The Man Who Owns All the Mechanics (or, "Crossing America, Part 2")

My dad is a truck driver. There are a lot of perks to having a truck driver for a dad. For instance, my dad makes little kids happy when they drive past his truck on the freeway, and they make that fist pump motion that means they want the truck driver to honk his horn, and then my dad honks his horn, and the kids are happy and don't flip him off like they do other drivers. I bet your dad can't make kids glad like that. Unless your dad is an ice cream man. And if he is, I bet you don't have a place to live, and I am sorry about that.

One time, I got home from school and there were two new CDs on the kitchen table, and I asked my dad, I said, "Where did these CDs come from?" And he said, "Oh, a pallet fell off my truck while they were unloading it, and all these CDs fell on the ground and they can't sell them so they were just going to chuck them. So I brought a couple I thought you'd like." And I said, "Why didn't you grab ALL the CDs and bring them home to me? Why are you such a lackluster father?." Just kidding. I didn't say that. I bet your investment banker dad doesn't bring YOU home free stuff, except I guess maybe a small equatorial island from the Indian Ocean sometimes.

Halen's future Jag. Gulfport, MS. 2014.
Another cool thing is that my dad knows the highways of the United States like your dad knows the drab corridors of the sad office building downtown where he types things and copies other things and secretly looks at the highways of the United States on Google Maps when he's supposed to be in a meeting in a florescent-lit room around a depressing faux-wood table talking about meetings. So, being as such that my dad knows useful things, when I took my kids on a cross-country road trip last summer, I called my dad.

"Tell me a cool route, Dad," I said. "The Gulf Coast," Dad said. Sometimes Dad eschews subjects and verbs. He's sort of like what Confucius would be like if Confucius eschewed subjects and verbs and wore Harley stuff more often. So I took the Gulf Coast.

In Gulfport, Mississippi we stopped at a big auto body shop that doubles as a classic car museum, because the owner collects classic cars, and my son likes cars. A lot. He wants to be an auto mechanic when he grows up. I say that's cool but maybe line up a second job to supplement your income, like hunting for antiquitous treasures with a metal detector from Wal-Mart. While perusing the auto museum, admiring a limited edition late-1960s Jaguar, moments after inspecting three shiny side-by-side early-80s Porsches, a light bulb went off in my son's head. "Wait. So, the guy who bought all these cars is a mechanic, right?" he said.

"No," I lied quickly. "He owns mechanics. All mechanics. He owns all the mechanics here. And all the mechanics in Japan. And everywhere else. In the world. That's why he's rich. He owns people." My son gave me his "You-Have-A-Law-Degree-So-You-Should-Know-It-Is-Inappropriate-To-Make-Allusions-To-Involuntary-Servitude" look and said, "So mechanics CAN makes lots of money! I don't need a metal detector from Wal-Mart after all!" What I didn't say to my son in that moment is what I would like to share with all of you now -- a piece of wisdom gleaned from my lifetime's experience: yes, mechanics can make a lot of money, but regardless you probably still do need a metal detector from Wal-Mart.