I’ve been sitting here thinking about writing for the last two days, well, nights anyway. I don’t really have a topic in mind, but its cathartic to me, so here it is.
The past few months have been hella-crazy. I realized the other day that it’s merely days from being officially summer and I haven’t even made the first plan for what I want to do this summer or how to go about doing it. There’s just been so much going on in my life since February of this year that I’ve not really had a single moment of free time in the last four months until these last two days. Most of you know I decided to run for commissioner in my county back in February. Just the act of running for office was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve been the kind of person that enjoys challenges my entire life, but my challenges have always been quantifiable at every level for the most part. Running a political campaign isn’t a quantifiable experience until the moment the results are in. Hundreds of people, maybe as many as a thousand, asked me “So, how is the race going? Are you winning?”
That’s a question that drives every candidate mad! I answered them all the exact same way. “Ask me again on May 9th.” (Our primary was May 8th). Every person around me told me the entire time “Hey, you’ve got this in the bag” or some derivative thereof. Everyone just “knew” I’d win. Really? Cause I didn’t. My opposition had a lot of home-grown support and a MUCH bigger wallet to fund his campaign than I did. I didn’t learn until much later that he spent a little over $16,000 on his campaign. I spent a little over $1,500. Can you imagine how stressed I’d have been if I’d known those numbers DURING the race? I’d have been all but assured of my losing just based on who threw the most money at their campaign.
I mean sure, all of us candidates put on a brave face for just about everyone we meet, but none of us knew jack-squat about our chances of winning. I guarantee you that every single friend and supporter of my opponent was telling him the same thing I was hearing from my circle of influence. “You’re gonna kick his ass.” ” You’re gonna do great.” “He doesn’t stand a chance.” Yeah, it’s all bull$^*t until the numbers come in. One of our groups of friends and supporters had to be wrong. Who’s to know which camp it is until the polls are in?
I’d been commenting for the past two months previous that I needed to lose some weight after quitting smoking. You want to lose weight? I’ve got a guaranteed weight-loss regimen for you. Run for political office. Despite being present at just about every single bbq dinner within 50 miles for almost two months straight, I lost almost 15 pounds in a mere ten days at one point. I didn’t sleep well. There was never enough time in the day to get done what needed to be done. It was an impossible task.
No, obviously it wasn’t impossible, but to be honest it felt like it at the time. I roped a lot of my friends into working with me. If they were around, they got put to work. Help me address these thank you cards. I’ll write them all, but you can fill out addresses! Hey, I raised five hundred dollars more and bought more signs. Let’s go put up signs around such and such neighborhood. Let’s go stand at the polls and shake hands if people want to meet the candidate. I’ve got to go to a dinner tomorrow, a meeting the following morning, TWO dinners that night somehow, and I need to be in three places at once to shake hands with people I’ve yet to meet.
It was like that for almost three months solid.
I’ve never been one to really have to use my calendars. Sure, I put things like dentist appointments, friend’s birthdays, and major project in there, but you could probably put my entire annual calendar entries on one page if you really wanted to most years. This year? Ha! I had two separate calendars running continuously side by side for three months just to figure out where I was supposed to be for work, campaign stuff, and somehow fit in a personal life in there. I went from having 20 events a year to 20 events per week. I actually had to write down time to go check OTHER public calendars to be sure I didn’t miss any new meetings I was supposed to attend.
And the sheer amount of people I met and need to keep in contact with. My God!
In twenty years of maintaining the same digital address book, I’d kept my list of contacts globally to under 700. That might sound like a lot to some of you but it’s really not. Vendors, customers, points of contact, friends, family, and friends of family, etc. If there was a chance I’d need to talk to you more than once a year, you went into my exchange server’s contact list. In three months I almost doubled it. I literally have a person in in my contact list called “the other other Tracy /Police chief’s Girlfriend” because I know putting in her last name wouldn’t tell me who she was. I’ve got more police officers, chiefs, politicians, mayors, and state contacts in three months than I ever even knew the names of a year ago. It just comes with the job.
On top of all that I had already signed up for, this is the time of year my wife’s Bear Creek Remodel project was taking off. Guess who got volunteered last year to be the project manager? Your’s truly! Ok, so – full disclosure… I really didn’t get volunteered. It was really only ever going to be that way. I care too much about seeing it done right to let it fall into someone else’s hands.
So let me add managing and designing an $800,000 remodel to my to-do list on top of running my business and then slap campaigning on top of that! Did I mention that we’re going to do the three month remodel without ever closing the business for a single day? Ya know – just to make it challenging, right?
If you’d laid out all that I’ve had to do this first half of the year and told me last year that this was what you expected of me, I’d have told you to take a long walk off a short pier. It wasn’t physically possible to do all that in 24 hours.
And then… *shakes head*.. then… well, then my slow season started to turn into my busy season. One of my clients whom I love, respect, and appreciate more than they’ll ever know, decided to drop not one, not two, not even three – but about six major projects in my lap at the same time. I’m pretty sure it went something like this:
Client: Hey, is this a good time to talk about a project or two I’ve got for you?
Me: Sure. (thinking it’s one or two small jobs, half a day or so each.)
Client: Ok, good. We need you to go completely rewire the entire town of Siler City North Carolina.
Me: What do you mean, the entire town?
Client: Everything – city hall, police dept, fire dept, wastewater treatment, community pool, community concession stand, city airport, water plant, and I’m sure there are some others.
Me: Ok. Sure. (thinking it’s going to be sometime in October or November). When do you want to do it?
Client: How fast can you get there?
Me: *drops head in hands and prays they perfect cloning in the next 48 hours”
Don’t get me wrong. Three or four project like that can pay all my bills for an entire year if I’m frugal, so I’m never turning that down. The first time you can’t be there for your client and they’re forced to go somewhere else, they might always go somewhere else. The only acceptable answer is “Yes, we’d love to” in my line of work.
Within a week, I had calls for Knightdale, NC, Butner, NC, Boiling Spring Lakes, NC ( I didn’t even know that was town, and I thought it was on the other side of the state!), Hendersonville, NC, Raleigh, NC, and I’m sure I’m missing a few in there somewhere.
Then another brand new client calls and asks for a quote on a massive project in Charlotte, NC. I mean massive to the point that two of these jobs would pay my entire salary for a year. Normally a job like that takes 1-2 months to quote properly. They wanted the quote in ten days and wanted to start the exact same time the other city project was starting AND.. that happened to be the day before the election.
There were nights I sat here at home and couldn’t figure out what to work on. I really need to work on my campaign and social media outreach if I want to win this election. On the other hand, my wife will kick my ass if I let the deadline slip by on a 100K wiring job that I could make in a month – and she’d be right to do it!
My wife – was awesome!
You’ve got to understand politicians during a campaign season. Every story has to be repeated in gruesome detail fifteen times to fifteen different people so it can get analyzed, pulled apart, and we can decide how to act on it. Hell, it takes talking about it with ten different people just to be sure I got the actual true story sometimes. Personal biases shade the telling a LOT and the hotter the topic the more those biases show in conversation. She endured it with grace like you can’t imagine.
Don’t get me wrong – many nights that meant totally shutting the door to my office and ignoring me until the next day while I camped out here in the office with three or four people until midnight working on campaign strategies. And let’s not forget there are half a dozen other campaigns that were important to support and work with at the same time. She went to dinners with me, shook hands at special events, ate more BBQ than any one woman should ever have to, and somehow managed to smile through it all.
Somehow May 8th came and went and life went on. On May 9th, I woke up and felt like a tremendous boulder had been lifted off my shoulders. Whether I’d won or lost, the battle was over. I’ve never been more tired and more relieved at the same time in my life!
The next week, in the middle of working on Siler City, I left my team working, got in the truck with Ben and Smurf and took off to drive to Texas to get the new puppy, Banshee. After a twenty-five hour drive back straight through, I got to sleep about 5 hours that night and then was off on the road for another two weeks straight.
