The Most Dreaded Time of the Year

By Susan Phillips

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, maybe not since we went to Road America, so excuse me if I get on here to rant for just a bit. That trip to Road America was such a happy time. The weather was cool, we were both in good moods, the food was great, the drinks were even better, and that doesn’t even begin to describe how much we like being at that track. It seems like forever ago.

The very next week, George’s unsolicited job-change came on July 1; his second in two years. His previous company lost the contract to another company who did pick him up. It’s the strangest thing being in the contract world. He has been sitting in the exact same office with the same phone number for the past five years, yet he is now with his third different employer during that time. When it happened the last time in 2017, he got a nice pay raise. This time, his pay has been cut by one-third of what he was making in June—even though he is doing the same job with even a few more responsibilities. He hasn’t said much about it, but I can tell it’s weighing on him. When you’ve known somebody this long, you can just tell without them saying a word.

I live in the contract world too. For the past five years, I’ve been contracted out to a very large retailer. They prematurely ended our contract two years ago, in order to go with another company. I was lucky that the new company picked me up, but I lost my company car and took a significant pay-cut in the process. Who knows what the future holds with my current position? I guess nothing lasts forever.

It’s safe to say that this is a stressful time in the Oilpressure household.

Added to that stress is that this is the month of August. Why is August bad? Because that’s when football starts back as racing season winds down. What’s even worse? We are in a 3-week stretch with no racing.

I didn’t grow up a racing fan, like most of you. I’m not sure I ever watched the Indy 500 until George and I reconnected in 2001, after dating in college in the seventies. In 2002, George took me to the IndyCar race at Nashville Superspeedway. We sprung for garage passes where we could walk right next to the cars as they were being worked on. I remember seeing a driver who was cute and very easy on the eyes, so I asked George who it was. He said it was Alex Barron, who ended up winning the race that night. Seeing those cars and drivers so up-close sort of hooked me.

For the next several years, our two races to attend were Indy and Nashville. Then after Nashville went away, it became Barber and Indy. By the time Barber showed up on the schedule, George had started this blog site. With our media credentials, we could get even closer than ever. When we went to Fontana at the end of the 2013 season, that really gave us a taste for going to other races. By then we had developed friendships with people within the IndyCar community. We then started going to more and more races. For the past three or four years, we have been going to about half the races each season.

I went through all that to let you all know how much I have grown to love IndyCar racing through the years. The friendships we’ve made and being able to follow the racing closely has really added to that. When we stay home and watch the races on television, it’s always fun to see the people we know in the background. I don’t hesitate to say that I now love IndyCar racing, and I never, OK…rarely, balk when George puts it on television.

I can’t say the same about football. Last Thursday night, I had no idea there was a football game on. But sure enough, he came in and changed the channel to a pre-season game between Denver and Atlanta. It was August 1st, for God’s sake! I didn’t even know there was football that early. Then I noticed that they were playing at what looked like a high school stadium. It was immediately explained to me that this was the Hall of Fame game played in Canton, OH, in a tone that suggested how stupid I was to not know that.

I always forget about the pre-season. I always think about football starting after Labor Day. To make matters worse, he proudly announced that the Mid-Ohio weekend was the last weekend with no football until Mid-February. I wanted to cry.

I love watching the Tennessee Vols and the Tennessee Titans, especially when we go to their games in person. I would enjoy watching them at home, but George gets so wrapped up in them that it has sort of taken the fun out of it. Once he let out such a loud “Nooooooo!!!!!!” that the dogs both ran out of the room scared to death.

I think if you were to ask him what his favorite sport is, he would say IndyCar racing. But he doesn’t get so wrapped up in an IndyCar race on television. Any given Race Day at our home usually involves cooking wings or getting a pizza and relaxing as we watch on television. He keeps a pad nearby so he can jot down a few notes for his follow-up article, but he never gets angry or dejected. Sometimes in the closing laps of an intense race like Texas, he will move up and sit on the edge of the ottoman, but that’s about as intense as things get for a race in our house.

Football is different. It seems like life or death. He used to scream at the coach when Butch Jones was coaching the Vols, but he likes both of the current coaches of the Vols and Titans, so at least I don’t hear those rants now. But why does anyone yell at a television? If it is that frustrating, why not just turn it off and read the score when the game is over?

But of all my complaints about football, my biggest complaint is that it’s always on. I get it that he wants to watch the Titans and Vols, but please tell me what joy he gets out of watching Oregon State play Arizona at 10:00 on a Saturday night or the Bills and Jets on a Thursday night? I’ll bet I could ask him right now who won the Hall of Fame game last week and he won’t know, but he sat and watched the whole thing talking about how good it was to have football back.

I know he has been stressed out over the job situation. Two job changes in two years is tough on anyone and he needs an outlet for his stress. But I’m feeling stressed too, and may be looking at the same thing soon. Non-stop football is coming at me at the wrong time.

At least we’ll be going to Pocono next weekend. I have found that being at a race track is some of the best therapy for both of us. We tend to forget all of our problems when we are isolated in our racing bubble. It can’t get here fast enough.

