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A Lesson From Dad

Posted by on June 17, 2013

One evening when I was 13 years old my dad arrived home from work unusually late. The bus that took him from downtown to our home didn’t show up because of a mechanical failure. He told me to get in the car with him. Dad was driving the few miles back to the bus stop to give rides to the ladies who were stranded because of the bus problem. We arrived and Dad, shouted out the window, “Hello, ladies.”

The ladies smiled and said, “Oh, THANK YOU, Oscar.” I’m not surprised they knew him by name, as Dad made friends easily.

The ladies got in the car. A guy got in our car, too. There were still a couple of people left at the stop, but there wasn’t room in the car for them. They were women.

My dad’s demeanor instantly changed. He went from happy and chatty to quiet.

We drove the ladies and the guy to their homes. All of them were effusively thankful. Dad smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”

The guy was the last person we left off before we headed back to get the other stranded bus riders.  A few moments after we dropped off the guy I asked Dad, “That guy should not have got in the car before the ladies, right?”

Dad said, “No,” and that was all.

The terseness and look on his face told me more than a dozen soapbox speeches could.

When we arrived back at the bus stop, the ladies were gone. We assumed another bus finally came through.

I’ve thought about that incident many times over the years and these have been my takeaways:

#1 Yet another example of Dad being a stand up guy. When he walked home he knew those women were stranded downtown at night and needed help so after walking several miles he got in his car and took action.

#2 Dad took me along not only to set a fatherly example. He took me a long because he was a married man and thought it would be inappropriate to be alone in his car with another woman. (Old school smarts)

#3 Brevity is the soul of wit and it’s frequently the soul of wisdom. His terse “no” and the visible disgust he had for this guy sticks with me years later. That which does not add detracts.

#4 Real men notice when other men aren’t manly. They may not say it, but they notice.

#5 Dad should have said something to the guy. He should have told the guy to get out and allow one of the ladies to take his place. Unfortunately, tactful correction wasn’t one of the best tools in Dad’s toolbox. A big smile and a look right in this guy’s eyes saying, “Hey, friend. You may have not noticed there are ladies waiting. I’ll be back later on. Let’s let them go first,” would have expedited matters. A man needs to be able to occasionally show an iron first in a silk glove.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man


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