Procrastination Is Overrated

Sep 7, 2017   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

I don’t often procrastinate. Or, at least, I don’t usually procrastinate. Today, though, is one of those days. It’s 2:15 in the afternoon and I’m finally writing this first blog paragraph after finding every possible useless and/or useful thing to do up until this point. Usually, I’m excited to get going on a new blog installment but today is one of those examples of the water being too cold, the mountain too high, the sauna too hot, and my brain too disengaged. So, I’ve been surfing the web, reading (parts of my book and a few chapters of another), and basically doing anything but writing. Maybe my writing tank was just empty. Now, here I am and it’s flowing pretty well. Maybe I ought to eat a second lunch, or go run some more errands… ┬áNah, time to finally dive in.

There is a lot to write about, especially starting with my brief trip to Indy for the US Nationals. Let us start at the beginning. That’s always a good way to get rolling.

I flew down on Saturday, which in itself was an odd thing. That’s an “Indy Only” approach because the race is on Monday. Before I packed for my early afternoon flight, I studied up on the construction that’s going on with the TSA stations at MSP. There are just two TSA security entrances at MSP, but they are very large and tend to be pretty efficient. There is, however, a new type of security set-up that makes things even more efficient, and I’ve had experience with it. Was it at Orlando? That’s possible, but even if it was somewhere else I was really impressed.

Why does it take so long for people to get through security? A lot of it has to do with people being in a line to do it. And then the person at the front of the line takes forever to fill their bins and load their bags onto the conveyor belt. Like boarding an aircraft, once the person at the front stops and takes a while to get situated, everyone else is stuck doing nothing at all.

The new system involves bins and a conveyor, but it has room for multiple people to be doing their thing at the same time, at automated “stations” along the conveyor. Bins pop up automatically, you put your stuff in the bin, and away it goes. Since there are different places to stand, you can go to any available spot when you get there. You don’t have to wait for everyone in front of you. It really moves along pretty quickly once people get the hang of it. Kind of like roundabouts on the roads these days. Once people have figured them out, everything moves smoothly and you can’t believe we used to sit at stoplights there.

So, they’re putting this system in at MSP and to do so they’ve closed one of the two TSA checkpoints to install it. I figured it wouldn’t be awful on a Saturday, and it wasn’t. Plus, I now have CLEAR as well as Pre-Check, and the great news was that they had the CLEAR lane open at the checkpoint that’s closed. I literally checked my bag at the Delta Sky Priority desk and was through TSA in less than a minute. Fingerprints or retina scans are the absolute model of efficiency.

That left me an hour to hang out at the Delta Sky Club, and there’s all sorts of good news about Sky Clubs these days. Not long ago, definitely back in the old Northwest Airlines days and even into the early days after the Delta merger, the club was a great place to relax, have a drink, get on the internet, and have a bite to eat, if by “bite to eat” you meant little rectangles of cheddar cheese or some pretzels.

Now, there’s real food. Okay, not steak and potatoes, but some good soups, chicken salad, a salad bar, and even hot breakfast in a number of Sky Clubs. Plus, the new seats and cubicles all address the most crucial necessity we all must have: Power outlets. There are power outlets and USB ports everywhere. No more leaving your phone on the floor to charge it up.

I’ve been a member of the Sky Club since the first trip I made out of MSP after we moved to Minnesota in 2002. It was, of course, the World Club then because Northwest and Delta weren’t one big airline yet, but all it’s done is get better, year after year. I just renewed my membership again, for another year, last month. I can do it every year with miles, and they are miles well spent. As a “Million Miler” on Delta, I have plenty to spare.

Okay, back to the Indy trip. I reserved a room at a Residence Inn on the northwest side of town because I wanted space to spread out, the rate was pretty good, and it seemed like it should be a quiet place to stay. Quiet is a very important thing for me, when I’m on the road. When I checked in, the lady behind the desk took care of the details and then said, “We have breakfast from 7 to 10 in the morning, although tomorrow there will be an early cold breakfast at 6, for the teams.”

