My night last night was short. After I wrote my story I stayed up for a little bit and I think I was asleep by 7:30. This was good because it limited the amount of time I had to worry about that day's performance.
Today was early, again, but I was refreshed with the awesome amount of sleep I got. Driving to the track was shaky for me because I was worried about how bad the initial reaction of the guy in charge was going to be. Was it going to be mad? Would he tell me to head home? I was prepared for the worst as I pulled under the tunnel and returned to the greatest race course in the world.
The clouds were thick and spitting a fine mist when I drove in and right away I saw the guy in charge. As I approached him I was shocked. There was no tone of disappointment and I didn't get the news that I had been replaced.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief and somewhat chuckled at myself of being so rigid on my expectations and the almost outlandish thoughts I have on how other people will react. Yesterday's story, as well as my fear I had before the fact today is something that isn't isolated to this. This is common and to say, "just don't worry about it" doesn't really console me because my mind is great at playing out the possible reactions and, well, I'm usually wrong but still I worry.
The rain continued on and we had a rain delay. I followed the staff to registration office which is an office in the garage area of the speedway. Normally I would have shied away from something like this as eye contact and small talk usually can't be helped, but I felt stronger socially.
Small talk came easy as we watched ESPN and it seemed NOTHING happened in sports yesterday EXCEPT LeBron James signed with some team somewhere else. It was the only thing they talked about for over an hour and I guess his former team's fans were mad because they were burning his jersey in streets. Yes, I had many small talk chances with this and got some laughter out of the group.
Did you see that word "group"? I don't do groups, or at least I didn't. For one, coming up with what to say to appease the entire group is hard. Yes, public speaking is a group, but it is a one-way conversation, an open-ended group has been a high hurdle for me. The second part that is difficult is trying to keep everyone in check, so to speak, meaning knowing where everyone is looking without making eye contact. Since I could look around without that fear conversing with the room came easier. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy, but it was easier than the impossible that it normally is.
As the track dried I pitched in and helped by using a backpack leaf blower (I had never used one before) and if this had been anywhere else I would have been running away from the hideous sound of six of those high pitched whiny noise makers, but this was a race track and there was a job to be done and by golly we got that track dried.
18 races were on tap and starting out I kept thinking, "Oh my, what will I screw up today? How bad will it be?" But, as soon as the first USAC Point 25 midget took the track I stopped thinking such useless thoughts. There was a job to do and that was all that mattered. I can only do as good as I can do and worrying about it wouldn't do me any good. Now only if I could keep that mindset outside an event!
Race after race went by and no mistakes or blunders were made. Again, with my experiment going on, the race isn't the story, but today was redemption for me and it felt amazing!
After the event I stood around with other members of the staff and was just "one of the guys". I know I have said it, and I must say it again, taking the mysterious game of eye contact out of the equation has been huge because I would have just sat in my car, or simply headed back to the place where I am staying. Talking to people after the day's events is something I HAVE NEVER DONE!
To be part of a group is something I have never truly felt. I have been in a group, but never part of the group. To feel it for the first time is something that is somewhat shocking. "So this is what it is like" I thought, and I smiled, and couldn't quit smiling.
What will tomorrow bring? I don't know and I am afraid to ask, but you can watch it as it unfolds for me by watching tomorrow's racing action at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/usac-25 (I will be the guy across from the camera waving all the flags). We should start racing around 9AM US EST. If the feed isn't up when you go there try back in a bit.
Once again tomorrow's post will be later in the afternoon or early evening, and hopefully I will have something triumphant to write about and not another one of those seemingly unavoidable hurdles.