Bill Turner
“Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playthings”
That’s a saying by St. Jerome (347-420 AD) originally quoted in Latin: fac et liquid operas, ul semper te diabolus invenial occupatum, or “engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.”  Later, it was repeated by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, the source of its popularity.
Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.
That’s the challenge around The Star right now as the COVID-19 situation is upon us. We’re idling a little, plus we don’t know Latin.
While the boys over in the news room and commentary area definitely aren’t short of updates and stories, it’s been a different case in the sports department. Everything from high school sporting events to Major League Baseball and golf’s premier event, The Masters, has been put on hold. The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs lost 25% of their home schedule and opening day for the Salem Red Sox will be delayed, possibly for weeks.
But, rather than dwell on the negative, this column will try to put a smile on your face with its usual look into what’s somewhat comical in nature, if not totally preposterous in human nature. A little laughter won’t hurt anybody, even if you have to do it six feet away from the person beside you.
With the sports shutdown, the last thing I wanted in the sports department was idle hands. Accordingly, to make the casual observer think everyone was busy, I gave out Mr. Potato Head sets with the challenge of making their best replica of myself or The Chief. It’s about 2-1 on those choosing The Chief, although one intern’s effort of me sitting on a roll of toilet paper had plenty of potential for best-in-show.
The chatter around the sports department water cooler this week centered around what was going to happen next. Many of the team worried The Chief would transfer everyone to the landscaping detail at corporate headquarters. Pruning hedges and spreading mulch, not to mention mowing, isn’t the glamour job the sports group has been used to.
Despite The Chief maintaining a low profile in the last week or two, word came down from the secretarial pool that he wanted a volunteer from the sports area to hit the streets to look for a supply of toilet paper.
Apparently, a significant shortage in the executive washroom had become a concern. We drew straws to determine who the errand boy or girl would be, and Mr. X (like Dragnet, we change the names to protect the innocent) hit the merry roads of Tarrytown to find the booty. Unfortunately, two days later, he returned empty handed, with only a few bruises to show for his hard work after a scuffle with a heavyset gal over a 4-pack of Charmin.
I have pointed out to everyone to not fret. In the next week or two the trees will be full of leaves. And, it’s almost guaranteed that one of those TV gadgets will follow that turns print newspapers into toilet paper with a push of the shredder and powder-puff buttons. Of course, get a second one free for the upstairs potty, just pay separate shipping and handling.
Later in the week I got a memo from The Chief that he is considering a corporate plane for The Star. He also forwarded a promo link showing the landing and takeoff capabilities of this dirigible with wings, the Pilatus PC-6 Porter. (I’m 100% serious about this). The aircraft boasts of using elevated, unpaved runways to take advantage of gravitational pull. It’s very popular in the jungles and mountain terrain of Indonesia. The jury is still out on riding in this thing, but if The Chief goes all-out and the general public is offered booking opportunities to fly along to a sporting event, I would definitely advise against booking a window seat.
Now, to some good news on the local high school basketball season where a pair of “Big-11” teams brought home state championships, along with getting prime time coverage by The Star.
The Lord Botetourt girls and the Cave Spring boys captured their respective Class-3 titles in mid-March. Both won exciting quarterfinal games at Roanoke College’s Cregger Center and semifinal matchups at the Salem Civic Center in front of huge crowds. Unfortunately, the state final games in Richmond were cancelled by the VHSL, leading to awarding state titles to both exceptional squads.
Also, making great runs into the state playoff rounds were the Patrick Henry girls, William Fleming girls, Northside boys, Patrick Henry boys and Glenvar boys. More proof of the exceptional basketball talent from both players and coaches in the “Big-11”.
Finally, I will say to everyone to be strong and be safe. Hopefully, this crisis will be under control and headed downward in the near future. Games will return and fans will be back in the seats.
Until then, you may want to consider another thing. Rather than wringing your hands and worrying, raise your hands and worship. Some problems are best left in the hands of a higher power. And, avoid the drama-filled, adjective-inflected TV reporters who exaggerate and look for the scare tactics to pump up viewership by predicting gloom and doom.
Hope to see you soon, even if it’s on the Pilatus PC-6 Porter.
Bill Turner