One of the things I have always loved most about my job is the uncertainty each day brings.
While getting ready to come to the office each morning, I pause to reflect on what I have to do that day. There's almost always a preconceived notion of what I need to write to catch myself up.
Many times visions of those stories are dancing in my head before I ever kick off the covers and reach for my glasses and the TV remote from the nightstand. Many times it's in the steam and mist of the shower that I come up with some of my best leads or more interesting story ideas.
But most days, by the time I get that first cup of newsroom coffee (I like to call it Star-yucks) and settle in with my big screen computer in front of me and my laptop to the right, all bets are off.
There's no longer time or space to deal with that feature on the local preacher's three-legged dog. No time to catch up on the most recent board meeting from hell or make the calls necessary to hunt down info for that story I've put off since National Procrastination Day.
So knowing how my best-laid plans so often go awry, I still like to line out my agenda for the day. Especially on Saturday.
And this past Saturday shaped up as a doozy. After all, we somehow -- with only two available people -- had to staff photo opportunities involving Coats for Kids, the Halloween Festival at the Fairgrounds, Heartland Automotive's 25th anniversary celebration, the PINK Fun Run at Robe-Ann Park and anything else that might develop.
In order to navigate our way through that jam-packed Saturday, I scheduled my 2006 Jeep Commander and its 262,000 miles for an early morning oil change and check-up (the check engine light keeps disconcertingly popping on) at the York Jeep dealership in Crawfordsville.
Yeah, bright and early at 8 a.m. On a Saturday. Ugh.
That meant I'd be northbound on U.S. 231 before my first cup of coffee. A word of warning was advised: Stay out of my way.
But the silver lining in all of this was the prospect of gasoline at pre-9/11 prices. The word late last week was that Crawfordsville stations had dropped the per-gallon price of unleaded gas to $2.95.
While that's still way too much for a gallon of gas, it sure beats the heck out of the $3.39 that was prevailing in Greencastle at the time. And if someone can tell me why a gallon of gas costs 40 cents or so more in Greencastle than it does in Crawfordsville, I'd really like to know why.
Gasoline for under $3 a gallon? Knowing I had an 8 a.m. Saturday appointment already planned, I scrimped and saved all day Friday to keep from filling up. I coasted down the hill toward the fairgrounds. Cut corners ... literally, and tried to drive ever with the wind at my back like some poetic Irish proverb might suggest.
And by the time I passed Southmont High School Saturday morning, I probably only had a gallon or so of gasoline left in the tank. That didn't matter though as I was hell-bent for the Crawfordsville Kroger. Nothing could stop us now.
Gasoline for $2.95 with my 15-cent discount still to come? I was figuring on filling up for about $40.
But a funny thing happened on my way to super-saver stardom. Discount prices had come to an end.
Wheeling into the Crawfordsville Kroger, I couldn't believe my eyes.
Gasoline prices there on Saturday morning started at $3.49 --- 13 cents more than I had left behind 30 minutes earlier on the north side of Greencastle. I bought just $10 worth of unleaded and slinked back over to York's.
Sadly, I should be used to this. After all, timing is indeed everything. While I was growing up, every weekend when Dad and I would venture north into Wisconsin to fish some obscure lake with another name that sounded like a cross between Indian and Polish, we'd hear the same thing ... "You should have been here last week. They were jumpin' in the boat."
Yep, you keep your schedules. Get your agendas all lined out. Figure out your nights and weekends down to the last minute.
But life usually intervenes and forces you to tap-dance and adjust.
And you know what ... I wouldn't have it any other way.
Now let's go pump some cheap gas!
Oh yeah, that's not happening, is it? ...