Like Being Hit By A Mac Truck. Or Something Like That.

Like Being Hit By A Mac Truck. Or Something Like That.

I have a story. But before I start with my drama-filled narrative, I gotta say that this week has been most excellent. I had a great day at work Monday…good work out-prayer-worship planning time with my pastor…fun day with the worship staff (minus my interns, who are in Italy on choir tour…I wonder what they’ll bring their boss back from Italy???!!!!)…and a relaxing Monday night at home. Pretty much the perfect Monday.

Then on Tuesday I headed to Franklin to record piano on a track for the new project, then jump into recording some vocals. However, after recording the piano and grabbing some lunch with Producer Paul, we went back to the studio only to find out that someone working in a yard next door had inadvertently cut the electricity line underground. Fun times. So he sent me away to run some errands and waste some time while we waited on the electric company to come fix the problem. I ended up with something in my day that I haven’t had in ages: MARGIN. I had 4 1/2 hours of nothing completely pressing on my agenda. It was nice. I spent most of it sitting in the Cool Springs Starbucks, beating down my inbox.

Starbucks is an interesting place to people watch. I had to laugh as I thought about how me and all of the cool young people in there were all probably listening to same thing in our tricky little white earphones: Chicago 17. Or maybe not.

Anyway, it was a restful and much needed time to BREATHE. The power came back on in the studio around 5:30, and I finished one song.

I finished another song Wednesday morning, before heading back to Jackson for band and choir rehearsal Wednesday night.

So…here’s my story. You may have seen me talking about it on twitter.

Last weekend, we had a women’s conference at our church. I was leading worship, and Angela was the teacher for Friday night (she was amazing). As I was heading to the church around 5pm on Friday, I loaded a bunch of stuff in my car. Angela had a lot of big props and stuff to take, and I had my usual handful of stuff. Of course, being a man, I was going to do whatever it took to only make one trip to the car. It’s just what we do. Leave us alone.

So I loaded 47 or so things in my arms and made my way to my car in front of the house. In order to be able to open the back car door, I put my laptop on top of the car.

Pause. Take it in. You know where this is going already.

I then proceeded to put everything else in the car. Some things in the back seat. Some things in the trunk. When I finished and had *everything* put away, I jumped in the driver’s seat, puled out of the driveway and headed to church.

Five minutes later, I pulled into the church parking lot. When I’m moving with purpose and excitement, I’m always thinking about and planning my next steps. So as I parked the car I started thinking to my self, ‘Take this in first and then that and then that and oh, do I even need to take my compu…’

And it was in that very second of time that I knew what I had done.


I hopped out of my car. Sure enough, It wasn’t on the roof. It wasn’t in the trunk. It wasn’t in the back seat.

I ran the stuff that Angela needed into the church, then got back in the car and headed home. I called the baby sitter and the kids, who were at the house, and asked them to go out into the driveway and look for the laptop, which they did. But to no avail.

So I got home, and began to slowly retrace my path from the house to the church. Slowly, and with my hazards on. It wasn’t on the driveway. It wasn’t on our winding country road. It was nowhere to be found. So far.

My mind began racing. What am I going to do? Everything…EVERYTHING I need for work is on that computer. All of my pictures of my wife and kids and life are on that computer. All my music charts. Everything.

I guess now would be as good a time as any to say that I’m the moron who didn’t often back up his computer. And by ‘not often’ I mean I HAD NEVER BACKED UP THIS COMPUTER in the year I’d owned it.

I called Angela and asked her to pray. But I tried to keep my voice UP and not sound too worried…she was getting ready to speak to hundreds of women, and I didn’t want her to be distracted. It was kind of like saying, “Hi, honey! We’re on the Titanic and it’s about to sink! But YAY! I love to swim and everything’s going to be ALRIGHT so just pray and ALL IS WELL nevremind me pay no attention to the man behind the curtain all’s well that ends well and I’m freaking out but you just keep getting ready nervous hub bub hub bub hub bub.”

So my journey looking for the computer continued. I called Pastor Ben to ask him to pray for us. No sooner had I uttered the sentence ‘I need you to pray for me’ did I begin to see something on the road up ahead. I didn’t even take time to tell him what was going on…what I needed prayer for…or why there was such panic in my voice. I just shouted “I’ll call you back!” and hung up the phone and fixed my eyes on the black square in the left lane of the interstate, just a few yards ahead of me. I passed it.

