The following originally appeared on 8/22/08 at Exit 51.
Amazing Race (Maryland State Fair)
Sometimes in this life you gotta think on your feet. By nature, I’m a planner. I like to know how I’m going to get from Point A to Point B in advance. When I plot out a route, I pretty much commit to it and dislike last minute change of plans. This is one reason I would not do well on The Amazing Race. You know the premise. Put people in situations where they must overcome a series of detours and road blocks to reach their final destination. The last to arrive face Philimination. In the most unlikely of settings, I ran my very own Amazing Race – Maryland State Fair Style.
It started innocently enough. Frau Poshizzle planted the idea of entering some of my Scotland pictures in the State Fair. Why not I thought. Could be interesting. So over the course of the next few months I went through all my images and picked out my favorites. I bought frames. I set up shop in the dining room and carefully and thoughtfully matted and framed everything. I got it all done weeks before the deadline and the only thing left was to get them to the Fairgrounds on time.
Entry day came and I packed up my pictures. The plan was to deliver them after work. So at 5pm, I inched my way around the Beltway in rush hour traffic. Just before 6pm, I arrived on site. Plenty of time to make the 7pm cutoff. After finally finding the Exhibition Hall, my pictures and I were standing at the photography table. And that’s when all hell broke loose.
The volunteers who were checking in entries took one look at my frames and said they could not accept them. Seems as though when they say “All exhibits must be properly matted and framed under glass with braided picture wire securely fastened with screw eyes or holes drilled into the frame 2” to 3” from the top. Clip frames are not acceptable”, that’s what they mean. All but one of my frames were metal, so there was no way to screw eyes into them. I needed a new plan and I needed it fast, the clock was ticking and Philimination loomed in the distance.
First stop, craft store. Frames they have, screw eyes they don’t. Not even in their in-store framing department.
Second stop, hardware store. Screw eyes, check. Auger punch, check. Of course, I already had all the tools I needed…at home.
Third stop, back to the Fairgrounds. I had 35 minutes to breakdown my old frames, re-mat the pictures for the new frames (because of course the old frames and the new frames weren’t the same size), get holes punched for the screw eyes, install the screw eyes and picture wire.
Did I mention that it happened to be about 95 degrees and I was doing this out of the backseat of my car? Imagine contorting yourself in a hunched over squat for half an hour with a stopwatch ticking in your head. Do you know how hard it is to make a hole in a wood frame using only the force of your body-weight bearing down on an auger? Do you know how hard it is to do that 14 times?
At 6:55 I had only completed four of my seven remaining entries. On The Amazing Race, not completing a task results in some kind of penalty which often makes the difference between staying in the race and hearing Phil utter the dreaded words, “I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve been eliminated” (i.e. Philimination). Time to go back in the building.
The volunteers were still there accepting entries. My four were in. I mentioned that there were three more that had been registered but that weren’t completed. Two of the volunteers looked at each other and quietly said that I could work on them at a side table. Good lord, this was a non-elimination round! I was still in the race.
Twenty minutes later, with sore hands and aching muscles, I emerged from the Exhibition Hall. All seven entries were re-framed and tagged for judging. And I don’t think I need to worry about ever applying to run The Amazing Race.
Just in case you don’t get out to the Maryland State Fair, my entries are: