Monday, August 8, 2011

The Eventful Weekend and A Horse In the Fog

OH MY! This is going to be a weekend to remember and one I won't soon forget. Of course it started off last week on Thursday with that planking photo I showed, but from that point on it just go more and more memorable.

Friday was an unexpectedly long day as I knew I was flagging the .25 Little Hoosier 100, but at the end of that day's event James asked me, "Would you mind flagging the midget triple header at Plymouth Speedway?" Would I mind? The smile on my face was answer enough and I was bouncing off the proverbial walls for the next few hours anxiously awaiting what, to me, is heaven on Earth.

We got to Plymouth Speedway and I set my flag bag beside the pickup truck we were in and a few minutes later a near disaster occurred when my bag was partially ran over by another pickup truck. My heart sank and for anyone that knows me they know that my flags are my most prized possession. With tense nerves I opened the bag fearing to see torn flags and shattered sticks, but amazingly the only sign that the bag had been ran over was the dirt marks on the bag that matched the tread of the tires of the pickup truck.

As evening came the event began and all the nerves of fearing screwing up vanished. The car count was good with one division having something around 20 cars and the start of that feature, with 20 cars zooming by as I threw the green, was nothing short of pure awesomeness! I had a thought then, in that flagstand, that it should be against the law to enjoy something as much as I enjoy being at the race track as chief starter. With each checkered flag that flew though I knew it was one step closer to the event being done.

Eventually the event was over and I think that the ride back to the hotel was one of the longest rides of my life; not because the mileage was all that long (it wasn't) and not because some PowerAde was spilled (it was) but because it had been a 14 hour day flagging. To pay attention for that long takes a toll on the mind and I was a bit short fused, but we made it back just in time to get 5 hours of sleep.

Sunday morning I felt awful. It was nothing that eight more hours of sleep could fix, but that wasn't happening as the Little Hoosier 100 in Newton Park had to be ran.

Despite every cell in my body yearning for sleep I found energy. I don't know from where, but I was my usual energetic self. The day went on and still I was as enthusiastic with all my movements as usual. Thankfully I got one quick break and another person filled in and that was a good time to watch, but I went right back to flagging thereafter.

Now I've said this many time about flagging, but I wish you, if you don't know personally, could see the difference in me flagging and being out in public. I keep repeating this because it is so powerful for me. Most of the time I over analyze every aspect of life and will not act or say anything even if I want to; however, when flagging, nothing is over analyzed and action is done with precision and without thought.

I feel as if the real me is seen at the race tracks, and perhaps and presentations I do too. It is in these realms that I am not held back. I'll admit writing this, and the last paragraph has brought tears to my eyes because it is just so powerful. I've always known that I loved racing; I loved when I raced and I love what I do now, but it is more than just loving it as it is where I am free from the usual over processing my mind does and typical social awkwardness occurs.

Race after race clicked by on Saturday and later in the day I had a close call as one of the quarter midgets tried to visit me where I was standing at speed. It was a close call and those that saw it thought I was going to be hit for sure, but I wasn't phased and kept going.

An odd thing also happened over the course of the A mains as two of the winners, on their victory laps, dropped the checkered flag. This has happened before, but each time the winners did it the flag got wrapped up in their rear tire and axle. The place I get my flags, Dynamic Dezigns, are amazing durable, and I've never lost a flag on a race weekend before, but not even those flags could survive the punishment that the cars provided them as they were punctured and torn. Could they have still been used? Maybe, but I like my flags in perfect shape so for each of those kids that dropped the flag it was actually a bonus for them as I gave them the flag. For one reason or another I carry four checkered flags with me, which is a good thing, but I was told that one of the winners thought that the flag I gave them was, "The best trophy they ever received." I just hope the rumor of destroying my flag means you get to keep it doesn't start as that could get expensive.

Sadly, the event finally was over and this is the most somber of times for me as that enthusiastic person with the flags who is full of life and energy returns to the reserved, shy, and highly anxious person I normally am. This also occurs at the end of presentations as well. 

On the ride back to Indy with J.P. and Kyle I was debating on driving all the way back to Saint Louis. I was all for it and drank two Red Bulls at 8PM in anticipation of the driving marathon. 30 minutes later I decided not to drive back and I ended up staying at Kyle's. Before that, however, on the ride back to Indy we had some great conversations and I realized just how long it took for me to open up to the USAC staff in terms of socializing. What does that mean? As shy and reserved as I am, as mentioned in the last paragraph, I am no where near as bad as I was last year.

