I thought of my dad today, making a quizzical observance of how far this nut fell from the tree.
I was putting oil in my truck at Walmart after bypassing my usual purchase of Castrol GTX priced around $4 in favor of the $7 “Edge” version. Who knows; it may increase engine performance, and flush with cash after cashing my SS check, I was makin’ it rain in theah!
Suddenly, a flashback to my teen years when each time Dad added a quart of oil, that can would be propped up over the hole until every last possible drop had dripped. Sometimes it would be around five o’clock and at six, I’d notice the hood still up and the can still perched above the receptacle.
Here I was as usual, too inpatient to take time finding the funnel in my cluttered truck, losing an ounce or more onto the head cover as I took a wild stab from about hip level. Was I busier and more pressed for time than my cheapskate dad?
Maybe, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Was it a window into why most of my similar-aged friends are financially comfortable in retirement – a real regretful, pet peeve of mine – and I’m living SS check to check, picking up little roofing jobs to get me by?
On a similar, unrelated note, I also recall when the muffler of my first car, a ’63 Ford Falcon, had begun dragging on the ground and I took appropriate measures, tying the exhaust system to the “170 Special; Super 6”undercarriage. Maybe 50 yards down our dirt road, there arose such a clatter, Dad came running to see what was the matter. Turns out I had secured it to that long, spinning, cylindrical rod I now believe to be a drive shaft. Exhaust parts were flying everywhere as Dad bellowed how foolhardy my repair was. My bad, but did he have to be so insulting about it? Words hurt, and “You’ll never amount to anything” was simply wild conjecture.
Returning to being terminally broke while friends take cruises and buy boats, I wonder if it might come back to spilling that quart of expensive oil everywhere?
But that’s just the tip of the Pittsburgh really. When someone asks, “Can you believe the price of eggs?” I’m thinking, “Why? Are they expensive or something?” I buy what I’m hungry for at the time, and when the cashier counts out my change, I’m looking around to see if I recognize anyone.
I do buy the store-brand, cheaper milk, but most items I seldom even glance the price. Dad would say, “Hmmm, bananas on sale at the A&P,” before driving clear across the shopping district for the tiny savings. He knew exactly where the cheapest gallon of gas was, and I’m thinking “Big deal; like 26 cents is so much better than the 28 cents a gallon you just passed up while I still really have to pee.”
That in a nutshell is why I have no savings at this dismal, late-autumn season of my life. And yeah, I guess there’s also the 45 years of feverish gambling.