Monday, April 21, 2008

A Lesson from the Mechanic: Hitchhikers

I miss my parents. They weren't perfect, but they worked hard and they encouraged us to do the same. My dad was a mechanic pretty much all of his life working for dealerships and garages. For a time we even owned our own full-service gas station and garage.

That was until my dad took a job as the Auto Mechanics Instructor for our local vocational school, (now they're called "Technology Centers"). I still remember wondering what kind of teacher he was in the classroom. If cleanliness was any indication I'm sure he was pretty good at it.

Dad's workspace was a state-of-the-art auto garage with an adjoining classroom for lectures (he was pretty good at lectures too). His room was spotless. Literally. Every tool and tool bin shined. An immaculate floor, and a host of machines gleamed. In fact, my Dad wore dress shirts and dress slacks to work most of the time.

He always believed that if a mechanic knew what he was doing, then he had no real excuse for getting his clothes dirty. Thus, his workspace was immaculate even once garnering statewide recognition for it. He took great pride in his work, and the host of visitors and friends at his funeral was a testament to that. To this day people in my home town, stop me in stores and restaurants just to tell me that.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until the past few years that I've realized what a good teacher Dad was.

I'll never forget the time he accompanied me to buy a car as a college student. His experience as a former car dealership mechanic gave him insight into the used car sales world, and it served him well. It also served to embarrass me tremendously at the time, but nevertheless, he won the fight and we went home with one nice used Ford Taurus.

I was driving my new Taurus on the way home when we passed a hitchhiker. My dad had shared stories before of serving as a soldier in the marines and picking up a hitchhiker or two and even once hitchhiking himself. This hitchhiker was standing on the shoulder of Interstate 75 by a streetlight, in the rain, at night, holding a sign that read something akin to "Kentucky."

As I drove by him, my dad shook his head incredulously and offered a piece of advice. "Son, don't ever pick up a hitch hiker if he's not walking." He said. I immediately dismissed the idea. I was a college student and knew it all. What did he mean by that anyway? Did he really think I'd pick up a hitchhiker nowadays? "What dya mean?" I asked.

My dad then explained to me that if a hitchhiker really wanted to get somewhere, he'd be helping himself by walking. And furthermore, if he wasn't moving on his own in the direction of his desired destination, then he was probably just waiting for the rest of the world to get him there. According to my dad this spoke to his character and his work ethic.

I'll never forget that conversation. Even today as a professional I come in contact with many people who, "need help" and I often think about the wisdom of the mechanic. Do they really want help or do they want someone to do everything for them, or a "free ride." Unfortunately sometimes, it's the latter.

And so I ask, where are you going in life? Where do you want to be? What does your sign say? And, if I may get a little more personal, are your soles worn from walking in the direction of your dream destination? Are you putting forth the effort and hard work it will take to get you there? Do you demand and expect the same excellence for yourself that you demand from others on the journey?

Remember, no path was ever walked that was more difficult or gruesome than Jesus' walk to his own death. If the Lord could keep walking toward his destination no matter how painful he knew it would be for a time, then we too can keep walking toward our own.

No matter how tired you get this week, keep walking. No matter how hard the road might be, keep walking. If you want it bad enough, you'll make it. Just keep walking. Whether it's a job, a dream, a position, or any goal your heart might be set on; keep walking. Don't get stuck holding a sign in the middle of the road. Tighten those laces or buckles! God has a plan for you and He desires to see you accomplish it for His glory, whatever it may be.

Thanks Dad.


Joe Lowe said...

Chester...thanks for these inspiring words. Sometimes we forget to keep walking no matter the road we are on.... Joe

elizabethstwins said...

Beautiful writing-- powerful posts. Keep it up Chester, I am inspired.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing people who were inspired by their fathers. It is a rare thing these days in many places.

Thanks for the drop by on my blog too! - Matt

Pastor Dave said...

Very Good! there are some very good nuggets in this blog. your dad was very wise. Thanks for Sharing


Julie said...

You had a very wise father. And, he has a wise son who applies what was learned through a father's life experiences and passing it onto your own son. A legacy continues...