If I could rewire my brain, I’d make it handle change better. Even minor changes in day-to-day plans can trigger an initial moment of panic. I felt that at 6:45 a.m. last Friday when my phone rang as I got into my car to go to work. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative said U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s 11:30 a.m. town hall meeting at the state fair was canceled because of weather-related travel issues.
So much for the prep work for that event.
By the time I reached the Hub office, my new plan was to cover a 10 a.m. disaster-themed roundtable hosted by Sen. Deb Fischer as my main story for the Weekend Hub and ask area ag producers there what they would want to say to Perdue.
That panic feeling returned in Grand Island after I drove through Gate 1 at the fairgrounds’ southeast corner, as instructed by a fair media rep. Gate volunteers asked me to show a parking permit to hang on my rearview mirror.
I said I was sent only a gate pass in advance, had my Hub ID and would get a fairgrounds media pass at the Nebraska Building ahead of the roundtable discussion. They said I could park without a permit, but my car might be towed.
I called the media rep, who thought I was mailed a parking permit, to ask that someone bring one to Gate 1.
After 20 minutes of waiting, I overheard a parking area conversation that sounded familiar. Another journalist said he wasn’t sent a parking permit, only a gate pass and instructions to park at Gate 1.
I said, “me too,” just as a woman who seemed to be a veteran among the gate volunteers walked by. “Where are they going to tow you?” she said, gesturing toward the muddy fairgrounds. “You’ll be all right.”
I updated the media rep and walked with the other reporter, a new guy at the Hastings Tribune, to the Nebraska Building on the northwest corner of the fairgrounds.
My next panic-anger moment came after the roundtable.
I told a male member of Fischer’s staff that I wanted to ask the senator a few questions, but would let the two broadcasters go first. Meanwhile, I said, I would interview area farmers in the meeting room until he let me know it was my turn.
When Fischer returned to the room, I quickly thanked the farmer I was talking to, turned around and discovered the senator was gone. I caught up with the staffer, who calmly said, “Oh, she left. This meeting ran long and she had to go.”
My unhappy mood lifted, along with the clouds, as I walked across the fairgrounds to Gate 1. It was a relief to see that my car was parked where I left it.
The fair-related changes were a mix of Mother Nature and human issues. Wet weather that has continued to force changes throughout the state fair made me think of the old saying: We make plans and God laughs.
A human issue reflecting our busy lives came up Monday as I prepared for a 10 a.m. Tuesday event in Broken Bow. When I called the location, people there didn’t know about it. After getting a site correction, I called and was told the event was there, but on Wednesday not Tuesday.
I received a sincere apology from the busy person who originally gave me the wrong day and time. I know those things happen, so I was thankful the errors were discovered before I drove to Broken Bow Tuesday morning.
After 41 years as a newspaper journalist I should be able to take all such plan changes in stride, but some still make my head spin.
Lori Potter is a Hub staff writer.