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Taking Dad's Advice

When I was getting my driver's license, my father tried to give a short lecture on car maintenance. He said one sentence that still bugs me: There's one gauge you never have to worry about--the fuel gauge. If you run out of fuel, the car stops.

That bugs me, because I'm so excessive and compulsive that it's the only gauge I'm going to watch! I can't let it get past half. It seems stupid to me to run out of gas; you're dumb if you run out of gas. And yet my father said it's the one you don't have to watch. Why? Because what he meant was, if you run out of oil, you're in deep trouble. You run out of water, you're in deep trouble.

Those were my father's words to me. I had a decision whether I would listen or not. My first car was a '51 Studebaker--twenty miles to the quart. I decided never to worry about anything except the gas gauge. That's probably why, a year later as I was going down the freeway, the back wheels locked. They never did come unlocked again. But that's also probably why I learned my father's words were true. And I had a choice to believe him or not. If I disbelieved him, I lived with the consequences.

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