10 Responses to “The Most Dreaded Time of the Year”

  1. I like football and baseball myself, and I can spend a fall day relaxing to several games, but I don’t live and die by it either. And as a fellow Vols fan, I don’t get the college thing, I like watching a big matchup but seeing Tuscombia United vs West Alleghany State (these are fake schools) play at 3am isn’t really enticing at all!

    Side story, went on a late summer beach trip with another couple several years ago. We rented a house directly on the beach for 3 days. We had a great time, except her husband did not come to the beach at all, he watched college football games all day, AT THE BEACH! Later we found out that this was something of a marriage saver trip for them and it didn’t work, they divorced that next spring. The man did not leave the beach house the whole time! Now, I have fond memories of that vacation but I can’t tell you who won any of those games or who was the national champion that year. Priorities!

  2. I think it’s time for George to build Susan a Lady Lounge so she has a place to escape the screaming and the football…perhaps with soundproof walls. 😀

  3. Steven Kilsdonk Says:

    I only follow “racing”. So if it’s not Indycar it’s IMSA, F1, or V8 Supercars. But it’s as you describe George’s habits, enjoy the race, get excited at the end, but it doesn’t really affect my mood once the race is over.

  4. james thomas Says:

    Kentucky basketball does the same thing to me as George and football, IndyCar is my sport relaxation sport. When I watch IndyCar especially at the track I’m totally enjoyment mindset. Also share job history you face after 38 years of loyal service to a company I was let go now working much less pay but at least working. My son who lives in Nashville treating me for my birthday to trip to Pocono race so maybe we can meet you both at the track.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    When I was younger I was probably about equally unpleasant to be around if my favorite driver was struggling as I was if my favorite team was struggling, much to my parents chagrin. I would say that I have improved with both racing and with team sports, but much more with the former than the latter. I think that is largely because I like most of my favorite driver’s opponents well enough while the same cannot be said for the rivals of my favorite stick-and-ball teams. I’m still a hat-thrower when my rooting interest is not doing well, but I haven’t thrown my hat at a race since… probably Jeremy Mayfield drove for Ray Evernham in NASCAR.

    • “I think that is largely because I like most of my favorite driver’s opponents well enough”

      This probably has a lot to do with it, I know it does with me. I like almost all the drivers and teams in IndyCar, I’m not even sure I have a favorite driver/team. There are a handful I don’t like but I rarely root against them or wish a bad day upon them. After a race, regardless of the outcome, rarely am I sad or upset or down in the dumps. As long as nobody got hurt I walk away happy that I got to enjoy a race.

      However, when the Colts stink it up on a Sunday it does kind of put a damper on the rest of my day and I’m not in a great mood for a couple hours. Because they’re my team, I want them to beat all the other teams and win the Super Bowl so technically I actively root against the other teams which makes it that much worse when one of them beats my team.

      • I agree with both you and Billy, Brandon. I root for great racing and not really against a team or driver. I do have my favorites, but there is no one I completely dislike. I would never wish ill on anyone.

        However, it has be ages since I threw something at the TV, but have. I do watch football, but not every weekend. I don’t really have a favorite NFL team, even with the Rams and Chargers now in LA. I am still mad at Georgia for moving the Rams to St. Louis. The Raiders have been pathetic, but my dad and I were big fans.

        Susan, soundproof headphones do wonders. A Lady Lair or She Shed may even be better. Good luck!

  6. Matthew Lawrenson Says:

    I bought a Tennessee Titans t-shirt recently. I thought “This’ll give me permission to shout and scream and throw my beer at the TV, then sulk all day. Works for George.” It’s not happened so far. Do I have to watch the game or something?

  7. Ron Ford Says:

    Of course here in Road America country we are born into Green Bay Packer fan families. I recently received a post card from the Packers telling me that I have moved up to 79,158 on the Packer season ticket waiting list after waiting 15 years. Moven’ on up, but under the rules season ticket applications cannot be transferred to my great grandchildren. I seldom shout at the TV during a Packer game unless da Bears get away with a foul. Ballyhoo’s idea of a “she shed” might be a good suggestion for Susan. Good luck with your cake business Susan.

  8. Talón de Brea Says:

    I care about how teams and drivers do, and I have my favorites, but I care more about the overall experience. I don’t yell (negatively) at the TV when watching racing.

    As long as no one dies or is badly injured, I’m OK with how a race turns out. I worry for every driver and team. I can’t get all that partisan about a race, for some reason … passionate, yes, but highly partisan, no. (This makes me think of the early 2000’s photo of a guy in the stands at a NASCAR race who had gotten someone to shave the number “3” into his back hair in tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt — now THAT’S partisan!)

    I AM highly partisan when it comes to basketball, especially involving the college I attended. It’s a highly emotional game, and there are significant bragging rights with one winner and one loser (higher-profile sport, so more water cooler encounters, etc.), but the stakes aren’t life-and-death, the way they are in auto racing. Somehow that makes it easier for me to show a serious rooting interest …

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