A Project Manager’s Game Plan for Dealing with Incurable Cancer

Segment Forty-Five—You Know More Than You Know

I’m a TV addict.  Historically, I think I’ve watched every episode of the long-running Hawaii Five-Oh.  Law & Order?  I have the complete box set of the original 20 seasons.  As a result of my passion for certain police procedural dramas, I can recite the Miranda warnings from memory.  …anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  My arrest record across 65 years is spotless.  But I still know that if I were brought in to answer questions on any crime, I’d be the first guy calling an attorney.  I know this.

I’m a cook. I know that rice expands as it absorbs liquid. In short order, it can outgrow the confines of a pot or pan. Everyone knows that.

I’m a gardener (a brown thumb, but I still toil in the dirt).  I know that mulch impedes growth and that compost encourages it. I’m sure you know that.

I’m a driver.  I know that a semi tractor-trailer takes about twice as much time to stop as a car, and that if they ride the brakes too long, the asbestos brake pads will actually ignite!  But you knew that.

You may or may not have known all of those things. Either from experience, TV, the neighbor, or work, you’ve picked up a mountain of useful tidbits in the course of your life. But then comes the question—do you share that information?  And if so, when?

Lesson Learned: While we still lived in Frederick, MD, our quiet neighborhood street was on a direct line between Fort Detrick and the Sheetz store.  As a result, folks would be in the habit of driving as fast as 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. The picture at the top of this article was one from around Halloween of 2019. I was in my living room when I heard the screech of tires and the sound of a crash. The young man in the neck brace (on my front lawn) was the driver. He had sped down our street, sideswiped a parked van, and flipped over into the middle of the street.

The officer at the scene began asking the young man questions.  “Have you been drinking?”

My immediate mental response: LAWYER.

“No,” the young man replied. “I would never drink and drive.”

The officer continued: “Speeding?”

“No,” the young man replied. “I do not speed.”

My immediate mental response: LAWYER.

The questions continued, “Then how do you explain how you wound up completely flipping your car in the middle of a street at 25 miles an hour?”

My immediate mental response: LAWYER.

“I didn’t see the van parked at the side of the road. My girlfriend had just sent me an important text and I was…”

I shook my head and went back up onto my porch. Texting. In some circles, that’s worse than speeding or DUI. Geesh, I thought.  LAWYER.

In a totally unrelated incident, one family member was on his bicycle and got hit by a car (the biker’s fault), he had a completely different reaction to law enforcement. His first answer as they started asking him questions about the incident? LAWYER.  As you might imagine, the family member’s outcome was far more positive than the texting driver’s.  Why?  Because the family member knew how the situation could unfold (having watched enough Law & Order with me to know).

We pick up a lot of seemingly ancillary information in our day-to-day lives.  The question is, when do we share that knowledge? I could have stopped that wayward driver on my front lawn by telling him to shut up.  After all, he was sitting on my grass.  I didn’t say a word.  For one, I hated having my local street used as a speedway. For two, he was texting and driving, which is right up there with DUI as being on of the most idiotic offenses behind the wheel.

There’s a lot of information rattling around in your head. Consider the following:

  1. You are far more likely to find a publisher if you’ve already published (even as a contributing author in someone else’s book).
  2. You win audiences in a presentation if you make whatever you’re presenting about them in the first 30 seconds.
  3. A “check engine” light means that it’s time to find a repair shop. A flashing “check engine” light means it’s time to pull over and call a tow truck.
  4. You alienate audiences on Zoom calls when you look at your own image, rather than the camera lens on your laptop.
  5. If you’re doing Keto, Superior Nut Company Salted Pecans are about the best snacking food imaginable, with one net carb per serving.  (Available at WalMart).
  6. The Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam is a philosophy exam, rather than a memorization exam. If you can mentally adopt PMI’s philosophy, the exam is totally pass-able.
  7. There are a handful of jobs that force you to retire in the U.S., with Air Traffic Control Specialists at the low end of the spectrum retiring at 56.
  8. You can make mashed potatoes much more quickly if you leave the skins on the potatoes, cut them up, boil them, and mash them skins and all!
  9. You can speed up fresh corn by leaving the husk on and zapping it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes.  THEN, cut the stem end off, grab the silk and the husk, and shake out the corn.  Clean, shucked and ready to eat.
  10. One of the greatest introductory lines when trying to meet someone is among the most truthful. I don’t believe we’ve met.  I’m [your name]. If they’re in any way, shape or form interested, the reply won’t be snotty.

These are the kinds of tidbits we maintain in our headspace. For some of them, you may have felt I was adopting the role of Captain Obvious. For at least a few, you nodded, realizing that there’s a remote chance the thoughts might have value.

Lesson Learned: Part of the reason for writing the Stage Four Project is to create an archive for my children and family members. I’ve read diaries written by members of the “greatest generation,” and find them wanting. There’s no call to action or background to explain what they were thinking.  And there’s very little depth in terms of the context that’s provided. Any time you can capture your thoughts in a single repository and make it accessible to those who matter in your life, you’re building a legacy (no matter how short-lived it may be).

One of my relatives (born in the 1920’s) had books and books of diaries, saying where she had gone on a given day or what she had for supper.  There were no revelations about the locations or insights on meals gone well (or poorly). She had tried to create a history but was missing insights into what she had learned. The more we can do to figure out the lessons that life teaches, and the more we share them, the more our life project doesn’t completely end at death’s door.

Up next?  More than Two Years In…Common Cold or Cancer Redux?

If you want to review the previous elements of this e-book or blog, they’re all posted at www.carlpritchard.com/blog If you have insights you’d like to share or comments or conversations, my e-mail is the best way to reach me at carl@carlpritchard.com.  I’ll always get back to you within 24 hours.  Always.  And if you think I missed the mark?  Check your spam folder.  Thanks for joining me on this journey.