Wildcard (noun): A person or thing whose influence is unpredictable or whose qualities are uncertain.
I plan. Even when I know a plan is likely to change, I still plan. It just feels better when I have a framework defined before the week begins. This puts me in the action rather than reaction mode, accomplishing several things:
I saves mental, emotional and, in most cases, physical energy,
It gives me a track to start the week on, even if rerouted,
I can coordinate with my spouse allowing a smooth interface instead of bumping into each other’s schedules!
Airplanes And Wildcards
Recently, as I looked over the coming week, endeavoring to map out what to do when, a major “wild card” lurked in the mix. In scheduling, a wildcard is an item with elements of unpredictability.
In this case, the wildcard was the annual inspection on my airplane. Airplane stuff often falls into the wild card category. The uncertainties revolved around three things:
First, the plane had to be flown into the repair shop before the expiration of its current inspection. I had only three days. Fortunately, weather was not a factor – this time.
Second, I needed help with ferrying the plane. Not with the flying, but in ground transportation.
Normally when I fly, I drive to the airport where the plane is hangar-ed, go for a flight, return to the same airport, get in my car and drive home. In this case, I would not be returning to my home airport, so I needed a ride (by car or plane) from the airport the shop is located at, back to my home airport to retrieve my car.
My spouse usually gets chauffeur duty in these instances, but the day before all this had to occur, a pilot friend messaged and asked, “you free to go flying in the morning?” “Uh, yes! and by the way…..”.
We worked out the logistics and met for an early morning flight before taking the plane in for its check-up. Pilot friends are awesome.
Delegating, Sort of…
The third aspect of this wildcard was, I agreed to help with the inspection. An owner assisted annual, is the official designation.
I have been a part of inspections on my plane for the last 19 years and I have learned a lot as a pilot. This experience was a part of executing a successful emergency landing.
An FAA certified shop is the responsible party, so I become a part of their schedule. Since this takes place in a shop and my plane is not the only one attended to, I must fit into the shop’s schedule. Thus, timing is not totally under my control.
Add to this, the unknowns uncovered as the inspection progresses:
parts that have worn past allowable limits,
bearings out of tolerance,
and oh, what that oil screen might reveal,
you add other wildcard uncertainties to the whole process.
Taming A Wildcard
Here is how I tackled this wildcard as I planned the week, I:
got up a bit earlier so my morning routine and quiet time remained intact.
adjusted my evening routine so that I got necessary rest.
placed non-negotiable appointments on my calendar first. It happened I had a couple of medical as well as a meeting appointment in this category for the week,
coordinated workout times with my spouse,
warned my spouse of this wildcard so plans would be more fluid,
blocked off time needed to be at home to tend to workers,
let the shop know when I would not be able to be on-site,
listed other to-dos in order of importance so they could plugged in around Wild Card time blocks.