On Father’s Day I caught a ride from a friend to knock on doors for a friend’s campaign. Unfortunately, her car got a flat tire. What happened next has everything to do with our fathers.
We dug around in her trunk, found the winch, found the wrench, jerry-rigged a lever since the one in the kit was missing, got the car up, took off the flat, put in the spare, tightened the nuts, brought the car back down, and made it to the campaign on-time.
Different families have different skills they require before high school graduation. My partner’s Mom made sure he knew how to bake an excellent birthday cake. Before I left home for college, my step-dad made sure I knew how to change a tire. Skills like changing a tire, making cake, those are winch skills. They are small, they don’t take up a lot of mental space, but they are the difference between having a flat tire and making it on-time, being able to celebrate a friend, and not. There is no real substitute for a winch when it comes to changing a tire, just like there is no substitute for a homemade cake.
I think we collect winch skills throughout our lives. Learning to hem, to tell a joke, to make an introduction, to write a resume. They are skills we keep in our trunks, amongst a jumble of plans and failures and wins and hopes. We forget we have them, until we’re on the side of the road and need them. If we are lucky, these skills are gifts from our families. More than ties or flowers, more than cake or a car, they are gifts from people we were dependent on, who trusted us enough to teach us to be independent.
“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” ― Abigail Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams