My Dad’s Proudest Moment

I remember when I was in high school, my family was lucky enough to have an in ground pool.  Thirty five years ago, it was not as normal as it is today.  Maybe three pools in a community of hundred of homes.  Everyone else belonged to the neighborhood pool.  Now I grew up with a father that never was comfortable with explaining what he needed from me.  if he was working on a project then he did not want to stop and explain what he was doing, because he was busy doing.  When he was not working, then he was staring at the project for an extremely long period of time trying to figure out what he was going to do.  The best delegation of works program we had is that we broke up the mowing portions of the lawn into four sections.  Two sections were large but flat with no trees.  The other two parts were smaller, but you had to deal with trees, roots and hills.  With a push lawn mower these were important variables.  Outside of that I would ask my dad if he needed help and he would say sure. Then we would stare at something for a half an hour.  I would say, “Dad, if you can point me in a direction or have me do something, then i am happy to help.  I just can not stare at that wall any longer, or that engine and longer, or that hole where the toilet will eventually go”.  He kindly releases me from work, more because he did not know how to teach me.  The end result was that I did not know how to do to much, but if I understood the job, then I would be happy to work.  I worked part-time unloading the brown delivery trucks at UPS and anyone that knows that line of work, it is so demanding.  the reason it was part-time was that no one could work at that pace and that strain for eight hours.  it was all about speed.

That brings me back to the pool. Every now and then we had upkeep that needed to be done on the pool.  This time we had water leaking from the pool.  It would go down to a certain level and we had to see if their was a tear in the liner at the level somewhere in the pool.  We could not find it, but it was at that specific level somewhere.  That meant we need to start digging a three foot trench around the pool.  This was grueling work. This was also a perfect example of how we view things from perspectives.  After hours and hours of digging, we still had not found the cause of the leak.  my dad said, son you have done more than I could have expected and if you want to stop you can.  I would have loved to, but the job was still far from done.  I worked on for many more hours.  Twenty five years later my Dad tells the story of how he used reverse psychology to get me to continue to work.  The temperatures had been in the nineties all day. He thought I had to be close to wanting to quit.  So he played the nice card and how thankful he was, with the intent of me wanting to stay longer.  Twenty five years after it felt like insincere manipulation.  I looked at him a bit hurt and told him it was the first bit of instruction I could remember him giving me so of course I wanted to do what I was asked to do.

Point me to a project and let me break a sweat and get after it.  Standing around for me is liking pouring Kero syrup into my veins.  It makes my energy level like that of the economy under the Jimmy Carter administration…a malaise.

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