"Broken cars, fixing cars, and Dad's that care"
"You're going to be working for Tom, the used car manager."
"Dad, are you crazy? My X just finished remodeling his house. He had him over to drink a beer and watch a game on television last week. He is going to hate me."
"I don't think so. At the car dealership we judge people by how well they do their job-- not their personal lives. I think he can approach the situation democratically."
I lower my head, "Fine Dad. I'll work for Tom."
Jerk, I think to myself. He is sticking me with him on purpose to try and stall the gossip that spreads about me before it catches like a wildfire. There isn't any pressure there: just use your charm and work extra hard to demonstrate diligence and you will win him. Grrr..... There are times I wonder if that man should have been a politician instead of a car salesmen.
I found myself Thursday morning sitting in front of Tom's desk. Luckily, he addressed the elephant in the room instantly.
"I just want you to know I'm sorry about your marriage situation. I think it is sad anytime someone can't make their marriage work." There was a long pause there as he looked hard into my eyes. I tried to not shift uncomfortably in my seat. "However, I don't know anything about the details of your situation." He cast his eyes to the side after that sentence like people do when they are telling you a lie. That was a comfortable lie for me however, I saw not reason to confront it. "I just want you to know that it won't effect our working relationship." I think, It won't effect our working relationship if I successfully prove to you that I am a young lady who will work hard to make your behind look good. I swallowed trying to not think about the pressure too much and reminded myself that I Am a Hard worker with character, and it would reveal itself in time if I was patient.
"Thanks, I appreciate that."
He had me begin by learning to report car purchases in the system and asked me to please take his spot at the computer. I noticed a blade on the keyboard.
"May I remove this?" I inquired.
"Sure, that is there to help me open envelopes."
"I didn't think it was because you were suicidal." He laughed, and then let out a breath. There is nothing like a little humor to ease the tension.
The next two weeks I learned a lot of new things about changing prices on cars, following the market averages for prices and miles, and the process of getting a car through the shop. It was a lot of new information, but I always tried to come through for him and make him look good. Tom slowly developed an appreciation for my slightly warped since of humor. We now have a joke about how many blonde assistants does it take to correctly put sale stickers in car windows. I didn't think anything about trying to win him again. I just worked hard and began to be comfortably more at ease being myself. I also genuinely began to love the used car world. There is something about coming out of a bad situation and taking someone's old car, fixing it, making it look new, and sending it home with a happy owner that just spoke to me on so many different levels.
During the day, I helped get used cars fixed and sold. In the evening I was a mom. Monday, my son came home and yelled at me for not wanting to talk about his Dad. "You never want to talk about Dad! I think you just want to forget about him. You must have only married him because you wanted to have children." It was hard to not laugh that my seven-year-old did just make the sperm donor joke.
"Son, I don't reject any of the parts of you that are like your Dad. I love those things about you. You don't have to feel like I'm rejecting you because I'm not with your Dad."
"I am nothing like my Dad!" He yelled at me. We ended this conversation with him in tears and just letting me hold him. Sometimes, that is better than words.
I only slept four hours that night. I hurt for my son and I didn't know how to fix it.
That morning I drug myself out of bed, drug my kids to school, and drug my tired body into work.
Tom greeted me with his customary morning greeting.
"How are you?"
"I've been better, but I'm here. I only slept four hours last night."
Shortly after our morning greetings, Tom began to talk proudly of his daughter Kristi. It was amazing to hear how proud he was of her. He mentioned taking off work and how fun it was to spend a few days with her.
"You are clearly a good father. I can hear the pride in your voice when you talk about her."
He nodded his head thoughtfully. "It wasn't always easy. When I married my wife, the kids were 8 and 5. I was never able to reach Derek. He is going to be spending a year in jail, and he identified with his Dad. However, there is a conversation I had with Kristi that was one of my better parenting moments. Not all of my moments are brilliant, but there was one conversation that made a huge difference." I was shocked Kristi wasn't his biological daughter. There was no difference between how Tom talked of her, and my own Dad talks of me.
"What was the conversation?" I asked very curious.
"She was ten. She would often come home disrespectful of her mom and dissident. I could tell there was discord in her spirit. I took her aside and I told her, "Honey, you have a choice." I didn't tell her what choice to make mind you... "You have a choice of what house you want to call home. The other place, even though you have to go there, you are just visiting. You can decide which house you want to identify as your home." From that moment, she was different. She seemed more at peace. I knew we had reached her."
"You gave her a choice, but you also claimed her and gave her the opportunity to claim you."
"Yes, and now she is in medical school and she calls me her Dad. I am so proud of her." He had tears in his eyes.
I think tears may have also been in my eyes, but I can be a bit harder at times. I was, nevertheless, hugely moved by what he had just shared.
"Thank you, you were suppose to tell me that. The children are why I didn't sleep well last night."
"I thought I was suppose to share. I just had been waiting for the right time."
"Thank you." Sometimes, you want to run up and just kiss someone for the conversation you just had, or start crying...but, the most appropriate response is simply Thank you.
He had told me so much. I have seen that you are different, and the kids can identify with you instead. I care about you. He told me a none biological Dad could love my children also. It was a conversation that rocked my world for the rest of the day. I also realized used cars were not the only broken thing he was wanting to see fixed right now.
I told my Dad about the conversation, and he smiled a knowing smile... it almost said, "It only took two weeks for him to see her."