Monday, June 21, 2010

Packing our bag (by Mike Stegall)

For 27 years I refereed High School football games. I had a great crew, all from Greenville, and we stayed together without much change that whole time. We were pretty good, not by just my account, but also according to our assigning agents. We worked hard, studied, prepared and always were where we were supposed to be. In all those years, I did a lot of things right, and pretty well. Now, thinking back on those years, I realize I did one thing perfect every time, and never missed anything. The best thing I did, and most officials do, is pack their bag.

I had a routine that might sound strange to most, but I bet there are things that we all do that may seem paranoid or weird to others. I would get my equipment bag ready on Monday for a Friday game. I would take my clean shirt, pants, socks, hat, belt, and all my flags and pencils, books and what-have-you, and put each one in the bag individually, then close the bag. I would then check the bag on Tuesday, unloading everything, then reloading, just to be sure. I would do the same on Thursday, and before I left on Friday night, just making sure I had everything I needed to do the job I was assigned to do that evening. In 27 years, I never forgot anything. Even before the game started, I would do at least 2 more checks to make sure I had everything I needed before I went out on the field. To some of you, this may sound a little paranoid. Maybe it was, but it made me secure in the fact that I was ready to officiate the game that night.

In my political life, I think this pattern has served me well. Now, before I make any decision that affects other people, and their money and livelihoods, I “pack my bag.” I go over and over what I am about to do. Am I doing the right thing? Is this the direction we need to take? Do we really need to spend this amount or can we get it done less expensively? Is this the best we can get? What is best for all concerned, not just a few? On any major decision as a Township Trustee, I have packed and re-packed my bag at least a dozen or more times. This ensures me that I am making the right decision based on what I know, and what I can expect. When it comes time to make that big decision, or step out on the field if you prefer, I know I am ready to make the call.

This “packing your bag” attitude allows me to be able to tell others when I am asked why I did what I did. I can tell them with confidence that I did this because I prepared myself with all the information I could and came to the conclusion I did because of “packing and re-packing” my bag. They may not agree with me, but at least I can feel prepared for their questions, and maybe help them understand my decision. Sometimes even after “packing my bag” I might learn something new from others, and that’s o.k. Nobody has the corner on perfection, but “packing my bag” eliminates a lot of problems.

After watching some of the shenanigans going on in Columbus and Washington, I wish more elected officials would “pack their bag” before they act. If elected officials take more time and not rush to make decisions just because “something must be done now!” The solutions will be more sound and last longer. Unfortunately, all too many politicians pass legislation and bills just to tell their voters “See, Look what I have done!” I disagree with that “something must be done now” attitude. We, as elected officials, should be prepared for most emergencies, and be able to make sound decisions based on what we know and what we can expect. It would make the public feel more secure, and the trust factor would increase in their government if they knew that before we came to them with our decisions we “Packed our Bag!”


  1. I have no doubts that you will have "packed" everything you need in order to hit the ground running once the election is over in November! :)

  2. I wish more of our political leaders at the local, county, state and Federal level "packed their bags". Never will all of us come to the same conclusion as to how things should be done. However, it could have eliminated many of the stupid mistakes we have saw from the Bush Administration, only to be made exponentially worse under the Obama Administration.


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