Last season I drove myself to all events regardless if I could catch a ride out of Indy and once at the track I flagged and then left the track. When offered to go out to dinner afterwards I declined. I wanted nothing to do with chatting and kept to myself. It was even harder last year at the end of the events because the difference was even more stark. This season though, after Round 1 in Phoenix, I began to open up. It took a while and this is what I have mentioned many times in my writings, is that I won't instantly open up. The amount of time it takes to feel comfortable around others is much higher than it seems it takes other people. Most people seem not to take the time to get to know a person that requires a longer time to feel comfortable, but the USAC staff I work with has taken the time and for that I am grateful beyond words.

Sunday morning I left Kyle's house and made my way towards I-70. The weather was horrible as the fog was dense. Visibility simply wasn't. Despite this I drove on fearing the worst but hoping for the best. I also at this time refused to get my GPS out as I believed I remembered the way back from the last time I stayed at Kyle's. After knowing I missed the Putnamville turn I got it out and sure enough I had missed my turn.

Several minutes after finding out where I was I came around a gentle right hand turn. The fog was even denser at this point in time and then I saw an outline of an image. I have seen this outline many times in my memories and it is something I will never forget. Without thought I swerved into the other lane and I looked to my right and there it was, a gigantic horse pulling a cart with a family in it.

It was Sunday morning and chances are our that Amish family was off to church and I came very close to slamming into their horse. That horse had to be two times larger than the horse I hit, which is how I knew the outline of the image. I don't know if I could have lived with myself had I hit that horse, or cart with the family in it, and I also thanked God that there were no cars in the other lane coming at me because I swerved without thought, not that one could see if there were cars or not in that dense of fog.

A minute later I had to stop my car as the fear rolling through my body was extreme. The flashbacks to the time I hit the horse came back, and I was afraid to drive once again. I got caught up on the fact that life is short and had I hit that horse square on it could have been cut tragically short for me, or the family. Then I thought back to the quarter midget that nearly struck me and life became a scary place. "Why ever leave the house?" I said aloud, "WHY? WHY? WHY!"

If you have read my book, or followed my blog for a while, you will know that close calls seem to follow me around. As of late they haven't bothered me, but the outline of that horse took me back to a time when I didn't work at TouchPoint and didn't have a mission in life. I always wondered why without coming up with an answer. Back then I did want to hide as how many close calls can happen if one never leaves the house?

These thoughts were racing faster than the races I flagged Friday night at Plymouth Speedway. Slowly though I came out of it as I began to think about the growth I experience being out of the house. If I wasn't willing to leave I surely would not have that realm of being able to have the energy and style I have when I flag. I also wouldn't know any of the USAC staff and wouldn't have ever opened up and have those times I socialize. Then, as the fear started exiting my body, I remembered my job and mission at TouchPoint. I have to be out, I have to travel, I have to leave the house because if I stayed at home where it is safe how exciting would my blog be? How could I present?

Extreme fear is an odd thing as in the heat of it one can forget who they truly are and parked on the side of the road I felt as if I regressed many years, but I worked through it and with a grit of the teeth I ventured onward back home. I wish my story ended there, but the weekend of oddities continued on once I got home.

Around 11:30 yesterday morning I went to Lion's Choice to pick up lunch. This is common as it is, without a doubt, my favorite place to eat. On the way home, as I was traveling on Chippewa where the road curves, a vehicle pulled out in front of me as if I were not headed there way. I know now my breaks on my car are in full working condition because I stomped on them and stopped just before striking this vehicle in the driver's door. What type of vehicle was this? Ironically enough it was a Ford Bronco. Yes, the world has a sense of humor and the fear started briefly, but as the driver backed up, without offering any sign of apologizing I might add, I drove off with a smile on my face. Some may say I need a change of luck but I disagree. You may see bad luck, but I actually had amazing luck in that I'm still in one piece and my car doesn't need an insurance claim.

Tomorrow is my 400th post and I'm have something special in mind. I am looking for LOTS of comments and LOTS of shares of it on Facebook and Twitter so please help me celebrate my 400th post tomorrow! 

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