When I was a little kid I used to love riding along with my Grandpa Darrell, or Grampy, on his business trips to Chicago. He would pick me up at home and we’d drive north to several businesses in the suburbs and in the city. His business card claimed he worked for a printing company, but for a while I’d always imagined that he was a spy delivering secret documents to other undercover agents. Who would suspect a quiet-mannered Midwestern grandfather in a Ford Probe?
As I was driving to one of my assignments for work I realized I was slowly turning into Grampy. Not in a deeply profound way, just a “wow, this is a little weird” kind of thing. Some of my earliest memories come from riding shotgun with Grampy, so it only makes sense that I see some of his patterns in my own daily routines.
Despite the fact that neither of our job descriptions include the words taxi driver or chauffeur, most of our time for work is spent on the road. We both put more miles on our cars in a year than most people do in three or four. Almost all of that time is spent listening to talk radio or the occasional ball game. My cupholder is always stocked with a fresh Diet Coke. My chap stick, change, gum and toothpicks are all in their own particular spots in my car. I keep a detailed log when I fill up my tank and track my mileage religiously. I know the best places to eat along almost any stretch of road in Illinois.
Of course a few things are a little different… I can make a phone call without having to pull over and stick the giant magnetic antenna from my bag phone on the roof of my car. Grampy’s music was a little more Southern Gospel and mine leans more toward alternative rock. His atlas is my GPS…
Some family members are the kind of people that tell hundreds of stories and try to load your head with advice on any subject under the sun. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention (which is a huge possibility), but I don’t remember Grampy as that kind of person. He was more of a “lead-by-example” kind of guy.
Hopefully I’m following along in those footsteps too. Even if he wasn’t a spy.