BLOG: What the Dalai Lama Could Learn from my Dad
Welcome to Pete’s Blog & Grille: What The Dalai Lama Could Learn from My Dad
Riding in the car with Mom and Dad. Dad drove. Mom rode shotgun.
Me and any number of other family members were in the backseat.
One of my favorite road games: “Keep the speck of dirt on the car window riding above the telephone lines.”
If the weather was right, I played the upgrade: a.k.a., “stick your arm out the window and let your outstretched hand surf the air (and again stay above the wires) and not let your wrist bend too much.”
It never occurred to me at the time but the second version of the game was better because it meant a window was down which meant the smoke from Dad’s Export Plains would be chimneyed out. On the other hand, I don’t recall the smoke bothering me much.
And while I’m on the topic, when I was growing up there other rules seemed different too.
One of the best trips I ever took was from Ottawa to Sudbury with two of my favorite aunts, Dad’s sisters Bonnie and Leona.
I was a student at Carleton University in Ottawa. Back home in Sudbury, my uncle Alex (from my mom’s side) had passed away and I was chauffeuring my two aunts — both seniors — to the funeral.
It was great.
I got to drive Leona’s beautiful two-door Pontiac and the “girls” relaxed in the back, sip rye and milk, smoke, and reminisce. And announce — with increasing frequency as the time passed — how handsome I was or what a great driver I was or maybe that they just loved me lots.
I will always recall that trip fondly; and I loved those women, too. I wonder if seniors ever get to do stuff like that?
But back to Dad.
Another thing about driving with Dad. Cruising down the TransCanada from Sudbury to the Ottawa Valley (Dad grew up in the Valley, Corkery,ON., to be precise) he would say something like “did you see that? Two Charolais out in a snowstorm like this!”
Mom would say she didn’t notice and Dad would elaborate: they were over there beside that grey barn, which was three quarters of a mile off the road.
Not only was it snowing; but Dad managed — at reasonable highway speed — to see, count, identify and form an editorial opinion on something so far removed from the highway that he might as well have been in an office somewhere.
While driving, Dad spotted and reported on cloud formations; ungainly stacked hay; ornately painted houses, historic plaques, Amish-looking clerks at roadside vegetable markets and whether or not roadside eateries had “licensed” signs in the window.
One thing my dad didn’t comment on? Other drivers’ on-road behavior.
He might point out that a passing Buick has mismatched sidewalls or, upon passing a certain kind of bus you might hear something about newer models not needing doghouses any more because they have pushers but I certainly can’t recall Dad every calling another driver a name or even commenting on erratic maneuvers.
But far be it from Dad to bother with such airtime-wasting opinions.
Another topic that Dad avoided: Traffic.
Dad might have reported why traffic was particularly heavy because that might be interesting in itself, but I certainly don’t recall him whining about the fact.
Ask my brother Eddie about this.
It seems every time we’d drive through Pembroke, there’d be some local parade and because the TransCanada bisected downtown Pembroke, we generally got caught up in the Pembroke celebrations. You could set your calendar by it.
Still, Dad might find the reason behind the parade comment-worthy; but did he gripe about being stopped? Nosirreebob.
Finally, I don’t remember Dad ever commenting on his own driving: How difficult a particular maneuver was, or how stressed or tired he might be. Even though driving six hours on the TransCanada through small towns with no power steering or A/C with noisy kids in the sedan would stress out the Dalai Lama, Dad never let on that it got to him.
Which I think is the sign of a professional driver.
Which brings me to the next issue up for discussion. What’s so great about the Dalai Lama and why do reporters quote his every utterance as if he were somebody special?
When it came to patience, wisdom, love, and outward signs of human compassion, my professional driver Dad had it all over any old Dalai Lama. Plus, the Dalai Lama probably thinks pushers belong in doghouses.