My dashboard told me I had zero percent oil life left, but not for long.
“How-you-doin’-today,” the burly baby-faced kid asked me from under the gas pump canopy.
“Pretty good, and you?” I exchanged greetings with the young man taking orders, not the guy that was actually going to be cranking a wrench on my oil pan bolt.
I thought we were done with the pleasantries. My fault – I did ask him a question. I assumed that he assumed, it was a rhetorical one.“It’s hot!” the kid informed me.
In that instance, gone was the understanding older guy. It’s Arizona folks. It gets hot here, I mean Africa hot, but a virile young man with the chubby cheeks and a macho brown beard shouldn’t be whining about it. That’s a sign another generation has sprouted up… and into a world with more guardrails.
In the slight heat of the moment, my mind considered my own hot days in Arizona, but my first thought was that it really wasn’t that hot yet. It was hanging just under triple digits at the time, which meant that the nights would bring a welcomed reprieve, but not for long.
I thought about the days of my youth, the sweltering ones, without an air conditioner. August in Arizona with only a swamp cooler is kin to trying to put out a forest fire by spittin’ on it. I remembered the two-a-day football practices in that same man makin’ month, the dry heaves at the end of wind sprints… and the times when they weren’t dry.
Of course, my dad came to mind, the drops of sweat that rolled off the end of his nose when he was working. The drops were so massive they’d splatter like rain. I recall the white sweat stains on his threadbare work shirts. I never heard him complain about the heat, not one time.
There was an unspoken rule I learned as a kid. A man could laugh about the ridiculous heat, even cuss it, but no one whined about it.
I recollected the days when it was my turn to toil in the Southwest sun, doing fifteen hours a day, daring the blazing ball in the sky to do its worst. Sun of a gun if it didn’t.
I pulled the sweat stuck shirt from my back that was still searing from over exposure the day before while toiling in the yard, not cause I had to, cause there’s something gratifying about “working by the sweat of your brow”.
I’m not so sure an easier life, the one we all strive for, is always the best thing for us.
“Rejoice in your times of trials”. If a person lives long enough, gains a smidge of wisdom along the way, they come to realize that doesn’t just apply to the physical side of life, but to the spiritual ones, even more so.
I handed the kid my keys, “It’s not hot… but not for long,” I chuckled.