Monday, January 24, 2011

Wheel of Fortune

Ahhhh... Wheel.  This show has been a feature story in our lives for the past 15 months.  And will continue to be so for at least another 4 months.  Lemme 'splain....

Oct '09:  Wheelmobile comes to Raleigh, NC.  We see it on the news during the week.  Scott jokes about going to try out.  That particular fateful Saturday, Scott joins a couple thousand other folks in downtown Raleigh to try out for the show.  The line wraps around the city block.  Everybody puts some basic contact information on a card and that card is tossed into a huge bin that they rotate to "mix".  Throughout the day, they pull 5 cards at a time out of the bin.  The 5 chosen people would play a fake game of Wheel.  There was a fake Pat and fake Vanna.  The point was to be peppy, clap a lot, smile a lot and look fun.  They played round after round of fake games.  Scott was about to leave in order to catch a football game he wanted to see.  He decided he would kick himself later if he didn't stay and make SURE his name wasn't called.  The last round, the 3rd name of 5 names called was SCOTT.  Yay!  He gets to play!  He's really, really glad he didn't leave early.  At the end of the time, they tell everyone that played "If you made it to the next round of auditions, we'll be in touch in 1 to 2 months.  Or 3 or 4...."  They also said a few names would also be randomly chosen from the bin of cards.  So, the waiting begins....

Jan '10:  Scott gets an email saying "Round 2 of auditions will be held in Raleigh on such-and-such a date in January.  Let us know if you can make it."  No question about it.  Scott is going to attend.  The crowd for Round 2 of auditions is much, much smaller than the first crowd.  There were more fake games played.  Lots of clapping.  Lots of smiling.   Also, a written test was administered.  Scott describes it as a "bunch of partially filled in hangmans".  He only is able to fill in a few before the time is up.  He hopes it's enough.  Side note:  for a teacher like Scott, doing well on tests is a point of pride.  At Round 2 of auditions, you actually meet the producers of Wheel.  You have an opportunity to introduce yourself and say a little something as part of your audition.  At the end of that day, the producers say "You'll get a letter in 2-3 weeks if we want you to be on the show."  No letter, no show.  Plain and simple.  So....we wait.  Starting about one week after Round 2, Scott checks the mail religiously.  Up to this point, I didn't know he knew which box was ours in the mail room.  

Two weeks pass.  No letter.

Two more weeks pass.  Still no letter.

Now it's been a month since they said "2-3 weeks".  Scott is feeling disappointed.  He knew it was a long shot to begin with, but still, the disappointment remains.  We go from watching Wheel every. single. night. to NEVER watching it.  We don't talk about it either.  Wheel has become a bad word. :)

April '10:  We're getting in the bed one night.  Scott is setting his alarm (on his cell phone), per his nightly routine.  He notices he has a missed call from an unrecognizable phone number.  He grumbles.  "Probably one of my students,"  he says.  He was teaching an online class that frequently had students and parents from non-Raleigh area codes calling him.  He checks the voicemail and promptly STARTS. FREAKING. OUT.  I practically have to pull him down from the ceiling to find out what that voicemail was all about.  It was Cassandra from Wheel of Fortune calling to let him know the letter they sent had been returned to them.  They want him on the show, but need his correct address.  OH. EM. GEE.  This is BIG news.  Wheel has returned to our good graces with one simple phone call.  I'm pretty sure Scott didn't sleep a whole lot that night.  Over the next couple days, Scott and Cassandra play phone tag.  He leaves his address on her voicemail.  The waiting begins again.  He starts checking the mail again.  Every day.  Within a short time, the blessed letter arrives!!!  Oh what a happy day!

In the letter, it says they want him to be on the show.  They will call him 10-14 days prior to his taping date and let him know when and where to be.  Oh, and this phone call will be sometime in the next 18 MONTHS.  Wow.  Showbiz is ROUGH.  Lots and lots of waiting.  So....we wait again.  

June 30, 2010:  Scott gets THE CALL.  They want him in Las Vegas on July 17th for his taping of the show.  Scott calls me at work to tell me the news.  Scott rarely calls me at work, fyi.  July 17th is sort of problematic, though.  He is due in Charlotte, NC at 8am on July 19th for a week long conference.  We discuss it briefly and then decide a) 10-14 days notice will never be convenient, b) can you really say no to Wheel of Fortune? and c) at least July isn't during the school year, which would be even harder to negotiate with Scott's teaching job.  He calls them back and says "I'll be there!"  We then spend the next few days in a frenzy trying to nail down plane tickets and hotel reservations.  The good news is, because of the recession, Vegas is hurting for customers.  Hotels had some great deals going.  The bad news is booking flights less than 2 weeks out is almost always expensive when you have the time constraints we did.  The day of the taping, Scott had to be there by 8am, which means we had to arrive the day before at the very latest.  And preferably not late at night the night before.  The taping would potentially last until 10pm or so, which meant we had to stay a second night.  We needed to leave early on the Sunday after the taping to get him back to Charlotte in time for his 8am conference Monday morning.  This makes travel arrangements tricky.  We can't do some of the cheapest online flight scheduling options because you have to be able to be flexible with what time of day you fly.  We didn't have that flexibility.  So we spent a lot on plane tickets.  But hey, we saved on hotels!  During the few day travel planning frenzy, we also managed to coordinate with Scott's parents, Bruce and Gail, as well as friend Peter and my sister Nikki.  All will be joining us in Vegas for the big event.  FUN TIMES!!  I had gracious coworkers that were willing to switch whatever days I needed to switch to enable me to go with Scott.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010:  Drove to Charlotte and stayed with Grandma the night before our flight to Vegas.  

Friday, July 16, 2010:  Alarm went off at an UNREASONABLE hour in order for us to make our equally unreasonable flight time.  

Peter met us at the airport.  The plan was to get checked in through security and then eat breakfast while we waited for our flight.  Well, security took about 5x LONGER than expected.  We had concerns about missing our flight altogether.  Forget breakfast!  We hustled and were able to make the flight.  Phew!
Yay!  We made it!  Boo...we're hungry.

Our plane looked like this. :)

We did not fly direct.  I've found that usually tends to be a poor choice.  If it's possible to fly direct, pay the extra money and do it.  So. worth. it.  But, we did not.  So we flew to Atlanta first, then to Vegas.  In our case it worked out since we were starving. :)  We had plenty of time to deplane, eat a food, and replane.  When we got to Vegas, we met up with Nikki and Bruce and Gail at the airport.  Found our way to the rental car place and off we went to the hotel.  THANK YOU BRUCE AND GAIL FOR RENTING A BIG CAR that fit all of us and Bruce for driving us around a crazy city!

In case you weren't sure, Vegas in July is HOT.  We are glowing in this picture.

Our hotel in the distance.  Driver Bruce, Onward!

Attempting to be artsy...

Checking in.  SO. VERY. EXCITED. 

to be continued....

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