The Ten-Four Guarantee

My father, bless his heart, has always had a knack for procuring things: watches, lawn mowers, chain saws, flat screen TVs--whatever you need really. The provenance of these items is often obscure. Nothing overtly illegal, mind you. Just, well, murky.

Indeed, my father's various "business dealings" have always been something of a mystery to me. One of my earliest memories is making the rounds with him on Saturday mornings as he went in and out of various taverns. My mother would insist upon his taking me along, no doubt as a kind of check on his activities. After all, there is only so much trouble a person can get into with a five-year old boy in tow.

So from tavern to tavern we would go, and just before we entered each one my dad would say, "Now in here everyone calls me Rudy." We would walk through the door and a half-dozen people would look up and shout, "Rudy!" It was "Hank" at the next place and "Carl Edward" at the place after that. He would sit me at the bar with a glass of 7-Up or a bowl of peanuts, and I would chat with the bar maid as he sat across the room speaking sotto voce to a table full of men.

To this day, I have no idea what any of this was about and he has never volunteered an explanation. Even so, I have learned the family rule the hard way: Never buy anything from your father. This is practical advice because whatever you buy will have some special flaw. I once bought a VCR from him in my younger and more gullible days. I took it home, hooked it up, and it worked fine for almost 30 minutes. Then the screen went blank and it shut down. I called him up, but before I could tell him what happened, he said, "Did it go off?"

"Yeah. What kind of piece of junk is this?"

It was okay, he told me. You just have to prop the VCR at a 45 degree angle. I did as he instructed and it worked fine after that. I owned that VCR for years and, sure enough, I always had to tilt it to 45 degrees after the the first half hour of every movie. My brother had a similar experience with a truck. It would die every 70 miles or so. He had to jump out, open the hood and give the fuel filter a few taps with a crescent wrench. Then it was fine. Almost everyone in my family can tell a story along these lines. They also fully understand the meaning of my father's Ten-Four guarantee on everything he sells (ten feet or four seconds, whichever comes first).

I mention all this because there was a bit of a milestone at our house last evening. I try to have breakfast with my dad every Sunday morning and often bring my son along. My father's in his 80s now and has slowed down, but he's still wheeling and dealing. Anyway, the previous week my son had shown off a watch that he bought with his allowance. My dad had said, "You want a watch? I got a hundred of them. Some are still in the box." So last Sunday at breakfast there was my dad with a bag full of watches. He let the boy pick out two to take home. The kid was thrilled.

Last night, however, while my son and I were sitting together in the big chair reading, he informed me that one of the watches had stopped. It no longer moved when he wound it. "That's okay," he said. "I still have this other one." He brandished the watch on his wrist and we looked at it. The hands had fallen off.

Welcome to the family, kid.


TXC said…
Hilarious, Steve! Keep on bloggin'!

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