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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Car Trouble

I had the most ridiculous conversation with my father last night. He’s giving me his old car (which is 10 years younger than my current car) and I am very, very grateful. I think I’ve thanked him about 82 times, literally. So, it should be coming in the second week of March. My dad lives in Virginia, and he shipped the car here using a company that will drop the car off at a terminal in San Bernardino, which is about an hour and a half from where I live. So, I had asked my friend Diann to drive me there, and she said “No problem.”

Yesterday, my dad happened to mention to me, on the phone, that the place where the car is being delivered isn’t open on the weekends. What follows is our conversation verbatim.

Me: “Oh, really? Crap. I’ll have to figure something out, then.”
Dad: “Why?”
Me: “Well, Diann was going to drive me, but I can’t ask her to take off work.”
Dad: “Why? She’ll do it. Tell her you’ll buy her lunch or something.”
Me: “No, I can’t. Her sister’s sick, she’s been going through chemo, and she just had surgery. Diann’s already taken a bunch of time off work—“
Dad: “So what? Ask her; she’ll do it.”
Me: “No, no. I can’t. I won’t ask her to do that.”
Dad: “What about your neighbors? Ask them.”
Me: “Dad, they’re my neighbors. We’re friendly, but I can’t ask them to do that. I’ll just get a cab or something.”
Dad: “How much will that be?”
Me: “I don’t know. Couple hundred.”
Dad: WHAT?!? No, you’re not doing that! What about that woman in your office?”
Me: “Dad, she has cancer, too. She’s going through chemo now and can barely get into work half the time.”
Dad: “Oh. What about some of the guys at work?”
Me: “No, they’re in Canada on business.”
Dad: “Ask your boss!”
Me: “What?”
Dad: “Ask you’re boss, he’ll do it!”
Me: “You’re kidding, right? Dad, he’s my boss. I can’t ask him to drive me, especially on a workday, to San Bernardino!”
Dad: “Why not?”
Me: “Why not? He’s my boss! He’s my boss, not a friend! You can’t ask a boss for a favor like that.”
Dad: “You’re being negative!! You won’t even ask anyone! How do you know if you won’t ask? You’re so negative!”
Me: “I am not being negative, but I will not ask my boss to drive me to San Bernardino; that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! I will figure something out, but that is a ridiculous suggestion!”
Dad: “Fine. Fine. You figure it out.”

The thing that annoys me about this conversation, besides the obvious, is that it points to something about my dad that has been a continuing cross to bear. When I was a kid, my dad labeled me with certain descriptors, and no matter how much I’ve changed, he still clings to them with a righteous death-grip, the kind that strikes certain parents who live with the belief that, all things considered, they know their children better than their children do.

When I was a kid, my father decided I was “a worrier,” “a pill,” “negative in attitude,” “not happy unless I was miserable,” and “loath to go anywhere or do anything new or different.” Now, I doubt that I was those things then, let alone now. And even if I was those things then, isn’t it kind of hard to say what came first? Was I only happy unless I was miserable, or was I only happy when I was miserable because my dad told me that’s how I was? Now, I don’t want to be the kind of person who blames their parents for their problems even when they’re an adult, but that’s not what this is. This is my dad still assuming that I am all the things that he thought I was when I was a kid. I think I could’ve become a hugely famous, flamboyant, popular, globe-trotting, self-assured singer or actress, and he would still think that I was a little, pill-like worrier.

Anybody else experience this?

As a side-note, I really think that the boss suggestion was just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard my extremely intelligent father say in my life. It’s as if there are no social constraints in my dad’s world. He has a boss, too. And I doubt he would ask his boss for help moving, or a ride to the airport, but for some reason I’m unreasonable for not asking MY boss to do something like that.

My boss owns a company. He’s probably a millionaire. He pays people like me to do things like pickup cars and run errands. If I asked him for a ride to pick up my car, he would grimace uncomfortably, then offer to pay my cab fare for me to do it alone. He’s a nice guy, and pretty down to earth, and he likes me, but…come on. People who own successful companies don’t give rides to their employees! I can’t think of anything more awkward than asking my boss for a ride to San Bernardino, just the two of us, except perhaps for the actual ride, just the two of us, which would be exponentially more awkward. Am I wrong?


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