My dad passed alot of things on to me. My technical brain, and the ability to take apart and put back together lots of things. My love for electronics. My ability to rewrite lyrics on the fly to match my own whims. My love of oldies and rock and roll. My love for Dirt bikes and ATV's, and my like for snowmobiles. My love for beagles, cattle, and agriculture. My talent for drawing came from him. But the other thing he passed on to me? A respect and knowledge about cars.
My dad loves cars. He hates cars. He knows cars. He went to school in Omaha Nebraska for mechanics. He works for Caterpillar, where he started in 1977. He was laid off for 8 years straight. During that time he worked as a Diesel Mechanic at several semi garages. He worked for Hermie Gentz and Gentz Buick in Prophetstown, where he was a ASCE Certified "Mr. Goodwrench." Growing up we had great big old boats for cars. When I was little, we were cool. We had a 70's Blue 2-door Road Runner with White Racing Stripes and big fat tires. We had a Dodge. Dad had his '69 Road Runner. And we had his Black 1974 Ford F150 Truck with Gleaming Crager Rims and the extra chrome package. And then he got laid off. And he raised an entire family on less than half of what I make right now. And then my mom drove a booger green 4-door Buick. And then it was a tan 4-door Buick. Oh my poor mom. Not until the late late 90's did my mom get a used hunter green Bonneville. My dad could make any car run reliably, longer than anyone could possibly want a damn car to run. When the transmission went out in my 1981 Baby Blue Monte Carlo, dad and I put in a new one that was rebuilt out of an old white van. That man can fix anything.
And ultimately, no matter what your car looked like, or what kind of shape it was in, or how old it was, he taught us that you RESPECT your car. And you respect other people's cars. You don't lean on them. You dont sit things on them. You get the oil changed every 3000 miles or SOONER if it's a car with high miles or you expect it to last a long time. You don't go near a car with a zipper on your jacket or buttons and rivets on your jeans. You wash your car. You avoid chipped roads and fresh oil at all costs. You never let a pet ride in your car. You don't EVER throw rocks or basketballs near anyone's car. And probably MOST important, you NEVER EVER stick a bumper sticker on your car.
Our Bumper Stickers went on the water heater. It was a Rodgers' family tradition. Whenever you got a bumper sticker from anywhere, you went right to dad and asked permission to have that bumper sticker affixed to the water heater. And then with supervision, you went down to the basement and you helped dad pick out a spot where the bumper sticker would be carefully affixed by dad himself. THAT is what we do with bumper stickers. You do not, under any circumstances, defile a vehicle with something adhesive!
So when I didn't have a water heater of my own, I decided to stick bumper stickers to an old blue trunk I found. It's in the attic with all my high school goodies inside. But the Bumper Sticker on the water heater thing is a trick that I hope to pass down to my kids. It may seem silly to everyone else.... but I intend for my kids to respect their cars and other people's cars.
Case in point. The day a Turkey started roosting on my sister's black car. My sister was so pissed! She was worried that the paint would scratch and it almost brought her to tears. Dad went out there and chased the turkey around the car. He caught it, picked it up by the legs, and told mom to get in the car and she drove while he held that damn turkey out the window, upside down by his legs, and they took it to a Sand Prairie a few miles away, where he could run wild and free and NOT sit on my sister's car. Another example. When my old rusty, faded blue Monte Carlo was parked at the park, and we were all sitting on the picnic table, and a "friend" of mine decided that he should walk OVER the hood and the roof, and the trunk. Now. I didn't even SIT on that car. It wasn't perfect but I paid every god damn penny for that car and I paid for the insurance and the gas and all the repairs. And I had been taught to RESPECT a car, and ultimately, to respect other people's cars. To those spoiled rich kids who got GIVEN a new car, mine was a piece of crap. They weren't taught to respect cars, not their own, and not someone else's. I was so pissed I reamed that guy up one side and down the other. He said "What's it matter, it's a piece of junk! You paid like $1000 for it!" and I got so mad that I almost cried at that jackass. He has left a dent in the car and I was PISSED. It was about respect. That car was my property and you need to respect that.
I get so angry when I see kids along the street in town and they have handfulls of rocks and those little bastards throw them at passing cars. When I was in college that happened to me once and I stopped the car and went back and chewed the kids' ass. I don't like kids throwing snowballs at cars. Ultimately, you teach your kids to respect cars. If not yours and their own, you teach them to respect other people's cars.
I am very grateful that my dad taught me respect. And that he taught me that bumper stickers go on the water heater.