walk out past the arrivals curb
all the way out to short term parking
searching for a lonely, untethered cart
left resting against some cement pillar
that I can take for free.
All that work is worth saving the three dollars to me.

Even more abhorable to me is the thought of paying those guys
with the big carts
who look for the weakest calf stepping off the escalator
so that they can move in for the kill!

“Need some help with your luggage, sir?”

I don’t.
I am a man
strong enough to handle my own bags, thank you.

Now which way is it to the short term parking?

The wife always wants me to pay for a smarte carte when we travel together.
I scoff and remind her
using only my facial expressions and vocal huffs
that I can provide for this family by carrying all of the bags myself.
Like I did that time in Seattle
when I managed to carry three suitcases
a backpack
and two guitars
on a hurried, stress-filled race to the rental car shuttle.

Oh. We made it to the shuttle.
Just in time for the handle of the roller bag
that was serving as the pack mule for this particular expedition
to buckle under the sheer weight of the attached luggage.
So there I was – sweating
and trying to unhook bags and load them onto the bus
then attempting to force the bent bars back into their hiding place
in the hindquarters of the suitcase.

It didn’t work.

Out of frustration
or embarrassment
I just bent the cheap metal back and forth
until it snapped
leaving two razor-sharp horns
sticking out of a Samsonite

The wife said to me, “Should have paid for a cart.”

I guess, perhaps, that is why this feeling is so familiar.

I start out with the pack mule roller
full of the daily-wear stresses of the season.
Then, there is a friend with brain cancer
another whose marriage is disintegrating
and another.
Then, there is financial stress in the family
and a disagreement with a friend
and an issue at the kids’ school.
Then, when it already seems too much to bear
the plastic-strip curtained mouth of the baggage claim belt
spits out a tumor at the base of a one year old brainstem
and a three year prison sentence for a dear friend
and yet another marriage going down the tubes.

Still, I pile it on.

But somewhere behind my desire to keep calm and carry on
I know that something is about to buckle.

Maybe it is time to wave down the guy with the big cart
swallow my pride
and say
I guess I was wrong.
I could use some help with my luggage.

And he will come with his glorified smarte carte saying

Lay your burdens down.


Andy Gullahorn HeadshotAndy Gullahorn has a unique ability to level the playing field between performer and audience by mixing vulnerable personal stories with his self-deprecating humor. He writes songs to “let people know they aren’t alone” or “at least let them feel better about their lives by sheer comparison.” He spends his time playing concerts and house shows across the country, writing for other artists, and providing his three kids with plenty of stories to tell their counselors in 20 years. His new CD Beyond the Frame was just released and may be purchased by clicking here.

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  1. Andy, I’m so thankful that God made you the Andy Gullahorn that you are. Not many people can tell a story like this; just when I begin to think it’s a nonsense poem (which I was loving, by the way), there is much more to it — and I wind up feeling a bit overwhelmed by the depth (yes, the depth — who knew?!?) of it. Thanks for giving yourself to this; your life has impacted mine in ways for which I am very, very grateful.

  2. Andy, I don’t care if I know poetry or not…this is beautiful. You start with the goofy humor I’ve come to expect from your art, and then you floor me with such depth and humility. You disarm me so I can laugh at myself while I laugh at you, and then you sneak in the real message of love and acceptance. But then again, you do it to me every time and I still get taken by surprise. Thank you for sharing yourself, your story, and your experiences of Jesus with the rest of us.

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