Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Big Milestone

The call usually came in around 9:30 Saturday morning and went something like this:

Me: “hmfft… Hello?” (Usually hung over but always fast asleep).

Dad: “Where’s my trickle charger you thievin’ bastard!”

Me: “Good morning to you too.”

Dad: “Where’s my trickle charger!”

Me: “I don’t think I have it”.

Dad: “Don’t lie to me you’ve got it – I know you have it.”

Me: “Why do you always phone me when you’re missing something?”

Dad: “Because you’re the only thievin’ bastard I know! Get your ass out of that fart sack and get out here with MY trickle charger!”

You could replace trickle charger with cordless drill, circular saw or various other tools. And about fifty percent of the time I had it – the rest of the time he hadn’t looked hard enough for it yet.

There was another phone call I could get Saturday morning and it usually went like this:

Me: “hmfft… Hello?” (Again maybe hung over but always fast asleep).

Dad: “Figgy – it’s me… Dad! What are you doing?” (I could tell by the static he was on the his cell in his truck)

Me: “Nothing... why?”

Dad: “You’re sleeping aren’t you – get your ass out of bed – you rat bastard you!”

Me: “I’ve been up for hours – why?”

Dad: “I’m picking you up there’s a farm auction out by Rimby… I’ll be there in 10 minutes - be on the street!”

He’d then be there in two minutes and honk his horn until I appeared at the door. After he picked me up, on days he could tell I was hung over, his favorite thing to do was to get me going on something that he knew we disagreed about, where I was going with my life or how much money I had in the bank. He could be evil when he wanted to be.

That aside, there was nothing better on those hung over days than a greasy auction burger and a Coke with a straw. That was one thing about my dad – he always grabbed a straw… really who used a straw after 1958 or age 10?

I’m now thirty-two years old, it’s a Saturday and I’m out of bed like a shot at seven AM. No dad calls, those days are gone – but again… none are needed. I’m up because I’m hitting another major milestone in the project that he started and I am going to finish.

If you were passing by when my father and I spoke over the last part of 2007 and most of 2008 you might have thought I had turned thirty sometime in 2007. That’s because to add emphasis most of his rants about my drinking and childish behavior my dad just rounded my age to thirty. To him I was thirty since three weeks after my twenty-eighth birthday. To the rest of the world I turned thirty six months after my dad passed away. To commemorate the event my mother threw me a party.

I remember distinctly at one point (drunk – of course), standing in the garage before a rather sad looking TR6, telling a group of people how I’m going to restore this car. That was a bold statement and looking back I can’t believe how foolish I was to say something like that. I had rebuilt the Road Runner with dad – I knew how hard it was – especially how hard it was to do it right.

It goes back to that Hemmingway quote: "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

I have a tendency to look at things in my life as vignettes from various movies I’ve seen. Partly because I believe I’m made up of two things – the things I’ve experienced first hand and the perfect self I strive to be made up from heroes in books, movies and song. And party because I’m a nerd.

The problem is that the reality of the life is much more nuanced then movies books and especially song. But being who I am, and so to not talk myself out of it, I had to approach this project in the manner that it was a simple and noble task. The reality is that it’s neither.

When I quit my job as General Manager of Quick Oilfield Solutions in April of 2009 – almost exactly two years ago now – I felt absolutely useless and rudderless. My dad was very proud of me and the success related to that career. Everything he told me about my potential was coming true when I landed that job. This was significant because, from floundering academically in school to losing my lower portion of my left leg in work-related accident, I had a lot of setback and strife – mostly self-inflicted.

In the end quitting that job was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me right behind meeting my wife and losing my leg – I mean that I’m not being funny. What all these things all have in common was that they changed my trajectory – just slightly but still significantly for the better.

A year later the amount of unrelenting rejection I received when I decided to re-enter the job market was enough to make me want to eat a gun. The only thing that buoyed my confidence during that time was working on that car. I knew if I could fix this hub or rebuild a brake caliper that I could stick it out another week. It proved to me I wasn’t useless.

I don’t think I’ve talked about this in here but on the day I received the phone call that they were hiring me for the job I have now I was out walking Ruffin when I got the call. After being told they were hiring me starting July 19th at the same salary I had when I left my old job, I thanked them very much, hung up and took about four steps before I collapsed on the sidewalk in a sobbing heap. I had never felt that level of absolute relief and redemption in my entire life.

It’s strange to think back on that now as less than a year later with the wedding and my first day of work a memory and new challenges here such as the house and baby. This is great stuff but I still have some unresolved business – specifically the TR6.

This Saturday, the Saturday I’m out of bed at seven AM, was a very special day in the history of this project. I got to see the car painted for the first time ever. It looked as it looked new. Tony did a beautiful job. I took my wife, Krista, my mother, Anna, my uncles, Jim and Jer, my uncle Don and his son, my cousin Pat. I don’t think that many people have been in Tony’s shop at the same time ever and if I didn’t show up cash and beer in hand I don’t think he would have let us in.

Seeing the car all painted was beyond words. It was a great day and fun to have everyone there.

Like I said last week we had Denis’s trailer and it was a lifesaver as this weather is not giving me a moment of peace.

Back in Calgary with the car in-tow Krista and I drove the trailer over to what I lovingly refer to as “Triumph Close” in my new neighborhood. The first meeting of the Wild Rose chapter of the 6-Pack club was supposed to be coming to order. I was hoping the inclement weather wasn’t going to hold everyone back. At this point I wasn’t aware of the resolve that existed inside Triumph owners. Everyone was there and excited to see the car – even those who didn’t know the car or the story.

We had a couple of beers and talked club stuff. I’m really not used to being a member of anything but it was neat to be around a bunch of guys who had this shared interest. Much like my taste in music and movies, with cars I’m - at least – a generation behind my peers and this made me the junior in this group but still a great group of guys. I like the idea of doing a few burns out to Canmore and other place they talked about. Turner Valley area came up – that would be great. I also got wind that there’s a favorable paved road out North from Cochrane that’s not the Cowboy Trail (which is clogged with RV-ers every long weekend) that gets pretty close to the Ranch… Sundre at least.

Krista was overwhelmed by the cars and people on Triumph Close and now is not as convinced that I’m bat-shit crazy. I think she found it neat that there are other people who suffer from my same “affliction”. She might start soliciting other wives on coping strategies.

It’s trite to say but it was a great weekend. Sunday I brought as many of the parts that I could up – including the bumpers and seats. I have an order into Drakes for hood alignment buffers and pins – plus a new latch. That and a new rubber collar for the gas cap and door handle gaskets.

Everything I brought up this weekend, including the car, is tucked into the garage at the old place until I can get the floor epoxied – hopefully this weekend.

The baby thing is looming large as the coach in our stiflingly annoying baby class is convinced that the baby has dropped. We could be in the last days of the pregnancy and that’s a little crazy to even think about.

It’s hard to fathom the idea of becoming a father... being like my dad.

Yesterday I received in the mail, via a seller on EBay, a 3/8 Snap-On ratchet. Sometime before the beginning of this project it went missing from Dad’s Snap-On tool box. It’s so long ago that I don’t even know if he lost it or if I did. Being that I never received a Saturday morning call about I suspect he lost it. Its two and a half years later and I still have no idea what happened to it. I do know if he were alive I would have been blamed regardless. If he was here I could argue who lost it – but he’s not. So I just replaced it. I don’t know why I did. The Mastercraft from my tool set was working fine – even looked like it belonged. He’d be the only one who’d care.

…Stay tuned.

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