February 23, 2013
I Learned a Lesson – One Day When My Brother Scribbled on the Wall 😆
On A Warm Summer Day in 1964 …
A Saturday … it was probably about mid-July. I was just 7. We were waiting for Dad to come home with the brand new car … a 1964 Chevrolet Impala! The four of us had just been marched from the bedroom my brothers shared out to the kitchen. We stood in a line as ordered by our mother. She stood in front of us, arms crossed, mad as hell. “Who did it” she asked again. No response from any of us. “Well. That’s just fine. If no one’s going to admit it, then none of you get to see the new car and all four of you are getting a lickin’ from your father when he gets home. And you can all just stand right there until he gets here.”
What? Seriously? All four of us are getting a lickin’? And we don’t get to see the new car? I felt crushed and a little scared … a lickin’ …yikes! I didn’t want that to happen! And I was kinda mad too … I hadn’t been anywhere near their room! Pretty much the entire morning had been spent cleaning my half of the room I shared with my sister … I didn’t scribble on the wall with a pencil down there between the 2 beds! And no, I didn’t know who did it. Why didn’t she believe me? She’d been home all morning. All four of us are getting a lickin’ … and we don’t get to see the new car? How fair is that?
“Ok fine. It was me.” I heard myself saying. “Well get in there and start erasing. Don’t come out until you’re done” she snapped. Before I could take the eraser from her hand, Russell was calling her from the bedroom again … “Mom, come here! Look at this! It’s all the way down the wall!” He had pulled his bed away from the wall … just couldn’t wait to show everyone how extensive the scribbling on the wall actually was. I couldn’t believe it … it went from one end to the other about a third of the way up the wall! How did he know to pull out the bed anyway? Funny how that works … he was the one who had discovered the scribbling and now he’d discovered that the mess was much bigger than first thought … hhmmm.
What a Job That Was!
So there I sat. Erasing scribbling that I hadn’t even done because I didn’t want to get a lickin’ and I really, really wanted to see the new car! And hard work! Just think of it … a little pint sized eraser to clean up one wall of a bedroom. Why oh why did I say that I’d done it? What was I thinking? (Oh probably that my mother would make good on her threat that the 4 of us would get the belt once Dad got home… and that none of us would get to see the new car!)
Dad pulled up in front of the house before I was even a quarter finished. As she excitedly started herding everyone out to take a look at the new car … everyone but me that is … Mom stopped at the bedroom door and very sternly reminded me again that I wasn’t going out there until “every inch of that wall was clean”.
Then the house was empty but for me. It was dead silent. Everyone was outside looking at the brand new car parked out front … the brand new 1964 Chevy Impala … everyone but me.
After a while, my sister came in … “It’s so nice! It’s really big too! Mr. Hedstrom and Mr. Mitchell are out there looking at. Did you hear it when Dad honked the horn? He let Randy start it!” Then, she got another eraser and helped me clean up a mess of scribbling that I know I hadn’t done and was quite certain she hadn’t done either. “It’s so nice! So big!” she kept saying. “Hurry, hurry so you can go see it”.
When the wall was finally erased, Dad took me outside to have a look. I remember how it smelled like a “new car” … that brand new ‘64 Chevy Impala! And my sister was right … it truly was big and so nice too! Then he took me … just me … for a ride to the corner grocery where he sent me in to pick up a 6 pack of pop … one for each of us. “Get me a Cream Soda please” he called after me as I skipped happily into store. “And you can keep the change for your piggy bank too.” (Makes me think of people who get a big payoff from the government after doing time for a crime they didn’t commit, lol. And 60 or 70 cents in change was big money to a 7 year old kid back in 1964!) He never said it but I think Dad knew dam well that I hadn’t done the scribbling!
And The Lesson Learned Was?
The story of the 1964 Chevrolet Impala and the scribbling on the wall has come up a couple of times over the years and to this day, Russ has never admitted that it was he who had made that big mess way back in 1964! He just laughs and laughs and laughs.
And the lesson here? Never take credit for work that isn’t yours – good or bad! If a job well done was done by you, accept the accolades graciously. If others were involved, always name them and share the glory. On the other hand, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong … accept the consequences! For me … while I may not always give away the culprit (depends on the seriousness of the situation and how much I actually know about it), the one thing you can depend on is that I learned the lesson and I learned it well! From that warm summer day in 1964 to date, I don’t and won’t take the rap for something I didn’t do! (How stupid was that anyway! No one even said thanks! Dumb, dumb, dumb! Give me break though, I was only 7 for Pete’s sake!)
And what say you about taking responsibility for yours or someone else’s actions (or not!)