It was my computer.

I pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway and got out of the car. I waited for the traffic to clear, all the while cars were zooming over my computer. When the coast was clear, I ran and grabbed it and jumped back in the car. The Incase sleeve it was in was torn and mangled, and pretty much destroyed. I took it out of that and opened it up to see that the screen was shattered, the frame was bent, and the whole thing was marked up badly. The bottom of it was now curved like the bottom of a canoe.

But. It was on. Everything seemed to be on the desktop that was supposed to be. The tracking pad worked, and I was able to open up some applications and documents. I couldn’t believe it. I made my way back to the church (with the computer inside the car this time) and took it straight to James, the technical guru at my church. He immediately began to back it up.

The conference got underway and we had a great night. When it was time to go home, I went to check on it to see if it had finished backing up. It hadn’t. In fact, it wasn’t backing up at all anymore. It had locked down where it was, and wouldn’t do anything anymore. Nothing.  Rats.

So Saturday after the conference was over at noon, I took it to the Apple Store Genius Bar in Memphis. The conversation went something like this:

“So, tells us what’s going on with your computer today.”

“Well, it got run over by cars on the interstate.”

“Really? Hmm.” Pause. “Can I ask how it got on the interstate?”

“Yes you can.” Pause.

“So, how did the computer get on the interstate?”

“I’m not telling you.”

But then I came clean and revealed what an idiot I was. She took the computer and disappeared into the back for a while. I waited nervously at the desk, quite honestly not feeling very hopeful. Frankly, I had been careless and irresponsible, and didn’t expect any grace from the Apple people.

Then she reappeared.

“Well, obviously accidents like this are not covered under the AppleCare program. But we are going to make a one-time exception. We are going to try to fix your computer at no cost to you.”

I was shocked. Speechless. Elated. Seriously couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I might have teared up just a little. Not really. I had already looked like enough of an idiot. But I was dumbfounded.

“Really? REALLY?”

“Yes. Now, we can’t do anything with your hard drive, but I suggest you take it and try to get it backed up as soon as possible. We’ll call you when we’ve fixed your computer.”

I couldn’t believe it. I still had a big dose of sadness in my heart, because I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to get to the things on my hard drive that meant so much to me. But at least there were rays of hope. Honestly, though, I wondered if they were just pretending to try to fix it, just for the good press, when in reality they knew it was beyond hope.

I’m wearing myself out with this story. If you’re still with me, I’ll go ahead and skip to the end. I took my hard drive to church the next day and gave it to another tech guru friend at church, Jay, and he went to work on it. Result – he was able to back up the hard drive and save everything. I was so happy, I could’ve out-shined the supermoon (thank you, Jay!).

That was Sunday. Then on Tuesday, I got a voice message from the Apple Store. “Mr. Cottrell, this is so-and-so at the Apple Store in Memphis. Your computer is fully repaired and ready to be picked up. Please let us know if you have any questions.”


I still can’t believe it all happened.

Let me stop right here and say: the customer service I’ve received from Apple at any point in my Mac-owning experience has never been anything other than amazing. Truly. This company knows how to do customer service. Thank you, Apple people.

This was my fault. I was careless. I was irresponsible.  Still, I was shown mercy. I did not get what I deserved.

You know what that makes me think? That’s the story of my life. Yours, too (See Romans 5:8).

Now. I’m going to go back this computer up. Have a great day. Go show somebody some mercy today. You’ll be glad you did!


  1. Jonathan on March 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

    What about that short but severe panic attack over the second loss of the hard drive?!

    • traviscottrell on March 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Thought about it. And the construction traffic. And the 2 missed Genius Bar appointments because of said traffic.

  2. Nancy on March 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Oh oh OH. I know how you felt when you were looking for the laptop on the road–I felt the same way when my 2 year old played with my wedding ring and hid it. It was 6 years ago and I can still get sick just thinking about it. SO glad the story had a happy ending!

  3. Craig Brisco on March 25, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Great story!!
    One word of advise for you….. Carbonite…….it is a lifesaver!

  4. Todd Stanfield on March 25, 2011 at 8:12 am

    The Apple Store in Germantown is great. They fixed a MacBook that was out of warranty and replaced a iPhone that I dropped. They take care of you.

    As far as backup. One word. Dropbox. I keep all my current projects on Dropbox ,and it keeps it synced between my home and work computers.

  5. Stacy on March 25, 2011 at 8:13 am

    “It was kind of like saying, “Hi, honey! We’re on the Titanic and it’s about to sink! But YAY! I love to swim and everything’s going to be ALRIGHT so just pray and ALL IS WELL nevremind me pay no attention to the man behind the curtain all’s well that ends well and I’m freaking out but you just keep getting ready nervous hub bub hub bub hub bub.””

    Most hilarious thing I have read in a long time!

    • Amanda on March 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      I was thinking the same thing!! I needed a good laugh, thanks!

  6. Terrie Cash on March 25, 2011 at 8:18 am


    My husband and I are HUGE Apple fans. David, my husband, bought a used I-phone several years ago. A few weeks later after buying it, the bottom 1/3 of the screen lost the ability to respond to touch. We happen to be in the Baltimore area so David took the phone to the Apple store. The Apple Store people asked David several questions, and David explained he bought it used from his co-worker. Apple store told David that the phone was out of warranty, but they would be happy to go ahead and replace it. What? Did they said they would replace it? Apple no longer made the model David had, so Apple gladly upgraded his phone. What company does this? Because of Apple’s outstanding customer service, we now own an I MAC, our family of four all have I-phones, and my husband just purchased a MAC Book Air.

    As our Microsoft products come to the end of their life, we replace them with Mac products.

    I am so glad everything worked out for you. I think Apple should recruit you to do a commercial for them.


  7. Robyn Davidson on March 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I’ve heard this story. I already knew the ending. And I still couldn’t breathe reading this post.

    Gonna go sit outside and drink coffee and lower my blood pressure.


    (glad your stuff is fixed blah blah blah)

  8. Mishababy on March 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

    aaawww! poor cottrelltravis!! 🙁 sounds like you need a care package. hhmm, lemme see….Sweet Sixteen doughnuts……..Bojangles biscuits………and Cheerwine. Does this sound good?

  9. Delora, Granite City, IL on March 25, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Glad to hear that about Apple. I haven’t had any problems to take mine in yet, but info good to know. Thanks for sharing and glad all worked out well for you!

  10. Diane Bailey on March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Such an Awesome story of mercy! Love it, absolutely love it! We use Mac as well. They do have the best customer service department!

    Though the hard-drive of your life was possibly hit by an 18 wheeler, I am praising God that it is still redeemable…that sounds like a great theme for a Bible Study!

  11. Sarah Eccles on March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I laughed through out your story but God was with you every step of the way. He knew how important your laptop was to you and it will be a mistake you’ll never forget. Praise God you got it all fixed as well, I don’t think many people can say they have a laptop that was run over on the interstate now it is a good piece conversation starter, if you ever run out of stuff to say. I love your stories Travis. You Rock!!!!

  12. Terri Wright on March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I would have snorted and laughed harder if I hadn’t done the same thing with my grade book(7th grade teacher) with EVERYTHING about the 120 students’ progress in it. My story didn’t turn out as positively as yours, except in that I DID learn to have 2 copies of EVERYTHING. Once we emerged into the digital age, I backed up, printed, etc….God teaches us ALL the time, in ALL sorts of ways!!!!!

  13. Susannah on March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Chicago 17! LOL! I have that on vinyl!

    • Margy on March 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

      I caught that too! Chicago…one of my faves since high school!
      I’m new to the Apple family (got my iPhone last week), but good to know about their customer service!! Also glad you are giving them the accolades. So often we are quick to pass along how badly we have been treated, but we need to give praise where it’s due also!!

  14. the weejay on March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Two words:



  15. Brian Turner on March 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    You are a Great Story teller! LOOKING FORWARD TO EASTER @ EBC!!! YOU ROCK FOR GOD!!;-)

  16. Carole Chaput on March 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Love it…His mercies are new EVERY morning…amazing Lord!

  17. Chuck Hoover on March 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Travis . . Way to go. I’m amazed at YOU! But, not at God. He was doing what he does, Grace and Mercy! But, you should still backup your computer, And, thanks for the Starbucks plug! Woohoo! See you in Charlotte! Chuck (and Nancy too!)

  18. Sula on March 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    What an experience! And nobody – NOBODY – could tell that story – and have the reader on the edge of his/her chair – like you! In your ‘spare time’ you should write the on-going saga of your life.

    “Our God is an awesome God!” He is gracious and merciful – (did I hear you say “even when [in our haste] we’re less than responsible”) – right?

