Stern Looks, Dirty Fingernails and Coca-Cola

I caught a little bit of flack from one of the guys in the shop yesterday for drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola. At two cans worth (710mL) it is a little on the larger side, but I was sipping it, not guzzling it. I bought a 6 pack of bottles instead of the 12 pack of cans because they were the same price and I could reseal the bottles (which I did).


I don’t normally keep pop in the house, but when I do it’s Coca-Cola. My dad drinks Coca-Cola. I’ve seen him ask for Coke in a restaurant, and when the waitress says they serve Pepsi he’s ordered water or iced tea instead. It’s gotta be Coca-Cola, even better if it’s bottled in the BC lower mainland. My dad is a Coca-Cola connoisseur.

He doesn’t have many vices, in fact other than my mother’s baking I think Coca-Cola is his only real bad habit. He doesn’t smoke or chew tobacco. He doesn’t use drugs. During my lifetime I’ve never seen him drink so much as a beer. He doesn’t gamble. He doesn’t go to strip clubs. He gets up in the morning, goes to work and then comes straight home with his bottle of Coca-Cola and the day’s newspaper. If there’s a hockey game on that takes precedent over the newspaper. A good vacation is one where he gets lots of work done at home. The lawn is always trimmed short, and a dirty vehicle is unacceptable. While he’ll eat anything my mother puts in front of him, he prefers his meat and potatoes. Or pizza. His first answer to everything is “No”.

That’s my dad.

He’s been working as a mechanic for as long as I can remember. First automotive, then commercial transportation. As a child I used to look at his hands after he’d wash them and then shake my head disapprovingly. His nails were always black. You could say Fast Orange is a way of life for our family (with pumice, not without). Last year for Father’s Day I found the darkest, dirtiest engine oil I could get my hands on, then dunked my hands in it. I had one of the guys at work take a picture of me so I could send it to him. He works harder than anyone I know, with the possible exception of my sister who may tie with him. He’s well respected by everyone he works with. They keep trying to move him into a more supervisory position, but he refuses to take them because he hates the paperwork and doesn’t want to work on a computer. Instead he mentors the young apprentices and pulls wrench on the really mind boggling issues that have other people stumped. It probably sounds odd for a woman to say this, but growing up I always wanted to be like my dad.

I was having a conversation with my mother a little while ago when she mentioned that dad felt my sister was more like my her, and I was more like him. I was surprised that he had said that, but after thinking about it for a while I could see it. We’re both fairly evenly tempered, and it takes a bit to get us mad. When we do get mad though, stay out of the way. My dad has a very definitive “you’re in shit” look, and I have the exact same look. It’s a family trait; all of my uncles and cousins make the same expression. Come to think of it, we have a lot of the same expressions. Mom says (lovingly) that I’m anally retentive, I say I’m serious and thorough. Dad is also serious and thorough. We approach problems the same way. We both like working with the radio on. We can be quiet and introspective, and tend to spend a lot of time thinking. We both have a thing for National Geographic and architecture. In a lot of ways (not all) we’re both old fashioned and conservative. I inherited his hand writing, skin, eye lashes, nails and crooked teeth.

I know that while mom was the one bawling while saying goodbye when I went off to university, it was far harder on dad. I’ve never been the pink, glittery, eyelash batting daddy’s princess type, but don’t fool yourself. I’m daddy’s girl.

In honour of this upcoming Father’s Day, which I sadly won’t be spending with my father (we live in different provinces), I’m listing a few of the things I learned from my dad:

You only get one set of teeth as an adult, and replacing them is painful. Look after them.

My dad has had a horrendous time with his teeth from the time he was a child. My grandparents could afford to put braces on him, and they did, but they had to be removed because they literally sunk into his teeth. Some people don’t take care of their teeth, their teeth rot, and they get dentures. My dad took immaculate care of his teeth, his teeth broke off, and he had them replaced with porcelain teeth attached to his remaining roots. It’s not a pleasant procedure. While I’m fairly certain my days are numbered, I’ve made it to my late twenties without any cavities.

How to say “No”

Dad’s first answer to anything, regardless of what the question is, is “no”. Sometimes “no” means “no”, but usually “no” means “I need to think about it so I’m not giving you an answer while you’re in front of me pressuring me”. This came in handy when I was looking for a home. I had put a holding deposit on a home, but the builder had a ridiculously self serving contract. They said I could make revisions to it, so I did, and they came back to me saying they weren’t going to change the contract so I had to take it or leave it. So I left it. It took the sales woman a few minutes to pick her jaw back up off her desk, because when backed into a corner like that most people just cave. She could pout about her lost commission in her little white BMW all she wanted, she shouldn’t have played hardball with me.

How to parallel park

I swear the only time I’ve ever gotten it right straight off the bat was during my driver’s exam, and since then I’ve been hopeless at it. I can blame the lack of power steering right now ;) Of all of the aspects in learning how to drive, this was the only one dad taught me, and it was the lowest stress lesson of the bunch. I’m getting better at this again.

Only pay full price if you’re getting EXACTLY what you want

Dad buys his vehicles new. When he decides he needs a new vehicle, he researches the heck out of it. He figures out what he wants and needs in it. Then, rather than checking to see what the lots have available, he orders the vehicle with his exact specifications straight from the factory. Call a new vehicle a pf sin if you want, but after over a decade of wear all of my parent’s vehicles still look brand new. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a mechanic who cleans and polishes your vehicles religiously.

That I don’t need makeup

Dad’s response to us wearing makeup as teenagers was always “make up for what?” As in, what did we feel we needed to make up for? The answer of course is nothing, but when you’re a teenage girl being bombarded with images of “perfect” women who look a certain way, you feel the pressure to change yourself to fit into the mold. Makeup isn’t a requirement for me to leave the house. Yesterday I was wearing mascara and tinted lip balm at work. The day before I wore no makeup at all. Sure, as I get older the area under my eyes is getting darker, and I do have acne scarring, but I wear makeup because I enjoy playing around with it, not because I have to.

What did your dad teach you?

Recommended Reading: The “No One Cares What You Wear” Experiment

5 responses to “Stern Looks, Dirty Fingernails and Coca-Cola

  1. This is such a nice article, I share some of the same feelings you do about my grandfather. He worked construction and I too wanted to be like him. He was very disciplined and had zero vices besides a beer during a party.

  2. This was so cute!!! I have a stepdad and a dad that I love equally and learned so much from both. Isn’t it weird how you can tell what you inherited from each parent??? The weird thing is that my real dad didn’t raise me, so when we finally got close 2 years ago – seeing how similar we were with our habits/looks/facial expressions/interests/body types are just SO WEIRD!

    I love the “NO” lesson though. Sounds like my BF. It doesn’t really mean no all the time – just that you have to think about it.

    My stepdad loves his coffee and my dad loves his coke. =)

  3. Your dad seems like quite a character! I really like how he buys cars though. I think that is a smart idea, and when I buy a new car, I think that is what I want to do! As a person who doesn’t like saying “no,” I could learn a few things from him!

  4. belowhermeans

    Love what he said about makeup, that is so dang sweet.

  5. Pingback: Links I Like Thursday! 6/21/12 « Below Her Means

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