I said, “Did you say teams?” thinking there might be some NHRA friends of mine staying there, but her reply was, “Yes, we have a number of 10-12 year old youth soccer teams staying with us, for a big tournament.” Oh joy!

When I got to my room, all the doors around mine were decorated with photos of young soccer players, with the names of the boys in each room taped to the wall above their photos. Even more joy!

As it turned out, they were pretty wound up and noisy until about 9:00 pm and then the parents were able to get them all in their rooms and all was good. Crisis averted. Thank you, soccer parents!

I was excited to get to the track in the morning, as well. Because I’ve been going to the US Nationals since 1992, and because I actually lived in Indy for nearly two years in 1996 and ’97, it’s a nostalgic race for me. Plus, the news had spread that another former PR pro, one by the name of Elon Werner, was also making an appearance. We weren’t technically “putting the band back together” but it was going to be great to see Elon and hang out in the Media Center with my former PR colleagues. Consider it like one of those special benefit concerts when a disbanded rock group will get back together for one night.

This is epic on too many levels to count. Also two of my favorite people! (Click to hilariously enlarge the photo)

At one point, up in the 4th-floor Media Center (feel the burn, going up those flights of stairs 10 times a day) I asked Leah Vaughn to take my phone and shoot a pic of Elon, Kelly Topolinski, and me. She clicked off two and then said, “Elon, open your eyes!” and we ended up with this most epic iPhone pic. I had to stick the “grimace” emoji onto the shot, because Elon is doing a perfect impression of that guy. Hilarious. And, if you’ve read “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” you know how important and influential these two wonderful people are, and how much they’ve meant to me.

I spent a lot of time in the Team Wilk pit, enjoying the company of so many longtime friends and colleagues, including (of course) but not limited to my buddy Krista Wilkerson. Indy is a big race for the Wilkerson family, and there’s always a large number of volunteers helping out (including Jon and Susan Cagle who cook some amazing steaks for us) and many of those volunteers started helping Tim in 2009, after John Fink and I joined the team. Those Auburn, Ind. friends of the Finkster have stayed part of Team Wilk all these many seasons. It’s like being home again when I’m around everyone.

The pits were jammed, and it seemed like I couldn’t walk 10 feet without seeing another friend, former teammate, or colleague. It’s really a homecoming race for a lot of people. For me, being in the Media Center with so many great and valuable friends is like therapy. That part of the job I miss enormously. That’s why I’m so happy to be doing this promotional tour to many of the races, and Charlotte will be next on my agenda, next week. Hurricane permitting, I guess. The forecast for Charlotte predicts it will move through and be gone by the race weekend, so here’s another time when I’m rooting for the weather experts to be right. Also hoping, very much, that Irma just moves back out to sea and spares Florida and the southeast. I have family there, and many friends.

My best buddy Rachel, with her new reading assignment

Rachel Wilkerson was in Indy, too, and Krista secretly bought a copy of my book for her. Now she has two pounds of reading to do! I expect a full book report, Miss Wilkerson. Hop to it!

I was in the Media Center for the first Sunday qualifying session, and when Tim came up as part of the final pair, Alan Reinhart proceeded to give my book and me some nice plugs on the P.A. system. That had an immediate effect once I was back in the pit.

I can say with certainty that Sunday at Indy was the single biggest day in terms of book sales at the souvenir trailer, and for folks bringing their copies to the pit for me to sign. I didn’t think we’d ever match the action we had in Joliet, but Indy trounced it. Very gratifying, and a lot of fun.

I caught up with Del Worsham in the lanes before the second session, and was thrilled when his sister Susan came over to the Wilk pit with her adorable daughter, Lily Elaine. I’ve known Susan since my first day on the job with Del and Chuck, in 1997. We were introduced early that day and have been dear friends ever since. And somehow, 20+ years later, I’ve aged and she hasn’t. I was just flipping through photos for some Facebook posts I’ve been making, and came across a picture of Susan from that first day in Pomona. She looks exactly the same. Absolutely beautiful.

