W.Va. postal carrier achieves dream

Ogden Newspapers photo Catie Arthur, a Charles Town postal carrier, recently was a contestant on a game show and was able to fulfill a lifelong dream.

CHARLES TOWN — Catie Arthur still wishes to see Stonehenge. But as lifetime aspirations go, the Charles Town postal carrier recently got her turn as a contestant on “The Wheel.”

“We watch it pretty often,” Arthur said of her and her mom. “There’s just a lot about it that is really fun.”

In fact, Arthur watches the national TV game show “Wheel of Fortune” along with “Jeopardy” as a regular nightly routine. She’s done that since she was about 11, And she’s always wanted to be a contestant on the longstanding phrase-solving show–which is kind of like fast-paced hangman in glitzy Las Vegas.

Two weeks ago Arthur got her lifelong wish.

After doing well on puzzle quizzes, interviews and mini-mock game shows of The Wheel during two audition sessions in Washington, D.C., Arthur received the ultimate invitation to be a contestant on the real thing in Los Angeles.

“I got a call while I was watching Wheel of Fortune,” she recalled.

Without answering, she knew from the Culver City, California, address displayed on her phone that she was picked as a contestant. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I almost, I think, just like passed out-because I have to answer this,” she said, talking fast like the game show. “It was like, ‘Congratulations!'”

Two weeks ago she, her mom and a friend from Colorado flew out to Los Angeles to have Arthur try her skill and luck at the real thing. The show Arthur was on was taped on Jan. 12 and was broadcast a week later Jan. 19.

Arthur, who has been a U.S. Postal Service delivery person in downtown Charles Town for nearly two years, has gotten pretty good at quickly solving the game show puzzles over the years. And quick is essential to playing the game well.

“They just want you to yell the letter. Go, quick, quick — which is good for me,” she said. “I have a fast pace in general.”

Arthur said she went to Los Angeles with no grand expectations. She has watched the game enough to know that some contestants lose a turn or go bankrupt spinning the game’s oversize roulette-style wheel. Some immediately lose turns by calling out wrong letters while attempting to solve puzzle phrases.

“There are people that at the end of all those rounds have zero (winnings),” she said.

Arthur did well. Participating in the first of six shows taped that day, she took second place. She won about $6,000 and a trip to Aruba, she said.

During the broadcast taping, she was nervous but didn’t lose her game show skills, she said. Her goal to channel any nervousness into focusing on the game and puzzles at hand worked pretty well.

“Just don’t over think it,” she recalled telling herself. “It’s one of those things — you can’t over think it. You just have to enjoy it for what it is.

“I don’t think I noticed one camera or one face in the audience because I was so concentrated on being focused on what I was doing,” she said.

Arthur enjoyed meeting the show’s famous stars, the affable Pat Sajak and the glamorous Vanna White.

She met White before the show, who stopped by a back stage room — appearing without makeup but with a down-to-earth friendliness — to wish all of that days contestants well. She met Sajak during the show, but didn’t remember that part.

“It was totally a blur,” she said. “The excitement just kind of gets you a little.

“You could tell watching that I was just happy to be standing there,” she added. “It was kind of funny.”

After refocusing, Arthur solved the first puzzle of the day, and galloped along after that.

“Everyone was in a good mood. Everyone was happy,” she said. “Everyone was really good at keeping you pumped up.”

After the game show, Arthur stayed for four busy days of sightseeing in Los Angeles. Music rapper Puff Daddy got out of a car on the street right in front of her, which was kind of fun.

But meeting Sajak was more exciting to see, she added.

“I feel like I was really lucky, and I got to do something that was on my list of things to do,” she said.