I’ve returned from a New Orleans vacation with outlines of three blog posts scribbled on airplane napkins. One topic is Father’s day, though slightly belated at this point. Fortunately, I’m not vying for page hits.
I imagine one of the goals of a father is to instill life lessons and learnings into his children. He might think these are going to come from long lectures or stories from his youth. Yet, none of those come to my mind. Instead, much of my character has been shaped by small comments or emotions shared by my dad. Fleeting moments that he probably thought nothing of at the time, nor remembers to this day. I’d like to share a few tenants I live by and the moments behind them.
I first learned about political parties in a middle school social studies class. I came home and asked my dad, “What are we, Republicans or Democrats?”
Without flinching my dad replied, “I’m a Republican. You can be whatever you want to be.”
The topic hit pretty close to home for him, as he grew up with Democratic parents and later became quite conservative. Like father like son, I also diverged from my parent’s political beliefs. My dad probably regrets that comment now.
Work for what you want
My first real job was at a local pizza shop, a few miles from my house. I started as a dishwasher but soon began working the front, manning the ovens, and even making pizza. One day the owner showed me how to make subs — cold cuts, meatball, chicken parm, you name it. Yet, when I tried to fold, cut, and wrap them, the subs would somehow explode. I can’t explain the physics of it, but I’m sure the unfortunate customers could vouch for me.
My dad asked me one day how the job was going. I told him that I liked making pizzas but I can’t make subs.
“What do you mean you can’t make subs?”
Here’s a guy whose first job was making subs. His second building swimming pools, and later remodeling houses. And his son can’t even make a decent ham & cheese.
I don’t remember exactly, but I was probably embarrassed. At 14, if things didn’t come naturally to me, I would often quit, assuming I didn’t have the necessary talent to perform that activity. After that brief conversation, I started to change. I began to put more effort into my work. The next shift, I took on all of the sub orders until I perfected the fold, slice, and wrap.
Think about how your actions (or inactions) will affect others
My neighbor’s husband died unexpectedly. He was probably in his 40’s, I think I was about thirteen. Sometime that week my neighbor called my house, asking if one of us would be willing to clean out the van of her deceased husband. She was willing to pay $20.
Politely, I declined her offer. “No thanks.” My tween reasoning was probably laziness or that I was saving her $20.
My dad later found out about the conversation that I had with the newly widowed neighbor. I don’t remember what was said, but the emotions were clear: anger, frustration, sadness. I completely let our neighbor, his friend, down during what had to be one of her darkest moments.
I do very little today without thinking about how it’s going to impact others. In fact, vacationing in New Orleans during Father’s Day weekend was a tough decision. I’m hoping this makes up for it.
Happy Father’s Day Dad!