In summation, it was a wonderful day at the US Nationals with many of my favorite people on the planet. When the second session was nearing its end, I made the long walk out to the infield of the circle track, got in my rental car, and headed back to the hotel. As a bonus, all the soccer teams were gone and there was no sign of Justin, Jordan, or Kyle on the doors of the rooms around mine. And, I had Steak ‘n Shake for dinner. All was good.

On Monday, I gave myself plenty of time to get from my room to the departure gate, as I always do, and once again flew right on through everything. A smiling agent was waiting for me at the Delta counter when I turned the corner, and we had a fun conversation about the Twin Cities. He’d lived there for quite a while before transferring to the Indy airport.

No CLEAR at Indy, but I had Pre-Check and never slowed down going through that. The TSA guys even said, “Man, you timed that perfectly. Up until five minutes ago, we’ve been slammed.” Then, thanks to another Sky Club, I had comfy place to get a bite, do some social media, and relax before heading to the gate. And, I timed that perfectly too. When you show up at the gate at the precise moment they begin to board the plane, you’ve aced your travel test for the day. To top it off, we were 20 minutes early into MSP. All good. I feel like I’m getting back into the rhythm of travel again, and it looks like I’ll at least make Platinum this year, after a very slow start.

Now, another brief story that originally was in the book but ended up on the editing room floor. It has to do with golf clubs. My golf clubs.

We went through a phase with the CSK team where just about everyone on the team was really into golf, and Thursday would typically be the day most of the team would play. We had three big rigs on the road then, with the red team, the blue team, and hospitality all having transporters, so the golfers on the team kept their clubs in the hospitality rig. I did as well.

Maybe some day I’ll find out who lost my 7-iron

But, and this is critical, the Thursday thing didn’t work very often for me, since that was my standard travel day back then. That does not mean, however, that it was also an off-day for my clubs. Not all the guys had clubs in the rig, so someone would almost invariably use mine. Even the time the whole team came to our original home in Woodbury, big rigs and all. That’s Carl Boyd on the right, with my green bag in his hand.

Now, I’m not about to blame Carl for this because it could’ve been a wide variety of people who did this deed. But, someone, at some point, lost my 7-iron. That’s not hard to do. It’s standard to take your putter and the club you’re going to need to get on the green, with you from the cart. It’s easy to lay the club down on the side of the green while you’re putting, and not difficult to walk right past it on your way back to the cart.

Right around this time was when I started having all those horrible arthritis issues in my ankles and knees, so golf stopped being a thing I could do very often. I still have that bag, I still have those clubs, but I still have no 7-iron. And that was probably the club I hit the best and trusted the most. It’s probably time for a whole new set anyway. I hope my 7-iron found a nice new home with someone in a foursome behind my CSK buddies.

And I leave you, today, with this.

Almost too sleepy to eat… I said Almost.

Boofus and Buster are professional sleepers. Buster is probably a little better at marathon snooze sessions than his little brother, but they can both stretch it out to mid-morning just about everyday. I’ve seen Buster make it to the middle of the afternoon, still snoring in our unmade bed. I don’t make the bed until they’re both up. Hey, it’s their bed. We just get to share it with them!

Yesterday, around 11:00 in the morning, they heard me in the kitchen and came out for their breakfast treats. They fully expect breakfast treats. Don’t even think of not giving them breakfast treats. But this time, they were still so sleepy they could barely meow. Boof looks like he’s still 90% asleep in this photo. They crack me up.

So, that’s about it. Still lots of fun stuff on the agenda for the next week, including the U2 concert at the Vikings stadium tomorrow night. That will be incredible. Then, on Monday night my buddy Terry Blake will head back to the same US Bank Stadium for a little Monday Night Football. Vikes vs. Saints, featuring some running back named Peterson. Should be fun, win or lose.

As always, if you perused this blog installment and enjoyed it, please don’t leave before clicking the “Like” button at the top. The more likes, the merrier.

Until next Thursday, I bid you all farewell and hope you have a great weekend. Off to Charlotte next Friday.

Bob Wilber, at your service and still missing my 7-iron.

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