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My father was kind of a Renaissance man. He was an artist. He was also a chemist, a mechanic, an inventor, a philosopher, a builder, a designer and a strategist who came up with plans of revenge so diabolical I can’t even talk about them here, 22 years after his death.

My dad didn’t talk a lot and he rarely told me what to do. So when he did tell me something, I tended to listen. There is an amusement park close to my house and one year when I was in high school, they had turned one of the first roller coasters that looped upside down (called the Screamroller, and totally tame by today’s standards) into a stand-up ride. As I was leaving that day, my dad asked me not to ride it. I said, “That’s the entire reason we’re going” (and also to smoke pot, but I didn’t mention that). He said, “I know. But it’s not safe. I’d just feel better if you didn’t ride it.” So I didn’t. And I spent that afternoon letting my friends mock me. Two years later, some kid was thrown from the ride and died. Point for Dad.

Anyone remember the Hyatt skywalk collapse in 1981? I do. I also remember when they built it and my dad saying, “There’s no way that can hold up. It’s not supported by anything.” Not long after that, the top walkway collapsed and over 100 people died.

So when he told me something wasn’t safe, or he told me what to do in certain situations, I listened. I moved out when I was 18 and my dad put together a very small survival kit. It included duct tape, WD-40, aspirin, Neosporin, a hammer and needle nose pliers. I still have the hammer. He told me I could handle just about anything that happened with any combination of those six items.  My house is never without any of those things and that tip from my dad has served me well my entire life.

Remember when this happened to me?

I had a guy fix it off the books, which really just meant “cheap.”  The other day I was walking toward my car and noticed the back bumper was hanging off on the driver’s side. I took a moment to curse the guy who originally fixed it before I realized my car got hit on the passenger side … this new bumper madness was due to rust, old age and abuse.

So I duct taped it.

Thanks, Dad.

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