I basically came home to wash clothes and cut the grass, pet my dogs, kiss my wife, and take back off on the road again. We managed to finish up Siler City, flew into the Butner project with a vengeance and knocked it out so fast I almost thought I’d over-quoted the job. I decided later I was just tired of being gone and wanted to be home bad enough to get it done quickly. I surveyed Knightdale’s town hall on the way home that night and somehow still managed to make it back in time to meet my wife and friends for a karaoke event at 5 Points.
Yes, for the first time in my life (and theirs too) all of us got up at least once in front of a room of strangers and sang karaoke. Yup, here’s the proof!
(and my WordPress update just crashed and I just spent 30 minutes troubleshooting a plugin that’s gone bad. Grr. Just take a 30 minute break and come back and finish reading if you want the experience I had. )
The funny thing about all that is – compared to campaigning, the three weeks of being on the road for work wasn’t anywhere near as hard as the time campaigning before it. I’d gladly do that twice over if I could!
So (you’re still here? You really need better reading material) after all that I came home, spent two solid days cleaning out my work trailer and truck after being on the road for so long, fixed my lawnmower blades after hitting a rock on my new ZTR and messing up my pretty new blades, cut all the grass again, and then…. blissfully… found myself with nothing to do.
I literally finished up almost all my work last Friday around noon – took the rest of the afternoon off to goof off and ended up helping my neighbor replace the stereo in his pontoon boat, slept half a day away in the hammock on Sunday, and I’m out of things to do.
I finished up a quote this morning for a customer that I’d been putting off, just because it wasn’t really time-sensitive.
Hell, I’ve even downloaded and mostly reconciled most of the last six months worth of bookkeeping on Sunday afternoon before playing next door in the pool and then sacking out in the hammock. I even had time to cut a friend’s grass this past weekend because they were out of town.
Today I went to Bear Creek to check on the progress there. Things are going smoothly – mainly because my general contractor rocks, not because of any overall basassery on my part as project manager.
I’ll go wire the network and data drops in the clinic tomorrow, wire up the new cameras in the Phase 2 portion of the building and then…. I have no idea.
I haven’t had a day to myself to get things done in so long that I simply don’t know what to do next.
In case you’re thinking about calling me with your to-do list. Don’t! I’m going to plan to enjoy the hell out of this until something new comes along and I’m back off on the road again. Meanwhile, I plan to try to get some kayaking in, maybe sometime on the Pontoon boat, pick up my motorcycle from Tim’s house, and then.. we’ll see.
So there you have it – a 2500 word post about nothing except my last few months…
You REALLY should have better reading material!
Speaking of WordPress- Well, ok, not exactly at this moment I’m not, but I did a few minutes ago – I admit I haven’t blogged on here lately, but wow, the traffic to the website is still pretty amazing. I have software running on this one that basically blocks any of the countries I could care less about readers from; Russia, China, things like that.
Even with all that blocked…
That is a STUPID amount of spammers blocked on this website in the last few months. Strange that it spiked so much in March, except that was election time and I guess traffic increased because of it.
Anyway – night all!
I just remembered all the other things I was supposed to do – the things that aren’t tangible things.
I started this tonight because I wanted to write, but I didn’t really want to write for WORK. I just wanted to spew some stream of consciousness words onto paper (kinda) and see where it took me.
- I really need to work on the election website and update it with post-election content. I think I wrote a blog post about three weeks ago and forgot to publish it. Oops!
- I need to work on the Twisted Networx website and put all the new amazing awesome new services and updates to existing services on there, but there’s so much of it that the standard reader just wouldn’t understand that I’ve been putting that off for months. GDPR compliance and new document backup solutions just don’t resonate with the standard internet reader (at least not my readers anyway).
- And somewhere in there I need/want to find the time to do some more writing of my own about all this crap in the news lately. Tariffs, school shootings, stupid children that should have been spanked but weren’t, and then find the time to start attending all the county government functions that I’ll need to get up-to-date on before I take office in January.