Two Father’s Day things, since these are de rigueur:
I talked to Dad today about things that are going on at work. He offered me advice. At the end of it, he said, “You’ve probably thought of most of that already, but if you hadn’t, now you have.” It wasn’t anything that he thrust upon me or would be angry if I didn’t accept it. He was just thinking out loud, and they were good ideas. I accept all of his advice save his politics.
Driving to the dorms just now, I was stopped at a light on the square in Fairfax and saw the car next to me doing that thing that stick-drivers do in edging up and rolling back in anticipation of the light turning green. I used to do that, but I don’t anymore because it’s rough on the clutch, and since I’ve burned one out in the WRX already, I’m of no mind to do that again anytime in the next 60,000 miles.
But that brought back a memory from high school. The first car I drove that was “my” car was a terrible 1982 Dodge Aries K car, tan with a white vinyl top that had cracked and mildewed, and with a bad seal around the rear windscreen, so the back seat was also mildewed. It was not, as Steven Page put it, “a nice Reliant automobile”. So my parents decided to get me something better, which put me into a blue 1986 Nissan hardbody pickup with a white camper shell on it. That proved to be perfect for moving into and away from MSMS both years.
But to get to the point where I could drive it full-time — remember, the car that I got at 15 was an automatic — I had to learn how to drive a stick. I ground gears and killed engines with the best of them, but eventually I figured it out. EXCEPT FOR HILL STARTS. Those took me some time to get the hang of.
The worst incident came when we were driving from Forest into Morton to do hunter’s safety courses so I could get licensed. (I’ve never killed a thing.) We’d driven in on US 80 — we lived right on it next to the Catholic church — and there was a light at the bottom of a hill. Coming up to it, I was dreading getting stopped at the light, but it happened. I was the front car in line.
I killed it maybe 15 times.
We went through the whole light cycle.
This was the main drag, and that was a long, long light.
Somehow I got it right very quickly on the second light cycle, but I have never forgotten that. Why? Well, for one, there’s a lot of shame in that, but also, Dad was so cool through it. I know that he was frustrated. He was almost as frustrated as I was. But he kept it in check.
I inherited Dad’s temper. [Cut to my mother nodding her head vigorously.] But I see it from him only when necessary. I think that he’s modeled that pretty well. Back at TBE, I had a co-worker comment on my temperament in meetings — never too high, never too low, always rolling with the punches. What she didn’t know is that I let all that pent up frustration free in my office, as closer co-workers of mine know well. I’m sure that Dad has that steam valve, too. That’s probably why I don’t get an earful nearly as often as I deserve.
So: advice, how to drive a stick, and keeping my anger in check. Those are three good things.