No. This has nothing to do with running. (I think we’ve all pretty much accepted that the blog stopped being about running when I (1) moved away from Greenville and stopped being affiliated with a track club and (2) had a baby.)
No, it’s not even a post about our trip to Oregon THREE WEEKS AGO, which was specifically planned around running and a really awesome track meet and I should totally get my act together and find words to describe it. (Short version: Oregon is awesome and so is Eugene and fast people are fast.)
This really IS a story of perseverance and the importance of following your dreams (even the silly ones), and here’s why:
The day we returned from Oregon, we turned on the local news to a very big and very welcome surprise. The “Wheelmobile” was coming to Kansas City for Wheel of Fortune auditions. Now for many people, this wouldn’t be an exciting announcement. For me, however, it seemed like…destiny.
I watch Wheel of Fortune almost every day. I like words, I like puzzles, I like word puzzles. It’s a match made in heaven. LilRunr has become a fan of the show because of his mama’s obsession, and these days enjoys calling out letters to help the contestants, clapping when they solve a puzzle, and saying “almost!” if they attempt to solve the puzzle but fail.
At some point last year, Scott said to me, “you should really try to get on this show. What does it even take?” Good question! I went to the website and found an application, along with a disclaimer that they receive MILLIONS of applications every year and it is very, very unlikely to get a call back. I filled out the application anyway. A few months later, I saw a place where you could submit an application VIDEO to improve your chances. I wrote a moving and persuasive speech about why I would be a fabulous contestant and submitted a video.
The best chance of getting on the show, according to the website, is to attend a “Wheelmobile” event. These two-day events give hundreds of people a chance to actually play a demo round of the game onstage. All I needed was the Wheelmobile to make a stop in Kansas City.
So I waited. And waited. And waited. And then…with that announcement on the news, we knew: THE OPPORTUNITY HAD ARRIVED. I had to go. Never mind that it would take up most of the weekend. Never mind that the forecast for the outdoor event was hot, humid, and unpleasant. I. Had. To. Go.
On Saturday, I arrived at the Kansas City Power & Light District just before 1:00pm. I headed up to the top tier to get in line, and walked ALL THE WAY AROUND the upper level, down three flights of stairs, out of the “KC Live” venue that was hosting the event, and two blocks down the street before I found the end of the line. Holy cow. It turns out that I’m not the only Wheel of Fortune fan in Kansas City!
The way the Wheelmobile event works is this:
- Fill out an application up to one hour before the “show” starts.
- Drop completed application in a big box.
- The show begins, and they begin drawing names at random. Five people at a time get a chance to go on stage and play a demo round of the show.
- The show lasts an hour, and my guess is that they called up between 10 and 12 groups of people in that hour.
- Repeat for two other shows that day.
So, this is how I spent my Saturday:
1:00pm — Show up. Look at gigantic crowd of people and decide that I have less than no chance. Fill out application anyway.
1:15pm — Make it through the gigantic line. Put application in box with thousands of other applications.
1:20pm — Walk to Burger King to get into air conditioning. Buy a gigantic glass of Fanta, you know, for hydration purposes.
1:40pm — Go back outside. Find a shady place to sit. Realize it’s where all the smokers are hanging out. Go to second shady spot. Realize it’s completely out of the wind and feels even more sweltering. Go back to Shady Area #1.
1:45pm — Traveling host gets the 2:00pm session kicked off early, and they begin calling names. !!!!
2:30pm — Go back upstairs, stand in line with application for second show.
2:40pm — Put second application in box for 3:30 show.
3:00pm — Show #1 ends. Name has not been called. Learned that if you say in the interview that you like to sing or dance, that you will be asked to demonstrate said skill. Vow not to say I know how to do anything demonstrable in front of a large crowd.
3:05pm — Go to Cosentino’s Market to buy a book to pass the time. Find out that Cosentino’s doesn’t sell books. Boo them quietly while buying a bottle of water to continue hydration efforts.
3:30pm — Show #2 begins. Get a few jolts of adrenaline when other Megans are called onstage. Wish that parents had not given me such a common name.
4:00pm — Fill out application for the third and final show of the day. Become encouraged because there is no line this time around. Text Scott to say, “This is my best chance all day.”
4:30pm — Show #2 ends. Decide that I am starving, and head back to Burger King because it is the cheapest, quickest option at Power & Light. Savor every moment in air conditioning.
5:00pm — Show #3 begins. With each name called, become more and more discouraged. Towards the end of the show, text Scott to say there will probably be 5 more names called, and then that’s it for the day. He texts me back to say that he and LilRunr still think I’m a winner. Aw.
For simply filling out pieces of paper and sitting around, it was an exhausting afternoon. By the time I got home, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back for more the next day. It felt unfair and selfish to ditch Scott and LilRunr AGAIN, and the whole idea of being picked randomly seemed less realistic all the time. Then, I woke up on Sunday to the news reporting a threat of “strong to severe” storms that afternoon.
Well, phooey. Now it’s seeming unrealistic, unfair, selfish, AND stupid to drive back down to Power & Light to pursue the Wheel of Fortune pipe dream. I mulled that one over all morning, and Scott wisely let my internal battle wage on unchecked. Finally, after lunch, I had a decision:
“I’m going to go,” I told him. He smiled and nodded like he knew what I would decide all along. He probably did. He knows me pretty well.
So, at 1:00pm I was back at Power and Light, prepared to repeat the previous day. This time, I was armed with a book. I figured I’d find a shady corner, read for 5 hours, and go home knowing that I had done everything I could to get an audition.
At 2:00pm, they started calling names. I closed my book to listen, and I wasn’t called in the first group of five. “Yup, it figures,” I thought to myself. I opened the book back up as they started calling names for the second group of five. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I hear:
WHAT? That’s me! Well…maybe. I know there’s at least one other Megan N___ in the Kansas City area. She’s a runner, too. I see her in race results from time to time. Wouldn’t it be sad if I went up there and I wasn’t the Megan N___ called?
I jogged from my out-of-the-way reading spot up to the front. By the time I reached the registration tent, I was shaking a little inside. When I verified that I really was THE Megan they had called, my hands actually began to shake. I felt a little silly for being THIS excited, but come on! This is the dream, people. And after sitting around all afternoon the day before, the impossible — being picked randomly from a big ol’ barrel of names — had happened in the first 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.
Volunteers took a quick picture of me and then directed me to sit with the other five people in my group. We talked about the nerves we were feeling and what we’d say when we got onstage. After the group before us had solved their puzzle, we were ushered onstage.
The host interviewed me. To the statement, “tell me about yourself…” I shared that I lived in Olathe, had a husband and a toddler, and liked to run. Then, giddiness took over and I gushed for a minute or two that I couldn’t believe I had been called after being here all day yesterday, and the host congratulated me on getting picked in the second group of the day.
We played the “time is running out” version of the game, where the host spins the wheel and then contestants are allowed to call out one letter and attempt to solve the puzzle. I guessed “R” and “L,” neither of which were in our puzzle. The person after me guessed “E,” and when the vowels filled in I realized too late that the answer to our puzzle was “Debate Team.” The girl after me solved it correctly, and that was it. We exited the stage, received our free t-shirt and water bottle, and I was on my way home.
In the next four months, I could possibly get a call to go to a final round of auditions. Make it past that, and I’d be an actual contestant on the show. To be honest, I’m not sure I like my chances. I don’t have the flashiest personality, so I don’t know that I’ll stand out from the crowd of 300 or so who made it onstage. I do know that my chances are immeasurably better than they were before, and I’m very excited that I took the chance, stuck with it even when it stopped making sense, and made it this far.