The Car Compliment

My father was a very difficult man to please. He owned a garage and did bodywork and mechanical work on cars. he kept his tools obsessively clean and in order. All the wrenches were organized by size, smallest to largest.

I worked in my father’s garage for $1.00 an hour, even though the minimum wage at the time was $2.35. Being a teenager, it was difficult to find my first real job, so I was stuck working in the garage.

I learned how to clean cars, inside and out. I vacuumed, Armoraled, and Windexed.

I learned how to do body work on cars. I sanded, filled with putty, grated, and sanded again. I would then prep the car for painting with another chemical.

One day, my father said to me, “You do good bodywork. Your work is as good as any other bodyshop I’ve ever seen.”

“Wow,” I thought. “I must be good.” My father did not hand out compliments often. This compliment did wonders for my self-esteem.

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