    I’m really very thankful there was a happy ending to your story.

    • Debbie Barnett on March 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      I so agree with Sula. I was on the edge of my chair during the whole story. I love reading your stories. Glad your story had a happy ending!

  19. Andrea on March 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Chicago 17!! YES!!!!!!!!!!

    Margin is a wonderful thing 🙂

  20. Nancy on March 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Oh my- you certainly can tell a good story. So glad it turned out well, thanks be to God.

  21. Nancy Jensen on March 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I knew how this turned out and it still made me feel sick to my stomach.
    I will admit to laughing out loud over the Titanic comment. You are very clever, Mr. Cottrell.
    Love the Chicago 17 album – I am sure I wore that one out back in the day. : )

    Have a wonderful, trauma-free weekend!

  22. Carolyn Nelson on March 26, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Hm…lends a whole new meaning to MAC attack. Maybe your Mac will now sing …I’ve Been Redeemed, Restored, and ReBooted”. I followed your panicky twitters from you this week and was so thankful all turned out great in the end. (Mac’s rock…so does APPLE!) Especially glad those family pix were saved…those cannot be replaced. :o) Looking forward to worshipping w/you and team in Fresno and hearing a WORD from the Lord thru what He’s laid on Beth’s heart and your heart from His word! I never fail to come away from one of these weekends unchanged by God . Praying for you and entire LPL team.

  23. Jodie on March 26, 2011 at 3:00 am

    What a GREAT story, Travis! I was picturing it all and laughing as I read it. So happy with you for a happy ending and for God’s mercy being so REAL.

    P.S. I’d love to get a copy of Angela’s teaching at the conference 🙂

  24. Myra on March 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Praise God. What a wonderful story. Glad it had such a good ending. Remember, “Backing Up is Hard to Do”. At least remembering to do it is the hard part.

    Same sort of thing happened to Don, many years ago–with leaving his new Bible on the top of the car. Found it later on Hwy. 45, slightly roughed up!

  25. Susan Hardin on March 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    God is sooo good!!

  26. David Baroni on March 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    You are a hoot! And a great writer. You write like you talk and think (I think) and I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed reading your writing. The blog looks incredible too… how DO you do that? I have one photo on my blog…
    Blessings to you and yours!
    David B.

  27. Linda Powell on March 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Poor Travis!
    You tell stories very well, especially the Titanic part. It really was a funny story AFTER I heard the good ending. I could just picture you dodging cars to grab your computer. I knew all the time though that it would end well, because you are a very special guy and deserved it. I would like to have a CD of Angela’s teaching, if it is available.

    Can’t wait to get your new CD. May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry.
    Linda P.

    • JBrown on March 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Email [email protected] and see if she can get you a copy mailed to you. She is our Women’s Ministry director and was over the event.

  28. Deirdre on March 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I’ve been stuck on the highway once and i can’t even begin to imagine ducking out in front of traffic to get a computer. you are one brave dude. seriously.

    I love the lesson you turned this into at the end. Beth would be proud, you tied it up in a neat package with a bow on top. *grin* good job!


  29. Denise Keeter on March 29, 2011 at 9:46 am

    You PRAYED and here’s what I know about God…..”He is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. ” (Eph. 3:20) I love this verse! So happy you were shown mercy and that the Apple Co has a good reputation.
    🙂 Denise Keeter

  30. Tina Rosas on April 2, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Travis (If this is really you),

    I just saw you in Fresno, Ca with Beth Moore and you talked about this story. Actually you told this story right before one of your songs. I have to say, I liked reading the whole story on here. I do not believe that you told the complete story (most of it though). I do not remember you talking about calling for prayer requests over it, which I am glad to hear. As I was listening to the story I was wondering why you hadn’t called. I feel better now knowing that you did. Great job this weekend and I cannot wait to hear the Rain song (I haev no clue the name of the new song you sang). I can tell you that it hit me in so many places as it did. I am going to wait patiently for it as that is one of the main things that we learned over the weekend. If you respond to these (if it is really you) can you tell me the name of that song? This way when it does come out I will know the name of it. It is one of those that I wish I could hear right now as it is desperately needed. :O) Have a great evening.

    Tina Rosas
    Coalinga, Ca

  31. rhonda on April 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    First, I am thankful your computer was restored.
    Second, I am thankful for the laugh! I would love to have seen her face when you said she could ask. Priceless!

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