Best Laid Plans Almost Always Go Awry

When one schedules multiple speaking engagements in a brief time span, travel plans must be executed with precision. Otherwise, one may weep, gnash teeth, become ill and question much – including, “Why me, Lord?”

It is important at such times to remember: No one has to be anywhere.

Jim Bob Solsbery

There is wisdom in knowing when to run.  If one is running to catch a train, not to worry, there’ll be another one. If, however, one is running to get out of the way of a train, run like the devil.

My friend, Jim Bob Solsbery, goes around committing speeches on a full-time basis. He made a dozen or so in August to help educators kick off the new school year.

My eyes crossed upon learning that he had six engagements in four days, a schedule calling for him to criss-cross Texas both on the ground and in the air.

Handling most of the driving, book sales and other details was wife Jan. Jim Bob mostly told his stories, encouraged Jan to “keep on truckin’” and calculated senior travel discounts. (He’s on the front end of geezer status, keeping his driver’s license handy to prove his age.) Solsbery is a hawk, finding discounts that tempt him like low-hanging fruit.

Anyways, Jan was dismissed at mid-week to return to their San Angelo home, so he reserved a rental car for her in Tyler. He would keep the family car for driving to Thursday and Friday engagements, then head home on Saturday.

It looked good on paper before the “good news/bad news” rental attempt. They were “carless,” having misplaced the reservation, but did have a cargo van available. They offered it at the same rate and agreed to waive the two hundred dollar drop fee.

Great, thought he! Solsbery could reduce the rental charge by two days – if Jan didn’t mind driving the van.

Jan would have none of it. The motivational parts of her hubby’s speeches didn’t resonate with her. She’d take the family car home, and Jim Bob could wrestle the van back to San Angelo whenever he chose.

Jim Bob gulped, remembering that earlier in the week she was wearing earpieces, choosing iPod music over his orations. She also confessed to ordering grandchildren’s Christmas gifts online with her iPad (or iSomething) while he was speaking. Sometimes, she multi-tasked, both “ordering and iPod-ing” during his presentations.

Maybe he should have suggested initially that she take the family car. He said the van drove like, well, a van, and got all of ten miles per gallon. “I could see the fuel needle going downward,” Solsbery said, admitting that gas cost more than the two hundred dollars saved on the drop charge waiver.

Long-time surgeon Seale Cutbirth put away his scalpel years ago.

Julie Box, however, continues to remove growths daily. At her hair salon, that is.

She’s a bit gun-shy when Dr. Cutbirth’s haircut comes due. And with good reason. A while back, she said she saw something fly through the air as she trimmed around his ear. “Julie, you cut my antenna,” the doctor said. (She had snipped a tiny wire attached to his hearing aid.) He’s dependent on hearing aids to hear part of what’s going on in the world.

Cutting hair, Julie believes, can be like a box of chocolates.

Speaking of haircuts, the nation’s unemployment woes were validated by JC Penney’s recent August promotion that offered free haircuts.  The nine hundred salons rang up more than a million free cuts at the half-way point of the give-away.

That brings to mind the story of a young man who was getting a haircut when the boss walked in. “I’m surprised that you are getting your hair cut on company time,” the boss said, icily.

“It grew on company time,” the employee said.

Political campaigns always produce “keeper” lines.

I loved the comment intended to besmirch Ann Romney.

“She’s a known, practicing equestrian,” one critic warned.

Movie critics and I rarely “geehaw.”

A great current example is The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a “feel good” picture that most critics have given “C” grades.

It is beautifully photographed with marvelous music, and nary a bad word. So what if it is a little magical? Or even “cheesy,” teens may say.

But, I loved War Horse, too.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

Don Newbury is author of the humorous “When the Porch Light’s On …”

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