“Nice ride,” my neighbor said as I rolled down the street. I was driving a nice car, but it was my middle son’s car. A late-model, low-mileage luxury car that had been a former fleet car, it was the type of car you would expect someone in his fifties – my age – to buy, rather than someone in their twenties, like my son.
My son had recently gotten a job after graduating from college. The job wss in the town in which we live, albeit on the other side of town. He wanted to find an apartment on that side of town, but has not yet been able to find one. He has not had time – he has been working 60 hours a week since starting. So he still lives with us.
It is a long drive – about 45 minutes one way. For the first month he had the job, we had him use the good family car. If the old car broke down, it would be cheaper if it happened on my short ride to work. After collecting his second paycheck, my son went out and bought his own car. He did not like imposing on his parents.
He got a good deal--bought a used car, which cost about half of what the same car would have cost new. Since he faced a long commute he bought a comfortable ride, and one that offered safety as well. Hence, the old guy car.
But cars need maintenance. The change oil light came on while he was driving home one day. Since he had to work the next day, he asked if I would take the car in for an oil change. He would reimburse me, later.
It was the type of thing I had asked he and his brothers to do when they were old enough to drive and I was working overtime. They took the car in, and I paid them back later. To make the role-reversal complete, I was initially reluctant. What if something happened and I messed up his car? It was the same thing that I had heard from them the first time they drove a new family car. “Dad,” he said (looking sidelong at his younger brother), “I trust you.” The same three words I used when I gave them the same assignment.
I took his car to get serviced. It was spotless. As I drove, I wondered what was in his CD player. I turned it on, not sure what I expected – perhaps some cacophonic contemporary music. Instead, the strains of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” greeted me.
It struck me that my son had become an adult, and the type of adult whose company I enjoyed. He was gainfully employed, respectful to others, God-fearing, and responsible for his actions, with a quiet style of his own. It was the best reward a father could receive. I sat back, enjoying a nice ride.